Amazon’s latest Kindle, now in its 10th generation, is the new entry-level model in the range. It will appeal if you don’t need all the bells and whistles of Amazon’s more expensive models.
While its specifications might not have been bumped up elsewhere (it still has the lowest resolution display of all the Kindle e-readers), its convenient form factor, strong library and new front light make it a great choice for anyone looking to move to e-books.
Amazon Kindle (2019) − Design
Amazon hasn’t made any big changes to the new Kindle’s design. In fact, it was only after a glance at the official measurements did some differences become apparent. It’s actually gotten smaller, losing 2mm in width (down to 113mm) and a barely noticeable 0.4mm off its thickness (down to 8.7mm).
It means the Kindle is even more pocket-friendly – although, admittedly, we’re talking about a back or coat pocket here. For someone like me, even that slight reduction in size makes a big difference. It means I can now quickly whip it out from my jacket to get in a few pages of reading while waiting for a train; I’d be far less inclined to bother if it were in my bag.
But while the Kindle has lost some size, the addition of the front light has added some weight. At 174g (up from 161g), it’s still far from heavy; in fact, it’s still comfortably lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite (191g) and Kindle Oasis (194g).
Unlike the pricier Paperwhite, the 2019 Kindle is available in a choice of either black or white finishes. I prefer the black of the review model, since it is likely to appear less grubby over time.
The Kindle feels nice in your hand, with the weight evenly distributed – a trait that’s more important than you might initially think. I’ve still got an original Kindle (one that included a physical keyboard), ironically gathering dust on my bookshelf. That model now feels far more tiring and awkward to hold for longer reading sessions.
The premium Kindle Oasis remains the only Kindle with physical page-turning buttons, so here you’ll need to tap the screen to move between pages. It’s a little less tactile than having buttons, but it does the job well enough. There’s only a single button on this Kindle, to wake up the device, and it sits on the bottom alongside a micro-USB charging port. I hope Amazon eventually moves its Kindles over to USB-C for convenience, although it isn’t a big deal.
One of the major differences between the Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite is the latter’s IPX8 water-resistance rating. If you plan on reading in the bath or swimming pool then how clumsy you are might factor when deciding which model is right for you. With that said, there are the same inherent risks with dropping a traditional book in water, so if that’s never been an issue it might not be one now.
Perhaps Amazon read our review of the 2016 model, where we stated that the Amazon branding on the rear of the device was obnoxious and pointless – it’s been toned down for this model.
Amazon Kindle (2019) − Screen
The big change is the addition of a front light to illuminate the E Ink screen. This will enable you to read in low light, or even in the pitch-black. That’s great news if you like to stay up reading but your partner wants to get to bed, because you won’t need to leave a bedside lamp on in order to see the screen.
There are 24 levels of brightness adjustment.
The illumination isn’t quite as good as it is on the Kindle Paperwhite, owing to the inclusion of four LEDs as opposed to the five on the Paperwhite. Nevertheless, you get 24 levels of incremental brightness adjustment, so you can get it just the way you like it.
You’ll rarely need to have the display dialled all the way up – and it might not be when you expect. The brighter settings are actually better used outdoors, on the beach for example, where extremely bright conditions can make the screen look washed-out. Indoors, at night, I didn’t feel the need to use the Kindle at any more than its third-dimmest setting.
Amazon Kindle (2019) − Battery life
Amazon rates the battery life as around four weeks if used for 30 minutes a day, with wireless turned off and the front light set to 13 – which is pretty specific.
In truth, I’ve not had a review device long enough to put that to the test. But this being an e-reader, you can expect the battery life to last into the weeks rather than days. That’s a major advantage of E Ink over tablets and smartphones.
Amazon Kindle (2019) − Other things to consider
Part of buying an Amazon Kindle is buying into Amazon’s e-book library. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber then there’s even more incentive to opt for a Kindle device. As part of your Prime membership, you get access to Prime Reading, a sizeable catalogue of free books you can “borrow”. Similar to an actual library, you simply “check out” titles and read them at your leisure.
For a wider selection, there’s Kindle Unlimited, which, at a monthly subscription cost similar to Netflix, gives you an even greater choice of books.
You can also load up your Kindle with audiobooks from Audible. You’ll have to pair a speaker or set of headphones with the device over Bluetooth, since there’s no built-in speaker but it’s a great option.
Why buy the Amazon Kindle (2019)?
At first, I thought the new Kindle would be a no-brainer recommendation for anyone on a budget thanks to that added front light. But then I realised the 2016 Amazon Kindle is still on sale, and it’s now cheaper, so the decision over which to buy isn’t quite as simple.
The above amounts to a difference between the two models for essentially the addition of the front light. I still think the vast majority will be better served spending the extra, but it isn’t as clear-cut as I first assumed. Between the two entry-level Kindle models, however, you won’t find a better e-reader for a similar price.