Amazon Kindle Oasis vs. Kindle Paperwhite: don’t buy the wrong one

If you’re a voracious reader and you like to travel, an e-book reader is an ideal device for you. Many of the best e-readers are made by Amazon, but working out which model to go for is easier said than done. Much depends on what features you crave. Should you push the boat out and go for the top-of-the-line Kindle Oasis? Or, should you save yourself some cash to buy more books and opt for the latest Kindle Paperwhite?

Amazon has continued to refresh its range over the years, but the choice between these two models is still a tough one to make. Here’s how the choice between the Kindle Oasis and Kindle Paperwhite breaks down and which one you should buy.

Looking for something cheaper than the Kindle Oasis? You might also want to check out our comparison of the Amazon Kindle vs. Kindle Paperwhite.

Kindle Oasis vs. Kindle Paperwhite: specs

Kindle Oasis (2019) Kindle Paperwhite (2021)
Size 159 × 141 × 3.4-8.4mm (6.3 × 5.6 × 0.13-0.33 inches) 174 × 125 × 8.1 mm (6.85 × 4.92 × 0.32 inches)
Weight 188 grams (6.6 ounces) 205 grams (7.23 ounces)
Screen size 7-inch 6.8-inch
Screen resolution 1680 × 1264 pixels (300 pixels per inch) 1648 × 1236 pixels (300 pixels per inch)
Storage space 8GB, 16GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Bluetooth Yes Yes
Ports Micro USB USB-C
Water resistance IPX8 IPX8
Connectivity Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi and cellular Wi-Fi
Battery 6 weeks based on 30 minutes of reading a day 6 weeks based on 30 minutes of reading a day
Colors Champagne Gold, Graphite Black, Agave green, Denim
Price $250 $140
Buy from Best Buy Best Buy
Review Kindle Oasis review Kindle Paperwhite review

Kindle Oasis vs. Kindle Paperwhite: design, durability, and display

There’s a big difference between the Oasis and Paperwhite in the looks department. While the Oasis boasts a svelte aluminum body, with a thicker section at one side that houses physical turn page buttons, the Paperwhite is matte plastic, with chunkier bezels around the smaller screen and no physical turn page buttons. The Oasis comes in a choice of graphite or champagne gold, but the Paperwhite turns the tables with a selection of black, agave green, or denim.

Both e-book readers have an IPX8 rating, which means splashes and rain are nothing to worry about; in fact, they’re protected against immersion in up to 6.5 feet of fresh water for up to an hour.

While the Oasis and Paperwhite both have sharp screens rated at 300 pixels per inch, there are some important differences. The Oasis has a bigger 7-inch screen, but the Paperwhite’s updated 2021 model has increased its size to a 6.8-inch display. Both devices allow you to filter out blue light at night using warm-toned LEDs, making nighttime reading a more pleasurable experience. Only the Oasis’s display will automatically adjust, though, making it the better choice if you change between light and dark a lot. However, you can set up an automatic switch between modes based on time, which fulfills much of the same tole.

The Oasis also boasts more LEDs than the Paperwhite, so it offers more lighting levels and better uniformity around the screen, though the difference isn’t likely to be huge. Both devices support automatic brightness, but we found that it worked a lot better with the Oasis, whereas we often had to manually adjust the Paperwhite.

The 2021 Paperwhite is much improved, but the Oasis still holds an edge in pure LED count and an automatically adjusting blue light filter. It’s a much smaller gap than it used to be, however.

Winner: Kindle Oasis

Kindle Oasis vs. Kindle Paperwhite: performance, battery life, and charging

A profile view of the thickness of the Amazon Kindle Oasis.
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

Amazon doesn’t specify processors and RAM in its e-book readers, but the Kindle Oasis and the Kindle Paperwhite are both responsive and slick to navigate. The Oasis used to have an edge over the Paperwhite, but that edge has eroded with time, and the new Paperwhite is blistering fast (for an e-reader, that is).

There’s no stated battery capacity, as Amazon prefers to describe battery life for both Kindles as up to six weeks from a single charge based on half an hour of reading a day. However, it stands to reason that the Oasis must have a bigger battery since it has a bigger display to power. Unfortunately, the Kindle Oasis still relies on an outdated Micro-USB port for charging. It wins back some goodwill, with it taking just two hours to fully charge from a 5W charger and around three hours from a computer USB port. The Kindle Paperwhite, on the other hand, takes around two and a half hours to top up, even with the new USB-C port.

With weeks of battery life, you’ll not need to worry about longevity with any Kindle. The Oasis’s charging speed is a slight edge, but with battery life measured in weeks, leaving your Kindle on charge for an extra hour is hardly a hardship. The Paperwhite’s USB-C port is a huge bonus, though, and it means most people will no longer need to find an extra cable for their device.

Winner: Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Oasis vs. Kindle Paperwhite: software and updates

A person reads on an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite outdoors.

The software on the Kindle Oasis and Kindle Paperwhite is largely identical; there are just a few extra options with the Oasis. That means both have features like Whispersync, which lets you keep your place across devices, and both come with optional ads on the lock screen, which lowers the price.

The Oasis has an edge in storage, with an option for 32GB of storage, but unless you’re packing in a whole lot of comics or audiobooks, you’re unlikely to feel that benefit. While there’s no room for expansion via MicroSD card, you do get free cloud storage for all your Amazon content. We would expect software updates to be on the same schedule for both devices and although the Oasis is now rather old for a Kindle, Amazon is still dedicated to supporting it with updates until 2026.

Winner: Tie

Kindle Oasis vs. Kindle Paperwhite: special features

A man reads a text on an Amazon Kindle Oasis.
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

Neither of these devices comes with speakers or a headphone port; however, both have Bluetooth capabilities and can support streaming Audible audiobooks to a separate Bluetooth speaker or headphones. The Oasis is now the only Kindle to support a cellular connection, so that may be a bonus for you if you’re away from the house a lot. That said, public Wi-Fi and phone hotspots are now so easily available that this feature isn’t really needed any longer, hence why Amazon seems to have dropped it.

The only other truly notable feature is the page-turn buttons on the Kindle Oasis. These buttons are helpful for reading with one hand, and they can also ease readers who are wary about using an e-reader. The Kindle Oasis wins here, but it’s another slim win.

Winner: Kindle Oasis

Kindle Oasis vs. Kindle Paperwhite: price and availability

At the time of writing, the Kindle Oasis comes with a price tag starting at $250. The Kindle Paperwhite is quite a lot cheaper at $140. Keep in mind the value propositions in play here. While the Oasis has more features, it’s worth asking yourself if those features are worth $110 to you. The Paperwhite offers a lot for over $100 less than the Oasis, and that’s $100 that could be spent on a massive amount of e-books instead of the different design of the Kindle Oasis.

What’s great is that you can almost always find Amazon Kindle devices on sale. As one of Amazon’s biggest sellers, you’ll find several Kindle varieties available wherever Amazon is available. Furthermore, the Oasis with LTE will work anywhere there’s a reliable 4G signal. On top of that, the devices function similarly over Wi-Fi; you’ll be able to download books wherever you have a Wi-Fi connection.

Overall winner: Kindle Paperwhite

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite in use with the blue light filter on.
Digital Trends

While looking at the category wins and specs makes it clear the Kindle Oasis is the superior choice, we can’t recommend a four-year-old e-reader in good faith. While it may have a (slightly) larger display, an automatically-adjusting blue light filter, and page-turning buttons, the rest of the Kindle catalog has caught up with the Oasis to the point where it’s simply no longer worth the money Amazon is asking for it. The Kindle Paperwhite 2021 is bigger than previous generations, includes a USB-C port, and has a timed blue light filter that can replicate the automatic filter on the Oasis. Unless page-turning buttons are really worth over $100 to you (and they might be), there are very few reasons to buy the Kindle Oasis anymore.

So, if you want the best and money is no object, then the Kindle Oasis should be your choice. But if the Oasis’s high price gave you a double-take of any kind, consider the Paperwhite offers basically the same experience for almost half the price — and gives you an extra $110 to spend on e-books. Also, remember that the Paperwhite isn’t the only model available now — the Paperwhite Signature Edition is also available and offers wireless charging, 32GB of storage, and an auto-adjusting blue-light filter for $190. Much of what makes the Oasis great, but for $60 cheaper.

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