Kobo Aura One review

An ereader to rival the top-end Kindles

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  • Clarity of text is impressive
  • It's almost the same size as an iPad Mini 4 at 7.8 inches
  • 300 dots per inch, the same as the Kindle Paperwhite, Voyage and Oasis

If you've used an ereader before you'll likely find it strange to use the Kobo Aura One. With its 7.8-inch HD Carta E Ink touchscreen it's so large it could pass for a tablet.

The screen on the iPad Mini 4 is 7.9 inches, and it's quite an odd feeling to be reading books on a display this size if you've been used to a 6-inch Kindle product.

But if you've been looking for something larger than the Kindles, the Aura One's size will be a selling point, and it feels like a step in an interesting direction – after all, books come in all shapes and sizes, so why not ereaders?

Kobo Aura One

While the Aura One is large for an ereader it’s still much easier to wield than your average hardback book, or even a paperback copy of the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

The screen is high-quality as well, with a resolution of 1872 x 1404. That's 300 dots per inch, meaning text is clear and easy to read, and book artwork looks great; viewing angles are strong too.

Kobo Aura One

Another standout feature of the Kobo Aura One is its front lighting technology. This enables you to read in comfort in all kinds of lighting conditions, and the device is a joy to use even in bright sunshine.

You can also read in bed in the dark, which is something you wouldn't be able to do with Amazon's cheapest Kindle model without the aid of clip-on reading light or bedside lamp.

As mentioned, the Kobo Auro One aso includes a technology called ComfortLight Pro, which changes the colour of the light from blue to yellow/orange as the day progresses, making for a more comfortable reading experience at night.

We noticed that the light did flicker on a few occasions when the device was trying to adjust itself to the ambient conditions, but it only took a few moments to sort itself out.

Battery life

  • You’ll average about 10 hours screen-on time with auto brightness enabled
  • Not the best battery life on the market, but still enough to get you through an average-length book
  • Recharges in an hour or two through via the microUSB port

Kobo lists the Aura One as having a battery life of up to one month, but if you're a keen reader you won't see anything close to that. We found that after a week of fairly intensive usage, reading for around an hour each day, the battery fell from 100% to around 30%.

You're going to get around 10 hours of reading time from a single charge. That may sound good compared to your average tablet or smartphone, but it's not as good as much of the competition in the ereader market.

Kobo Aura One

You'll get a solid amount of screen time out of the Kobo Aura One – enough to read the average paperback – but it's not as much as you’ll get from most other ereaders.

That said, recharging your ereader once a week or so isn't particularly onerous.

Kobo store

  • Easy to search for books on the Kobo store, with over five million titles to choose from
  • Limited selection compared to some of the competition

The biggest issue with buying a Kobo ereader is that the Kobo store doesn't have as big a selection of titles as Amazon's.

Kobo does offer over five million books, but that doesn't rival Amazon's ereader store, and if you tend to read a lot of niche titles you may not find what you’re looking for.

Kobo Aura One

If you read mostly best-selling books, though, the Kobo store will keep you happy – we searched for several popular titles that TechRadar writers have been reading recently, and all were available.

In addition to the more limited choice there’s also the issue of price – buying from the Kobo store may prove a little more expensive than buying from Amazon.

The Kobo store does have sales, but the discounts don’t tend to be as generous as those you’ll get at Amazon's store – and you don't get the benefits of the Kindle Unlimited library-like scheme.


  • Simple to use interface that you'll pick up quickly
  • Lots of easy-to-access options to improve your reading experience
  • Recommendations and a Top 50 make it easy to find new titles

If you’re familiar with ereaders it won’t take you long to get the hang of the Kobo Aura One – and even if you haven’t used an ereader before you’ll find it pretty easy to get to grips with the software and interface.

Kobo has kept things nice and simple. The home page displays the book you're currently reading at the top-left, and you can tap it to go straight to the page you were on.

Kobo Aura One

When reading you tap the right or left of the screen to go forwards and backwards respectively. To come out of a book, or to change settings, you tap at the top of the screen to bring up the relevant options.

The Aura One is as fast as you'll ever need an ereader to be. It can sometimes take a moment to flip the page, but that's a fault of all e-ink screens, and it won't frustrate you enough to make you put it down and pick up a paperback.

The home page of the Kobo makes it easy to see your library, and you can also search your collection if you have a bulging collection of titles.

The search bar at the top is also where you access the store to buy new books. If you're looking for ideas there's a list of the top 50 titles at the right-hand side, as well as customized recommendations based on your reading history.

Kobo Aura One

Not surprisingly we didn't find the recommendations particularly useful after reading just one book, but after you've purchased or read a few titles Kobo will start to work out what you like to read, and give you more useful suggestions.

The Kobo Aura One doesn’t support cellular connections – you can only download  books over Wi-Fi, so you’ll need to stock up if you’re going on holiday, for example, and will have limited access to the internet. The files won't take up much space, though, and the 8GB capacity is enough to store thousands of books.

James Peckham

James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.