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Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2015) Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Sharp, bright screen
  • Light and compact
  • Great online store

The Bad

  • Battery life impacted
  • Few reasons to upgrade
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New Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review: We get stuck into our favourite ebooks on Amazon’s refreshed Kindle Paperwhite ereader, revamped for 2015 with a sexy new screen. But is it worth an upgrade?

Design

If you already own last year’s Kindle Paperwhite, or any of Amazon’s recent Kindle devices for that matter, the new Paperwhite isn’t going to look like any kind of upgrade. It’s still marginally chunkier and taller than the Kindle Voyage, but pretty much identical in build compared with last year’s Paperwhite.

Not that that’s a bad thing. The Kindle Paperwhite is still light enough to comfortably clutch one-handed for a couple of hours at a time, plus slender and compact enough to fit most bags without a struggle.

As with the original Paperwhite, the power button and charging port are down at the bottom of the device. The other edges are port-free, making for a simple, streamlined device – particularly handy if you choose to encase your Kindle in one of the official covers. Which, by the way, is a neat accessory as it automatically wakes and puts your Kindle to sleep when opened and closed. But it’s also unnecessary, as the Paperwhite is still a rugged slab of plastic that can survive some serious punishment.

Screen

So, what has Amazon actually changed for this all-new Paperwhite then?

The answer is the refreshed, super-high-res screen, which packs 300 pixels-per-inch rather than just 212 ppi. Along with a brand new ‘Bookerly’ font, this screen is supposed to make reading even more easy on the eye.

However, I personally noticed no difference in comfort levels between this model, the old Paperwhite and the Kindle Voyage. All three are great for lengthy book sessions, at any time of the day and under any conditions thanks to the backlighting. None of them made my eyes bleed or gave me migraines.

The one time the sharper screen does make a difference is when viewing any books or documents with pictures. So for instance, fans of graphic novels will love how gorgeously sharp each panel looks. In fact, the release of this new Paperwhite seems very well timed, just as Amazon announces that 12,000 Marvel comics are hitting the Kindle Store.

Battery life and performance

Unfortunately that new high-res screen has impacted the Kindle Paperwhite’s battery life, if Amazon’s estimates are correct. Whereas the original Paperwhite could go for roughly 55 hours on a screen brightness of 10, the new 2015 model lasts for less than half of that under the same conditions (21 hours is Amazon’s prediction).

Certainly in our testing, just three days of occasional use (around two hours a day) was enough to drop the battery meter by around a third, so it seems like Amazon’s estimates are correct. If you plan on travelling abroad for a week or so and leaving the charger at home, you might want to rethink your purchase and get the old model.

Still, performance is as solid as ever, with very little lag between tapping the responsive touchscreen and your input being translated into actions. All in all, the Paperwhite is a frustration-free experience.

Features

The Paperwhite 2 hasn’t changed in terms of features, so you still get all of the great Amazon extras such as a built-in dictionary, the X-ray tool (handy for quickly remembering who a character is), Wikipedia support and so on. Highlighting and sharing text is as easy as ever, as is visiting the Kindle store to download new books (you can grab a 3G model as well as WiFi-only, in case you can’t wait to grab some new tomes).

The Paperwhite’s 3GB of storage space gives you plenty of room for thousands of books – or hundreds of graphic novels.

Verdict

Amazon’s new Paperwhite has been updated with a gloriously sharp screen, but the trade-off is reduced battery life compared with last year’s model. It’s still a great ereader and the crisp visuals make it ideal for comic book fans, but original owners have scant reason to upgrade.

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