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9 best ereaders 2024: Top Amazon kindles, ebooks and Kobo devices to buy

Exploring thousands of books is easy – but which ereader should you buy? Amazon Kindle, Kobo or Oasis ebooks?

David Phelan
Friday 05 January 2024 14:18 GMT
<p>We tested ereaders for screen quality, battery life and how the devices felt in our hands</p>

We tested ereaders for screen quality, battery life and how the devices felt in our hands

The first ebook readers were clunky and simplistic, but even so, they changed everything. Now, with better displays, clever navigation and lots of extra features, they almost come close to the brilliance of, you know, real books.

Sure, you can’t match the feel of paper, or the way you can know how far you are through your latest book just by how it feels in your two hands, instead of relying on a percentage indicator. But for convenience, ebook readers can’t be outdone.

You can read in a darkened bedroom without disturbing your significant other, thanks to the lights that can now even be found on entry-level models. And because it’s light directed at the screen, rather than the backlighting from a tablet that shines at you, ebook readers don’t tire your eyes. Some even have lights that can change colour from a cool blue to a warmer orange to make them more comfortable to read at different times of the day.

There’s the simplicity of buying a book in seconds, and battery life is measured in weeks, not hours, because e-ink only consumes electricity when changing from one page to the next. Once you’re on the page you want to read, there’s no power draw.

Two brands dominate the market: Amazon with its Kindle range, and Kobo. Most ebook readers have 6in displays, but some are bigger. Many, though not all, have a screen resolution of 300 pixels per inch (ppi) which

How we tested

We tested for comfort in the hand, even over long reading sessions, ease of navigation, screen quality, battery life, breadth of access to the books you want, and the simplicity of purchasing your next title.

The best ereaders for 2024 are:

  • Best ereader overall – Amazon Kindle paperwhite: £129.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best ereader for note-taking – Kobo sage: £259.99, Kobobooks.com
  • Best ereader for maximum storage – Amazon Kindle paperwhite signature edition: £179.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best premium ereader – Amazon Kindle oasis: £229.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best mid-range ereader – Kobo clara HD: £119.99, Kobobooks.com
  • Best value Kindle ereader – Amazon Kindle: £84.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best budget ereader – Kobo nia: £94.99, Kobobooks.com
  • Best kids’ ereader – Amazon Kindle kids edition: £104.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best ereader for audiobooks – Kobo libra 2: £149.99, Kobobooks.com

Amazon Kindle paperwhite

Amazon Kindle paperwhite indybest.jpg
  • Best: Overall
  • Screen size: 6.8in
  • Screen resolution: 300ppi
  • Screen light: Yes, with 17 LEDs
  • Waterproof?: Yes, IPX8
  • Storage: 8GB, 32GB
  • Wifi only?: Yes
  • Weight: 205g
  • Dimensions: 125mm x 174mm x 8.1mm

The paperwhite has just had a big upgrade for only a modest price increase. The screen size has shot up from 6in to 6.8in, with the same 300ppi resolution as the pricier oasis. The design is elegant with the screen flush to the frame (the basic Kindle display is recessed behind the frame). You can save £10 by opting for a version with ads: these only appear on the lock screen and you can get rid of them any time by paying the extra £10.

The front light has also been improved recently to make it subtler and adjustable in terms of warmth as well as brightness. Like the oasis, the paperwhite is waterproof, able to withstand submersion in 2m of water for up to an hour. The paperwhite is the best balance of advanced features and reasonable price of any Kindle, or any other ebook reader.

And, unlike other Kindles, this one uses a newer version of E Ink system which offers a faster page turn and smoother transitions.

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Kobo sage

Kobo sage indybest.jpg
  • Best: Ereader for note-taking
  • Screen size: 8in
  • Screen resolution: 300ppi
  • Screen light?: Yes
  • Waterproof?: Yes, IPX8
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Wifi only?: Yes
  • Weight: 241g
  • Dimensions: 161mm x 181mm x 7.6mm

The Kobo sage has a larger display than the Kindle paperwhite but uses the same advanced E Ink version. The 8in screen could make this reader unwieldy in some hands, though there’s a raised edge on one side which makes it easy to grip. It is compatible with a stylus, which is sold separately, so you can make handwritten notes in eBooks and PDFs, though the functionality is limited: you can export PDFs for viewing elsewhere but in an ebook, the notes stay on the Kobo.

There are physical buttons which make accidental page turns less likely, though you can still touch the screen to go to the next or previous page, and you can turn the reader to a landscape orientation too. There’s also waterproofing – it can survive 60min in 2m of water without harm. Kobo also has a feature called OverDrive which means you can borrow ebooks from libraries, though the range of books, and indeed libraries, is limited.

Read the full Kobo sage review

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Amazon Kindle paperwhite signature edition

Amazon Kindle paperwhite signature edition indybest.jpg
  • Best: Ereader for maximum storage
  • Screen size: 6.8in
  • Screen resolution: 300ppi
  • Screen light?: Yes, with 17 LEDs
  • Waterproof?: Yes, IPX8
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Wifi only?: Yes
  • Weight: 207g
  • Dimensions: 125mm x 174mm x 8.1mm
  • E ink version: E Ink Carta 1200

Wireless charging is one of the extras in this special edition of the paperwhite: just plonk it on a pad (not supplied). It looks identical to the regular version, but it had much more storage, which is handy for audiobooks, for instance. It also has light sensors which automatically adjust the brightness of the display according to the environment.

You can also change the colour of the light to opt for something warmer and less blue at night, for instance, like the regular paperwhite, and both have brighter displays than the model that went before. While the signature edition is definitely more expensive than the standard one, at least there are no ads with this one.

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Amazon Kindle oasis

Amazon Kindle oasis indybest.jpg
  • Best: Premium ereader
  • Screen size: 7in
  • Screen resolution: 300ppi
  • Screen light: Yes, with 25 LEDs
  • Waterproof?: Yes
  • Storage: 8GB, 32GB
  • Wifi only?: Wifi or wifi plus free mobile connectivity
  • Weight: 188g
  • Dimensions: 141mm x 159mm x 3.4mm
  • E ink version: E Ink Carta

This ebook reader is stunning, not least thanks to its aluminium design which comes in two colours: gold and graphite. The oasis is remarkably thin: 3.4mm at its thinnest, but 8.4mm where the battery sits. It has the subtlest frontlight which adjusts to the ambient light automatically (though the new paperwhite now also boasts this) and can be adjusted from pure white to a warm, gentle amber shade. There’s also useful waterproofing.

It is pricey, and for many the paperwhite will be easily good enough. It’s the only reader to have a version with what’s called free mobile connectivity. Free really means 4G included for the lifetime of the product, to download books you buy. This is especially handy if you want to buy a new title when you’re away from wi-fi, such as on the beach. The gold is available with 32GB storage, but wi-fi only, while the graphite has 8GB storage (wi-fi only) or 32GB storage with included mobile connectivity.

There are physical page-turn buttons on the thicker side, which makes the Oasis feel properly weighted in the hand. Want to switch hands? Turn the reader the other way up so the weight is in the right place and the onscreen content and button functions adjust accordingly. There’s no version with ads for this Kindle. It’s expensive, but sensationally good.

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Kobo clara HD

Kobo clara HD indybest.jpg
  • Best: Mid-range ereader
  • Screen size: 6in
  • Screen resolution: 300dpi
  • Screen light?: Yes
  • Waterproof?: No
  • Storage: 8GB
  • Wifi only?: Yes
  • Weight: 166g
  • Dimensions: 110mm x 159.6mm x 8.35mm

The Kobo clara HD is similar to the Amazon paperwhite but lacks the waterproofing or advanced display. On the other hand, it’s cheaper than the Amazon reader. Both now have lights that adjust in brightness and warmth. It has another advantage: its weight. It’s lighter than any of the other readers on test, though the truth is none of them are so heavy as to be a nuisance.

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Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle indybest.jpg
  • Best: Value
  • Screen size: 6in
  • Screen resolution: 167 ppi
  • Screen light?: Yes, with 4 LEDs
  • Waterproof?: No
  • Storage: 4GB
  • Wifi only?: Yes
  • Weight: 174g
  • Dimensions: 113mm x 160mm x 8.7mm

The all-new Kindle is the cheapest Kindle ebook reader you can get, and launched 12 October for £84.99.

The basic Kindle’s first update in three years gives it a nice dusting off and brings the ereader’s specifications in line with the more premium Kindle paperwhite (£104.99, Amazon.co.uk).

That means it’s got the same 6in display but a sharper 300dpi resolution, plus extra storage, bigger battery life and, at long last, an industry-standard USB-C connection (the type used in most Android phones and modern gadgets). That means you’re way less likely to be caught short if you forget to pack your charging cable on a beach holiday.

  1. £84 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Kobo nia

Kobo nia indybest.jpg
  • Best: Budget ereader
  • Screen size: 6in
  • Screen resolution: 212ppi
  • Screen light?: Yes, with adjustable brightness
  • Waterproof?: No
  • Storage: 8GB
  • Wifi only?: Yes
  • Weight: 172g
  • Dimensions: 112.4mm x 159.3mm x 9.2mm

The new Kobo nia is the company’s entry-level device. Its closest rival from Amazon is the Kindle. It’s now the same price as Amazon’s device but it has one key advantage: the display is higher resolution. Though not as high as the pricier readers here, it’s that bit smoother than the Kindle. There’s also Kobo’s ComfortLight, which is one colour but offers adjustable brightness simply by sliding your finger up or down the left edge of the screen. This is a compelling alternative to the Amazon Kindle, especially for those who don’t want to be tied into the Amazon ecosystem – Kobo readers offer wider file support, making it easier to download books in more formats.

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Amazon Kindle kids edition

Amazon Kindle kids edition indybest.jpg
  • Best: Kids’ ereader
  • Screen size: 6in
  • Screen resolution: 300dpi
  • Screen light? : Yes, with 4 LEDs
  • Waterproof? : No
  • Storage: 16GB
  • Wifi only? : Yes
  • Weigh: 288g
  • Dimensions: 162mm x 119mm x 14mm, including bumper
  • E Ink version: Not stated

The kids edition Amazon devices offer remarkable peace of mind thanks to Amazon’s no-quibble guarantee: if it breaks within the first two years, Amazon will replace it. The reader itself is the same as the entry-level Kindle but the higher price reflects the fact that it’s held safely inside a protective cover. Choose from blue, pink, rainbow birds or space station designs.

The other reason for the higher price is that it includes a year’s subscription to Amazon Kids+ – the subscription renews and costs from £1.99 a month – which gives access to thousands of books, with highlights like the entire Harry Potter series. Because this is a reader, not a tablet, it’s great for ensuring the littluns focus on reading and nothing else. There’s now also a kids’ version of the more advanced paperwhite (£94.99, Amazon.co.uk), which brings with it the useful addition of waterproofing.

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Kobo libra 2

 Kobo libra 2 indybest.jpg
  • Best: Ereader for audiobooks
  • Screen size: 7in
  • Screen resolution: 300ppi
  • Screen light: Yes, with white and coloured LEDs
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Wifi only?: Yes
  • Weight: 215g
  • Dimensions: 144.6mm x 161.6mm x 9mm
  • E ink versions: E Ink Carta 1200

This ebook reader is now on its second version, offering the newest technology in its screen, an attractive design and the benefit of physical page-turn buttons. Like other Kobo devices, you can hold it in landscape orientation if you prefer, borrow books to read from some libraries, and it’s waterproof too. The 32GB storage is more than you might expect at this price, and Kobo says it’s enough for 24,000 books. Realistically, you’re not going to buy that many, so the fact that means there’s room for 150 audiobooks seems more useful.

Read the full Kobo libra 2 review

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Ereader FAQs

What screen size do you need?

The most common screen size of choice is often 6in (15cm), with the likes of Amazon’s paperwhite and Kobo devices abiding by this industry standard.

Do you need a colour screen?

If you’re using your ereader for anything other than reading books, for example, magazines and comic books, a colour screen may be a better choice so you can see the images more clearly.

Benefits of an ereader vs a tablet

At first look, an ereader and tablet look fairly similar in terms of their rectangular shape, but there are some major differences. As the name suggests, an ereader is ideal for those who just want to read on a device, as they’re designed for downloading books, magazines and newspapers.

As for their benefits, they’re usually smaller and lighter than tablets, making them more portable, they also have an anti-glare screen, making them better for reading in bright light, while some devices are also waterproof – an ideal solution for holidays. Another pro is that they are often more affordable than tablets, with the average device costing less than £100.

What ereaders can you listen to audiobooks on?

Since the second-generation Kindle Oasis was released in 2017, all new Kindle models including the paperwhite and kids edition support audiobook listening on Amazon’s Audible.

Similarly, Kobo ereaders sage and libra 2 both support wireless Bluetooth technology to connect to Kobo Audiobooks and read you a story when your hands are tied. However, you are currently unable to access Kobo Audiobooks on the clara and nia Kobo models.

Do you need a waterproof ereader?

The benefits of opting for a waterproof ereader means you can take it on holiday and not have to worry about it breaking if it gets wet by the pool or on the beach. Similarly, if you enjoy reading in the bath, a waterproof ereader is a safe bet.

What kind of wireless connection do you need for an ereader?

Depending on your device, your ereader will require wifi to download books, magazines and newspapers. For some models, including the Amazon Kindle oasis (£229.99, Amazon.co.uk) and Amazon Kindle paperwhite (£129.99, Amazon.co.uk), you can use 4G, meaning you won’t be limited to a wireless connection and can download books on the go.

The verdict: Ereaders

The Amazon range of ebook readers dominates the market. The new Kindle paperwhite is sensational, with brilliant features, performance, design and price in one. But Kobo’s readers are definitely worth a look, with some models boasting a bigger screen and features like note-taking. The Kobo sage is excellent, but for the ultimate ebook reader, the Amazon Kindle oasis shows the brand at its luxurious best.

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