Kindle vs. Kindle Paperwhite: Is the Resolution Difference Noticeable?

After a week of testing, I determined Kindle Paperwhite is the better e-reader, but most can save money and get by with the regular Kindle.

I’ll explain how I reached my conclusion by comparing two e-readers (Kindle vs. Kindle Paper White) while evaluating five categories: screen, battery, design, price, and extra features.

kindle paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

8
  • Screen: It has a 300 ppi screen with a backlight.
  • Battery: You’ll get 21 hours of reading with medium brightness on.
  • Design: The bezel is flush with the screen. It’s waterproof.
  • Price: 8 GB with Special Offers is $110 or 32 GB is $160.
  • Notes: You get free cellular connectivity, inverted mode, and an option to disable the touchscreen.

Best for you if...

You want a longer battery life or extra storage for audiobooks. Kindle Paperwhite feels more premium, has larger storage options, and the screen is better for comic books and graphic novels because of the sharper resolution.

kindle 2019

Kindle (2019)

6
  • Screen: It has a 167 ppi screen with a backlight.
  • Battery: You’ll get 14 hours of reading with high brightness on.
  • Design: It has a raised bezel. No waterproofing.
  • Price: 4 GB with Special Offers is $90.
  • Notes: Unless you read comic books, the pixel density difference isn’t substantial in real life. It doesn't have an inverted mode or cellular.

Best for you if...

You want to save money. Aside from the raised bezel, you won’t notice a difference while you’re reading because the screen resolution looks similar to Paperwhite in most situations. The backlight is an upgrade from the previous generation.

Things To Note

  • I bought Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite on Prime Day with plans to compare them on Power Moves, but I decided it wasn’t fair to review them there:
    • I’m not the target audience for Kindles. I love books, but my preferred way to consume books is via audiobooks while on the move.
    • I didn’t spend enough time with these Kindles to write something in-depth and definitive.
    • Instead, I’ll give quick impressions with hopes that you use my information as a part of your research process, rather than your only research.
  • Kindle was Amazon’s first hardware hit, twelve years ago, but it was my first time using a Kindle. Disappointing things:
    • The current generation of Kindles is the fastest that Amazon has ever shipped, but they’re very slow. I assumed the interface was optimized to perfection and quick in and out of menus because Amazon is on their tenth generation of Kindle, but the interface is terrible.
    • Kindles aren’t intuitive. For instance, to change the screen brightness, you need to tap a specific, yet unmarked spot, on the top of the screen to get the menu bar to appear then hit the settings button, then adjust the brightness. I inadvertently highlighted words many times while trying to get the menu to appear.
    • The touchscreen doesn’t function like a modern tablet or smartphone because of the screen’s lag.
    • It’s hard to type on the keyboard if you’re used to the smooth iOS interface.
    • Kindle doesn’t automatically link to your Amazon account after your purchase. I purchased both Kindles with my Amazon account and assumed it’d be similar to the Fire TV and Echo experience and they be automatically linked.
  • Pleasant surprises:
    • It’s more enjoyable to read on a Kindle than a tablet, by a wide margin. The lack of colors on the screen and the anti-reflective coating are killer features.
    • When there’s sufficient light, I turned the Kindle’s backlight off. It gives a similar experience to reading a real book, without the annoying bulkiness or page flipping that a physical book brings.
    • Kindle gets almost everything wrong with their interface, but it’s still a device worth owning because it’s the best way to consume a book.
    • You can sync these to Bluetooth headphones to listen to your Audible books.
  • Amazon sells two versions their Kindles: “With Special Offers” and “Without Special Offers.” The special offers are two sets of ads. The first ad is on the entire screen while the Kindle is powered off. The second ad is a tiny banner ad on the bottom of the main interface. The ads are usually for books, and they’re unobtrusive and disappear while you’re reading. I’d rather pay the extra $20 to get an ad-free device, but I like that Amazon gives the user an option to save money.
 
paperwhite

4.0 Stars

Paperwhite

Screen:

  • It has close to twice the pixel density as the regular Kindle at 300 ppi.
  • You won’t notice a difference in screen resolution under normal conditions. The extra density is nice to have, but I only notice a slight difference in a couple of instances:
    • When you’re in a bright room or outside, the extra light makes the resolution difference more apparent.
    • If you’re an avid comic book or graphic novel reader, you’ll want Kindle Paperwhite because the text is easier to read and sharper.

Design: 

  • It weighs 182 grams and has a six-inch screen.
  • The screen is flush with the black bezel, which makes it feel more premium than the regular Kindle.
  • It has an IPX8 waterproof rating, which means it can withstand two meters of water for an hour.
  • The only downside to the Paperwhite’s design is that it attracts more fingerprints on the front and the back when compared to the regular Kindle.

Battery:

  • With the brightness on a medium level, Amazon rates the battery for 21 hours of reading.

Price:

Exclusive Features:

  • You can disable the touchscreen while you’re reading. I accidentally hit the screen frequently, so this was helpful. For some reason, you can’t do disable the screen with the regular Kindle.
  • The inverted mode changes the background to black and makes the text white. This defeats the purpose of Kindle, but it’s there if you need it.
  • You get free cellular connectivity, which enables you to download new books when you’re not on WiFi.
 
kindle

3.0 Stars

Kindle (2019)

Screen:

  • The 2019 Kindle (10th generation) has an LED backlight for nighttime reading, while the previous generations didn’t.
  • It has a 167 ppi display, which is less dense than the Kindle Paperwhite, but it’s not a significant factor in real life. When the Kindle is within inches of your eyes, you can see a huge difference in the font sharpness, but at regular reading distance, it’s almost a non-factor.

Design:

  • It weighs 174 grams and has a six-inch screen.
  • There are two notable downgrades from Kindle Paperwhite:
    • It’s not waterproof.
    • The screen sits below a raised black bezel. making it feel less premium. 

Battery:

  • With the brightness on a medium level, Amazon rates the battery for 14 hours of reading.

Price:

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Amazon.com