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Amazon Kindle Paperwhite vs Kindle Oasis: which Amazon ereader should you buy?

(Image credit: Amazon)

If you’re looking for a great ereader, you've probably scoped out the Amazon Kindle range, a diverse series that touches a lot of price points. Amazon is one of, if not the, biggest name in ereader market with the largest virtual library around, so you’re definitely not making a mistake by checking out its Kindles.

If you're hunting for a great reading experience and want to save all your money for ebooks, perhaps the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is what you’re looking for – it sits far shy of the top of Amazon’s Kindle range, but is still a great reading experience at a relatively low price.

But if you’re a serious reader with money to burn, you’re probably looking towards the higher end of the series to the Amazon Kindle Oasis, with its premium design and broad array of features.

To help you work out the difference between the two Kindle ereaders, and point you in the right direction for your new book-centric tablet, we’ve run through the differences between the slates.

Amazon Kindle Oasis

Amazon Kindle Oasis

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite vs Kindle Oasis price

The Amazon Kindle Oasis is Amazon’s highest-end ereader, so it goes for a fitting price. The baseline 8GB storage space costs $249.99 / £229.99 / AU$399, while the 32GB option is priced at $279.99 / £259.99 / AU$449. For four times the storage space that’s only an increase of $30 / £30 / AU$50, so if you’re planning to download loads of books at once, we’d recommend the latter option.

If those prices make you weak in the knees, perhaps the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is a better deal for you. An 8GB Paperwhite will cost you $129.99 / £119.99 / AU$199, and 32GB will set you back $159.99 / £149.99 / AU$249, making it a lot more affordable than the Oasis.

Bear in mind, you’re going to be paying a bit more cash for Amazon Kindle Unlimited, or to buy your ebooks individually, so your expense doesn’t stop at the hardware itself.

Design and display

When you think of an Amazon Kindle ereader, you probably envision the standard flat rectangle design found in most tablets these days - and that’s exactly what the Kindle Paperwhite looks like. It’s got a plastic body framing the display, and is a touch bigger than your standard smartphone, so it gives a different ‘feel’ than just reading on Google Play Books.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

(Image credit: Future)

The Amazon Kindle Oasis has a far more intriguing design: on the back of the body is a large ridge that offers a natural hand-hold to make the ereader easy to grip in a range of situations (like walking, or laying on your back). For its premium price tag you get a range of other improvements on the Paperwhite, like the metal body and physical buttons to help you navigate pages quickly.

In terms of screens, the Paperwhite has a 6-inch display, which is short of the Oasis’ 7-inch screen but both have the same 300 pixel-per-inch resolution. The Oasis really shines (pun intended) through its range of extra display options, like a high max brightness and an optional orange ‘warm light’ intended to reduce eye strain when reading.

The Kindle Oasis has the superior design and display over the Paperwhite, and this makes it a better device for certain audiences, like people who constantly bash or drop their device, or have sensitive eyes, but the design improvements might not be necessary for all users.

Battery life

While we don’t have exact battery sizes for the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite or Oasis, during the course of our review we made a few estimations based on how long they lasted and how quickly the battery dropped. This isn’t quite a scientific or empirical way of measuring the battery life of either device, but without specs it’s the closest we can do – and the winner is pretty clear.

The Amazon Kindle Oasis with its hand-hold ridge

The Amazon Kindle Oasis with its hand-hold ridge

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The ridge on the back of the Kindle Oasis isn't just a handgrip – it houses the ereader’s chunky battery, so you can expect the device to last a long time. In our review, we estimated the Oasis could last about six weeks if used for half an hour a day, which meets Amazon’s official estimations.

The Kindle Paperwhite, on the other hand, seems to last about three weeks if used the same amount of time, depending of course on how bright the display is.

So it seems like the Kindle Oasis lasts for twice as long; although both last for such a long period of time that the difference is kind of moot. It's far less annoying than having to recharge your smartphone every day.

Other features

Both the Amazon Kindle Oasis and Paperwhite run Amazon’s Kindle operating system, which lets you rent or buy books on the Amazon Store, and there’s not much difference in terms of software.

Neither ereader has a 3.5mm headphone jack though, so if you want to listen to an audiobook, you’ll have to do it with a wireless headphone.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

(Image credit: Amazon)

Talking of ports, both the Kindle Paperwhite and Oasis charge up using micro USB. That’s quite an outdated socket, so the devices are quite slow to charge.

In fact, the Kindle Oasis and Paperwhite have most features in common, and once you’ve looked past the surface appearances, they’re rather similar devices.

Verdict

The main differences between the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Oasis lie in their designs and displays. The Oasis aims to be easy to hold in your hand, and even easier to drop without worrying about it breaking, thanks to its metal chassis.

Screen versatility is a big difference too, and the Oasis’ warm light, as well as its increased max brightness, make it a better device for reading in the dark or in bright sunlight.

Beyond that, the two devices are rather similar in terms of operating system and user interface, so you’re not going to get a terrible experience on the Paperwhite compared to its premium-priced sibling.

So if you’ve got a lot of money to spend on a new device, or the design or display features of the Oasis are vital to you, it’s definitely the device to look for, but if you just want to buy an ereader tablet to get through all your books and comics, then the Paperwhite may be a more viable - and certainly more affordable - choice.