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Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite: Which one should you buy?

In this piece, we go over what sets the Kindle Paperwhite apart from the basic Kindle 2022.
By
December 13, 2023
Kindle Paperwhite 2021 showing the notes clippings page next to a notebook
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Avid readers can really benefit from owning an e-reader, though choosing the right device that best fits your needs can be challenging. And when it comes to the best e-readers on the market, the one that usually comes to mind is Amazon’s Kindle. However, Amazon introduced the Kindle Paperwhite, an updated model that offers new features over the original. Today, we’ll be going over all of the major differences between the latest Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle models, their benefits, and any potential pain points.

Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite: At a glance

  • Both the Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite feature similar screens, though the Paperwhite is slightly larger and features more LED lights that give it a wider range of brightness levels.
  • Kindle Paperwhite is water resistant, while the Kindle 2022 is not.
  • The Kindle Paperwhite has two different storage options, either 8 GB or 32 GB, while the Kindle 2022 has only a 16 GB model.
  • Both models feature excellent battery life, though the Paperwhite's battery is still superior (Kindle 2022 will last about 30 hours on a single charger versus the Paperwhite's 35 hours).
  • The Kindle Paperwhite costs $140 (8GB model) and $180 (32 GB Signature Edition) while the Kindle 2022 is just $100.

Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite: Features breakdown

The Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite share many similarities, though there are a handful of differences.

Display

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2021 with the screen in dark mode showing a book, on a table, next to a cup of coffee and plant
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The most obvious difference between these devices is in their display size. The Kindle features a 6-inch 300-ppi screen with four LEDs. Comparatively, the Paperwhite features a slightly larger display, at 6.8 inches, 300 ppi with 17 LEDs. The Paperwhite’s front lights can also be changed from bright to warmer colors, allowing the user to better read during the nighttime.

Dimensions & weight

In addition to being larger than it display-wise, the Kindle Paperwhite itself also features larger dimensions than the Kindle. The Kindle Paperwhite’s exact dimensions are 6.9 x 4.9 x 0.32 inches (174 x 125 x 8.1 mm), slightly larger than the Kindle 2022, which measures 6.2 x 4.3 x 0.32 inches (157.8 x 108.6 x 8 mm).

Additionally, the Kindle Paperwhite is a tad bit heavier as well — the standard edition weighs 7.23 ounces (205 g), while the Paperwhite Signature Edition is a bit heavier at 7.34 ounces (208 g). Meanwhile, the Kindle weighs just 5.56 ounces (158 g).

Battery life

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2021 screen showing charging indicator
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Those looking to get the most reading time out of their Kindle will likely want to use the device with the longest-lasting battery. Thankfully, both the Kindle and the Kindle Paperwhite have great battery life — but the Kindle Paperwhite still has the superior battery out of the two.

It’s estimated that the standard Kindle lasts users about 30 hours per charge, while the Kindle Paperwhite lasts about 35 hours. For those who read around 30 minutes per day, either device should last about two months on a single charge — not too shabby!

Build quality & water resistance

One element of Amazon’s e-readers that isn’t brought up as often as others is the difference in build quality between the two of them. While both are made of very similar plastic, the Kindle Paperwhite is water resistant while the Kindle is not. This is a pretty big deal if you’re the type of person who enjoys reading in the bath or by the pool.

Another small difference between the devices is that Kindle has an indented screen, while the Paperwhite’s screen is flush with the rest of the unit. This difference may matter to you if you hate dust build-up, as the Kindle 2022’s indented screen makes it more prone to gathering dust and can be more of a pain to clean.

Storage

A user's Amazon Kindle 2022 rests against a piece of carry on luggage.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Another difference between these devices is their storage capacity. The Kindle features 16 GB of storage, while the Kindle Paperwhite features two different storage options — 8 GB or 32 GB. This interestingly weighs in favor of the Kindle, which offers a better bang for your buck for those looking at just the standard editions of both models.

Price

One of the bigger differences between these devices is with their price tags, as the Kindle is much cheaper than the Kindle Paperwhite. The Kindle costs $100 new, while the Kindle Paperwhite costs $140 (8GB model) and $180 (32 GB Signature Edition).

The Kindle is nearly half of the price of the Kindle Paperwhite’s Signature Edition, which is pretty significant. And while users can save a fair amount by opting for the cheaper Paperwhite model, they’d also be getting the model with the worst storage capacity out of the three options.

Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite: Which should you buy?

Amazon Kindle 2022 Screen Saver
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

All in all, both the Kindle and the Kindle Paperwhite are excellent devices. For someone looking for an easier way to read e-books, whether on the go or lounging at home, both options are great.

Kindle Paperwhite does benefit from having a larger screen, more lighting options, water resistance, and a more premium feel, but it isn’t perfect. The benefit of the Kindle 2022’s smaller size is that it’s both more portable and easier to hold with a single hand.

Additionally, the Kindle 2022 is quite a bit cheaper than the Kindle Paperwhite — so if you’re just looking for a cheap way to read e-books and value portability over all else, then the Kindle 2022 is the option for you. Otherwise, the Kindle Paperwhite offers enough positives that make it the superior product. Regardless, both devices are great e-readers and are well worth their price.

FAQ

The Kindle is not waterproof. However, the Kindle Paperwhite is IPX8-rated and can endure being submerged in up to two meters of fresh water for up to one hour at a time.

Yes, the Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite have blue light, but the blue light emitted is minimal. It is front-lit, which directs light toward the screen and emits less blue light than most other devices. The Kindle Paperwhite also features a dark mode which further reduces the amount of light that is reflected to one’s eyes.

Yes, users can type notes in both the Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite by selecting the option “Create Note.”

Yes, both Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite use USB-C connections and come included with USB-C chargers.