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(Pocket-lint) - Amazon has refreshed the Kindle Paperwhite, making this a family of devices with a Kids edition and a Signature edition.

However, with the old Kindle - updated in 2018 - still widely available, you face quite a decision when it comes to buying the new device.

We've drilled through all the details to highlight what's actually changed - and it's quite significant.

Price and availability

The Kindle Paperwhite (2021) is available for pre-order, launching on 27 October. It costs $139.99 in the US, £129.99 in the UK and €129.99 in the EU.

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The 2018 Kindle Paperwhite has been in circulation for some time, but following the launch of the 2021 model, it got a hefty discount, so it's much cheaper.

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There are a number of different versions of the Kindle, but the thing to watch out for is adverts. You can buy it cheaper if you opt for adverts - as per the prices above - or pay a little more to have it without advertising. You can choose the options on Amazon's pages.

Design

  • New Paperwhite: 174 x 125 x 8.1mm, 205g
  • Old Paperwhite: 167 x 116 x 8.2mm, 182g

The new Paperwhite is larger than the old paperwhite in just about all directions, but it a tiny bit slimmer. While the design is generally similar, there's been a number of changes.

Most notably, the new Paperwhite has narrower bezels, so it looks a little more modern around the edges of the display. We don't want no bezels (you need somewhere to grip the Kindle without turning the page) and the new Paperwhite is certainly more attractive.

Both devices are protected against water with an IPX8 rating, meaning you can drop it in the bath and it should be fine.

On big physical change is that the new Paperwhite has a USB C connection rather than the older Micro-USB. While this is a minor change, it means you can likely use your phone or tablet charger to power the Kindle, rather than requiring that older Micro-USB cable.

Display

  • New Paperwhite: 6.8in display, 300ppi
  • Old Paperwhite: 6.0in display, 300ppi

The thing that will be most obviously different on the new Kindle - and likely the biggest selling point - is that it has a 6.8-inch display.

This is a big change for Kindle. The Kindle has had a 6-inch display since it launched in 2007, with only the Oasis, Amazon's premium device, going larger at 7 inches. The Paperwhite now offers the larger screen and we think it will be popular.

There's another change too. While the Paperwhite has offered a front light since its inception, allowing reading in the dark, the new Paperwhite adds the ability to adjust the colour temperature.

This is simply through the addition of coloured LEDs to make the screen warmer, so that white screen looks more orange, reducing the blue tones and making for a more pleasant reading experience in lower light.

One thing to note is that the pixel density remains the same at 300ppi. That means that both devices should look equally sharp when you're reading.

Hardware

  • New Paperwhite: 8GB, Wi-Fi, 10 weeks battery
  • Old Paperwhite: 8GB/32GB, Wi-Fi or cellular, 6 weeks battery

The new Paperwhite has upgrades to make it faster than the old model, with Amazon saying that page turns are 20 per cent faster than before. That's the refresh cycle of the E Ink panel, but speeding it up is great not just for turning pages, but navigating the store and everything else too.

The level of storage is actually more restrictive on the new Paperwhite. The standard model has 8GB of storage, you only get 32GB if you opt for the Signature Edition, which is more expensive, but also offers wireless charging.

The question is whether you actually need to carry that many books? Of course, both support Bluetooth and can also accommodate Audible books, which will take up more storage.

There's another fundamental shift to connectivity. The old Kindle Paperwhite is available with a cellular connection, meaning you could browse and buy literally anywhere there's a mobile signal. With the new model, that option is gone - and it's Wi-Fi only.

We've mentioned the move to USB-C on the new model above, but again, that's going to be great for those looking to move to one charging cable.

The newer Kindle claims 10 weeks of battery life, while the older Paperwhite will only stretch to 6 weeks. Of course, both depend on how much reading you do.

Summing up

While the software experience and capability of these devices comes closely matched, there's a whole range of areas where the new Paperwhite has the advantage - the larger screen, reduced bezels and USB C are likely to drive adoption.

The option to adjust the colour temperature of the illumination is a minor detail in our opinion, while the lack of a cellular option means you might have to hotspot off your phone when you're buying new books lying on the beach.

But the older Paperwhite is still capable: it has the same quality if display, it's still illuminated, it's still waterproof - it's just half the price while stock still remains, so might be too much of a bargain to turn down.

Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 27 September 2021.