We Tested Amazon's Most Popular E-readers to Find the Best Kindle for Every Traveler — Here Are Our Top Picks

Our favorite is the Kindle Paperwhite.

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Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

If you love to bring multiple books on a trip, then you know it's nearly impossible to squeeze them all into a suitcase. That's where Kindles come in handy. One Kindle can hold thousands of books in a compact device that's smaller than a single paperback, which makes it an excellent option for travelers who love to read.

Our favorite is the Kindle Paperwhite, which has a resolution of 300 PPI, is Audible-compatible, and is available in 8GB or 32GB of storage.

To find the best Kindles, our team purchased four different models and put them to the test. We set up each Kindle and used all of the features while reading for 20 hours over the course of one week. When choosing a Kindle, a few things to consider are storage, display, and whether or not it is waterproof. Most Kindles have at least 8GB of storage, but some offer a 32GB option. Kindle devices come in 6 and 7-inch sizes, and resolutions range from 161 to 300 pixels per inch (PPI). If you plan to use your Kindle near water, it's a good idea to opt for waterproof models, like the Paperwhite and Oasis.

After 7 days of testing, these are the best Kindles on Amazon.

  • Best Overall: Kindle Paperwhite
    Its waterproofness, adjustable lighting warmth, and crisp display make it the best e-reader for most people.
  • Best Budget: Kindle With Built-in Front Light
    The most affordable Kindle, this lightweight and compact device is ideal for less frequent readers who don't mind having fewer features.
  • Best Splurge: Kindle Oasis
    Avid readers who want all of the best features will appreciate the ergonomic design and page-turn buttons on the splurge-worthy Oasis.
  • Best for Kids: Kindle Kids Edition
    This kid-friendly version comes with a colorful cover, generous warranty, and a free subscription to Amazon Kids+.

How We Tested

To find out how the various Kindles stack up against each other, our team purchased four models so that I could test them for a week. I'm an avid reader who never travels anywhere without my Kindle, but I swapped my go-to for these newer devices to compare them. I read on the subway, before bed, and while traveling over a long weekend — I even dunked two waterproof models in the sink to see if they'd still work.

Setting up a Kindle is extremely quick, easy, and straightforward. The process was pretty much the same for all the models (except for the Kids edition, which needs parental controls and a child's profile) and took less than five minutes.

After testing these e-readers for seven days (logging more than 20 hours of reading time), I can confidently say that the best Kindle for most people is the Paperwhite. It has the most essential features for a comfortable reading experience without being too expensive.

What to Look for in a Kindle

All the different e-readers might look the same, but there are some notable differences to keep in mind that'll help make sure you pick the right one for your needs.

Storage: Most Kindles have at least 8GB of storage space, but some models (like the Paperwhite and Oasis) also come in 32GB options. It might not seem like a lot at first — especially when you remember that the latest iPhones start at 128GB — but you can store thousands of books on a single 8GB Kindle. One thing to note: If you plan on using the device for listening to audiobooks, you may want to upgrade to the larger storage size. According to Amazon, an 8GB Kindle fits 35 Audible audiobooks, and a 32GB model can hold 160.

Display: Kindle displays range from 6 to 7 inches, but the quality of the screen varies depending on which one you buy. Some have a resolution of 300 pixels per inch (PPI) while others have only 167 PPI. It's a pretty noticeable difference when you test them side-by-side, but some people might not mind the lower resolution. I especially noticed the difference when opening books and turning pages.

kindles comparison
Courtesy of Amina Abdelrahman

Battery: It's hard to standardize battery life because so many factors (like brightness, wireless connectivity, and reading time) can influence how long a single charge lasts. Depending on the model, Amazon estimates the battery to last anywhere from four to 10 weeks with 30 minutes of reading each day, assuming that the brightness is set at 13 and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings are turned off.

Waterproofness: If you plan on reading in your hotel bathtub or by the pool, then we strongly suggest opting for a waterproof Kindle. Both the Paperwhite and Oasis have an IPX8 waterproof rating, which means they can withstand being accidentally immersed in up to two meters of fresh water for up to 60 minutes (both metrics are lower for seawater). If your e-reader gets wet, remove it from the water as soon as possible and allow it to dry completely before attempting to charge it.

The Best Kindle E-readers to Buy

Best Overall: Kindle Paperwhite

Courtesy of Amazon

Who it's best for: Most people — it's the best balance of price and performance.
What you'll love: It's waterproof and has adjustable brightness and warmth options.
What you should know: It's slightly heavier and larger than some other models.

Important specs: 8GB (with a separate 32GB version), 6.8-inch screen, and 300 PPI

The waterproof Kindle Paperwhite was the top pick in our tests thanks to its crisp, high-quality, anti-glare screen and extended battery life. Turning pages is seamless with this responsive device, and we love that the screen has adjustable brightness and warmth settings, so you can customize the display to be easier on your eyes. There's even an option to set the brightness on an automatic schedule.

The Kindle Paperwhite can connect to Bluetooth headphones or speakers, so you can also listen to audiobooks through Audible on a single device. The standard 8GB of storage can hold thousands of titles, but the 32GB Signature Edition is a better option for audiobook afficionados because those files take up more space.

At just over 7 ounces, the e-reader itself is slightly heavier than others, but it's still easy to carry around in a crossbody bag. The Paperwhite charges via USB-C cable — instead of the micro USB charger used by other Kindle devices — so you don't have to pack an additional charging device.

To buy: amazon.com, $140

Best Budget: Kindle With Built-in Front Light

kindle e-reader
Courtesy of Amazon

Who it's best for: Anyone who only reads occasionally and wants an affordable e-reader.
What you'll love: It's very compact and lightweight, making it the smallest option.
What you should know: There's a noticeable difference in speed and resolution compared to the more advanced models.

Important specs: 8GB, 6-inch screen, and 167 PPI

This no-frills Kindle is a great intro model for anyone who is new to e-readers or on a tight budget. Even at full price, it's still just a fraction of the cost of the more advanced Kindles. It's incredibly lightweight and small, so it's easy to hold in your hand during long reading sessions and takes up barely any space in your bag. We think this affordable model is ideal for people who mostly read when traveling).

However, this Kindle feels cheaper and more plastic-like than the others. Design-wise, we wish it had a flush front instead of a sunken-in screen. And even though the e-reader has a decent-sized 6-inch display, one downside is that it sacrifices quality for the low price. Words don't appear as crisp, and there's more lag time when opening new books or turning pages. Although you can't adjust the warmth, the front light does have 24 different levels of brightness. But if you don't have much experience with e-readers, these things might not bother you at all.

To buy: amazon.com, $55 (originally $90)

Best Splurge: Kindle Oasis

Courtesy of Amazon

Who it's best for: Avid readers who want all the bells and whistles.
What you'll love: The ergonomic grip and page-turn buttons make it comfortable to hold in one hand.
What you should know: It's the most expensive model (and costs $110 more than our top pick).

Important specs: 8GB or 32GB, 7-inch screen, and 300 PPI

Not everyone is willing to splurge on an e-reader, but if you are, then the Kindle Oasis is the best one you can buy. Its super-thin design and grip on the back make it by far the most comfortable device to hold — especially with one hand. The two buttons are convenient for turning pages, and you can even choose which button goes forward and back. The buttons make a very subtle clicking sound, so be mindful if you're reading at night while your partner is sleeping. (If you're trying to be extra quiet, you can also opt to turn pages by tapping the screen just like traditional Kindles.)

In addition to its waterproofness (which comes in handy if you're lounging by the pool on vacation), we love that the Kindle Oasis automatically adjusts its brightness and warmth settings based on the lighting where you are and sunrise and sunset times. It has a big 7-inch screen, but the device itself isn't much bigger than the Paperwhite. The Oasis is one of our favorite Kindles, but the hefty price ($110 more than our top pick) makes it a less accessible option, especially for the occasional reader.

To buy: amazon.com, $250

Best for Kids: Kindle Kids Edition

Courtesy of Amazon

Who it's best for: Children ages 7 and up who need fewer distractions while reading.
What you'll love: It comes with parental controls and a two-year warranty.
What you should know: Books from Amazon Kids+ need to be downloaded and opened while connected to Wi-Fi.

Important specs: 8GB, 6-inch screen, and 167 PPI

The Kindle Kids Edition is similar to the original (and most affordable) Kindle for adults, but it has a few key differences. This version is designed for children ages 7 and up, and it comes with one of four colorful covers for added protection. It comes with a free one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ (formerly called Freetime), which means you can download thousands of children's books onto the Kindle for free. After the trial, the Kids+ subscription costs $3 per month. Just keep in mind that you have to download and open the books while still connected to Wi-Fi to make them accessible while you're on the go.

It's super easy to set up parental controls and make a separate profile for your child — you can even send books directly to their Kindle from the parent's dashboard on your computer. And if you forget your own e-reader at home, parents can use the Kids Kindle to access their books by punching in the parental controls code. (Just make sure you log back into your child's profile before giving it back to them). It's important to note that this is just an e-reader, so it's best for kids who need to read without getting distracted by the videos and games on traditional tablets — and it'll keep them occupied while traveling, whether on a long flight or a road trip. We also love that the Kindle for kids comes with a two-year warranty, so Amazon will replace it for free if it breaks.

To buy: amazon.com, $70 (originally $110)


What's the difference between "Ad-Supported" and "Without Ads"?

Ad-supported Kindles (previously called "Special Offers") show ads for various sponsored books while your device is locked and not in use. These devices are usually $20 cheaper, so it's an easy way to save some money on a new e-reader. To avoid them, be sure to choose the option without ads to get traditional screensavers on your lock screen. If you purchase an ad-supported Kindle but change your mind, you can pay the difference from your Amazon account at any time to instantly remove them.

What is Kindle Unlimited?

Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service from Amazon that gives you access to more than two million ebooks (as well as Audible narrations and magazines) that you can download to your device. Most Kindles have the option to include a free three-month trial with your purchase, so you can try it out before paying for the subscription. It'll automatically renew once the trial is over for $10 per month, but you can cancel your subscription at any time.

Can I browse the internet on my Kindle?

Technically the answer is yes, but the web browsers on Kindle devices don't offer a great user experience. You can navigate to some websites while connected to Wi-Fi, but loading times are slow and the display is black and white. Kindles are primarily e-readers, so we suggest getting a tablet if you want to browse the internet regularly.

Kindle Comparison Table

Kindle Paperwhite Kindle Kindle Oasis Kindle Kids
Price $140 $55 $250 $70
Display 6.8" 6" 7" 6"
Resolution 300 PPI 167 PPI 300 PPI 167 PPI
Storage 8GB and 32GB 8GB 8GB and 32GB 8GB
Waterproof Yes No Yes No

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