Which Kindle should I buy?
By Oli McKean
What's the difference between the main Amazon Kindle models? Our expert guide will help you pick the best Kindle for you.
Amazon's Kindle is the big name in ebook readers. But how do you choose between the several Kindle models available? And is the most expensive Kindle the best? Let our expert, independent advice lift the fog.
All of Amazon's Kindle ebook readers and tablets 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, from screen sizes and internal storage to price point. The Kindle range starts at £60 for the basic model, going up to £230 for the new Kindle Oasis.
In the table below, we explain the key differences between each of the main Kindle releases. 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. Is it worth splashing out on the latest Kindle Oasis (2017)?
Just want to know the very best ebook readers around? Here's a simple solution: head over to our Best Buy ebook readers page to see which models we recommend.
Which Kindle should I buy?
Amazon Kindle Oasis (2017)
Which? score %
The Kindle Oasis (2017) has a large seven-inch display, and should survive an accidental drop in the bath. It’s very expensive for an ebook reader – is it worth the extra cash? Read our full review to find out whether it’s simple or a faff to use and, more importantly, whether it’s easy to read from the screen whatever the light conditions.
Amazon Kindle (2016)
Which? score %
The latest Amazon Kindle has a revamped design, and is 11% thinner and 16% lighter than the previous version. It's the cheapest Kindle, but without a backlight for reading in the dark, is it worth buying? Check out our full verdict to find out whether it's the best ebook reader for you.
Kindle ebook readers - what can they do?
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, which means that the average battery life of an ebook reader is much longer than a tablet. Some ebook readers, including the Kindle Oasis (2017) can run for weeks at a time.
The best ebook readers we've tested are easy to read in any light, while many have a light so that you can read in the dark, too. Most are limited to black and white, though, so 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 playback, either.
As well as thousands of books, Amazon also has a Singles Classics service. This makes iconic articles and essays from well-known authors available in digital form, many for the first time. Singles Classics are exclusive to Kindle and can also be read on Fire tablets. The free Kindle app for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets will display the new content too. Singles Classics are available in the UK Kindle Store and to English speakers worldwide.
Find out more on Amazon's Kindle range over on our Kindle reviews page.
Do I need a 3G Kindle?
Some Kindle ebook readers, including the Paperwhite, Voyage and Kindle Oasis, 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, but prices vary.
Grabbing an ebook reader with 3G access will allow you to download books wherever you are, and there’s no additional monthly cost as Amazon pays for its own 3G connection. 3G connectivity is only truly worth it if you know you'll buy lots of books when you’re on the move, or if 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 newer 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. Amazon's entry-level Kindle and the Kindle Oasis (2017) support Bluetooth, however, which means you can pair some wireless headphones for spoken feedback through Amazon's VoiceView.
Alternatively, you could of course listen to music on a smartphone or tablet - you can even listen to any content native to Amazon by downloading the Kindle app.
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 and Kobo, 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.
What about 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 iOS-powered iPad or Android tablet. The downside is that LCD screens aren’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 on-screen glare.
Battery life can be another issue, with tablets requiring a recharge long before ebook readers. Ultimately, it’s a trade-off, with Kindle Fire tablets offering many more functions, but being slightly harder to read from.