Amazon Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite: How to find the best ereader for you

 Kindle next to a Kindle Paperwhite with screens on, on a wooden desk.
Credit: Future

If I were to write a Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite comparison a couple of years ago, the result would have been very clear cut in favour of the latter. But Amazon's upgrade to its standard Kindle back in 2022 has levelled the playing field a lot, and now there are just a few key features which set the two (and parting with an extra £50) apart.

The Kindle Paperwhite is Amazon's more premium ereader – big screen to fit more copy on the 'page', high resolution for crisp, sharp text and an adjustable light to help ease any strain on the eyes over long periods. The standard Kindle, as the name would suggest, is a more basic version of it's luxurious younger sibling.

There is a lot of similarity between these two devices, hence why they take the top two spots on our best Kindles round up – here I'll go through the key differences to help you decide which model is best suited to you.

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle (2022)

The standard Kindle has come a long way since it was first released. It has enough storage for thousands of books, an excellent battery life and is small and light enough to fit in pretty much any bag. Brilliant for on-the-go book lovers.

Kindle Paperwhite
Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite won the vote for me, just. It's slightly bigger, so better for larger hands, has an adjustable light to the environment you're in to ease strain on the eyes and it's waterproof, meaning I'm happy to read it in the bath. Worth every penny.


Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite: specs

As previously mentioned, the spec list reads very similar for both devices, with a few key differences. Some you might expect, others are a pleasant surprise to see included in the basic version (storage size, for example). Let's take a deeper dive into those specific areas.

Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite: Price

Before we go into features, it's worth having doing a quick price comparison. The standard Kindle, with 16GB storage, starts at £84.99 on Amazon. However, for that price you will be served ads, so it's well worth paying the extra £5 to get rid and enjoy uninterrupted reading.

The standard Kindle Paperwhite costs £149.99 - again, that's with 16GB storage and ads. Remove them and you're looking at an extra tenner on top. Both of these prices include three months free Kindle Unlimited.

This means at basic device level, the standard Kindle costs at least £50 less - the noticeable differences being it's not waterproof, as big (in size) and doesn't have an adjustable colour temperature on the front light.

In terms of the cost of adding books, this is the same for both devices. You either subscribe to Kindle Unlimited for £9.99 a month, or pay as you go.

Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite: Design & Display

Kindle next to a Kindle Paperwhite with screens on, on a wooden desk
Kindle next to a Kindle Paperwhite with screens on, on a wooden desk

The screen size of these two devices is one thing that might be a deciding factor for some. The Kindle Paperwhite is bigger, in length and width, and while it's only marginally, in use it makes a significant difference.

The standard Kindle measures 6.2 by 4.3 by 0.32 inches – the actual screen reading size is six inches. And it weighs 158 grams – almost 50 grams less than the Paperwhite. In short, it's smaller and lighter and so more comfortable to hold for longer periods and well suited to smaller hands.

Another key difference when it comes to design is the backlit display, which comes with both devices, however the standard Kindle doesn't have the same level of brightness as the Paperwhite. That said, it's still enough for reading after dark.

The extra money you would pay for the Paperwhite means you get functionality that automatically tweaks the backlight to complement your surroundings, whereas with the standard Kindle this is a manual process. With the Paperwhite, you also get a device that is waterproof and a screen that is flush against the casing. The latter might seem insignificant, but when using it really adds a premium feel.

Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite: Storage and battery life

The standard Kindle used to come with 8GB of storage as standard, which is still significant when it comes to downloading books. Looking at the chart below, you can see the average book and file sizes, and then how many would fit on an 8GB device. So even with that level you wouldn't run out of space anytime soon.

But Amazon upgraded its basic level Kindle in 2022, and it now comes with double the amount of storage as standard, which is incredible for the price point, and exactly the same as the basic Paperwhite. You can upgrade (at a cost) to have more storage, however, the standard amount will be more than enough for most. Storage wise, the standard (and less expensive) Kindle has you covered.

In terms of battery life, Amazon lists its standard Kindle as having up to six weeks and the Paperwhite up to 10. I have been using the Paperwhite for well over three months now, and granted I have had it on aeroplane mode (to remove any distractions) and it is still on 22%. There have often been times I have thrown it in my bag and then panicked I haven't charged it for ages and it would run out, but I have always been amazed at just how long the battery lasts. And the same goes for the standard Kindle too - a full charge and it has lasted weeks. When it comes to battery life, these devices just keeping going and going – and they only take a few hours to fully juice back up too.

Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite: Verdict

As e-readers go, both of these devices are, in my opinion, exceptional value for money. The smaller Kindle is cheaper, and it feels and looks it, but it still fulfils it's purpose well and is really well suited to those with smaller hands or who might struggle with the usual weight of holding a book. It charges quickly, lasts for weeks, has more than enough storage as standard and is a size that means it will fit in even the smallest of bags, so you can always have your favourite read with you.

The Paperwhite is the more luxury version, and with that comes a higher price tag. But you also get a bigger screen that is flush to its casing and that automatically adjusts to the light to ease strain on your eyes. It's waterproof and Amazon claims the battery life is longer than that of a standard device (although I have yet to experience that when testing).

If money is no object and I had to pick, I would go for the Paperwhite, mostly because I read quite quickly and don't like the feeling of having to keep turning the page as regularly as I was with the smaller screen. I also have bigger hands and so the Paperwhite just suits me better overall. But if I was on a budget, I would be very happy with the standard Kindle to help me enjoy my favourite hobby whenever, wherever.

Still not sure which device is right for you? Read our in-depth Kindle Paperwhite review and Kindle (2022) review for more information.