Amazon waterproof e-reader review

Immersing yourself in a book has never been more accessible. Between laptops and pocket-sized smartphones, anyone can instantly download a textbook, research paper, comic book or classic novel with just the touch of a button. Between bright LCD screens, distracting notifications and the glaring sun, however, many rely on e-readers to brush up on their reading. 

Amazon has recently released a new, reimagined edition of their Kindle Paperwhite. This 11th generation updated e-reader touts a larger display, 20% faster page turns and a glare-free display that reads like real paper. Plus, the waterproof design gives users peace of mind when reading around the pool or in the bath. 

To see if the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite lives up to its promises, we put it to the test. Here’s what we found.

Testing the Kindle Paperwhite

We were curious about the 2021 edition of the Kindle Paperwhite and had our tester try it out for two weeks. Our tester has experience using an older generation Kindle. 

What is the Kindle Paperwhite?

The Kindle Paperwhite is one of the many e-book readers in Amazon’s family of Kindles. The Paperwhite uses an HD E-Ink screen rather than a backlit LCD screen, which is impossible to read in the sun and emits blue light known to cause eye strain. E-Ink readers are much easier on the eyes, and glare-free, even in bright sunlight. 

Since the Paperwhite is entirely waterproof, the glare-free screen is beneficial for those relaxing beach or pool days. It has an IPX8 rating, meaning you can submerge it in two meters of fresh water for an hour or less than a meter of saltwater for three minutes. We held the e-reader underwater to test those claims, and while it didn’t function well while submerged, everything worked perfectly after drying it off.

The 8 GB of storage should be big enough to store thousands of titles at once, depending on the size of the books. Amazon also makes it simple to get an e-book by delivering it directly to your Kindle. If that wasn’t easy enough, there are several subscriptions such as Kindle Unlimited and Audible that make reading even more accessible. 

With a Kindle Unlimited subscription, users can choose from over a million books, borrowing up to 10 at one time. Audible is ideal for those who prefer audiobooks or podcasts. We signed up for the 30-day free Audible trial and found it convenient during long car rides. It’s important to note that the Paperwhite doesn’t have any speakers and instead is equipped with Bluetooth so you can listen to your audiobook on your headphones or speaker.

Kindle Paperwhite price and where to buy

The Kindle Paperwhite retails for $139.99 on Amazon.

How to use Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite arrived in a small, lightweight blue box, weighing just 7.23 ounces, and had a similar matte black look as most Kindles. The battery was about halfway charged, so we could use it right after opening. The setup was straightforward and clear, consisting of a few instructions to follow on the screen.

Most of the improvements were made to the screen, which now has a 6.8-inch display and thinner borders, translating to several more lines on the screen and fewer page turns overall. The screen lighting is also upgraded, with the max brightness being about 10% brighter than the previous Paperwhite. Additionally, you get more color options with the adjustable warm light feature, allowing users to choose their preferred shade between a yellow-white and a blue-white. Or you can schedule the light to change as the night goes on. 

Those who have a previous generation Kindle won’t be able to use the same charging cord, as it’s been changed from a micro-USB to a USB-C. With this upgrade, Amazon claims this e-reader takes less time to charge fully and can last up to 10 weeks on a single charge. During our testing, we found that it took about three hours to charge completely. After leaving it on rest mode for 10 days, our battery remained at 86%. However, we did notice that the battery seemed to drain faster when used in zones with a weak signal.

This Kindle Paperwhite also turns pages 20% faster than previous models. We found the device very responsive when turning pages and across various functions, such as connecting to Wi-Fi, changing the font or adjusting the brightness. By tapping or swiping near the top of the screen, we were able to adjust the settings while reading and noticed no lagging or glitching.

We also tested out a feature called voiceview, designed to assist those with impaired vision by reading anything on the screen aloud, including the pages of a book and the menu. While it’s a convenient accessibility feature, it was slightly confusing to navigate, and we thought the reading voice sounded very robotic. Also, using voiceview requires a connection to a Bluetooth speaker or headphones.

Kindle Paperwhite benefits

This upgraded Kindle Paperwhite’s immediate benefits include a waterproof design, substantial storage and quick page flipping. The warm light adjustment is another helpful feature, allowing us to read for three hours straight without experiencing any eye strain or fatigue. As the lightest e-reader we’ve ever used, it’s ideal for bringing on the go or traveling and allows users to hold it for long periods.

Access to books was straightforward and accessible, especially using Kindle Unlimited or Audible. It’s also convenient that the Paperwhite operates independently and requires no computer connection.

Kindle Paperwhite drawbacks

We were slightly disappointed that the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite came with a charging cable but no charging block. If you don’t have a compatible power adaptor, that will be an additional cost. We also thought some of the settings or features were difficult to operate. For example, the “Popular Highlights” feature for books is sometimes toggled on, and it can be challenging to turn off.

One common complaint about the Paperwhite is the number of ads. While there are no ads while reading to listening to an audiobook, ads do appear on the home screen and while the Kindle is in sleep mode, which we didn’t find too intrusive.

While we didn’t experience any freezing or glitching, some users have reported issues about adjusting the brightness. Also, there are a few inconsistencies, with parts of the display appearing fuzzy while the rest of the area remains sharp and clear.

Should you get the Kindle Paperwhite?

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Overall, we found that the Kindle Paperwhite lived up to promises and is an improvement over the last model. Adjusting the shade of brightness is helpful to combat eye strain, and the slightly larger screen makes a big difference while reading. Plus, it’s highly responsive and you can use it around water without hesitation. Based on our experience, we recommend the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite to anyone looking for a mid-level e-reader.

Consider other products

Here are a few comparable products to consider.

Kobo Clara HD E-Reader

Kobo Clara HD E-Reader

If you don’t need a waterproof model, the Kobo Clara HD is a solid e-reader. It has 8 GB of storage, a glare-free display and touts a powerful battery life that can last for weeks.

Sold by Amazon

Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition

Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition

The Signature Edition combines the best of the Paperwhite with a host of new features, such as 32 GB of storage, wireless charging and an auto-adjusting front light.

Sold by Amazon

Kindle Oasis

Kindle Oasis 

Those looking for an extensive reading screen will appreciate the seven-inch display on the Kindle Oasis. Plus, it has physical page turn buttons for those who don’t like to swipe pages.

Sold by Amazon


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Bre Richey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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