Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021) review: a bigger and better book

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It’s been astir 3 years since Amazon has updated its champion (and bestselling) Kindle: the midtier Kindle Paperwhite, which is getting its biggest upgrade ever. On paper, astatine least, Amazon has yet built the eventual Kindle.

The last Paperwhite update was a comparatively insignificant one, with conscionable a airy plan tweak and waterproofing serving arsenic the main addition. The caller Kindle Paperwhite refresh, connected the different hand, adds astir each update you could ideate for a hardware refresh: a bigger screen, wireless charging, USB-C, adjustable colour temperature, and further LEDs for much accordant backlighting.

There are really 2 antithetic versions of the caller Paperwhite this time: the modular model and the “Signature Edition,” which adds wireless charging, a sensor to automatically set the backlight, and 4 times the retention (32GB, compared to 8GB connected the regular model).

The regular Paperwhite costs $139.99, oregon $159.99 without fastener surface ads, portion the Signature Edition costs $189.99 (without ads, there’s nary enactment to get a discount for viewing ads connected the fancier model).

I’ve been investigating the Signature Edition for the past week; whether it justifies the other outgo volition beryllium connected however important those differences are to you. The further retention and the automatically adjustable backlight are fantabulous additions; Qi charging is simply a small little useful, fixed that the caller Paperwhite needs charging truthful seldom and charges overmuch faster implicit USB-C than it does implicit wireless charging. Plus, you’ll request a pad that really fits the Paperwhite, which tin beryllium hard if you similar phone-sized chargers (especially vertically oriented lasting ones.) I fishy astir radical volition beryllium good with the modular models, but if you store a batch of books (and particularly audiobooks), truly similar the automatic backlight, oregon are already shelling retired to region Amazon’s onerous ads, it mightiness beryllium worthy the other money.

The largest show looks large but is simply a small much unwieldy acknowledgment to the added size.

The wide plan is mostly the aforesaid arsenic the aged Paperwhite: a flush-mounted touchscreen, a grippy rubberized back, a grey “Kindle” logo connected the bottommost bezel, and the fantabulous IPX8 waterproofing that was the standout diagnostic of the past generation. They’re casual to archer apart, though, acknowledgment to the larger surface of the 2021 model.

As is accepted for a Paperwhite update, galore of the biggest features present travel consecutive from the high-end Kindle Oasis, with the Paperwhite getting the larger show and colour somesthesia settings that Amazon already offers connected its priciest Kindle. The main differences near are the Oasis’ unsocial signifier origin (which includes carnal leafage crook buttons), an incrementally larger show (seven-inch connected the Oasis vs. 6.8-inch connected the Paperwhite), and somewhat much LEDs for lighting up the surface (17 LEDs connected the Paperwhite to the Oasis’ 25).

The additions present mean that the differences betwixt the $249.99 Oasis and the $139.99 Paperwhite are slimmer than ever. Of those, the astir notable is the LED number — the other LEDs fto the Oasis airy up adjacent brighter, but it’s not a quality worthy paying astir doubly arsenic overmuch for connected its own. The 2021 Paperwhite gets plentifulness bright, and I lone adjacent noticed the quality by comparing them caput to caput successful a dim room.

Oddly, though, Amazon is besides utilizing the Paperwhite to debut respective caller features to the Kindle lineup, thing that it typically does the different mode astir (with premium upgrades coming archetypal to the Oasis and past aboriginal to the different models). Presumably, Amazon volition person an updated Oasis down the enactment that brings it backmost to parity with the Paperwhite, but close now, Amazon’s midrange exemplary is strangely its astir technologically advanced.

The 2021 Paperwhite is besides finally Amazon’s archetypal Kindle to travel with USB-C charging, which allows for fast-charging the instrumentality and — much importantly — really being capable to usage the aforesaid cables arsenic astir different modern devices. The lengthy artillery beingness means that you inactive won’t beryllium charging it that often, but it’s different large measurement for galore (myself included) to yet beryllium capable to excise Micro USB cables from my life.

The caller Paperwhite features 1 of the astir notable plan changes for the e-reader exemplary successful its astir decade-long history. For the archetypal clip for the Paperwhite, Amazon has accrued the show from a six-inch sheet to a 6.8-inch show by somewhat expanding the Paperwhite’s carnal size and slimming down the bezels astir the surface a fraction.

The updated room presumption looks mostly the same, but there’s a caller paper barroom connected the bottom.

The show inactive has the crisp 300ppi solution that the aged exemplary had, contempt the larger size. The caller plan with its reduced bezels (particularly connected the apical of the display) looks amended than ever, and the added surface abstraction for speechmaking is simply a invited addition, arsenic are the colour somesthesia options for amended emulating the colour of existent paper. As was the lawsuit with the Oasis’ implementation of the feature, there’s inactive nary enactment to person the Kindle automatically set somesthesia successful effect to ambient lighting, which is disappointing to spot (especially since it tin automatically set brightness).

But by expanding the show size, Amazon mightiness person made the Paperwhite too big. The caller exemplary is astir a 3rd of an inch taller and wider than the aged exemplary and astir 26g (almost an ounce) heavier than the 2018 model. And portion that whitethorn not dependable similar much, it’s conscionable capable for it to beryllium awkward to clasp up with 1 hand, adjacent for idiosyncratic similar maine with comparatively ample mitts. I often person to brace the caller Paperwhite with a 2nd manus to comfortably work it, thing I didn’t person to bash with the aged model.

It’s not a full dealbreaker, but the accrued size and value had maine disquieted a batch much that the Paperwhite was going to tumble retired of my manus erstwhile I was holding it. (It’s a occupation unsocial to the bigger Paperwhite’s different unchanged design. The Oasis, aft all, has an adjacent bigger show but avoids the contented by offering an asymmetrical plan aimed toward one-handed use.) It inactive barely fits successful the backmost pouch of a brace of jeans, but lone just.

Ultimately, fixed the choice, I’d alternatively Amazon had gone with the much streamlined plan successful a mode that kept the carnal dimensions the aforesaid (or adjacent smaller) alternatively than trying to acceptable successful an ever bigger screen. It’s a idiosyncratic preference, though, and I fishy that galore Kindle readers who conscionable privation much surface existent property whitethorn not beryllium bothered by the added bulk.

The Kindle present has a smartphone-style swipe-down settings menu.

Amazon says that it’s boosted the artillery beingness connected the caller Paperwhite, from the erstwhile six weeks up to 10 weeks connected a azygous complaint (which requires utilizing the device’s “Power Saver” mode that trades longer artillery beingness for longer waking up from sleep). I’ve lone had the Paperwhite for astir a week, truthful there’s nary earthly mode for maine to verify that claim, but I haven’t had immoderate issues with artillery beingness yet — successful the six oregon 7 hours I spent reading, I lone saw the artillery driblet a percent oregon two, adjacent successful “standard” artillery mode (although artillery beingness volition beryllium connected however overmuch you read, however galore times you crook the page, and different factors similar surface brightness).

The institution besides says that it’s enactment a caller and much almighty processor connected the 2021 model, which helps to velocity up virtually everything. Books unfastened faster, pages crook faster, and scrolling done one’s room is nary longer the interminably laggy acquisition it erstwhile was connected the older model.

The caller smartphone-based configuration process for mounting up a Kindle.

The 2021 Paperwhite besides ships with Amazon’s caller Kindle software, which it debuted earlier successful the fall. There are a batch of utile caller additions here, including a caller location layout that puts precocious work books beforehand and center, on with amended integration for (Amazon-owned) Goodreads speechmaking lists. The caller bundle besides makes it easier to leap backmost into immoderate publication you’re presently successful the mediate of from anyplace utilizing the toolbar connected the bottommost of the screen. Additionally, there’s a caller setup mode that allows you to stock login accusation implicit Bluetooth from the Kindle app connected your smartphone, alternatively of warring against the E Ink show to benignant successful your Amazon credentials and Wi-Fi password.

More importantly, though, the caller bundle makes it overmuch easier to entree the swipe-down menu. Amazon has taken a cue from virtually each smartphone from the past half-decade and added a swipe-down paper accessible from anyplace connected the Kindle’s OS that offers toggles for things similar airplane mode, Bluetooth, acheronian mode, and sync settings, arsenic good arsenic sliders to set brightness and colour temperature.

The caller bundle emphasizes the Paperwhite’s main goal: a pipeline for Amazon’s ebook store, for amended oregon for worse. There’s much salient placement of recommended Kindle books to bargain connected the homescreen now, which can’t beryllium hidden. But astatine the aforesaid time, Amazon hasn’t improved things similar the on-device acquisition for room lending services similar OverDrive oregon Libby, which stay arsenic clunky arsenic ever and wholly babelike connected utilizing a smartphone oregon machine to really get books.

As with astir Kindle upgrades, if you already ain the 2018 Paperwhite, there’s not capable present to beryllium worthy shelling retired the wealth for a caller upgrade. The larger show is surely bully but comes with its ain drawbacks successful the signifier of a harder-to-hold device. And portion USB-C and wireless charging person been astatine the apical of the database for Kindle upgrades for years, neither is worthy the concern of an wholly caller device. At its core, the speechmaking acquisition connected the caller Paperwhite is inactive excessively akin to the aged exemplary to urge existing owners unreserved to upgrade.

But if you’re buying a caller Kindle contiguous for the archetypal clip oregon replacing an aging model, the caller Paperwhite is the champion hardware that you tin bargain — perchance the champion hardware connected immoderate e-reader close now, period. But adjacent arsenic the Kindle’s hardware is getting amended than ever, it’d beryllium bully to spot Amazon’s bundle scope a akin level, thing that the economics of the Kindle ebook store marque a precise improbable possibility.

The extremity effect is 1 of the champion e-readers ever — truthful agelong arsenic you tin tolerate surviving wrong the progressively precocious walls of Amazon’s library.

Photography by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge

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