Kindle 2022 e-reader review: A cheaper alternative to the Paperwhite

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Until this year, there was a pretty clear demarcation between Amazon’s entry-level Kindle and the company’s Step Up Kindle Paperwhite. The more expensive model offered a larger screen, higher resolution and better interior lighting. That sharper E Ink display — 300 pixels per inch, or nearly double the 167 ppi density of the old Kindle — made the Paperwhite an easy recommendation for those who could afford it. But things got a little more complicated with arrival Kindle 2022, which matches the Paperwhite’s 300 ppi display density and adds USB-C charging, all for $100. Yes, it’s $10 more than that Kindle 2019 cost, but it’s also $40 less than the Paperwhite.

I like it

  • A slightly lighter and smaller design than the previous model
  • 300 ppi high resolution display
  • Built-in light
  • Good value ($40 less than the Kindle Paperwhite)
  • USB-C charging

I don’t like it

  • Not waterproof
  • It lacks the premium feel of the Paperwhite

With that price difference, it would be easy to declare this new Amazon Kindle e-book. But it’s not all that simple, even if there’s a lot to like about the Kindle 2022, including its lighter, smaller chassis that makes it easier to hold during long reading sessions — and fits better in smaller hands.

Although it has the same 6-inch screen size as its predecessor (the Paperwhite has a larger 6.8-inch screen), it measures 6.2 by 4.3 by 0.32 inches (158 by 109 by 8 mm) and weighs 5.56 ounces (158 grams). These are all smaller sizes than 2019 Kindle. By comparison, the Kindle Paperwhite weighs 7.23 ounces (205 grams).

Read more: The best e-readers in 2022

Size and weight differences aside, the first thing you notice about the Kindle 2022 is that it looks cheaper than the Paperwhite. The Paperwhite is completely waterproof, and its airtight screen is protected by a layer of glass. The plastic on the back of the Paperwhite also seems to be of a higher grade, and the device feels sturdier and more premium. However, if you do decide to protect your new Kindle with a case – there are several available on Amazon, including Amazon’s own beautiful design $30 Kindle Cloth Cover what I’ve tried – you can’t even see the back side and durability is less of a factor.

The Kindle 2022 (left) is more compact, but the Paperwhite (right) does have a bigger screen and a more premium look.

David Carnoy/CNET

The Paperwhite also has a more advanced front-lighting scheme with 17 LEDs compared to four on the Kindle 2022. You can adjust the amount of light on the entry-level Kindle, but not the color temperature (warmer and cooler) as you can with the Paperwhite and the top Kindle Oasis. For those who just want some sort of lighting option so you can read at night or in a dimly lit room, this probably won’t be much of a problem (one of the main appeals of an E Ink e-reader is that you can view their screens at bright sunlight). But you can make the display on the Paperwhite look more like paper, and those with more sensitive eyes may prefer the additional lighting controls. Also, some may prefer the extra screen of the Paperwhite, especially if you want to use a larger font size for reading.

Amazon didn’t skimp on storage for the Kindle 2022. It comes with 16GB, which is actually 8GB more than what you get with the base Paperwhite model. Battery life will also be extended to six weeks. As mentioned, this Kindle now charges via USB-C, but keep in mind that it only comes with a USB-A to USB-C charging cable without a power adapter.

The new reader is also available in a kid-friendly version called Kindle Kids ($120). This model has the same hardware but adds a cover, a year’s subscription to Amazon Kids Plus — a large collection of kid-friendly reading material — and a two-year warranty.

The Kindle 2022 has a smaller 6-inch display.


Kindle 2022 Performance: Similar to Paperwhite

I haven’t noticed a difference in performance with the new Kindle compared to the Paperwhite. E-ink still has some inherent lag, but e-books seemed to open at the same speed on both devices, and page-turning speeds were about the same in my opinion. Unlike the Kindle Oasis, which has the ability to press physical buttons to turn pages, you can only tap the screen of the Kindle and Paperwhite to turn pages. I don’t mind it, but it’s a deal killer for button lovers.

It’s also worth noting that you can choose to have the display refresh with each page turn. It causes the screen to flicker, which is a bit annoying. I leave this setting off because I haven’t noticed much e-ink ghosting and the screen refreshes about every 25 pages, which seemed to be sufficient.

Like other Kindles, this model supports Bluetooth, so you can listen to Audible audiobooks or use the speech-to-text feature (now called VoiceView Screen Reader), which you can turn on in the accessibility menu. If you pair your Kindle with a Bluetooth headset, headphones, or speaker, you’ll be able to read the text on the screen (and if you press a button, a voice will tell you which button you pressed). This is a nice feature for the visually impaired or those who would like someone to read to them.

more than a year ago Amazon has updated the Kindle home screen and made some improvements to the Kindle user interface and menu system. I’m not going to go into all of that or delve into the general features of the Kindle, but most people, myself included, seem to be very happy with the changes. And in case you were wondering, you don’t have to just buy things through the Kindle Store. You can send certain types of files, including non-copy-protected ePub files, to your Kindle using the free Send to Kindle service (you can read how to do it here).

Kindle 2022 Final Thoughts

We’ve previously recommended upgrading to the Paperwhite if you could afford it, mainly because it had a higher-resolution display than the entry-level Kindle, which allowed text to appear sharper. But because both models now have similar displays — at least in terms of resolution and clarity of text and images — the Kindle 2022 is a much more attractive entry-level e-reader, and the gap between the two models has narrowed. Still, the Paperwhite looks more premium and durable, and has a few key extras: a bigger screen, water resistance, and a more sophisticated and adjustable lighting scheme.

Ultimately, your decision may come down to how much of a discount each of these Kindles is during Amazon’s sporadic flash sales. The Paperwhite has hit $100 at times, and I expect it to be around that price this holiday season. Kindle 2019 drops only $50, so a discount of at least $30 on this new model seems like a big possibility. The question is, how much of a price difference will there be between the two models during sales? If, say, the Paperwhite is only $20 more, it’s a better buy. But if the price delta is more like $30-$40, the Kindle 2022 is probably the better option if you don’t need waterproofing.

Kindle 2022 Key Features According to Amazon

  • The lightest and most compact Kindle: 5.56 ounces (158 grams)
  • E Ink display with high resolution and 300 pixels per inch without glare
  • Adjustable front light (4 LEDs) and dark mode
  • Extended Battery Life: Up to 6 weeks on a single USB-C charge
  • 16 GB of memory (twice as much as the previous generation)
  • Bluetooth for audiobooks and speech synthesis
  • Uses 30-75% recycled plastic, 90% recycled magnesium and has 100% recycled device packaging
  • Two colors: black or dark blue
  • Price: 100 dollars

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