The Amazon Kindle has come to be considered the best e-reader money can buy. But money can buy several different kinds at largely varying prices. Here, we take a look at the differences between Kindles, which Kindle is the best for your needs and how much Kindles cost.
The first Amazon Kindle e-reader was released in 2007, and in the decade that followed the range has managed to all but dominate the digital book market. Their relative affordability (of some models!) and easy to use nature, coupled with the fact you can carry thousands of books on one device, means they are an attractive purchase for many.
However, there have been many generations of Kindles and today there are four different models available direct from Amazon.
There are also other brands of e-readers made by different companies. Check out a few over on our list of the 7 best e-readers.
In this article we break down the four models, the differences between them, and why the pricing is different (and sometimes, wildly so).
Before we start though, here’s a list of things that are the same on all models of Kindle, no matter which you end up getting:
- Full access to the entire Amazon Kindle Store
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- 6in touchscreen e-ink display
- Take and share notes within books
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Amazon Kindle 8th generation
- RRP: £59.99, US$79.99
This model has just been updated (June 2016) and it can't be beaten for value. The cheapest, all-new Kindle is simply called ‘Kindle’ and – for all intents and purposes – does exactly the same job as all the other Kindles in the range. Amazon has two different prices for this model, asking £10 more for the option to not have special offers and sponsored screensavers on your device. Bear in mind this is a personal decision – you will never get ads in the books you purchase, but there will be ads on the lock screen when you are not using your device unless you buy the higher priced model.
The Kindle has a 6in touchscreen display for turning pages, but there’s no backlight for reading in the dark. It has 4GB of storage – thousands of books worth. You’ll surely never fill it up. It also now comes in a cool white colour option.
It connects to the Amazon Kindle Store via Wi-Fi (there is no cellular/3G model anymore) and you can buy and download books directly onto the Kindle in seconds. The battery will also last for weeks, particularly with Wi-Fi turned off.
Best for those on a budget or who want a simple, pure reading device.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
- RRP: £109/$119 (Wi-Fi); £169/$189 (Wi-Fi + 3G)
The second Kindle in the range is the Kindle Paperwhite. It has a 6in touchscreen display, but the main difference between it and the cheaper model is the backlight and the option to choose a 3G capable model.
Like the cheaper Kindle, you have to pay £10 more to not have ads on the lock screen. It has a better screen resolution compared to the cheaper model, so text will be sharper, which is good news when a backlight is present. Just like the all-new Kindle, it's available in white!
Because of the backlight, you can expect to get slightly less battery life than the cheaper Kindle, but the Paperwhite will still last for about six weeks, which is incredible for a battery powered device.
There’s a Wi-Fi only model, but the model with in-built 3G is great if you travel a lot – it allows you to download books anywhere in the world with a 3G signal for free, with no contract. It’s an amazing feature that we’ve used and loved here at PC Advisor for years.
Best for those who want a backlit or 3G Kindle at the lowest price.
Amazon Kindle Voyage
- RRP: £169/$199 (Wi-Fi); £229/$269 (Wi-Fi + 3G)
The Kindle Voyage is actually quite similar to the Paperwhite – a backlit, 6in touchscreen display with the same pixel density (300ppi).
So what are the differences? It is thinner, at 7.6mm and lighter in weight too, plus it has a light sensor that automatically adjusts the backlight depending on the light around you. You can also turn pages using the PagePress sensors on the device’s bezel rather than pressing touchscreen (which is also an option).
The cheaper model is Wi-Fi only, while the additional £60 buys you 3G connectivity. There are no Kindle Voyages that have sponsored adverts. The Voyage is undoubtedly an excellent Kindle with a six week battery life, but there isn’t actually much difference between it and the cheaper Paperwhite.
Best for those who want a light, thin premium Kindle but don’t want to spend over £200.
Amazon Kindle Oasis
- RRP: £269 (Wi-Fi); £329 (Wi-Fi + 3G), US$289 (Wi-Fi); $359 (Wi-Fi + 3G)
The latest and most premium Kindle ever made is the Kindle Oasis. It has the same functionality as the other models but in an exquisite design. It has a metallic wedge design for comfortable one-handed use – the thicker part is weighted so you barely feel the weight of the device when you use it.
It is an incredible 3.4mm at its lowest point, with the page turn buttons on the handgrip (as ever though, the 6in screen is a backlit touch display). There is screen orientation for left and right-handed use, but there isn’t a light sensor as found on the Kindle Voyage.
The more expensive model is the one with 3G capabilities, but all models come bundled with a clever leather charging cover. It attaches to the Kindle magnetically for excellent protection, but also intelligently charges the Kindle – the Kindle paired with the cover, Amazon claims, will give you months of battery life.
So it’s probably the ‘best’ Kindle, but – and importantly so – it can’t actually do anything drastically better than the cheapest £59.99 Kindle. The price you pay is for the lightest, sexiest Kindle with the best battery life.
Best for those who want the best Kindle ever made and who don’t mind paying a premium.
We’ve been playing with it and our review will be out very soon.