Amazon Kindle Oasis vs. Kindle Paperwhite: Which e-book reader is best for you?

If you’re a voracious reader and you like to travel, then an e-book reader is the ideal device for you. Many of the best e-book readers are made by Amazon, but working out which model to go for is easier said than done. Much depends on what features you crave. Should you push the boat out and go for the top-of-the-line Kindle Oasis? Or, should you save yourself some cash to buy more books and opt for the more affordable Kindle Paperwhite?

Amazon has continued to refresh its range over the years, but the choice between its two top models is still a tough one to make. Here’s how the choice between the Kindle Oasis and Kindle Paperwhite breaks down and which one you should buy.

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Specs

Kindle Oasis (2019) Kindle Paperwhite (2018)
Size 159 × 141 × 3.4-8.4mm (6.3 × 5.6 × 0.13-0.33 inches) 167 × 116 × 8.18mm (6.6 × 4.6 × 0.3 inches)
Weight 188 grams (6.6 ounces) 182 grams (6.41 ounces)
Screen size 7-inch 6-inch
Screen resolution 1,680 × ,1264 pixels (300 pixels per inch) 1,448 × 1,072 pixels (300 pixels per inch)
Storage space 8GB, 32GB
8GB, 32GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Bluetooth Yes Yes
Ports Micro USB Micro USB
Water resistance IPX8 IPX8
Connectivity Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi and cellular Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi and cellular
Battery 6 weeks based on 30 minutes of reading a day 6 weeks based on 30 minutes of reading a day
Colors Champagne gold, graphite Black, sage, plum, twilight blue
Price $270 $150
Buy from Amazon Amazon
Review score 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Design, durability, and display

There’s a big difference between the Oasis and Paperwhite in the looks department. While the Oasis boasts a svelte aluminum body, with a thicker section at one side that houses physical turn page buttons, the Paperwhite is matte plastic, with chunkier bezels around the smaller screen and no physical turn page buttons. The Oasis comes in a choice of graphite or champagne gold, but the Paperwhite turns the tables with a selection of black, sage, plum, or twilight blue.

Both e-book readers have an IPX8 rating, which means splashes and rain are nothing to worry about; in fact, they’re protected against immersion in up to 6.5 feet of fresh water for up to an hour.

But the new Oasis has really shown its quality where the display is concerned. While the Oasis and Paperwhite both have sharp screens rated at 300 pixels per inch, there are some important differences. For a start, the Oasis has a bigger 7-inch screen, while the Paperwhite has a 6-inch display. But, most importantly in our book, only the Oasis allows you to filter out blue light at night if you want to, making nighttime reading a more pleasurable experience.

While both devices use LEDs to light up the screen, the Oasis also boasts more LEDs than the Paperwhite, so it offers more lighting levels and better uniformity around the screen. Both devices support automatic brightness, but we found that it worked a lot better with the Oasis, whereas we often had to manually adjust the Paperwhite.

Winner: Kindle Oasis

Performance, battery life, and charging

amazon kindle oasis review (2017) profile
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

Amazon doesn’t specify processors and RAM in its e-book readers, but the Kindle Oasis and the Kindle Paperwhite were both responsive and slick to navigate. Side-by-side, the Kindle Oasis is a touch faster to turn pages and respond to touches a little faster, so it seems likely that it has a little extra processing power under the hood.

There’s no stated battery capacity, as Amazon prefers to describe battery life for both Kindles as up to six weeks from a single charge based on half an hour of reading a day. However, it stands to reason the Oasis must have a bigger battery, since it has a bigger display to power. Both, unfortunately, rely upon a Micro USB port for charging — and this particularly stings on the $270 Oasis. However, the Oasis wins back some goodwill with it taking just two hours to fully charge from a 5W charger and around three hours from a computer USB port. The Paperwhite, on the other hand, took three hours and four hours, respectively, to do the same.

With weeks of battery life, you’ll not need to worry about longevity with any Kindle. However, with a touch more smoothness, the Oasis wins here.

Winner: Kindle Oasis

Software and updates

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2018
Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

The software on the Kindle Oasis and Kindle Paperwhite is largely identical; there are just a few extra options with the Oasis. That means both have features like Whispersync, which lets you keep your place across devices, and both come with optional ads on the lock screen, which lowers the price. They both come with either 8GB or 32GB of storage and, while there’s no room for expansion via MicroSD card, you do get free cloud storage for all your Amazon content. We would expect software updates to be on the same schedule for both devices.

Winner: Tie

Special features

amazin kindle oasis review (2017) two hands
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

There are no speakers or headphone ports in sight here, but both the Kindle Oasis and the Paperwhite support Bluetooth, so you can stream Audible audiobooks to a Bluetooth speaker or headphones. You can also get more expensive and slightly heavier versions of both devices that support cellular service, as well as Wi-Fi. The only other special features to speak of are the physical page turn buttons and the blue-light filter, which you’ll only find on the Oasis. For anyone reluctant to make the switch to a modern e-reader, the physical buttons are a nice addition. Blue-light filtration, on the other hand, is a desirable feature in every device since it can cut down on the screen’s sleep-disruptive effects.

Winner: Kindle Oasis

Price and availability

At the time of writing, the Kindle Oasis starts at $270 and the Kindle Paperwhite starts at $150. It’s well worth keeping a close eye out for deals, though, especially with Black Friday 2020 on the horizon. One of the perks of Amazon Kindle devices is their propensity to go on sale. As one of Amazon’s headline acts, you’ll find both types of Kindles anywhere Amazon is available — and the LTE-equipped models are likely to work anywhere there’s a solid 4G signal. Wi-Fi capabilities are just as accessible, so you can download books anywhere a connection is available.

Overall winner: Kindle Oasis

There’s no doubt about which of Amazon’s e-book readers is the best — it’s the Kindle Oasis. A bigger screen, blue light filter, and unique design are the headline attractions. Of course, look beyond those and you’ll see that these devices are pretty similar. If you don’t care for the Oasis’ unique points, keep in mind you can save yourself a lot of cash by opting for the less glamorous Kindle Paperwhite. The display is just as crisp, it’s still waterproof, and that extra $120 can go toward an awful lot of e-books.

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