As an avid reader, I have always been a fan of Kindle e-readers and the convenience they offer. So when Amazon released a new Kindle Paperwhite back in 2021, I was immediately intrigued, although I resisted the temptation to upgrade since my 10th-generation Paperwhite could easily serve for a few more years.
Despite my initial reluctance, I eventually caved into the allure of the new features and improvements offered by the Paperwhite (11th Gen). And having spent more than 20 days with the device, I have to say I’m glad I did it. The Paperwhite 11th Gen is the best e-reader in the company’s lineup. Its 6.8-inch display is a big step-up over the last model, which always felt a bit cramped, and the upgraded lighting system and Warm Light feature mean it’s a pleasure to use at night. And with up to 10 weeks of battery life and USB-C charging, it outperforms even the top-of-the-line Kindle Oasis.
|Big display with fantastic sunlight legibility
|Not suitable for comics or graphics-heavy content
|Great warm light for comfortable nighttime reading
|Insane battery life
|No built-in speaker for audiobook listening
Kindle Paperwhite 11th Gen: Pricing and availability
- The base model with lockscreen ads starts at $140
- You can get a model without ads and 16GB of storage for $180
The Paperwhite’s standard model starts at around $140, and it comes with lockscreen ads. For an ad-free experience, you’ll have to shell out $160 for the 8GB model and $180 for the 16GB version. The device only comes in black, but you can spruce up the look with a case. As you can imagine, the primary place to get the Paperwhite is at Amazon, but you can find models at third-party retailers like Target or Staples.
Design: A clean-looking black slate
- All-plastic build
- The bezels have been trimmed for a larger display and a more modern look
- Only comes in black
Like its predecessor, the Kindle Paperwhite 11th Gen has an all-plastic build, so you better keep this thing covered with a protective case or it will get covered in fingerprints in no time. While it’s still a clean-looking black slate, small aesthetic improvements made by Amazon give the device a modern flavor. The side bezels are thinner than the previous version, but there’s still enough room to comfortably hold the device.
The top bezel has also been trimmed down. The large bottom chin has a Kindle logo imprinted on it, but it’s less attention-grabbing than the Paperwhite 10th Gen while the back features the signature Amazon logo. The bottom edge holds a much-welcome change: a USB-C port (finally) tucked between an LED light and a clicky power button. The device is IPX8 certified, so reading sessions near a pool or occasional cleaning with fresh water shouldn’t be an issue.
Display: Bigger and better
- The bigger display offers a better reading experience
- Adjustable Warm Light for nighttime reading
Let’s talk about the biggest change, which is the display. The Kindle Paperwhite 11th Gen comes with a 6.8-inch, glare-free, E Ink display. It’s wider and taller and can fit in more text, providing a more immersive reading experience. The 6-inch panel on the previous model was a bit on the conservative side, especially in an era where phones were already approaching the 6.4-inch mark and 7 inches was the minimum size for tablets. For a device dedicated to reading, I think the new Paperwhite panel is a perfect size. It’s big enough that you can view a good amount of words on the screen without being unwieldy to use single-handedly.
The resolution has stayed the same, with the display still offering 300 pixels per inch. Where the new Paperwhite really excels is in low-light and nighttime reading thanks to its new and improved lighting system. While the previous Kindle Paperwhite came with five LEDs, the latest model has a whopping 17 LEDs.
The Paperwhite 11th Gen has a more evenly diffused light, giving the display a pleasant and natural look.
On paper, the Paperwhite 11th Gen offers 10% more brightness than the previous model, which might sound underwhelming considering it has 17 LEDs. But here’s a thing. Unlike smartphones and laptops, which use backlit displays, E Ink displays aren’t self-illuminating. Instead, they derive their illumination from a series of LEDs around the display’s edges that are directed back towards the screen, shining light onto the surface of the display. The light is then reflected by the E Ink particles. When you have more LEDs, you get a better and more consistent brightness.
Comparing the Paperwhite 11th and 10th-generation models side by side, I found the newer version has a more evenly diffused light, giving the display a pleasant and natural look. The light distribution was uneven on the previous model, with some spots appearing much brighter than others. The transition between brightness levels is also smoother on the latest model. More importantly, LEDs on the Paperwhite 11th Gen have a pleasant mellow tone that I found much easier on the eyes than the cool hue produced by my older Paperwhite, which felt a bit harsh at bedtime.
On that note, the new Paperwhite brings another feature that’s a total game changer. Warm Light debuted first on the flagship Kindle Oasis, and I’m happy it finally trickled down to the Paperwhite. As I mentioned above, I always found the built-in light of my old Paperwhite too harsh for nighttime reading. That problem is solved with the adjustable warm light, which adds an amber light to the display for a comfortable reading experience in low-light conditions. There’s also a separate slider to control the amount of warmth you want to add. You can set it to automatically turn on at sunset or another scheduled time. There’s also a dark mode, but I think it’s more suited for people with vision impairments than average users. The dark mode is great, but it simply doesn’t translate that well to an E Ink display and makes everything harder to read.
Reading experience and software: Distraction-free reading
- The best way to read books outside of reading a book
- Kindle software gives you tons of useful features and customization options
Like many users, I used to read primarily on my smartphone and PC, as investing in a dedicated device that’s of no use besides reading didn’t sound appealing. But then I had the chance to play with a Kindle at a store, and I realized what I was missing out on. And I don’t think I have ever read a whole book on my phone or laptop since I got my first Paperwhite in 2018. It’s certainly something you have to experience yourself to see the appeal.
An E Ink display is the closest you can get to the feeling of reading on real paper. If you have mostly been reading books on devices with backlit screens, you’ll be surprised at how much more comfortable an E Ink display can be for reading. The bigger, glare-free display and upgraded lighting system make the Kindle Paperwhite 11th Gen a joy to use, and it can put any high-end OLED smartphone display to shame.
Kindle offers tons of useful features and customizations to personalize your reading experience. While in a book, you can change fonts, spacing, layout, margins, and more. You can also highlight passages, take notes, look up unfamiliar words using the built-in dictionary, search Wikipedia, and even translate entire pages on the fly in many different languages.
The Kindle Store has you covered for all your content needs. It has a huge selection of books, and with a Kindle Unlimited subscription, you can access many of these books without paying the full price. You can also add ebooks you downloaded or purchased from other sources. But you have to make sure they’re in a Kindle-readable format because MOBI and AZW formats are no longer supported, but you can transfer EPUB and PDF files. You can also listen to audiobooks from Audible, but you’ll need to connect your Bluetooth earphones since the Kindle doesn’t have a built-in speaker. Note that audiobook support is only available in select regions such as the U.S. and U.K.
The Kindle is great for serious reading because when I pick it up, I know exactly what I’m going to do — reading and nothing else. This singular focus allows for a more enjoyable and distraction-free reading experience, something a smartphone can never come close to. Reading on a smartphone is often a source of constant interruptions and temptations. With a Kindle, there is just focused reading.
Performance and battery: More responsive and lasts for weeks
- 20% faster page turns
- Up to 10 weeks of battery life on a single charge
- We finally have USB-C!
E Ink displays are notoriously sluggish due to their slow refresh rate. And while the new Kindle Paperwhite is far from smooth, it’s noticeably more responsive than its predecessor. Amazon says the new model offers 20% faster page turns thanks to the latest E Ink Carta 1200 display. And indeed, navigation, scrolling, and typing feel zippier on the new Paperwhite.
Kindle e-readers have always been the battery champions, and the Paperwhite 11th Gen is no exception. In fact, it takes things even further by promising up to 10 weeks of endurance on a single charge, a big leap from the last model’s four weeks. Of course, the real-life battery performance will largely depend on your usage, but at least you won’t be charging this thing daily like your smartphone.
Out of all the electronics I currently own, the Kindle Paperwhite 10th Gen was the only one that used a Micro-USB port. With the new Paperwhite 11th Gen finally transitioning to USB-C, I can charge all my gadgets using a single cable and officially kiss goodbye to the Micro-USB era. Note that the device doesn’t ship with a charging brick — you only get a USB-C to USB-A inside the box. It’s also a shame there’s no fast charging support, as it takes around 2.5 hours to fully charge. Wireless charging is reserved for the Signature Edition, but I don’t think you’re missing out much here as you won’t be charging the device that frequently, thanks to the amazing battery life.
Kindle Paperwhite 11th Gen: Should you buy it?
You should buy the Kindle Paperwhite 11th Gen if:
- You want an e-reader with a great display and warmer light
- Kindle Oasis is too expensive
- If you’re looking to upgrade from your old Kindle
- You want an e-reader that is future-proof
You shouldn’t buy the Kindle Paperwhite 11th Gen if:
- Your current Kindle e-reader is serving you well
- You rarely read at night
- You want to read comics or academic books
- You’re looking for a device you can use more than just for reading
If you’re in the market for a new Kindle, I can’t recommend the Paperwhite enough. Although the newly launched base Kindle boasts many improvements and has a cheaper price tag, I would argue it’s worth spending a few bucks more on the Paperwhite for a bigger display, better lighting system, and water resistance. But what if you have a Paperwhite 10th Gen? In my case, the upgrade was worth it. I like the bigger display of the new model, and the improved lighting system with Warm Light means I can now comfortably read at bedtime without straining my eyes.
Of course, for all the conveniences that Kindle offers, there will always be people who would never give up on physical books in favor of a digital device. And I agree the Kindle can never truly replicate the tactile and aesthetic experience of physical books. But rather than viewing the Kindle, or any e-reader for that matter, as a threat to traditional books, it’s more apt to see it as a tool aimed at emulating the essence of physical books, albeit to a limited degree.