Kindle Paperwhite (11th-generation) review: Should you buy it?
Kindle needs no introduction. Amazon's ebook reader has been around for close to 15 years now. Yes, it's been that long since the company launched the first iteration of the device. What we have today is the 11th-generation of the same. The Kindle Paperwhite, which is arguably the most preferred variant, isn't that old but is in its 10th year of existence. We still get a lot of questions about it and hence decided to talk about the key aspects of this device, and in turn clear your doubts. If you are looking to switch from physical books to their digital counterparts, you will obviously need an ebook reader. Yes, you can always install the Kindle app and read them on your smartphone or a tablet, but that doesn't give you the feel of reading a book. So let's see how the new Kindle Paperwhite makes your experience better.
How is the Kindle Paperwhite different from a regular Kindle?
While the whole idea of shifting to a digital format for books was about reducing paper usage (saving trees) and freeing up space in your shelf and travel bag, the readers would only be willing to switch if the experience felt closer to reading a physical book. That is where an ebook reader like a Kindle came into existence with a screen very different to that of your smartphone or a tablet, or a laptop back then. It uses an E-Ink display that looks like paper. While all Kindles have that screen, the resolution varies between the base variant and the Paperwhite. While the former from the current generation has a smaller 6-inch screen with 167ppi pixel density, the latter has a 6.8-inch screen with 300ppi. Higher the PPI, sharper the display. Another thing that sets apart the Kindle Paperwhite is its front lighting (not backlight) that lets one read content in pitch dark without putting too much strain on the eyes. While the base variant of the Kindle from earlier generations did not have this feature, the current one does. However, you only get 4 LEDs to light up the screen which pales in comparison (figuratively and literally) to the 17 you get on the Paperwhite along with an adjustable warm light. Thanks to the extra LEDs, the page lighting is a lot more even. This is the key reason why a majority of the people prefer the Paperwhite despite being more expensive. Another significant difference being an IPX8 rating, which makes the new Kindle Paperwhite water resistant. You can actually enjoy a bit of drizzle and reading at the same time without worrying about your expensive gadget getting spoiled. Final major difference between the two is obviously the price with the basic Kindle selling for almost half the price of the Paperwhite.
What's new in the latest Paperwhite compared to its predecessor?
Now the next obvious question is what new features does the latest Kindle Paperwhite boast of in comparison to its predecessor. While at first glance they may look similar, there are a handful of noteworthy changes that the newer variant brings to the table. For starters the side and top bezels are a lot slimmer in comparison without compromising on a good grip. Despite that, the device size feels similar because Amazon has opted for a larger 6.8-inch display here instead of the 6-incher on its predecessor. A larger screen means more content per page, and thanks to the 300ppi density, the text looks sharp enough. The second change is the faster processor that powers this 11th-generation device. While we cannot run benchmarks to quantify the performance boost, I can assure you that the UI feels smoother and so do the page transitions. The latest Paperwhite has dual-band Wi-Fi with support for 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. The third and the most important change is the presence of a USB-C port for charging. Wonder why it took Amazon so long to implement it, but it is finally here. While a charger isn't bundled in the package, you can use any standard USB-C charger to juice up this device. Another major improvement here is a massive jump in battery backup which is more than double now. The company claims 10 weeks of battery life on the new Paperwhite, and I will talk about it in the next section. You get wireless charging option too along with a larger 32GB storage instead of the standard 8GB. But both those options are limited to the Signature Edition of the Kindle Paperwhite, which is Rs. 4,000 more expensive.
Is this truly the best Kindle Paperwhite to date?
If you have used a Kindle before, there is no new learning curve here. You can simply login to your Amazon account, access the catalog or your library and you are good to go. However, you will need to connect to Wi-Fi before that and while you are at it, download a few ebooks on the device. There is 8GB storage available here and that is plenty given that the size of most ebooks is in KBs or a couple of MBs at most. The new Kindle Paperwhite does not have a SIM slot for accessing data on the move. The readability of the larger screen is just perfect and the device fits nicely into one hand. You get different levels of brightness and warmth for the screen that you can adjust to your liking. As I mentioned earlier, the screen is evenly lit and extremely easy on the eyes even in a dark room. Thanks to the 300ppi density, text and book covers look quite sharp. The slightly modified UI coupled with the new faster processor makes things fairly smooth when accessing the menus, browsing through the catalogs or turning pages. The company claims a battery backup of 10 weeks on the new Kindle Paperwhite, but it comes with a fine print. It supposedly lasts that long if you switch off Wi-Fi and use the Kindle for half an hour a day. The battery life will vary greatly depending on your usage. At a little over an hour a day, it easily lasted a full month for me. The standby time is excellent too with barely any battery drain when not in use for a week. It takes about 2.5 hours to charge it fully. All things considered, this is indeed the best Kindle Paperwhite ever.
Is the new Kindle Paperwhite worth its asking price?
The latest Kindle Paperwhite is priced at Rs. 13,999 and only available in black. That is my preferred color shade, hence I won't be complaining. So is it worth the asking price? Given the scarcity of ebook readers in India, there's hardly any competition at the moment. And Amazon does give you access to millions of ebooks, making it a great ecosystem for readers. If you are looking to save a few bucks, the previous generation Paperwhite can be an option in sales when it is often spotted close to Rs. 9,000. But I haven't seen it in stock in recent times, and I doubt it will return. Having said that, even the latest iteration would drop a few thousands from the price tag in certain Amazon sales if you are willing to wait. That will narrow the price gap between the two, assuming the former is back in stock again. The base variant of the Kindle is also an option for almost half the price if you are on a tight budget and looking to test the water, and also if you don't intend to indulge in too much night time reading. Despite that I would suggest you wait till the next sale and pick the latest Kindle Paperwhite instead. The larger and evenly lit higher resolution display is certainly worth the difference.