If you’re feeling skeptical about whether or not you even need a Kindle, take a moment to read our piece on why every eBook fan absolutely needs a Kindle. In short: they’re easier on the eyes, they read more like paper, and they have far more battery life than smartphones and tablets.
Convinced? Good. Now, here’s how you pick the right kind of Kindle for your needs. There’s no need to spend more cash than necessary.
Note that this article only focuses on the e-reader versions of the Kindle. If you want to learn more about the tablet versions of the Kindle, check out our previous guide to LCD Kindles. The two are somewhat different and you don’t want to accidentally get the wrong kind.
The Kindle Oasis
The Kindle Oasis is Amazon’s latest and greatest offering in the Kindle line of e-readers. Think of it as the luxury model — so many interesting and extravagant features that you’ll probably never need, but would feel comfortable having around just in case you ever need them.
Ergonomically speaking, the Oasis is the thinnest and lightest Kindle ever made. It comes with a one-side hand grip that tapers out until it reaches just 0.13 inches at its thinnest point. The hand grip is perfect for one-handed reading though, and at 0.29 pounds, this device won’t lead to tired wrists.
The physical build is also more robust, made out of electroplated plastic that’s stronger yet lighter than regular plastic.
The biggest feature of the Oasis? Its battery-recharging leather cover. Not only is the leather cover fancy and grand, but when combined with the Oasis’s new hibernation mode, you can get months of battery life on one charge. Yes, it’s removable. It comes in black, merlot, and walnut colors.
Everything else is pretty much the same: touchscreen, high-resolution 300 PPI 6-inch display, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, and a built-in system of LED lights for page-viewing consistency when needed.
As you might expect, these features don’t come cheap. The Kindle Oasis retails at $289 for the standard setup (other configurations may be made available in the near future).
The Bottom Line
Only get the Kindle Oasis if you have the money to spend. The recharging leather cover is nifty, but ultimately unnecessary unless you expect to find yourself stranded on an island for a few weeks. The hand grip is its most practical feature, but is it worth the price? Not for me, but maybe for you.
The Kindle Voyage
The Kindle Voyage was Amazon’s top-shelf model from late 2014 up until the Oasis was released in early 2016 — and now that the Oasis is here, it almost feels as if the Voyage doesn’t have a reason to exist any more. It’s no longer the luxury option yet still too expensive to be practical.
It’s technically the thinnest and lightest Kindle after the Oasis thanks to its thickness of 0.30 inches and its weight of 0.39 pounds, and while those specs aren’t insignificant by any stretch, it’s hard to justify the $100 price difference between the Voyage and the next model down.
Like the Oasis, the Voyage comes with a touchscreen, high-resolution 300 PPI 6-inch display, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, and a built-in system of LED lights for dark reading (although fewer lights than the Oasis, so less consistency). Battery life is measured in weeks.
The Voyage is the only model with PagePress technology, which lets you rest your thumb on the edge and lightly press when you want to turn the page. It’s a worthwhile quality-of-life enhancement that many Voyage users end up loving. The tactile feedback is very nice.
With a retail price of $199, the Kindle Voyage is a tough choice.
The Bottom Line
You’re basically paying $100 over the next model for three things: half an inch less thickness, a negligible amount of weight reduction, and PagePress. For a practical guy such as myself, I know I can live without those. On the other hand, if you can afford the Voyage, you might as well spend a little more for the Oasis.
The Kindle Paperwhite
The Kindle Paperwhite is without a doubt the most popular variant. It’s better than the basic model in every single way, yet only costs marginally more. If you ask me, the Paperwhite should be the lowest offered model of the Kindle because there’s no reason to go below it.
It weighs in at 0.45 pounds with a thickness of 0.36 inches, making it barely heavier than the Voyage and only slightly thicker. On the other hand, it’s a little bit heavier than the basic model and slightly thinner. For everyday reading on the go, it won’t give you much trouble at all.
The Paperwhite comes with a touchscreen, but it’s the lowest you can go that still has a high-resolution 300 PPI 6-inch display, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, and a built-in system of LED lights for dark reading (fewer bulbs than the Voyage, so slightly less consistent). Battery life is measured in weeks.
With a retail price of $99, the Kindle Paperwhite is excellent value for money.
The Bottom Line
You can’t go wrong with the Paperwhite. If you’re thinking of buying your first Kindle, go with the Paperwhite. It’s good for portability and long-term reading. It doesn’t skimp on any fundamental features and only costs $40 more than the Kindle Basic. This is the everyman’s Kindle.
The Kindle Basic
The Kindle Basic is a disappointment. It’s obviously meant to be an entry-level device for those who want to try e-ink technology without investing too much in something they may not use long-term, but the feature set is gimped and the device itself has very little value for what you pay.
This thing weighs in at 0.42 pounds with a thickness of 0.40 inches, which isn’t that bad but will prove frustrating from time to time. It’s also prone to wearing out your arms during long hand-held reading sessions.
Not only that, but the Basic is inferior to the Paperwhite in every way. It has a touchscreen but no high-resolution display (only 167 PPI). Battery life is measured in weeks, but there aren’t any built-in LED lights for dark reading, which is bad news for night-time readers.
The Basic comes with Wi-Fi connectivity but no option for 3G. This is fine though because you can always get around the lack of 3G by creating your own Wi-Fi hotspots, whether by tethering a smartphone or reverse-tethering a laptop.
With a retail price of $59, the Kindle Basic is only for the most budget-conscious readers, but the overall value isn’t great.
The Bottom Line
We don’t recommend the Kindle Basic. If you do buy one and end up loving it, you’re just going to upgrade to a Paperwhite at some point anyway so you might as well start off with one. If you buy it and hate it, at least you can fetch a better resale price for a Paperwhite than a Basic.
Is the Kindle Right for You?
Have you decided on which model you want to get? If so, awesome! But before you dive in and order one from Amazon, take a moment to consider whether you need a Kindle right now.
Then again, if none of those reasons apply to you, then feel free to buy one and start reading eBooks on that beautiful e-ink screen. Nothing beats the experience. Your eyes and your mind will both thank you profusely.
Which Kindle did you decide on? How often do you read eBooks versus real books? Are e-ink screens necessary or are you fine using a smartphone or tablet? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments below!