Skip to main content

Best E-readers and Kindles of 2019

It's time to turn the digital pages.

In testing a ton of kindles and competitors, we've looked for the best mix of screen resolution, portability and durability to pick the best e-readers (many of which are Kindles). Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite (which is now waterproof) is currently the best tool for the task.

If you're on a budget, though, the new entry-level Kindle will do, providing access to an identical library and most of the same features. If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you can get three free months of Kindle Unlimited, which includes over 1 million titles, current magazines and thousands of Audible audiobooks. 

Looking for an e-reader to give a young reader this holiday season? Check out our Amazon Kindle Kids Edition review to see what this e-reader does that Amazon's other models should.

Amazon's owned the market for a while now (Barnes & Nobles' inability to field a competitive e-reader nuked the Nook) but it's not the only name in the game. Our Kobo Libra H2O review-in-progress shows a solid alternative with a lightweight operating system and better library loan support than what Amazon offers.

What we're reading: Stephen King's The Outsider (Scribner, 2018), Carrie Goldberg's Nobody's Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs, and Trolls (Penguin Group, 2019) and Jenny Odell's How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (Melville House, 2019).

What to expect from Black Friday 2019

Before you know it (and possibly earlier than usual) the Black Friday deals will be here. We expect a ton of Amazon Black Friday deals, as the e-retailer loves to chop its own products prices down to more affordable prices. 

We've already learned about a deal on our favorite e-reader: starting Nov. 22, the Kindle Paperwhite will be $84, marked down by $45. And follow our Cyber Monday deals coverage for the best post-Thanksgiving day deals.

Best overall e-reader

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018)

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018)

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018)

Best overall e-reader

Resolution (Pixels Per Inch): 300 | Dimensions (Inches): 6.6 x 4.6 x 0.3 | Weight (Ounces): 6.4 | Claimed Battery Life: 6 weeks | Physical Page-Turn Buttons: No | Built-In Light: Yes | Water Resistance: Yes, IPX8 | Screen Size (Inches): 6

Bluetooth for audiobooks
Same great e-reader as previous model
Screen is now flush to bezels
Power adapter sold separately
$10 price bump over predecessor

In terms of bang for your buck, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite reigns supreme as the flat-out best e-reader. Not only is its display still a crisp 300-ppi panel supported by solid backlighting, but it also offers waterproof (IPX8-rated) protection and 8GB of storage. 

Its 6-inch screen is pretty much the standard for the industry, and we appreciated its even backlighting, an improvement over previous models which don't look as fully lit when you're reading a book at night. Another design change we appreciate is how its screen is set flush with the bezel, ditching the awkward design that looks even chunkier. 

The device costs a little more than half as much as the $250 Kindle Oasis, coming in at $129. It's also thinner and lighter than the third-gen Paperwhite, and its display is more flush to its body. While the Paperwhite is not the best Kindle ever (that's still the Oasis), you get more for your money with this model.

Our testing of the Paperwhite included a 20 minute bath in our lil dunk-tank, and it worked perfectly fine the second it came out. It's rated to last another 40 minutes, but who leaves a Kindle underwater for a whole hour?

Read our full Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018) review.

Best budget Kindle

Amazon Kindle (2019)

Amazon Kindle (2019)

Amazon Kindle (2019)

Best budget Kindle

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

Solid lighting options
Attractive screen
Comfortable design
Distracting interface
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, includes a touch-screen display, and those ensconced in the Amazon ecosystem can benefit from Goodreads integration and FreeTime Unlimited.

The Kindle's 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.

Read our full Amazon Kindle (2019) review.

Best for children

The 2019 Kindle Kids Edition offers more of what we like and less of what we want to disable.

(Image credit: Future)

Amazon Kindle Kids Edition

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

No lock-screen ads
Thankfully minimal interface (for kids)
Valuable warranty, subscription included
Distracting interface (in adult mode)
So-so text resolution
Reliant on Amazon's store, services

Amazon's latest e-reader 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.

Otherwise, the Kindle Kids Edition is the same tablet as the 2019 Kindle. You get the same 167 ppi display and front lighting, and the display is still inset, not flush with the frame.

Read our full Amazon Kindle Kids Edition review.

Best premium e-reader

Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019)

Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019)

(Image credit: Future)

Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019)

Best premium e-reader

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

Sleek metallic design
Water resistant
Sharp, well-lit display
Physical navigation buttons
Still displays lock-screen ads
No charger included
Bloated interface

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 it's the best Kindle for those who can splurge, we just wish it didn't cost nearly twice as much as the Kindle Paperwhite.

Read our full Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019) review.

Why E-Readers and Kindles?

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.

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 Kindle released in 2007, it sold out in 5 hours. That initial success was likely due to Amazon's huge library of e-content.

Kindles have remained best-sellers because of their quality and extra features. The sharp displays on Amazon's e-readers are easy on the eyes, thanks to the tablets' glare-free touch screens. And with at least 4GB of storage, these devices can hold thousands of e-books.

How we test 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.

What Kindles and e-readers cost

Amazon's Kindles range from the $89 (£69/$139 Australian dollars) Kindle all the way up to the luxe $249 (£229/AU$389) Oasis. Barnes and Noble's only e-reader is the Nook GlowLight 3, which costs $119.  If you're wondering why you can't find a $50 model (Amazon's got a $49 tablet) you won't be surprised to hear that e-reader sales are slowing.

Other e-readers

We're still testing the Kobo Libra H20, but so far, so good. Its best features are its lightweight reading experience that isn't clogged with all the extras you might not need in Kindle devices. It's also far superior for borrowing books from your local library, building them into the search engine.

Amazon makes our favorite e-readers, but it's not the only competitor in the game. While Barnes & Noble's Nook GlowLight 3 features long battery life, its laggy interface gets in the way of reading.