Getting an e-reader can do wonders for bookworms struggling with library management. (Physical space is a finite and precious resource, as we all found out during 2020.) You don’t even have to spend that much either, as today’s entry-level options pack a slew of features. Case in point: Amazon’s $90 Kindle, which sports a front light and supports audiobook playback.
Still, moving up to a higher-end model can bring material benefits. That’s especially so when comparing the Kindle against the fancier Kindle Paperwhite ($140 MSRP). A few key differences exist between the two models that can dramatically tip the scales in favor of one over the other, depending on your situation.
To make it easier to decide between the two, we’ve highlighted the main features of each model. We’ve also included a chart at the end of the article that shows the full spec comparison.
The base Kindle model has a 6-inch, 167-ppi screen with four LEDs. The Kindle Paperwhite upgrades that to a larger, front-flush 6.8-inch, 300-ppi screen with 17 LEDs. The color of front lights on the Paperwhite can also shift from white to amber for more comfortable nighttime reading.
Dimensions & Weight
The Kindle measures 6.3 x 4.5 x 0.34 inches (160 x 113 x 8.7 mm) and weighs 6.1 ounces (174g). It’s smaller and lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite, which comes in at 6.9 x 4.9 x 0.32 inches (174 x 125 x 8.1 mm) and 7.23 ounces (205g) for the standard edition. The Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition of the Paperwhite is a little heavier at 7.34 ounces (208g).
Both the Kindle and standard edition of the Kindle Paperwhite come with 8GB of storage. You can get more space with the Paperwhite by stepping up to 32GB Signature Edition.
Voracious readers often away from a power outlet will feel the difference between the Kindle and the Kindle Paperwhite. The basic Kindle gets up to four weeks on a full charge, while the Paperwhite gets up to ten weeks on a full charge.
People who read near (or in) water, take note: The Kindle isn’t water resistant. Instead, you’ll want the Kindle Paperwhite, which is IPX8-rated and can survive in up to two meters of fresh water for an hour at a time.
The entry-level Kindle relies on a micro-USB port for charging—so those firmly committed to USB-C will want to look at the Kindle Paperwhite. The Signature Edition of the Kindle Paperwhite also supports wireless charging, and you can fully charge the device with a compatible 10W Qi charging pad in under 3.5 hours.
Kindle vs. Kindle Paperwhite: 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.