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The best Kindles in 2021

Included in this guide:

A kindle underneath a pair of glasses

Grabbing one of the best Kindles is more important than ever, as many users just got a reason to upgrade. We have a new best Kindle overall — the updated and new Kindle Paperwhite. It packs a larger display, USB-C charging, additional battery life and display warmth settings. But once you know you want a Kindle, how do you decide on the right one for you?

Amazon's got a sale on the entry-level Kindle that knocks it down to a compellingly-low price, but you don't want to buy something just because it's affordable to then discover that it's not right for you. This is why we've tested them all to find the best Kindles for all kinds of readers. The best Kindle overall is the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. It's got a sharp 6-inch, 300-ppi backlit display, 8GB of storage, and can withstand a dunk in the water.

We've even examined competitors trying to take Amazon's throne (none have made much of a dent). Yes, while Amazon's Kindles own the market, other do try and compete. 

Latest Kindle News (updated Oct. 26)

• Check out our Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021) review, where we show why the king keeps the throne.
• Amazon's just revealed a new firmware update, version 5.13.7. This new version changes the home screen, swapping out the toolbar for a search bar, and adding Home and Library tabs at the bottom.

Amazon wasn't the first company to release an E Ink e-reader (that was Sony, which launched the Librie in 2004), but when the first Kindle was released in 2007, it sold out in five hours. That initial success was likely due to Amazon's huge library of e-content. 

We keep raving to folks looking for a good read to check out A Certain Hunger, provided that they're adult enough to take on its unique tale of cannibalism. Debut novelist Chelsea G. Summers has wowed readers (and critics) with this fantastic tale of Dorothy Daniels, a food critic whose taste for lovers takes place in the bedroom and the kitchen. Want more macabre? Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is definitely worth checking out. 

We've pulled together the best e-book reader apps, but since your phone or tablet's screen is probably harsher on your eyes than an e-ink-based e-reader is, you'll probably want to check out these picks.

What are the best Kindles and e-readers?

The best Kindle overall is the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, and it's right for most users, without a doubt. It costs $139, sports a sharp 6.8-inch, 300-ppi backlit display, packs 8GB of storage and can withstand a dunk in the water. It's basically the Goldilocks pick: it's not too expensive, and not too sparse with features, and gives you most everything you could ask for in a Kindle, in the design most people like.

We would love the Paperwhite if it were a little more affordable, but it's plain to see that it's the optimal device for reading in any condition. No matter if your vacation is in the sun or shade, or if you're just on a day trip at the beach, or consuming a gripping page-turner in the bath — it's a great way to devour a new book, or re-read a favorite.

The best Kindle under $100 is the Amazon Kindle (2019), which at $90 has display lighting and the same size screen, but half the resolution and half the storage. And since it's on sale (again) at $59 (a price we haven't seen since Prime Day), you may very well consider it. Read on to find out which is the best Kindle for you. 

The best Kindles you can buy today

The Kindle Paperwhite 2021tom's guide top pick

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021) (Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

1. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021)

The best Kindle overall

Resolution (Pixels Per Inch): 300
Dimensions (Inches): 6.9 x 4.9 x 0.3
Weight (Ounces): 7.2
Claimed Battery Life: 10 weeks
Physical Page-Turn Buttons: No
Built-In Light: Yes
Water Resistance: Yes, IPX8
Screen Size (Inches): 6.8
Reasons to buy
+Larger screen+Perfectly evenly lit+USB-C charging 
Reasons to avoid
-$10 price bump over predecessor-No cellular option

Small changes lead to great products staying great, and such is the case with the new Kindle Paperwhite (2021). It's got the same basic look as previous Kindles and Kindle Paperwhite models, a matte black shell and an e-ink screen, but this time it's larger, with a 6.8-inch panel. The bezels are also smaller, so the device didn't have to grow too much to accommodate the growth from a 6-inch panel. 

While it's still a super-sharp 300-ppi display, it's now supported by an array of 17 LED backlights, for incredibly even lighting. And it's still got a great waterproofing (IPX8-rated) protection. 

After the larger display, the big change this year is the move from microUSB charging to USB-C. It's a welcome change if only for the reversible port. Faster charging doesn't appear to be on the table, but the microUSB port has been around for way too long, and is often fragile, so we're happy to see it go.

The Paperwhite costs slightly more than half as much as the $250 Kindle Oasis, coming in at $139 ($10 more than in previous years). That said, it's gained one of the Oasis' once unique features: display warmth. Our testing of the Paperwhite 2021's waterproofing included a 20 minute bath in our sink. It worked just as well as it did before when we took it out. 

Read our full Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021) review, and stay tuned for our reviews of the Paperwhite Signature Edition and Paperwhite Kids Edition.sor

The Amazon Kindle (2019), our number 2 pick for Best Kindle

Amazon Kindle (2019)

2. Amazon Kindle (2019)

Best Kindle for those on a budget

Resolution (Pixels Per Inch): 167
Dimensions (Inches): 6.3 x 4.5 x 0.3
Weight (Ounces): 6.1
Claimed Battery Life: 4 weeks
Physical Page-Turn Buttons: No
Built-In Light: Yes
Water Resistance: No
Screen Size (Inches): 6
Reasons to buy
+Solid lighting options+Attractive screen+Comfortable design
Reasons to avoid
-Tedious menus-So-so text resolution

Rather spend your money on more books? The cheapest Kindle e-reader is $89, and a new perk makes it more interesting for bookworms on tight budgets. This E Ink device is lightweight and easy to use for hours, and its chassis is no weaker than that of our top pick, the Paperwhite. The regular Kindle also has a touch-screen display, and those ensconced in the Amazon ecosystem can benefit from Goodreads integration and FreeTime Unlimited.

The Kindle's front-facing lighting finally brings it closer to parity with the Paperwhite. We're guessing most bookworms also like to read in the dark and may not want to disturb a sleeping partner by turning on a bedroom light. Overall, this is the best Kindle for those on a budget, as well as those voracious readers who would rather spend on books themselves, and not hardware. Now that some folks are moving from physical books, these things don't grow on trees anymore. 

Read our full Amazon Kindle (2019) review.

The Kindle Kids Edition, in a purple case, one of our picks for best kindle

2019 Kindle Kids Edition (Image credit: Future)

3. Amazon Kindle Kids Edition

Best Kindle for kids

Resolution (Pixels Per Inch): 167
Dimensions (Inches): 6.3 x 4.5 x 0.5
Weight (Ounces): 10.2
Claimed Battery Life: 4 weeks
Physical Page-Turn Buttons: No
Built-In Light: Yes
Water Resistance: No
Screen Size (Inches): 6
Reasons to buy
+No lock-screen ads+Thankfully minimal interface (for kids)+Valuable warranty, subscription included
Reasons to avoid
-Distracting interface (in adult mode)-So-so text resolution

Amazon's latest Kindle improves on the $90 Kindle by adding what's missing and chipping away at the cruft that fills up a regular Kindle. Kids will like it for the colored cases, while parents will love Amazon's 2-year no-questions-asked warranty. Even better, there are no lock screen ads. In fact, the Kids Edition is so close to our ideal Kindle interface, we wish Amazon would offer it as a mode for adults who just want to read the book, and not dabble in the Goodreads community.

Otherwise, the Kindle Kids Edition is the same tablet as the 2019 Kindle. You get the same 6-inch, 167 ppi display and front lighting, and the display is still inset, not flush with the frame. Oh and it's even got helpful vocabulary building tools and a free year (a $60 value) of Amazon's Amazon Kids+ (fka FreeTime Unlimited), which has thousands of titles. The Kindle Kids Edition was so popular that Amazon's making a Kindle Paperwhite Kids Edition, which we will review soon. 

Read our full Amazon Kindle Kids Edition review.

The high-end Amazon Kindle Oasis, the best kindle for those with deep pockets

Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019) (Image credit: Future)

4. Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019)

Best premium Kindle

Resolution (Pixels Per Inch): 300
Dimensions (Inches): 6.3 x 5.6 x 0.13-0.33
Weight (Ounces): 6.6
Claimed Battery Life: 6 weeks
Physical Page Turn Buttons: Yes
Built-In Light: Yes
Water Resistance: Yes, IPX8
Screen Size (Inches): 7
Reasons to buy
+Sleek metallic design+Water resistant+Sharp, well-lit display
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-No charger included

The new Kindle Oasis still offers Amazon's most luxurious reading experience, with its machined aluminum back, larger screen, physical buttons, automatic lighting adjustments and very well-lit screen (using 25 LEDs) — screams "first class." Its Oasis moniker is earned from its IPX8-rated water resistance, which allows it to survive hour-long baths. The device also supports Audible's audiobooks, as long as you've got a Bluetooth device handy.

The Oasis's curved back and physical buttons give you an easier way to get a grip and a way to read your book without tapping the screen. While the Oasis is the best Kindle for those who can splurge, we just wish it didn't cost nearly twice as much as the Kindle Paperwhite. It's the Kindle with more effort put into its design, losing the simple and utilitarian aesthetic of the regular Kindle and the Paperwhite.  

Read our full Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019) review.

How to choose the best Kindle for you

Let's start with your budget, as that's the easiest way to make this call. If you're running tight right now, the $90 Kindle is a solid recommendation. Its lighting is good enough for a handful of situations and its battery life is nothing to sneeze at. 

If money is no option, then you're going to be choosing between the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Oasis, and this is sort of tough. If you prefer your devices to be built with a harder plastic, that still feels reliable, then you've probably got the Paperwhite in mind. It offers the same water resistance as the Oasis, and is similar in many regards.

But if you're tired of futzing with menus, and changing brightness, you will probably want the Kindle Oasis. Its display automatically adjusts to ambient lighting situations, maybe its best unique feature overall — as its metallic, not-symmetrical design is a bit divisive in our office.

How we test Kindles and e-readers

In addition to evaluating e-readers' size, weight, claimed battery life and design choices, we test their brightness using our light meter. The experience of reading on the device also plays a huge role in these reviews. For instance, we look at the intuitiveness of the interface, the size of the available library and how well the special features (such as web browsers or dictionaries) work. 

We've also tried alternatives to the Kindle, such as the Kobo Nia. While it's not one of our best picks, its interface is great for those who want to stay focused on books, and isn't as focused on supplementary content as Amazon's Kindles are.

We also track how many hours we spent reading on the Kindle, and the percentage of remaining battery life, and compare that against the company's estimations. And then, naturally, we read and read and read. At home, on the bus, in the park and anywhere else where the lighting changes. 

We even drop water-proof Kindles into our makeshift dunk tank, and watch as they survive — the first time it was surprising, and now it's become something we expect. Lastly, we try and see if Amazon's changed anything about how Kindles work with public libraries. It's the one thing we prefer about competitors.

Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

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  • jai_test10
    Amazon Kindle is really good.
  • ridhimasane
    thank you for sharing this wonderful article on kindle out of these i liked the kindle white paper.
  • ebookwebsite12
    I found the best about Kindle is a Large library of audio books and built-in Audible capability. It is of the cheapest price for the solid glare-free e-reader.
  • sanchezkk
    I just purchased a refurbished Kindle Paperwhite and I'm excited because I've never had an eBook reader and I feel that I will get a lot of use out of it being that I only have to charge it once every 6 to 8 weeks. Thank you Tom's Guide for providing the information.
  • sergetest817tw
    thank you for sharing this, TG