I’ve been using an Amazon Kindle since 2011 and have been very happy with this platform. For reading long books, I prefer readers with e ink displays over small tablets. It’s much more comfortable for your eyes. Well, now in 2019 it was time for me to get a new one and I got both the new Amazon Kindle 2019 and the Kindle Paperwhite, that got a refresh in 2018. How good are they and is it worth it to spend 40 dollars extra on the Kindle Paperwhite? That’s what you’ll learn in this Amazon Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite review and comparison.
A couple of words about pricing first. The new, standard Amazon Kindle 2019 with 4GB storage starts at 89.99 US Dollars. If you want to get the 2018 Amazon Kindle Paperwhite you’ll have to pay 129.99 US Dollars for the 8GB version and 159.99 Dollars for 32GB.
Design & Build Quality
As usual, let’s start with their design and build quality first. At first sight, they look very similar because I’ve gotten the black versions of both. Once you pick them up, you immediately feel that the normal Kindle has a much cheaper feeling plastic body than the Paperwhite does. It seems to be the same material Amazon uses for their Fire tablets. The Paperwhite, on the other hand, has a smoother, more rubberized plastic which feels much higher end.
It’s interesting to note that the normal Kindle is a little bit smaller overall even though their screen size is identical. I’m not sure why that’s the case. Maybe it has something to do with the waterproofing of the Paperwhite. It has an IPX8 rating which means you can use it in up to 2 meters deep water. I wouldn’t go swimming with it, but it should be fine for reading in the bathtub.
To make it waterproof, it seems like Amazon put a protective layer above the screen which is missing on the normal Kindle. That plastic layer has another advantage: It’s much easier to clean the screen. I noticed on my 2011 Kindle that without this layer, a lot of dust and dirt can accumulate in the corners and the 2019 Kindle has a similar design. This shouldn’t be an issue on the Paperwhite.
Unlike older eBook readers, both don’t have physical buttons to turn pages anymore. They’ve got touchscreens for that. However, there’s obviously a power button on the bottom. And both feature a micro USB port for charging. I’d prefer USB C but, well, they’re cheap, so it’s fine.
The Kindle is a little bit lighter with 174g compared to 182g of the Paperwhite.
E-Ink Displays: Great For Reading
Both the Amazon Kindle 2019 and the Kindle Paperwhite feature a 6-inch E-Ink display that’s glare-free. E-Ink screens kind of mimic real ink on real paper. The image does not refresh constantly as is the case with other screens. Instead, it only refreshes when you turn the page. Because of that, these kinds of displays are much easier on your eyes and it is much more comfortable to read for long periods of time. To me, it feels just like reading a paper book.
While the screen size and technology of both readers are identical, that’s not the case for other aspects. A major difference are their resolutions. While the Kindle Paperwhite has a pixel density of 300 PPI, the normal Kindle has a resolution of 167 PPI only. And especially when you compare them side by side, text looks much sharper on the Paperwhite. It looks as sharp as a quality printed book does.
The lower resolution of the standard Kindle is not too bad, as long as you don’t hold it super close to your eyes. For most, I think it’ll be fine. But still, you certainly can see a difference here.
In the past, only the Paperwhite had front lights that illuminate the screen. But now, the standard Kindle has them too. Without them, you must actively shine a light on them just like with a real book. And you can still use them that way. You don’t have to turn on the front lights.
As I said, both have front lights now. The Paperwhite has 5 LEDs and the Kindle 4 LEDs. That means the Paperwhite is a little bit brighter. With that being said, in real life, the differences are very minor. Because these are E-Ink displays, you only need the lights in a dark environment. And both are bright enough for that. If you’re outside, there’s enough light hitting the screen anyways and you don’t even need the front lights.
Now, the slow refresh time of E-Ink displays means that the software can seem a bit sluggish if you compare it to a fast smartphone or so. But that’s just the technology of the screen. Amazon’s interface is very simple, so you don’t have to scroll through tons of menus anyways. A browser is build-in too but it’s not really usable. I prefer a phone or a tablet for that. These ebook readers are mostly meant for reading books.
Storage & Audiobooks
Unlike with tablets, there’s not much internal hardware to compare. We don’t even know which processor sits inside and since it’s an eBook reader and you can’t play games, it doesn’t even matter.
The storage options are different though. While you can get the normal Kindle with 4GB only, you can choose between 8GB and 32GB for the Kindle Paperwhite. However, both can hold thousands of books because they’re mostly text anyways. And you’ve got free cloud storage for all your Kindle books for free. So, for most, I’d say just get the cheaper option.
Now, if you want to listen to audiobooks, storage can be an issue of course. You can listen to Audible audiobook with both readers using Bluetooth speakers or headphones. And audiobooks can be several hundred megabytes in size. I like to listen to audiobooks too, but I prefer my phone for that. But it is possible with these Kindles and it does work with Bluetooth headphones.
There is another hardware difference: You can get the Kindle with Wi-Fi only, while you can choose to get the Paperwhite with just Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi plus free cellular connectivity.
Let’s check out their battery life. According to Amazon, the normal Kindle will last you up to 4 weeks, while the Kindle Paperwhite can last up to 6 weeks. For both, Amazon tested it with reading for half an hour per day with wireless off and the front light set to 13 which is medium.
My results are a bit different, but I didn’t bother with switching off Wi-Fi and the brightness was set to maximum on both. And under these conditions, with about an hour of reading per day, both lasted me around a week. If you don’t need the front lights because you’re reading outside on a balcony or at the beach, they will easily last several weeks.
Basically, battery life is not an issue on both. Just connect them to a charger once a week and you’ll probably never run out of battery.
Amazon Kindle vs. Kindle Paperwhite: Final Verdict
Well, that’s the end of my Amazon Kindle and Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review and comparison. I think both are excellent eBook readers and good values for their prices. But overall, the Kindle Paperwhite is obviously the better one out of the two. It has a higher-resolution screen, more storage, and it is waterproof. If you read a lot, I think it’ll be worth it for most to invest a bit more and get the Paperwhite.
But if you want to save some money or if it’s your first eBook reader, the normal Kindle is a good choice too. I used the predecessor for years and it was fine.
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