Links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.
Your guide to the best e-readers: Kindle, Kobo, and more
For some people, a paper book won’t do anymore. Whether you want to save space or you read too quickly to carry enough books, you might be ready to try an e-reader. The current landscape looks quite different from the past, but one name remains the same — Kindle. We’ll walk you through some of Amazon’s best options, as well as more of the best e-readers you can check out.
There are many reasons to choose an e-reader over a physical book collection, but the choice isn’t always simple. We’ll start with a few guidelines before getting to our top picks. If you still have any questions, we will do our best to dig up the answer for you.
See also: The best e-book apps for Android
Buying the right e-reader for your needs
As we said, finding the perfect e-reader is sometimes more complex than it sounds. While the Kindle family is great for many people, it’s not always the most flexible. Here are a few more things you might want to keep in mind as you start shopping.
- How much screen do you need? You can buy different-sized books and grab your favorite paperbacks with large text, so why not your e-reader? Certain models come in at just 6 inches, perfect for life on the go, while others stretch to 7 inches or more. If you need larger text, grabbing a larger device to match may be a good idea.
- Where does your library live? Not all eBooks are created equal or don’t always follow the same file types. You may want to consider the supported formats before making a purchase, as some models from Kobo support everything from GIFs to EPUBs, TXTs, and HTML.
- Do you need waterproofing? Granted, you’re probably not taking your favorite book for a swim, but you could with your next e-reader. Many models offer a degree of waterproofing, which makes life much easier if you’re catching a few chapters poolside or relaxing on the beach.
- Would a tablet serve you better? The final question is whether or not an e-reader is right for you. If you love reading (and you probably do if you’re reading this list), then you’re probably set with an e-reader. However, if you want a device with full-color options and the ability to stream music and movies, it may be time to invest in a more powerful tablet.
Learn more: Our guide to the best tablets you can buy
Kindle Paperwhite (2021): The best e-reader you can buy
To be the best, you have to beat the best, and no e-reader has come close to dethroning Amazon’s Kindle lineup. The new Paperwhite is the latest in a long line of e-readers, and a few key changes mean it’s better than ever. For starters, the Paperwhite packs handy USB-C charging, so you’re one step closer to ditching micro-USB for good. Amazon also grew its latest Kindle Paperwhite to a 6.8-inch display with slimmer bezels than the previous model.
Brighter, faster, stronger — the Kindle Paperwhite is the best e-reader on the market.
Where the Paperwhite 4 packed just five LEDs, the fifth-generation leaps to 17. This means you have more control over your display’s brightness and temperature. Unfortunately, a few of Amazon’s best features are locked behind a $50 price increase, including wireless charging. The extra cost also gets you 32GB of storage, suitable for more books than you’ll ever be able to carry.
In our review, we found that the latest model is significantly faster than her aging Paperwhite 3. Everything was smoother than before, whether she opened a book, browsed her library, or checked on a menu.
- Faster than the Paperwhite 4
- USB-C charging
- Larger display in a smaller footprint
- Accidental touches with smaller bezels
- Higher base price
- Certain features cost extra
Check out our full review to learn more about the Kindle Paperwhite.
Are you looking for other recommendations? While the Kindle Paperwhite is our top recommendation, keep reading below for additional choices worth considering.
Other products worth considering
The best e-readers
- Nook GlowLight 4: The Nook was Amazon’s first e-reader rival, and it’s still kicking. This is the way to go if you already have a Barnes & Noble eBooks collection.
- Kindle Oasis: Those needing the most potent Kindle around can check out the Oasis, with waterproofing and a larger display. However, it’s already two years old and due for an update.
- Huawei MatePad Paper: The Huawei MatePad Paper comes with a stunning design, great hardware, and tablet functionality. It’s hard to get in the USA and other markets, though.
- Boox Note Air 2 Plus: This device supports Android apps and has a more accessible price if you’re looking for a tablet-replacement e-reader.
- Kobo Elipsa Pack: If you want to take notes and don’t need fancy features, the Kobo Elipsa Pack offers excellent quality at a reasonable price.
- Kindle 2019: If you want to save money with an older model, the 2019 Kindle is a great basic e-reader. It’s not the brightest or fastest, but it’s a reliable way to test the e-reader waters.
- Kindle Kids: E-readers aren’t just for adults anymore. This is an excellent option if your kids want to get in on the fun, thanks to an included year of Amazon Kids+.
Nook GlowLight 4: The best Nook e-reader
If you’re returning to the e-reader scene after a while away, there’s a chance you had a Barnes & Noble Nook all those years ago. If so, you might be looking for a way to keep up with your old library. Right now, the GlowLight 4 is the best — and only — way to do so. It comes more than four years after its predecessor, the GlowLight 3, though it doesn’t reinvent the wheel.
Barnes & Noble doubled down on a six-inch display with an integrated backlight so you can read in the dark. You can also adjust the temperature as needed. Luckily, the GlowLight 4 offers slimmer bezels, resulting in a smaller footprint overall. It claims an impressive 50 days of battery life on a single charge, up from just about a month in previous versions.
You’ll have to shell out an extra $30 for the latest Nook e-reader, with a starting cost of $149. It packs quadruple the storage — up to 32GB from 8GB. Unfortunately, you won’t find any waterproofing onboard. The GlowLight 4 may be what brings Nook back among the best e-readers on the market.
Kindle Oasis: The best e-reader for power users
Kindle last updated its premium Oasis model in 2019, and it remains one of the best e-readers for those who can afford it. It costs more than the Paperwhite, though a few key specs lag behind. You’ll only find micro-USB charging onboard, along with significant bezels on three sides. Sure, the one bezel packs page-turning buttons, but it does make for a larger device overall.
The good news is the Oasis e-reader comes IPX8 rated to keep water at bay. It also packs enough battery life to last weeks between charges. Overall, the 2019 Kindle Oasis may be slightly quicker than the previous generation, and the display offers customizable lighting options so you can read in any environment. You won’t get as many LEDs to adjust — 12 instead of 17 — but the Oasis automatically takes care of some lighting.
You can check out a 4G-enabled version with 32GB of storage if you have the budget. As an older Kindle model, we expect an Oasis refresh before too long.
Check out our full review to learn more about the Kindle Oasis.
Huawei MatePad Paper: The best tablet replacement, but it’s not available everywhere
Huawei is a new player in the e-book game, and it’s already making one of the best e-readers in existence. This is because the Huawei MatePad Paper isn’t your typical, basic e-reader. It’s more of a tablet/e-reader hybrid that takes functionality far beyond reading.
The Huawei MatePad Paper runs Harmony OS 2.0, the same software found in mobile devices and other intelligent products from the manufacturer. This means the MediaPad Paper has access to the Huawei App Gallery, giving it a much higher level of smart functionality.
Boox Note Air 2 Plus: The best tablet replacement
While Huawei comes from a renowned brand, offers stunning hardware, and is an overall better tablet, its lack of availability makes it a pass for many users. Availability isn’t the Boox Note Air 2 Plus’ only lure, though.
What makes this a great tablet replacement is that it runs Android and actually has access to the Google Play Store! The device runs Android 11, comes with a stylus out of the box, and comes with a nice 227dpi touchscreen. It’s not cheap, but you can’t do much better if you want one of the best e-readers and some level of smart functionality.
If you want to go all out on a larger 13-inch option, there’s also the Boox Max Lumi 2. It’s mighty expensive, though.
Kobo Elipsa Pack
All those fancy Android apps and tablet-like features are fun, but they may be a bit overkill for most users. Some of you might simply want to take notes, and for that purpose, the Kobo Elipsa Pack will do more than fine. It includes a Kobo Stylus and SleepCover. There’s also a generous 10.3-inch screen that will make it comfortable enough to write notes on.
Kindle 2019: The best budget e-reader
Some of the best e-readers you can buy pack all the bells and whistles you could ever want. However, some people are just looking for a way to leave their books behind. They don’t need waterproofing or oodles of space, just a reliable option for a few chapters here and there. That’s where the Kindle 2019 comes in. It’s not brand-new nor has heaps of storage, but it won’t put too much stress on your wallet.
The basic Kindle also makes for a good bet if you want to dip a toe into the land of e-readers. You might ultimately decide to stick with paperbacks, and it’s easier to say goodbye when you haven’t invested too much money. It costs just $89 and offers a simple six-inch display. Amazon also chose a hard plastic finish for the Kindle 2019 instead of the rubberized touch on the Paperwhite.
Check out our full review to learn more about the Kindle 2019.
Kindle Kids: The best e-reader for kids
The last pick on our list of the best e-readers is all about showing that reading is for everyone. The Kindle Kids takes everything you love about the classic Kindle and brings it to a kid-friendly platform. While the hardware itself isn’t all that different, the kid-friendly cover and a free year of Amazon Kids+ mean that the Kindle Kids is ready for the tiniest readers around.
See also: The best tablets for kids
At its heart, the Kindle Kids is a 10th-generation Kindle, but Amazon Kids+ adds thousands of titles from Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, and more. You can also set screen limits on how long your kids are reading and filter out books they may not be ready for quite yet. The Kindle Kids comes with 8GB of onboard storage, or you can get the Kindle Kids Paperwhite with all the added perks.
Should you get an e-reader or a tablet?
This is one of the most important questions to ask yourself while doing e-reader research. Do you need an e-reader, or would a tablet suit you better? Well, it comes down to what you want to do.
If you’re after a way to enjoy your favorite books, then an e-reader is the only solution. It will last much longer between charges because the display doesn’t have to work nearly as hard. You can also fit a whole heap of books into the — often limited — storage due to their small size. Of course, an e-reader tends to be a one-trick pony. You won’t be able to enjoy YouTube or other video streaming services, and the compatible magazines will often be in black and white.
You’ll probably want to invest in a tablet if you are hoping for an all-in-one device to stream music, video, and more. They may cost more, and you’ll have to find a charger a lot more often, but there are fewer limits to what a tablet can do. If you’re worried about the size, you can always check out the iPad Mini, with its refreshed design and travel-ready footprint.
Learn more: The best tablets you can buy
Yes, you can add the Kindle app on both Android and iOS tablets.
It depends on which model you buy. Amazon claims it can hold thousands of books in the 8GB base storage, but other platforms may optimize differently.
Yes, or at least, the Kindle family does. The program is called Amazon Kids, and it allows you to manage the content your kids can access, and set limits on screen time.