Our pick for the best Kindle just got an overhaul. The Kindle Paperwhite now sports a larger screen, faster hardware, longer battery life, and the addition of an amber tone for the front light as new standout features, and that’s just the headliners. (Fans of the USB-C connector can rest easy at last.)
But the new Paperwhite also costs more, especially if you want the version with more storage. To make it easier to decide if you want to upgrade (or which version you want if you see the 2018 edition on sale), we’ve highlighted the key differences for you, along with putting the full specifications for each side-by-side.
The 2021 model of the Paperwhite is larger than the 2018 version. It’s about a quarter-inch (7mm~) taller and wider. It does remain about the same thickness, though.
The new Paperwhite has a screen size of 6.8-inches (172mm), which gives you about another 3/4-inch of real estate. The 2018 model has a 6-inch (152mm) display.
The new Paperwhite models tips the scale by nearly a full extra ounce compared to its predecessor. The 2021 Kindle Paperwhite weighs 7.23 ounces (205g), and the Signature Edition variant weighs 7.34 ounces (208g). The 2018 Kindle Paperweight is a daintier 6.04 ounces (182g) for the Wi-Fi version, and 6.8 ounces (191g) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular version.
The likely reason for the new Kindle Paperwhite’s heavier weight is its longer battery life. Amazon says you should get up to 10 weeks of reading on the 2021 edition, up from the 2018 version’s max of 6 weeks. (Both estimates presume 30 minutes of reading per day, with Wi-Fi off and a setting of 13 for the light.)
According to Amazon, the 2021 Paperwhite’s display is 10-percent brighter at maximum compared to the 2018 version. Also related to screen brightness: The Signature Edition comes with the ability to automatically adjust brightness based on ambient lighting conditions.
Front light color temperature
On the 2021 Kindle Paperwhite, you can change the color of the front light from white to amber. This new feature is meant to provide better nighttime reading (and better sleep hygiene). You can even schedule the change between the cool and warm lighting.
Amazon doesn’t reveal technical details about the processors and screens it uses in its Kindles, nor can you reasonably benchmark the e-readers. But according to the company, the 2021 Kindle Paperwhite has 20-percent faster page turns compared to the 2018 model.
New charging connector
People have wanted companies to ditch micro-USB connectors for years—and Amazon’s finally done it for the Paperwhite. The 2021 version uses USB-C for charging, which means you won’t have to think about which way to plug in the cable anymore.
Those who go for the more luxe version of the new Paperwhite also get the option to use wireless charging. The Signature Edition supports 10W Qi chargers, though you will need to purchase one separately (and verify compatibility before doing so).
The upgrades for the Kindle Paperwhite don’t come free, alas. You’ll now pay $140 for the 8GB model (up $10 from the 2018 version), and $190 for the 32GB Signature Edition (up $30 from the previous 32GB version). The Signature Edition takes a larger jump likely due to its support for wireless charging and adaptive screen brightness—the 8GB version lacks those features.
Full specification comparison
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Alaina Yee is PCWorld's resident bargain hunter—when she's not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she's scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.