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Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (11th Gen) review

So bright it's gotta' wear shades.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
4.5 out of 5 stars
  • pro
    Speedy, responsive interface
  • pro
    300 dpi resolution screen
  • con
    Still locked into the Amazon ecosystem
Joe Hanlon
Dec 01, 2021
Icon Time To Read3 min read
Quick verdict

If you’ve ever used a Kindle before, then you know exactly what to expect for the new Paperwhite models, but zippier processing, improved backlighting and wireless charging make this a pretty compelling upgrade.

pro Speedy, responsive interface
pro 300 dpi resolution screen
pro Water and dust resistant
pro Wireless Charging on Signature Edition
con Still locked into the Amazon ecosystem
con Small bump in price

What's new in the Paperwhite 11th gen?

The Paperwhite has been the middle-ground Kindle for several years now; not as cheap and no-frills as the basic Kindle, and not as lux or pricey as the Kindle Oasis. The 11th generation Paperwhite is a decent step forward versus last year’s release, edging closer to the Oasis in features, with a small nudge forward in price too. On the balance, it's certainly enough to earn a spot in our list of best ereaders in Australia.

There are several noticeable improvements over the Paperwhite we reviewed earlier in the year. While the new model has the same sharp 300dpi resolution, it now has a larger, squarer 6.8-inch display. Of course, it needs to be a slightly larger device to accommodate the larger screen, but it is still a very comfortable size and weight to hold for long reading sessions.

The backlight behind the screen receives a significant upgrade too, with 17 individual LED lights, up from just 5 on the 10th gen. model. Amazon uses the extra lamps to power adjustable warm light settings, giving you a much larger range of light colours and brightness. You can also use a new auto-adjusting brightness sensor to find the best level of brightness for the room you’re in.

Weighing up a Kindle or a Kobo?

How does it compare to other Kindles?

These changes move the Paperwhite models much closer to the Kindle Oasis and further from the base Kindle model. The price inches up the scale too, with the Paperwhite priced at $239, and the Signature Edition at $289. Still, the Oasis costs a mighty $399, and though it has a few extra features, it’s harder to make a case for spending the extra when the Paperwhites have so many features in common with it.

There’s also a few decent steps forward in the power department. Amazon now estimates that the Paperwhite will last up to 10 weeks rather than 6 weeks, when you turn off WiFi and read for 30 minutes per day. Amazon has finally swapped out the old style micro USB charging port for the newer, and more ubiquitous USC-type, so most people using an Android smartphone will find they can share the same charging at the bedside.

If you splash out on the Paperwhite Signature Edition, you also get the added benefit of built-in wireless charging, too. Again, this uses the same charging protocol that most phones do (including Apple iPhones) so you can buy one charger and use it for a number of different devices, including your Kindle. This feature is unique to the Signature Edition; even the Kindle Oasis lacks this extra convenience (for now).

ModelKindleKindle PaperwhiteKindle Paperwhite (Signature Edition)Kindle Oasis
Screen Size6-inch6.8-inch6.8-inch7-inch
Screen Resolution167ppi300ppi300ppi300ppi
BacklightYes, 4 LEDsYes, 17 LEDsYes, 17 LEDsYes, 25 LEDs
Page turn buttonsNoNoNoYes
Adjustable warm lightsNoYesYesYes
Auto brightnessNoYesYesYes
Wireless ChargingNoNoYesNo

Things to read (and the lack thereof)

One area that has seen no change is in Kindle’s incompatibility with standard ebook formats, and it’s ongoing reliance on the Kindle Store for content. Of course, it’s not surprising that Amazon would want to keep Kindle customers shopping for books in its store, but it limits your ability to access books from other sources, notably from public libraries that have ebooks in their collections.

As we’ve said before, and we’ll probably say with every new Kindle release for the foreseeable future, this is a bummer. 

On the flipside, you can access  Amazon’s various ebook subscription options. Amazon Prime customers automatically have access to Prime Reading, which has a rotating collection of over 1,000 books to choose from. Dedicated bookworms can also sign up to Kindle Unlimited which has many, many more books to choose from, but will set you back about $13 per month.

All in all, this is a very solid new Kindle. There’s a number of decent steps forward, and only a small increase in price. Owners of older Kindles will feel the speedier processor straight away and appreciate the sharper panel you get on newer Paperwhites.

Joe Hanlon
Written by
Joe Hanlon
Joe has been reviewing tech and gadgets for over a decade having worked at CNET, TechRadar and telco comparison site WhistleOut.

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