Amazon is refreshing the Kindle Paperwhite for the first time in nearly three years with an updated model, adding a bigger 6.8-inch E-Ink display that’s brighter and has adjustable color temperature, USB-C charging, a faster processor, and weeks more in battery life.
The current Kindle Paperwhite has been Amazon’s best e-reader since it was released nearly three years ago, and Amazon isn’t messing with the formula too much. The new model’s design is similar to the old one, with a flush-mounted display, built-in backlight, 300 PPI resolution for crisp text, and IPX8 waterproofing.
The new model, however, looks to improve on virtually every aspect of the e-reader. The battery has been boosted from six weeks to approximately 10 weeks from a single charge. Charging itself is faster: thanks to USB-C, the device can fully charge in about two and a half hours. There’s a new SoC, which (combined with software improvements) Amazon says offers a 20 percent improvement in performance. And the color-temperature changing tech that Amazon debuted on the 2019 Kindle Oasis has made its way down to the more affordable Paperwhite for reading at night.
The most noticeable change, however, is the bigger display, which is jumping from six inches to a 6.8-inch panel. Amazon is still maintaining the same 300 PPI pixel density, so text will look just as crisp despite the larger display.
In order to achieve that minimal increase in size, Amazon has shrunken down the bezels on the new Paperwhite. Given that the bezels are the primary place that you generally hold a Kindle, we’ll have to see the new device in person to gauge how that change works, although generally smaller bezels are a good thing in the tech world.
The new Paperwhite models will also feature Amazon’s updated Kindle software that it announced earlier in September; at launch, they’ll offer the new smartphone-style swipe-down settings menu and a new menu bar at the bottom of the homescreen. An additional update is planned for later in the year that will more substantially update the homescreen and library menus with more scrollable interfaces. Additionally, Amazon is introducing a new log-on system with the new Paperwhites that will add the option to log in using a Kindle app on a smartphone instead of having to struggle with the Kindle’s on-device keyboard.
For the first time, Amazon is also introducing a pricier, upgraded version of the Paperwhite alongside the base model: the Paperwhite Signature Edition, which is identical to the standard version, with three differences. First, it adds Qi wireless charging to make it easier to recharge. Second, it offers 32GB of storage, compared to the 8GB on the standard model. And lastly, it offers the automatically adjusting light sensor that Amazon had previously only offered on the Oasis (whereas the base model has to manually adjust things).
While the new Paperwhite — and in particular, the Paperwhite Signature — have gotten the top-tier Oasis model’s most obvious standout features, the $250 model still has a few additional differences that leave it at the top of the pack.
The Oasis still has the largest display of any Kindle (a seven-inch E-Ink panel, compared to the Paperwhite’s 6.8-inch display), and it features 25 LEDs for a brighter overall display. The Oasis also has its unique form factor, with an aluminum body, rotating display, and physical page turn buttons that Amazon’s cheaper models still lack.
That said, hopefully Amazon will borrow a few features from the refreshed Paperwhites, like USB-C charging and the Paperwhite Signature’s wireless Qi charging, for its next Oasis refresh.
The new improvements do come with a cost, though: the new Paperwhite starts at $139 (a $10 increase from the 2018 model), and the Paperwhite Signature Edition starts at $189. Those prices are for the ad-supported models; getting a Paperwhite without ads will add $20 to the price.
Amazon is also selling a Kindle Paperwhite Kids Edition with the new model for $159, which includes a Paperwhite, a kid-friendly cover, a year of Amazon Kids Plus, and a two-year extended replacement program, similar to the existing bundle Amazon has for the base Kindle model.
Orders for the new Paperwhite models start today, with the new e-readers expected to ship starting October 27th.