Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Review (2021): A Bigger and Better Book
It’s been almost three years since Amazon updated its best (and best-selling) Kindle: the mid-range Kindle Paperwhite, which gets its biggest upgrade ever. On paper, at least, Amazon has finally built the ultimate Kindle.
Paperwhite’s latest update was relatively minor, with just a slight design tweak and waterproofing serving as the main addition. The new Kindle Paperwhite refresh, on the other hand, adds almost every update you can imagine for a hardware refresh: a larger screen, wireless charging, a USB-C port, adjustable color temperature, and additional LEDs. for more consistent backlighting.
There are actually two different versions of the new Paperwhite this time around: the standard model and the “Signature Edition”, which adds wireless charging, a sensor to automatically adjust the backlight and four times the storage (32 GB, compared to 8 GB over normal). model).
The regular Paperwhite costs $ 139.99, or $ 159.99 without ads on the lock screen, while the Signature Edition costs $ 189.99 (without ads, there’s no option to get a discount for viewing advertisements on the more sophisticated model).
I tested the Signature Edition last week; if it justifies the extra cost, it will depend on how important these differences are to you. Additional storage and automatically adjustable backlighting are great additions; Qi charging is a bit less useful, given that the new Paperwhite has to be charged so infrequently and charges much faster via USB-C than wireless charging. Additionally, you’ll need a notepad that actually fits the Paperwhite, which can be tricky if you prefer phone-sized chargers (especially upright chargers oriented vertically.) I suspect that most people will fit the standard models, but if you stock a lot of books (and audiobooks in particular), really prefer automatic backlighting, or are already forking out to remove expensive ads from Amazon, it might be worth the money. additional.
The wide design is largely the same as the old Paperwhite: a recessed touchscreen, a grippy rubberized back, a gray “Kindle” logo on the lower bezel and the excellent IPX8 waterproofing that was the main feature of the last generation. . They are, however, easy to distinguish, thanks to the larger screen of the 2021 model.
As is tradition for a Paperwhite update, many of the most important features here come straight from the high-end Kindle Oasis, with the Paperwhite getting the larger display and color temperature settings that Amazon already offers on its. Most expensive Kindle. The main differences remaining are the unique form factor of the Oasis (which includes physical page change buttons), an increasingly larger screen (seven inches on the Oasis versus 6.8 inches on the Paperwhite) and a little more LEDs to light up the screen (17 LEDs on the Paperwhite up to the Oasis’ 25).
The additions here mean the differences between the $ 249.99 Oasis and the $ 139.99 Paperwhite are thinner than ever. Of these, the most notable is the number of LEDs – the additional LEDs allow the Oasis to illuminate even more, but that’s not a difference worth paying almost twice as much for itself. . The Paperwhite 2021 gets very bright, and I only noticed the difference when comparing them face to face in a dark room.
Oddly, however, Amazon is also using the Paperwhite to launch several new features in the Kindle lineup, which it usually does the other way around (with premium upgrades coming first to the Oasis and then later to other models). Presumably, Amazon will have an updated Oasis down the line that brings it down to parity with the Paperwhite, but for now, Amazon’s mid-range model is strangely the most technologically advanced.
The Paperwhite 2021 is also ultimately The first Amazon Kindle to feature USB-C charging, which allows the device to quickly charge and, more importantly, use the same cables as most other modern devices. The long battery life means you still won’t charge it as often, but it’s another big step for many (including me) to finally be able to remove Micro USB cables from my life.
The new Paperwhite features one of the most notable design changes for the e-reader model in its nearly ten-year history. For the first time for the Paperwhite, Amazon increased the display from a six-inch panel to a 6.8-inch screen by increasing the physical size of the Paperwhite slightly and reducing the bezels around the screen slightly.
The screen still has the crisp 300 ppi resolution that the old model had, despite the larger size. The new design with its reduced bezels (especially at the top of the screen) looks better than ever, and the extra screen space for reading is a welcome addition, as are the color temperature options to better mimic the color of the actual paper. As was the case with the Oasis’ implementation of the feature, there is still no option for the Kindle to automatically adjust the temperature in response to ambient lighting, which is disappointing to see. (especially since it can automatically adjust the brightness).
But by increasing the display size, Amazon might have made the Paperwhite too much fat. The new model is about a third of an inch taller and wider than the old model and about 26 g (almost an ounce) more than the 2018 model. And while that may not seem like much, it is just enough to keep it cool. ‘it is difficult to hold with one hand, even for someone like me with relatively large mittens. I often have to tie up the new Paperwhite with a second hand to read it comfortably, something I didn’t have to do with the old model.
It’s not a total break, but the increased size and weight worried me a lot more that the Paperwhite was going to fall out of my hand when I held it. (This is a unique problem with the otherwise unchanged design of the larger Paperwhite. The Oasis, after all, has an even larger screen but avoids the problem by offering an asymmetrical design intended for one-handed use.) barely fits into the back pocket of jeans, but only barely.
Ultimately, given the choice, I would have preferred Amazon to go for a more streamlined design so as to keep the same physical dimensions (or even smaller) rather than trying to fit a screen always. bigger. It’s a personal preference, however, and I suspect that many Kindle readers who just want more screen space might not mind the extra clutter.
Amazon says it has increased battery life on the new Paperwhite, from the previous six weeks to 10 weeks on a single charge (which requires the use of the ‘Power Save’ mode on the device that exchanges a longer battery life for a longer awakening from sleep). I’ve only had the Paperwhite for about a week, so there’s no earthly way for me to verify this claim, but I haven’t had any issues with battery life yet – over the years. six or seven hours that I spent reading, I only saw the battery drop one or two percent, even in “standard” battery mode (although battery life depends on the amount of reading you read, the number of times you turn the page, and other factors such as screen brightness).
The company also says it has put a new, more powerful processor on the 2021 model, which helps speed up pretty much anything. Books open faster, pages turn faster, and scrolling through your library is no longer the endlessly slow experience it once was on the old model.
The Paperwhite 2021 also ships with new Amazon Kindle software, which it launched earlier in the fall. There are a lot of useful new additions here, including a new homepage layout that puts recently read books front and center, as well as better integration for Goodreads (owned by Amazon) playlists. The new software also makes it easier to go back to any book you’re currently reading from anywhere using the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Additionally, there is a new setup mode that allows you to share login credentials via bluetooth from the Kindle app on your smartphone, instead of fighting the E Ink screen to enter your Amazon credentials. and your Wi-Fi password.
More importantly, the new software makes it easier to access the drop-down menu. Amazon took inspiration from literally every smartphone of the past half a decade and added a drop-down menu accessible from anywhere on the Kindle’s operating system that offers options like airplane mode, bluetooth, mode dark and sync settings, as well as sliders to adjust brightness and color temperature.
The new software emphasizes Paperwhite’s primary goal: a pipeline for Amazon’s e-book store, for better or for worse. There is now a higher placement of recommended Kindle books for purchase on the Home screen, which cannot be hidden. But at the same time, Amazon hasn’t improved things like the on-device experience for library lending services like OverDrive or Libby, which remain as clunky as ever and rely entirely on smartphone use. or a computer to borrow books.
As with most Kindle upgrades, if you already own the Paperwhite 2018, there isn’t enough of it here to be worth the money for a new upgrade. The larger screen is certainly nice, but comes with its own drawbacks in the form of a device that’s harder to hold. And while USB-C and wireless charging have been at the top of the Kindle upgrade list for years, neither is worth the investment of a brand new device. At its core, the reading experience on the new Paperwhite is still too similar to the old model to recommend that existing owners rush to upgrade.
But whether you’re buying a new Kindle today for the first time or replacing an aging model, the new Paperwhite is the best hardware you can buy – possibly the best hardware on any e-reader right now, period. But even if the Kindle’s hardware improves more than ever, it would be nice to see Amazon’s software reach a similar level, which the economy of the Kindle e-book store makes a highly unlikely possibility.
The end result is one of the best e-readers ever – as long as you can tolerate living within the ever-taller walls of Amazon’s library.
Photograph by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge