Ama­zon Kin­dle Paper­white 2018 re­view: the new stan­dard

The Guardian Australia - - Technology / Sport - Sa­muel Gibbs

The new Ama­zon Kin­dle Paper­white is thin­ner, lighter and now wa­ter re­sis­tant, set­ting a new stan­dard for what an e-reader should be.

There’s only so far you can push a sin­gle-use de­vice. Tech­ni­cally the Kin­dle Paper­white is more than just an e-reader, as it now has Blue­tooth for play­ing back au­dio­books too. But it’s still a book reader, plain and sim­ple.

All that a book reader re­ally needs is a great, clear and easy to read screen. The Paper­white has that – a 6in 300ppi e-ink screen that’s crisp and easy to read in all con­di­tions, com­plete with a good, even front-light when needed.

Com­pared with the 2015 Paper­white, the de­sign has been sim­pli­fied fur­ther. It’s still a black rec­tan­gle with an eink screen in the mid­dle. This time the screen is flush with the body, pro­vid­ing a seam­less front a de­sign formerly re­served for the more ex­pen­sive Voy­age and Oa­sis.

The body is 0.9mm thin­ner, 1mm shorter and 2mm nar­rower than the old Paper­white, but it’s not re­ally no­tice­able un­less you com­pare them side by side. The bezels look about the same, the soft-touch plas­tic body feels the same, there’s the same but­ton and mi­cro-USB port in the bot­tom and the same LED that lights up when charg­ing.

What is no­tice­able is the 23g re­duc­tion in weight, which brings the 2018 Paper­white to just 182g; lighter is bet­ter when it comes to read­ing one-handed. Dou­ble the stor­age at 8GB on the cheapest model is also wel­come, par­tic­u­larly if you want to load an au­dio­book. Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

Screen: 6in e-pa­per (300ppi) Di­men­sions: 167 x 116 x 8.2 mm Weight: 182g (4G ver­sion 191g) Con­nec­tiv­ity: Wi-Fi (3G op­tional), Blue­tooth

Stor­age: 8 or 32GB

Bat­tery life: rated for ap­prox­i­mately 21 hours of read­ing

Wa­ter re­sis­tant

New this year is wa­ter re­sis­tance to 2 me­tres for up to 60 min­utes, which means trips to the beach or pool­side are less fraught with dan­ger. It’s worth not­ing that the Paper­white is un­likely to float, so per­haps best not to take it in the sea, but a quick dip or splash will be fine.

Bat­tery life is the same quoted 21 hours of read­ing time, or six weeks of 30 min­utes a day with wifi off. How far into a book that gets you de­pends on your read­ing speed, but I found it could com­fort­ably stretch to a 400-page book be­tween charges with the screen at half bright­ness or more. Switch on wifi and 4G, if you have it, and the bat­tery life will be sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced. It goes into a deep sleep if you don’t use it for an ex­tended pe­riod, which helps main­tain bat­tery life even with con­nec­tiv­ity on.

The read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is the same as any re­cent touch-screen Kin­dle. Swipe or tap to change pages, tap at the top to get to the menu, in­clud­ing quick set­tings such as air­plane mode, bright­ness con­trol and page op­tions.

The swip­ing ges­tures are slightly eas­ier now that there’s no lip to the dis­play, but page turn but­tons are bet­ter for one-handed read­ing – you’ll need to spend an­other £110 for the Kin­dle Oa­sis for those on an Ama­zon e-reader.

There are plenty of type­faces, text sizes, spac­ing and para­graph align­ments to choose from, as well as Ama­zon’s X-ray ser­vice that helps you keep track of char­ac­ters, lo­ca­tions and other bits.

If you have both the au­dio­book from Au­di­ble and the ebook, you can sync be­tween the two, pick­ing up in ei­ther for­mat from where you left off, which works amaz­ingly well. Ob­ser­va­tions

Ama­zon’s op­tional cases are ex­cel­lent, but add bulk and weight and aren’t that easy to get on and off

The Paper­white is the first Kin­dle with 4G, which I got no­tice­ably bet­ter sig­nal with when trav­el­ing but given ebooks are tiny in size they down­load in about the same time

There’s no USB-C, so you might need a ded­i­cated mi­cro-USB cable just for the Kin­dle


The 2018 Ama­zon Kin­dle Paper­white costs £120 with wifi only and 8GB of stor­age, or £150 for 32GB of stor­age, both with “spe­cial of­fers” which are ad­verts on the lockscreen or sim­i­lar and cost £10 to re­move.

The 4G ver­sion costs £220 with 32GB of stor­age and no spe­cial of­fers.

For com­par­i­son, the stan­dard Kin­dle costs £60 and the Kin­dle Oa­sis £230. The Kobo Aura H2O Edi­tion 2 costs £150.


The 2018 Ama­zon Kin­dle Paper­white is about as sim­ple and re­fined as a stan­dard ebook reader can get. It pro­vides an ex­cel­lent read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, with a great screen, good bat­tery life and ease of use that’s sec­ond to none.

The seam­less screen looks sleeker than the pre­vi­ous ver­sion, but it doesn’t feel like a lux­ury item in the same way as the Kin­dle Oa­sis. At less than half the price of the top-end Kin­dle that’s just fine. The Paper­white is there­fore the stan­dard pa­per­back to the Oa­sis’s leather-bound edi­tion.

The ad­di­tion of wa­ter re­sis­tance and a re­duc­tion in weight are worth­while, but at this stage the Kin­dle is less com­pet­ing against other e-read­ers than it is against phones and tablets.

It’s not worth up­grad­ing with­out rea­son from the 2015 model, but if you want a sim­ple, ded­i­cated e-reader, the 2018 Kin­dle Paper­white is about as good as you can get.

Other re­views

Ama­zon Kin­dle Oa­sis 2017 re­view: the Rolls-Royce of e-read­ers

Pho­to­graph: Sa­muel Gibbs for the Guardian

The 2018 Ama­zon Kin­dle Paper­white is a re­fined, easy-to-use e-reader, now with wa­ter re­sis­tance and 4G.

Gibbs for the Guardian Pho­to­graph: Sa­muel

The screen is now flush with the bodymak­ing the fit and fin­ish seam­less across thefront of the Paper­white.

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