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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Amazon Just Introduced Three New Kindle Paperwhites

As it stands, Amazon's Kindle is a near-perfect device—a palm-sized tablet that can carry your full library on a weekend trip and has a month-long battery life. Maybe that's why it's taken Amazon so long to improve it. For the first time since 2018, Amazon is announcing an upgrade to the Paperwhite—or, actually, three

As of today, there will now be three new versions of Amazon's ebook reader: a standard Kindle Paperwhite for $140, a signature edition for $190, and a kids Paperwhite for $160. All current Kindles are getting an updated interface, too, which you may have already seen if you own one.

We have not updated our Best Kindles guide yet, but we usually recommend the Paperwhite as a step-up model for those who want a few extra luxuries the standard $90 Kindle (our top pick) does not provide.

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Bigger and Brighter

All three of the new Paperwhites will have 6.8-inch screens, which is slightly larger than the original 6-inch model, if still a fraction smaller than the top-tier 7-inch Kindle Oasis. However, the new screens will have the Oasis' adjustable warm white lighting mode, as well as a dark mode. Plus, the screen will be up to 10 percent brighter when on max lighting.

The base model gets a stunning 10 weeks of battery life—4 weeks more than the old version—and the long-awaited fast USB-C charging port. But possibly the most exciting new feature is that the pages will be 20 percent faster to turn. When I tried a Kindle for the first time, I nearly put it in a drawer forever; who knew that turning a digital page could have a much more annoying lag than turning an analog one? 

If you spring for the signature Paperwhite, you get all of the above, plus an additional 32 gigabytes of storage instead of the current measly 8. The signature version also has an auto-adjusting light sensor, which will be helpful for reading outside, as well as wireless charging capabilities. 

The 2018 Paperwhite version is rated IPX8, which means that it can withstand immersion for up to 60 minutes in two meters of fresh water. All three versions in the lineup also have an IPX8 waterproof rating, which means that your kids can now read by the pool, too. As with the original Kindle Kids edition, you get a free 1-year subscription of Amazon Kids+, which is Amazon's platform subscription for kid movies, books, and games. You also get a two-year worry-free guarantee and a protective cover.

Amazon's workers might find Amazon's climate promises to be unsatisfactory; still, the Paperwhites do nod at the actions outlined in Amazon's Climate Pledge. The company says the new Paperwhites are made of 60 percent post-consumer recycled plastic and 70 percent recycled magnesium. The packaging is also made of wood fiber materials that have either been recycled or sourced from the ambiguously worded “responsibly-managed forests.”

Face Off

Amazon has already started rolling out upgrades to all current Kindle interfaces. If yours hasn't gotten it yet, you can expect it soon. 

The difficult-to-navigate interface was one of the most annoying features of the Kindle, but Amazon says they've refined it. When you open your new Paperwhite, you can choose to pair it with the Kindle app on your phone (on either iOS or Android) for a shorter startup process.

Once you've turned on the Paperwhite, a swipe-down menu allows you to adjust brightness, get to your settings, and turn on airplane or dark mode while you read. A new navigation section at the bottom lets you switch between your home and library sections fast. Amazon notes that they will be unrolling more updates to the Home and Library sections later this year. 

The first Kindle was released in 2007. It's gotten a few internal and external upgrades since then, but it has always remained essentially the same device. A Kindle is an ebook reader. That's it. It doesn't have a camera or a zillion distracting blingy apps. It doesn't have a voice assistant or blue lights to burn your eyes in the dark. We said it in 2018 and we'll say it again: That's a good thing.

Many of us at WIRED believe that there's no sensation comparable to flipping through a real book, or admiring a bookshelf populated with all of your treasures. Still, Kindles make traveling easier and give you the ability to read or search through anything in your library at a moment's notice. They're also thin and light. Have you ever tried to read Stephen King's IT on the go? It's like carrying around a very scary brick. 

And digital books have their place. You can check out ebooks from your local library instantly, and lend purchased books from Kindle to Kindle. You may even be able to achieve your dream of reading any embarrassingly titled book in peace on the subway. 

Our reviews of the newest Paperwhites are forthcoming, but you can preorder all three today for shipping on October 27.

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