Which Kindle should I buy?

Ebook readers

Which Kindle should I buy?

by Mike Plant

Kindle ebook reader or Kindle Fire tablet? Do you need a 3G or wi-fi only model? This expert guide will help you pick out the best Kindle for you.

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Amazon's Kindle is the leading name in ebook readers, but there are several Kindle models and Amazon Kindle Fire tablets at a range of prices. Read on to find out which Kindle is best for you.

To see which ebook readers we recommend, see our ebook reader Best Buys.

At present, five different models of Amazon Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets are available. All can be used to read ebooks and most can be used to browse the web, but beyond that, there's a world of difference between the devices.

In the table below, we explain the key differences between each of the main Kindle and Kindle Fire products. As a Which? member, you can log in to see our full verdicts and test scores to find out which is the best Kindle for you.

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Which Kindle should I buy?
Which Kindle should I buy?
Ebook readerClick for full reviewScreen ratingPerformanceEase of useScore
Ebook reader table logged out
88%
This Kindle has a great screen and impressive durability but has it got any drawbacks compared to other leading ebook readers on the market?

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Ebook reader table logged out
73%
This is a great ebook reader that’s comfortable to read in a variety of light conditions, but how did it fare in our unique drop test compared to its rivals?

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Ebook reader table logged out
71%
Ranking extremely well for durability, the Kindle could survive being knocked off a coffee table, or even a sun lounger.

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Key

Member Content

Kindle ebook readers

Kindle ebook readers use e-ink screens designed to closely imitate the look of printed text in a paperback.

E-ink requires very little battery power to display text, meaning that the average battery life of an ebook reader is much longer than a tablet and runs to days and even weeks. A good ebook reader will also be easy to read in any light, while many feature a light so that you can read them in the dark, too.

Most ebook readers are limited to black and white though, so that illustrations won’t display in colour – and nor will websites if the device is capable of displaying them. E-ink screens don’t support video either, meaning that a Kindle ebook reader only excels at the printed word.

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Which Amazon Fire tablet should I buy?
Which Amazon Fire tablet should I buy?
Amazon Fire tabletClick for full reviewScreen ratingPerformanceEase of useScore
Ebook reader table logged out
77%
This tablet has an impressive, sharp screen that’s great for watching TV and movies on. It runs a modified version of Android and has access to Amazon’s helpful Mayday instant advice.

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Ebook reader table logged out
71%
A great device for watching videos, reading ebooks and browsing the internet, but how does it fare when it comes to sound and battery life?

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Ebook reader table logged out
70%
A solid and well-built tablet with a crisp and punchy display. Battery life is reasonable too, offering over ten hours of video playback or web browsing over wi-fi.

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Ebook reader table logged out
70%
This tablet has an impressive, sharp screen that’s great for watching TV and movies on. It runs a modified version of Android and has access to Amazon’s helpful Mayday instant advice.

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Ebook reader table logged out
62%
This tablet has a perfectly respectable screen and is quick enough to cope with most apps you'd care to run on it. Compromises might have been made when it comes to battery life and its cameras, but it is still a more than capable device.

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Member Content

Amazon Fire tablets

Kindle Fire HD and Fire HDX tablets use full-colour, high resolution LCD touchscreens. This means you can watch videos, play games, send emails and browse websites exactly as you would on an iPad or Android tablet.

The downside is that the LCD screen of a tablet isn’t as comfortable to use for reading as an ebook reader’s e-ink display, especially for longer periods. Reading on a sunny day might be particularly difficult because of glare on the screen.

Battery life can be another issue, with tablets requiring a recharge long before ebook readers. Essentially it’s a trade-off, with Kindle Fire tablets offering many more functions, but being slightly less adept at displaying text in an easily digestible way.

Should I buy a Kindle ebook reader or Amazon Fire tablet?

Tablets and ebook readers both let you read digital books, but they're built around very different screen and interface technologies. For this reason, the Amazon Fire tablets and the Kindle ebook readers offer different advantages and disadvantages.

Do I need a 3G Kindle?

Some Kindle ebook readers, including the Paperwhite and Voyage, are available in two different versions: a wi-fi-only model or a variation with access to wi-fi and 3G internet. The latter is usually around £60 more expensive.

The 3G access will allow you to download books wherever you are over mobile data, and there’s no additional monthly cost as Amazon pays for its own 3G connection.

The 3G connectivity is only really worth it if you know you'll buy lots of books when you’re on the move or you don't have wi-fi in your home.

Can I listen to music or audio books on a Kindle?

While older Kindle ebook readers used to support MP3 files, the modern models don’t. If you want to listen to music or audio books on an Amazon device you'll need to buy an Amazon Fire tablet.

Alternatively, you could of course listen to music on a smartphone or tablet - you can even listen to any content native to Amazon by dowloading the Kindle app for your type of mobile device.

Can I just get an app for my phone or tablet instead?

With smartphones and tablets becoming ever more popular, and most offering a variety of ebook reader apps, you might be tempted to opt for an ebook app rather than forking out for a separate device.

Though tablets and smartphones aren't as suited to long periods of reading as an ebook reader’s e-ink screen, they should still be fine for shorter stints. Apps from a variety of ebook stores, including Amazon, are usually available free of charge and will often offer free books, too – usually classics that are out of copyright.

Read our Best ebook stores for price advice guide to find out which ebook stores give best value for money.