Kobo Forma review

A high-end alternative to the Kindle

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Store and interface

The Kobo interface is easy to understand as soon as you pull it out of the box. If you’ve owned any ereader before (and probably if not, too) you’ll find navigating around the different menus easy enough on the touchscreen.

There are lots of accessibility features brought to the fore from Kobo, but they’re not as extensive as we’ve seen on some of the most recent Kindle products such as the Kindle Paperwhite (2018).

You likely won’t be let down by the interface on the Kobo Forma though as it just works and does exactly what you’ll want it to when you need it.

The store is where the platform can be a little let down, and that’s because it’s a bit more limited than Amazon’s. 

Kobo is getting better at stocking all the latest books, but there are some notable omissions from the ereader’s range in 2018.

Before buying the Kobo Forma, we’d recommend visiting the Kobo ebook store and entering a few titles that you’d expect to be able to read on your ereader in the genres you really like. It’s a useful test to make sure the Kobo ebook store will suit your reading needs.

If you can't find some of your favorite titles on the store, you can always upload your own files to the Kobo Forma or you can connect it to a service called OverDrive that works with public libraries in the US, UK and Australia.

You'll have to check with your local library to see if it supports the service, but it's an interesting way to get ebooks onto your Kobo.

Be warned, there's also only an 8GB storage version of this ereader, so if you think you're going to have thousands and thousands of ebooks you may want to opt for a larger alternative, such as the 32GB Amazon Kindle Oasis (2017).

Battery life

Battery life is a difficult thing to test on an ereader considering how long these last from a single charge, but our time charging up the Kobo Forma only took around two hours using a micro USB cable into the port at the bottom of the device.

We spent around five hours reading a book on the device, and we’ve had it on and off in our bag in standby mode for around three weeks. That left us with 46% charge left on the ereader, so that’s enough to at least read another short novel.

Kobo estimates you’ll get six weeks of battery out of the Forma depending on use, and that’s exactly what we’d expect from a device like this in 2018.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that we often had the ereader on the lower brightness settings, so while you may not have to use the maximum brightness all that much, turning it up may mean the battery life sinks quicker than what we’ve seen above.


The truth is the Kobo Forma doesn’t do all that much new that's likely to make you want to drop your current ereader and upgrade to this one.

If you own an older Kobo from around five years ago or a Kindle from around the same period you will find this a significant upgrade, but anyone who has kept up to date with ereader products is unlikely to find much reason to grab this.

That doesn’t make the Kobo Forma bad though, it’s just a little uninspiring.

Who’s this for?

If you need a new ereader and you want something with a larger display, water resistance or decent battery life, the Kobo Forma will suit you.

Those who’ve owned Kobo ereaders in the past will likely want to stay with the company to ensure they can bring across all of their existing ebooks and data from previous ereaders.

This is also a sturdy alternative to the Amazon Kindle range that is such a behemoth in the realm of ereaders. If you want something that little bit different to Amazon's offerings then the Kobo Forma will make for a capable option.

Should you buy it?

The Kobo Forma comes with a high price, but if you’re after a new ereader that offers a fantastic reading experience then the Forma could still be a strong choice.

Be warned that the ebook store is a little less appetizing than Amazon’s alternative, but the selection combined with the ability to upload ebook files from some other sources should make most people happy in that respect.

First reviewed: November 2018

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.