Kindle Oasis (2019) review: unmatched waterproof reading from sunrise to sunset

But there's little reason to – aha ha ha – 'look back in anger' if you own the previous generation

T3 Platinum Award
Amazon Kindle Oasis Review
(Image credit: Amazon)

T3 Verdict

Despite being an infinitesimal upgrade on its predecessor, the new Kindle Oasis still stands head and shoulders above every other ereader on the market right now. With a high-resolution e-ink display with variable levels of warmth, a waterproof aluminium design, physical page-turn buttons, and the ability to play audiobooks to Bluetooth headphones, there's so much to love here. Those with the previous Kindle Oasis have nothing to be jealous of, but anyone looking to upgrade from an older or entry-level Kindle model shouldn't even hesitate.

Reasons to buy

  • +

    Gorgeous 7-inch touchscreen

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    Display with adjustable warmth

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    Waterproof design

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    Page-turn buttons

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    Support for audiobooks

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    Still no USB-C port

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    Very minor update on previous Kindle Oasis

Amazon has a shiny new version of its all-singing, all-dancing Kindle Oasis and unlike the pop group of that name, it's highly sophisticated and can still 'have it' for 24 hours without falling asleep – how's that for a review? 

For those who have just arrived from Mars and aren't familiar with the Kindle Oasis, the device is somewhat of a curiosity in Amazon's e-reader line-up – like a concept car, it seems designed solely to be a showcase of what Amazon's ebook R&D department in Seattle are capable of, once unburdened with hitting the give-away price tag found on the entry-level Kindle that most people buy. The entry level is about 70 quid or 80 bucks, this?

Well, the Kindle Oasis starts from £229.99 on Amazon UK, while stateside readers will have to cough-up $249.99 for the entry-level model.

But you get what you pay for.

Amazon Kindle Oasis Review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon Kindle Oasis Review: Price, Release Date

The all-new Kindle Oasis is available to buy today.

The flagship ereader is available in Graphite or Gold colour options. The entry-level model with 8GB of built-in storage costs £229.99, while the 32GB model costs £259.99 and the flagship 32GB with cellular connectivity is £319.99.

Amazon is also selling covers that opens like a book, automatically waking the device when opened and putting it to sleep when closed. Choose from water-safe fabric covers, all £39.99, in Blue, Red or Charcoal Black; leather covers in Black or Merlot for £49.99; or a premium leather cover for £64.99.

Amazon Kindle Oasis Review: Design, Display

To cut a long story short, if you're looking for the best ereader available – this is it. The Kindle Oasis has the best display, the biggest display, it's built with more premium materials, and has features that aren't available on any other Kindle. It really is that simple.

It seems like the Amazon R&D department were a little unsure how to improve on the aluminium-clad Kindle Oasis launched back in October 2017. But rather than adding USB-C to handle charging on the new model, they settled on adding variable levels of "warmth" to the e-ink touchscreen.

Unlike the previous generation, the new Kindle Oasis can strip out the blue colours from the backlight to ease your eyes when tearing through a page-turner early in the morning, at sunset, or late at night.

Just like 'cigarettes and alcohol', which is also a song by Oasis the English band from the 90s, blue light can disturb your natural body's circadian rhythm and promote alertness – something the Oasis aims to fix in order to improve the quality of your sleep. The warmth of the seven-inch touchscreen on the Kindle Oasis can be tweaked from white to a warm amber glow at any time, via the striped-back settings panel available anywhere in the operating system with a quick tap.

Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019 review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon has included the ability to schedule the warm glow to creep in on a pre-set schedule, or automatically, based on the sun-set in your local area.

The warmth can be tweaked on a variable scale from 1 to 24. At the lowest end of the scale, it's barely detectable, while setting the screen to its maximum is like reading through a thick veil of honey smeared across the display. Quickly toggling the setting on and off can be a little overwhelming, especially if you've got the warmth cranked up to the aforementioned nectar-like levels, but it's surprising how well your eyes become accustomed when the Kindle gradually increases the warmth.

We have only been using the Kindle Oasis for a few days, so can't really speak to whether our quality of sleep has been drastically boosted compared the previous generation. However, the warm tone to the display is a very pleasant effect. And when almost every other gadget that you've got packed for your summer holiday – from the latest Android smartphones, to the iPad Pro, Apple MacBook Air, and more – all have the ability to strip out the harshest blue tones from the backlighting, the lack of warmth from the Amazon Kindle range was even more noticeable. 

It can also make turning back to your ebook after firing off a text on your phone a little off-putting as you're confronted with a harsh, bright-white glow from the display.

Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019 review

Just look at that expanse of gripping area to the side of its waterproof and handsome visage

(Image credit: Amazon)

We've found ourselves setting the warmth level in the single digits throughout the day as the slight orange tinge to the backlight makes the touchscreen look much closer to an actual book, compared with the clinical backlight of every other Kindle.

Of course, turning off the backlight completely reading the e-ink display using natural light has exactly the same effect... and will eke out a little more battery life, too.

Like the first two generations of Kindle Oasis, the new model has a wedge-like design for one-handed reading. The contents on the screen automatically rotate depending on the orientation, so you can flip around the Kindle Oasis to hold the wedge with either your right or left hand, which is good.

It's the only Kindle model that sports physical buttons to flip pages forward and backwards, although the touchscreen can also be used for that too, as with the Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite. The third-generation Kindle Oasis also keeps the 7-inch screen size – a big one-inch larger than any other e-reader in Amazon's line-up.

Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019

(Image credit: Amazon)

It might sound like a small difference and, well, it is. However the combination of the larger screen and the wedge form-factor means the Kindle Oasis has a much larger footprint than other ereaders from the company. At 141mm across and 159mm tall, this isn't going to slide into the back pocket of your jeans, or inside your suit jacket like the Kindle Paperwhite – something to keep in mind if you plan on doing most of your reading in short bursts on buses and trains.

When you're not worried about hurriedly storing the Oasis, that extra screen real estate is a blessing and really helps the words on the page breath. Or, if you'd rather, you can use the additional space to squeeze more text between each page-turn.

With a 300 pixels-per-inch resolution, the Oasis also has one of the sharpest displays of any Kindle with an e-ink display, although it's worth noting that this hasn't improved since its predecessor, which first launched in April 2016. That's a little disappointing for such a premium device.

There's nothing wrong with the resolution – text appears sharp and precise and book covers in the Kindle Store as nicely rendered – but it would've been nice to see Amazon push the boat out with a colour e-ink display, or another industry-leading upgrade in resolution. Instead, the Kindle Oasis, which maxes out at £319.99 (£349.99), has the same 300 pixels-per-inch as you'll find on the Kindle Paperwhite, which starts from £119.99 ($129.99).

Like its predecessor, the new Kindle Oasis is rated IPX8, which means that it can survive immersion in two metres of fresh water for up to 60 minutes – reassuring for anyone who likes reading in the bath, swimming pool or sea but suffers from a chronic case of butter-fingers.

Amazon sells the Kindle Oasis in 8GB and 32GB storage configurations. If you're planning on just reading eBooks, then there's little point in coughing up for more than 8GB on the device, since that's already enough for thousands of novels, non-fiction books, autobiographies, and more. But with Audible and Bluetooth built-in, those planning on using the Kindle Oasis to listen to audiobooks on-the-go might want to pay extra for the 32GB variant.

Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019 review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon Kindle Oasis Review: Software, Features

Amazon’s top-of-the-range ereader runs the latest version of Kindle OS. It's not controversial to claim that Amazon has the most mature and feature-rich operating system of any ereader. It is joyously simplistic and easy to pick-up.

Amazon has included plenty of choice when it comes to the spacing and justification of the text on the page and the font, including a custom typeface designed from the ground-up by the Kindle team to be legible on an e-ink display. It also ships with OpenDyslexic, a font designed to mitigate some of the common reading errors caused by dyslexia, which is a really useful feature and should make reading more accessible.

It's also worth highlighting Word Wise, which is a brilliant feature for any readers slogging through a challenging read. When enabled, it will automatically load concise definitions beneath tough words right in the text, so you can continue reading with fewer interruptions. 

Unlike a traditional paperback, you’ll also get an intelligent prediction of how much time you’ve got left in the chapter or the book at the bottom of the page at all times.

One of the biggest benefits is tight integration with the Kindle Store and Amazon’s other services. So, if you’re a Prime subscriber, you’ll get access to a service dubbed Prime Reading, which gives you a rotating carousel of free books and magazines to read. There’s also Kindle Unlimited, which costs an additional £7.99 ($9.99) a month. 

Think of it like Spotify or Apple Music for books, so for the flat subscription fee you’ll get access to a variety of titles. It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to access these books once your subscription is over, so it may not be the most affordable way for you to access the titles you want to read.

Amazon Kindle Oasis Review: Our Verdict

Is the 2019 Kindle Oasis worth it? If you're a dedicated ebook reader and are looking for the best experience money can buythis is definitely it. With a high-resolution, seven-inch e-ink display with variable levels of warmth, a waterproof aluminium design, physical page-turn buttons, and the ability to play audiobooks to Bluetooth headphones or speakers from the device, there is a lot to love here. You won't be disappointed. 

If you've got the previous generation Kindle Oasis, however… it's not essential to upgrade. Aside from the option to warm the display, everything else about the new Kindle Oasis is identical to the model launched in October 2017. Despite the ubiquity of USB-C these days, Amazon seems to think nothing has changed in the intervening year and a half since it launched the last Kindle Oasis – and kept the micro USB.

It would've been brilliant to see something truly unprecedented from Amazon with this latest upgrade to the pricier Kindle Oasis series. While the warmer display is great and all, it is also the only substantial difference between the previous iteration and the latest Kindle Oasis. 

Even so, great device.