Best Kindle 2021: which of Amazon's ereaders is right for you?

Not all Amazon Kindle ereaders are equal, but we'll explain the differences in our authoritative best Kindle guide

Included in this guide:

An Amazon Kindle ereader shown lying on a bag in the sun with a digital book shown on screen
(Image credit: Amazon)

The best Kindle ereaders available today make reading indoors and outdoors a pleasure, and thanks to advanced features like waterproofing, relaxing reading sessions can even take place in the bath, swimming pool or down at the beach.

The thing is, though, is that there is now multiple different Amazon Kindle ereaders on the market and each offers a different overall package and features. This makes it a little more complicated to narrow down which Kindle would be best for any given person.

For example, a hardcore reader who also likes listening to podcasts and consuming digital media might be best with the premium Kindle Oasis ereader, but that exact same ereader would be overkill for a child or casual reader.

And that's where T3's best Kindle guide comes in. We've built this guide to clearly break down the different Kindle models on the market. As of 2021, Amazon sells four different Kindle models covering a variety of features and price points, and we're here to explain the key differences between them in this guide.

Remember, though, the slates here are very much ereaders first and foremost. Some more advanced models do come with extra features, however, if you want a slate for more all-round general use then you'll be better served checking out the best tablets and best tablets for kids on the market, or for computing needs, the best laptops.

Make sure you check out the best Black Friday deals before you buy your Kindle this year. We can't think of a single Black Friday where Amazon hasn't offered decent discounts on at least one Kindle model, and we'll be amazed if it doesn't offer some brilliant Kindle bargains this year. Kindles are already brilliant buys, but they're even better when you can get them for a bit less cash.

The best Kindle ereaders you can buy today

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite ereaderT3 Best Buy Award badge

The best Kindle for most people? That's the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite.

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

The best Kindle for most people

Specifications
Screen size: 6 inches
Resolution: 300ppi
Storage: 8GB / 32GB
Front light: 5 LEDs
Waterproof: Yes
Thickness: 8.2mm
Weight: 182g
Reasons to buy
+Strong mid-ranger+Compact and waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Almost twice the price as standard Kindle

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite costs almost twice as much as the standard Kindle, so why would you upgrade? Because you get some extra features that are actually useful, not just gimmicks, while keeping the same compact 6-inch screen size and getting an even thinner Kindle.

More storage, a better front light, waterproofing, and a fetching blue shade... these are all good reasons why you might go for the Paperwhite model rather than the standard one. The display is flush with the device's front and running at a much higher resolution too.

Combined, all these extra features really do flush out the standard Kindle as a device, and especially so in terms of future-proofing. For anyone who is serious about getting into reading on an ereader, then this is the Kindle model to check out first.

To see how the Paperwhite stacks up against the standard Kindle then be sure to read T3's Amazon Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite comparison feature.

Amazon Kindle Oasis ereaderT3 Approved badge

If you're shopping with a large budget, then the Kindle Oasis is a superb premium choice.

(Image credit: Amazon)

The best premium Kindle

Specifications
Screen size: 7 inches
Resolution: 300ppi
Storage: 8GB / 32GB
Front light: 25 LEDs
Waterproof: Yes
Thickness: 8.4mm
Weight: 188g
Reasons to buy
+Dedicated page turning buttons+Largest Kindle screen
Reasons to avoid
-Princely price point

The Kindle Oasis is Amazon's top of the line ereader and, as such, it costs. So you know why you would pay extra for the Paperwhite – why would you then pay even more for the Kindle Oasis? Well, once again you get the front-flush design, and the waterproofing, and the extra storage (your choice of 8GB or 32GB, as on the Paperwhite).

At 7 inches, this is the biggest Kindle screen too, which means a more immersive reading experience even if it's a bit more to carry. It's the most premium-looking model in the range too, and you get dedicated page turning buttons and an auto-adjusting backlight.

It really is a joy to use, too, with the 300ppi screen displaying pages as if they were printed on real paper thanks to very latest E Ink technology. The Oasis also works with Audible, the audiobook service, so if you like listening to stories as well as reading them, this top-end unit has you covered.

To see how this Kindle stacks up against our number one choice, be sure to check out T3's Amazon Kindle Paperwhite vs Kindle Oasis comparison feature.

Amazon Kindle ereaderT3 Approved badge

The best Kindle when shopping on the budget is the original device in its latest variant.

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Amazon Kindle

The best budget Kindle

Specifications
Screen size: 6 inches
Resolution: 167ppi
Storage: 4GB
Front light: 4 LEDs
Waterproof: No
Thickness: 8.7mm
Weight: 174g
Reasons to buy
+The lightest Kindle+Won't break the bank
Reasons to avoid
-Outperformed by Paperwhite and Oasis

The introductory Kindle model is a strong basic ereader. It's compact, it's intuitive to use, and it does everything that you'd want a Kindle ereader to do – though you miss out on some extra features (for example, this Kindle isn't waterproof, so you wouldn't want to drop it in the pool on holiday).

Other Kindles offer more storage, too, but 4GB is plenty of space for thousands of ebooks (and that's really what it is about, right), and what we like most is the low price: go for one of the more expensive models and you'll have to pay at least twice as much. With that in mind, this is our pick for the best Kindle out there if you are shopping on a budget.

To see how this ereader compares to our number one recommended model then be sure to check out T3's Amazon Kindle vs Kindle Paperwhite comparison feature.

Amazon Kindle Kids Edition ereaderT3 Approved badge

Want a Kindle for a child? Then you want the Amazon Kind Kids Edition.

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. Amazon Kindle Kids Edition

The best Kindle for little people

Specifications
Screen size: 6 inches
Resolution: 167ppi
Storage: 8GB
Front light: 4 LEDs
Waterproof: No
Thickness: 14mm
Weight: 288g
Reasons to buy
+Chunky, colourful case included+With a year of Fire for Kids Unlimited
Reasons to avoid
-Teenagers may be better with standard Kindle

The name really gives away the reason why you would pick this Kindle over all the others – it's the Kindle for your offspring, the one you should get for the children in your life, and it adds a few kid-friendly features on top of all the features from the basic Kindle model.

Those extras include a choice of colourful cover cases, built-in parental controls, and a one-year subscription to the Fire for Kids Unlimited service (usually £1.99 a month) – that includes all the Harry Potters, by the way. The perfect introduction to ebooks for kids.

To see if this is the right ereader buy for your family then check out T3's Amazon Kindle vs Amazon Kindle Kids Edition comparison feature.

How to choose the best Kindle for you or your family

On one level, picking the best Kindle isn't too daunting a task – they all do more or less the same job, letting you buy and read ebooks from Amazon's marketplace, and keeping your ereading synced between devices (including phones and laptops). Whichever Kindle you end up buying, you're unlikely to be disappointed.

There are, however, some differences in these devices that are worth mentioning. It's also important to weigh up these feature lists against how much you're going to spend on your Kindle, whether you're buying it for yourself or someone else as a gift – features like the available storage and waterproofing vary between models.

Screen size and overall size are important to bear in mind as well, as these will make a difference to your reading experience, and how easy it is to carry your Kindle around. The good news is that thanks to their popularity all these Kindles come with a host of accessories (including cases) to pick from.

Is Kindle free with Amazon Prime?

Yes, if you are a Amazon Prime member then you get unlimited reading access from a rotating selection of the most popular and best-selling eBooks for no cost. As such, if you're a big reader and are are thinking of picking up an Amazon Kindle, then you'll likely get a lot of value for money in terms of reading by signing up to Amazon Prime.

The specific service you are given access to with an Amazon Prime membership is called Prime Reading, which lets you choose up to 10 different titles at any one time from more than 1,000 books, magazines and comics. This even includes books with audible narration, too.

However, if you want access to everything that Amazon offers in terms of digital publications and content, then you're going to need to sign up for Kindle Unlimited, which is not included in an Amazon Prime membership. This costs $9.99 per month and grants access to over 1 million books and thousands of audiobooks and magazines.

How we test the best Kindle ereaders

It may sound obvious but we test the best Kindles by actually reading books on them. This is their primary reason to exist, and so it is crucial that we ascertain just what sort of digital reading experience they deliver. This obviously includes judging the screen's quality and how it presents the written word, both inside and outside, but also includes judging the ereader on how easy it is to handle and operate.

We want to tell you just what it feels like to hold the Kindle while sat on a deckchair in the sun for 90 minutes. Or how easy it is to browse your digital library on the Kindle while taking a well-deserved bath.

Following on from judging this core functionality we then move on to any additional features the Kindle may have, such as waterproofing, built-in parental controls, gift subscription services, audiobook playback and protective casing. We then finally judge the Kindle against its nearest competitors in terms of price point and capabilities.

When this is all done we then bestow a star score on the Kindle, with 5 stars the maximum attainable.