Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2015) Review:
The new Kindle Paperwhite, on sale in the UK from 30 June and priced at £109.00 for the Wi-Fi model (plus £10 to remove the lock screen adverts) is just like the 2014 Paperwhite but with a much improved screen.
That is all you really need to know about the 2015 Paperwhite; its 6in screen now has a pixel density of 300 per inch, compared to 212 ppi on the previous model.
This means sharper lines, smoother curves and clearer text that is easier to read. Amazon has also introduced a new font, called Bookerly, to make reading even more comfortable.
Improving the screen without upping the price is a welcome move from Amazon, which charges £60 for the cheapest Kindle (167 ppi) and from £170 for the most expensive, the Kindle Voyage. But here is the thing: the Voyage and the Paperwhite have exactly the same resolution and their screens are the same size.
The Voyage is thinner (7.6mm vs 9.1mm) and lighter (180g vs 205g), and it has a slightly more premium design, marginally better contrast, and those pressure-sensitive buttons to charge pages; changing pages on the Paperwhite involves tapping the right of the screen to go forward a page and the left to go back. This can make turning pages a stretch when holding it in your left hand but that is pretty much the only noticeable drawback over the Voyage.
Amazon has given the Paperwhite a plastic screen rather than the glass of the Voyage, but you really cannot tell the difference. If anything, despite its matt finish, the Voyage produces more glare and reflections than its cheaper sibling. One card the Voyage holds over the Paperwhite is a screen light that automatically adjusts to compensate sunlight, but changing it manually on the cheaper model is only a tap and a swipe away.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss
Beyond the improved screen, the 2015 Paperwhite is identical to those that went before it – and that is no bad thing. This means a screen that lights up for reading in the dark, zero reflections from sunlight, a touchscreen interface that is simple to navigate, a battery that lasts for "weeks" (or 21 hours of constant reading) and storage for "thousands" of books.
More books (plus magazines and newspapers automatically delivered daily) can be downloaded in a couple of seconds from the Kindle bookstore, which is accessed over Wi-Fi, or the free 3G connection of the more expensive Wi-Fi+3G model, which starts at £170. Both models display adverts instead of screen savers, unless you pay £10 to remove them for life.
Design getting out of the way
Designing an ebook reader must be one of the easiest jobs in consumer tech because the most important task is making sure the user does not notice anything but the screen. Plain, dark grey plastic does the job perfectly – and to go an extra step, Amazon has switched the colour of the Paperwhite's Kindle logo below the display from white to black, reducing distraction.
The Paperwhite feels slightly heavier than it looks – and is the heaviest of the current Kindle crop, 14g more than the regular model and 25g heavier than the Voyage. It is an unnoticeable 2g lighter than the previous model and is exactly the same thickness.
There is not really much more to say. The Kindle Paperwhite now has the excellent screen of the Voyage, but for £60 less. A far as my wallet is concerned, the Voyage's thinness and more premium design are not worth the premium – whereas it was when it offered a far superior screen – so save your money, get the Paperwhite, and spend the rest on some ebooks.
Ebook reader software is never going to rival a tablet – and why should it? But a neat feature included on all new Kindles, including the 2015 Paperwhite, is X-Ray. Tap on the name of a character in a novel and a small biography page appears to give a spoiler-free explanation of who they are, in case you have forgotten.
One final point to be made is how the Paperwhite scratches quite easily. After just a few days in my bag – with little in the way of sharp objects to rub against – it developed a few grazes on the plastic bezel below the screen. Not a deal-breaker but something that should not really happen so easily.