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New Kindle Paperwhite (2021) vs old Kindle Paperwhite (2018): What’s changed?

This September, Amazon announced its latest Paperwhite e-reader – the Kindle Paperwhite 5. The device is the successor to the Kindle Paperwhite 4, which launched back in 2018. Here’s what’s changed three years on. 

The Paperwhite is Amazon’s mid-range e-reader line, sitting above the regular Kindle and below the more advanced Kindle Oasis. The range offers a more complete set of features compared with the Kindle at a fraction of the price of the Oasis. 

So, what’s changed since the Kindle Paperwhite 4? And, which features have stuck around? Scroll down to discover all the major differences between the old Kindle Paperwhite and the new model. 

paperwhite 5
Kindle Paperwhite 2021

Pricing and availability 

Prices for the new Paperwhite start at £129.99 with ads. This time, Amazon has released two additional models – the Signature Edition and the Kids Edition. The Signature Edition costs £179.99 and the Kids Edition £139.99. 

The new Paperwhite will be available to buy from October 27, while the Signature Edition will be available from November 10. 

The old Paperwhite came out in November 2018 with an RRP of £119 with ads, making the new device £10 more expensive at launch. However, the older device has seen 33% slashed off its price since then, taking it down to just £79.99. 

This makes the old Paperwhite the current most affordable of the two at £50 less than the new Paperwhite. 

Kindle deals
Kindle Paperwhite 2018

Design and display 

The old Kindle Paperwhite features a durable but plain design. The e-reader has a lightweight plastic body with curved edges that doesn’t scratch easily but is prone to picking up smudges and fingerprints. It’s also waterproof up to IPX8 and does not feature the physical page-turning buttons you’ll find on the pricier Oasis. 

The new Kindle Paperwhite packs a similarly inconspicuous design with slim, curved edges but the bezels around the display have been slimmed down a bit. Like it’s predecessor, the new Paperwhite is waterproof up to IPX8 so you can feel safe using it next to the pool and the device does not include any physical buttons to flip the page. 

The biggest upgrades here take place in the display. The old Kindle Paperwhite features a 6-inch, 300ppi, glare-free E-Ink display designed to be comfortable on the eyes. It also includes four LEDs to make it easier to read in dim lighting. 

The new Paperwhite, on the other hand, packs a larger 6.8-inch, 300ppi, glare-free E-Ink display. Amazon has included more than four times the number of LEDs this time around for a total of 17. This allows for a 10% brighter screen at its maximum setting. 

The new Paperwhite also takes advantage of the adjustable warm light feature that debuted on the Kindle Oasis, which is particularly useful for reading at night. 

Kindle Paperwhite 2021

Specs and features 

Both Kindles run on the same software and take advantage of free cloud storage for all Amazon content. 

One downgrade that came with the new Kindle Paperwhite is that it doesn’t come with as much on-device storage. The old Kindle Paperwhite was available with 8GB and 32GB configurations, while the new Kindle Paperwhite can only be bought with 8GB of storage. 

Of course, there’s a reason Amazon has done this. If you want 32GB of storage, you’ll now need to opt for the Paperwhite Signature Edition, which costs £50 more than the standard Paperwhite. 

You may want to consider the upgrade if you listen to a lot of Audible audiobooks as these require more space, but regular books are very small so 8GB will likely be enough for most users. 

If you are into audiobooks, both e-readers can be connected to Bluetooth headphones but neither includes a headphone jack so wired headphones are not supported. 

There’s also the new Kindle Paperwhite Kids, which comes with a cover, a one year subscription to Amazon Kids Plus, and tools to help children improve their literacy skills, including the Vocabulary Builder and Word Wise. 

Battery life 

There have also been a number of upgrades when it comes to the battery. 

The old Kindle Paperwhite offered up to 6 weeks of battery from a single charge. This number is based on half an hour of reading a day. The new Kindle Paperwhite, in comparison, includes up to 10 weeks of battery based on half an hour of reading a day. 

Amazon has also upgraded the charging port from micro-USB to USB-C, which was something we wanted to see in our review of the 2018 e-reader. The new port offers faster charging down from 3 hours to 2.5 hours for a fully charged battery and, with most tech using USB-C these days, you’re bound to have a compatible cable within reach when you need it. 

While neither the old nor the new Kindle Paperwhite support wireless charging on their standard models, the feature is supported on the new Signature Edition so if you prefer to use a Qi charger you can pay a little extra to get support for that. 

Kindle Paperwhite 2018
Kindle Paperwhite 2018

Early verdict 

The new Kindle Paperwhite brings a number of upgrades to Amazon’s mid-range e-reader line, including a bigger, brighter screen, warm light and a bigger battery. There’s also wireless charging if you’re willing to spend another £50 on the Paperwhite Signature Edition.

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