Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
If you’re skeptical about whether or not you need a Kindle, take a moment to read our piece on why every ebook fan needs a Kindle. In short: they’re easier on the eyes, they read more like paper than phones do, they can carry thousands of books, and they have incredible battery life.
Convinced? Good. Now, there are several Kindle models you can choose between. Here’s how you pick the right kind of Kindle for your particular needs without wasting any money.
Note: This article focuses on the e-reader versions of the Kindle. To learn more about the tablet versions of the Kindle, check out our guide to LCD Kindles. The two are different. Don’t accidentally get the wrong kind!
The Kindle Oasis
The Kindle Oasis is Amazon’s greatest offering in the Kindle line of e-readers. Think of it as the luxury model—packed with a lot of interesting and extravagant features that you’ll probably never need, but is ultimately the most comfortable to use.
Ergonomically speaking, the Kindle Oasis is the thinnest and lightest Kindle device ever made. It comes with a one-side hand grip that tapers out to just 0.13 inches at its thinnest point. The hand grip is perfect for one-handed reading, but at 0.425 pounds, this device might tire out your wrists.
The physical build is also more robust than other Kindle models, made out of electroplated plastic that’s stronger yet lighter than regular plastic.
The biggest feature of the Kindle Oasis? Its battery-recharging leather cover. Not only is the leather cover fancy and grand, but when combined with theKindle 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.
Other notable features include a high-resolution 300 PPI 7-inch display, waterproof design rated at IPX8, Bluetooth pairing with audio devices, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, and a built-in system of LED lights for page-viewing consistency when needed.
Kindle Oasis: The Bottom Line
Only get the Kindle Oasis if you have money to burn. The recharging leather cover is nifty, but ultimately unnecessary unless you expect to find yourself stranded on an island for weeks. The hand grip is its most practical feature, but is it worth such a bump in price? Only you can decide.
The Kindle Voyage
The Kindle Voyage was Amazon’s top-shelf Kindle model up until the Kindle Oasis was released in early 2016—and now that the Kindle Oasis is here, it almost feels as if the Kindle Voyage doesn’t have a reason to exist anymore. It’s no longer the luxury option, yet still too expensive for casual readers.
It’s technically the second thinnest and lightest Kindle thanks to its thickness of 0.30 inches and its weight of 0.41 pounds, and while those specs aren’t bad by any means, it’s hard to justify the price difference between the Kindle Voyage and the next model down.
Like the Kindle Oasis, the Kindle 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 bulbs than the Kindle Oasis). Its battery life is measured in weeks. It lacks Bluetooth connectivity for audio.
The Kindle 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 over lesser models that many Kindle Voyage users rave about.
Kindle Voyage: The Bottom Line
You’re basically paying $80 over the next model down for three things: half-inch less thickness, a negligible amount of weight reduction, and PagePress technology. Personally, I can live without those features, and if you can afford the Kindle Voyage, you might as well save up for the Kindle Oasis.
The Kindle Paperwhite
The Kindle Paperwhite is without a doubt the most popular Kindle model. It’s better than the most basic model in every single way, yet only costs marginally more. If you ask me, the Kindle Paperwhite should be Amazon’s lowest offered model because there’s really no reason to go below it.
It weighs in at 0.48 pounds with a thickness of 0.36 inches, making it the heaviest of all Kindle models—but the actual difference between this one and, say, the Kindle Oasis isn’t all that noticeable for everyday reading.
The Kindle Paperwhite comes with a touchscreen, and it’s the lowest model 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 (even fewer bulbs than the Kindle Voyage). Its battery life is measured in weeks.
The only thing the Kindle Paperwhite lacks is Bluetooth connectivity for audio.
Kindle Paperwhite: The Bottom Line
Thinking of buying your first Kindle? You can’t go wrong with the Kindle Paperwhite. It’s good for portability and long-term reading, doesn’t skimp on any fundamental features, and only costs $40 more than the Kindle Basic. This is the everyman’s Kindle at an excellent price.
The Kindle Basic
The Kindle Basic is a disappointment. It’s obviously meant as an entry-level device for those who want to try e-ink technology without investing too much, but the Kindle Basic’s feature set is gimped and offers very little value for what you pay.
This thing weighs in at 0.35 pounds with a thickness of 0.36 inches, which makes it the lightest of all Kindle devices and the best for longer reading sessions where your arms are prone to wearing out.
But really, the Kindle Basic is inferior to the Kindle Paperwhite in almost every other way. It has a touchscreen, but no high-resolution display (only 167 PPI). Its 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 Kindle Basic comes with Bluetooth connectivity for audio, and 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.
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 Kindle Paperwhite at some point anyway, so you might as well start off with one. Only go with the Kindle Basic if you’re really itching for an e-reader but absolutely can’t spare the dollars.
Is an Amazon 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.
There are valid reasons why you might want to wait before buying an e-reader this year. It’s also smart to wait a few weeks before making gadget purchases to help you curb impulse spending habits. But if that’s not an issue for you, go ahead and start reading ebooks on that beautiful e-ink screen. Your eyes and your mind will both thank you profusely.