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Best Kindle ebook reader 2020: prices and specs compared

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(Image credit: Future)

With so many options to choose from at any given time, we're here to help find the best Kindle for you in 2020. We've had extensive hands-on time with these ebook readers and this article will tell you about each of them and also where to get them for the best price.

Kindle sales have rocketed in recent years as the devices improve with each iteration and much of the cool features that used to send prices soaring on the more premium models, now come as standard on the cheaper models too. 

So you'll find every Kindle on this page is capable of storing thousands of books and they all come with an illuminated screen and you don't have to pay much more for the Waterproof Kindle Paperwhite either. Yes, the Kindle Oasis is still more expensive than the other two Kindles put together, but we'll give you the full rundown so you can decide if it's the best Kindle for you.

Whichever Kindle you choose from this guide, you get the same excellent software features that include built-in dictionaries and Wikipedia entries for any word, name or phrase you highlight with a simple touch. Highlighting and saving passages of text is a breeze too. A neat X-Ray feature lets you search through previous (or upcoming) mentions of any word, which is super handy if you want to refresh your memory of who a certain character is. All modern Kindles now support audiobooks too if you have Bluetooth headphones or speakers to pair them with.

Kindle prices can vary greatly at multiple times of the year, with big events like Amazon Prime Day being a great chance to get a better deal in the sales. As far as launch prices go, the basic Kindle's price was $89.99/£69/AU$139. The latest Kindle Paperwhite launched at $129/£120/AU$199. As for the luxury Kindle Oasis ereader, prices started at $269/£229/AU$389. Prices for the Kindle Kids Edition started at $109/£99. Our price comparison charts will show you all the latest Kindle deal prices so you can see if you're getting a decent discount today.

The best Kindles 2020

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1: Kindle Paperwhite 2018

Our best value Kindle ereader

Screen size: 6-inch | Storage: 8GB/32GB | Resolution: 300ppi | Weight: 182g | Backlight: yes | Touchscreen: yes | Audiobooks: yes (with bluetooth headphones) | Battery life: up to six weeks | Launch price: $129/£120/AU$199

Waterproof
Flush-screen
Extra storage

The Paperwhite is an excellent ereader and an easy choice to top our list for the best Kindles in 2020. It might cost a little more than the admittedly brilliant 2019 revamp of the basic Kindle (see below), but we think it's money well spent at both full and sale price.

This is the cheapest waterproof Kindle which makes it not only ideal for reading in the bath or poolside, but also to protect from incidents of leaking drinks bottles in your bag or getting caught out in a downpour.

It gets better though as the 2018 update also features a flush screen design against the bezels, meaning dust and hair won't get caught around the screen edges as it does on other models. The screen brightness and overall clarity beat its predecessor too.

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2: Kindle 2019

Cheapest Kindle is now a contender too

Screen size: 6-inch | Storage: 4GB | Resolution: 167ppi | Weight: 174g | Backlight: Yes | Touchscreen: Yes | Audiobooks: Yes (with bluetooth headphones) | Battery life: Up to four weeks | Launch price: $89.99/£69/AU$139

Excellent value
Can read in the dark too
Lower resolution

Not so long ago we advised most people to skip the standard entry-level Kindle in favor of the Kindle Paperwhite instead. But Amazon's 2019 edition of the cheapest Kindle now comes with a front-lit screen meaning you can read it in low-light/dark conditions too.

This puts it on a par with the older (now discontinued) 2016 Paperwhite, although at a much cheaper price. The 2019 Kindle's asking price is slightly higher than the previous-gen model, but we think it's money well spent. 

The screen resolution is almost half that of the other Kindles, but it certainly doesn't look that way with the text looking super crisp and clear throughout. This Kindle is light in the hand and its compact design makes it ideal for taking out and about. If you're trying ereaders for the first time, this is a great place to start, but if waterproofing is an essential requirement for you, we'd opt for the Kindle Paperwhite instead.

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3: Kindle Oasis 2019

Technically brilliant, but oh so expensive

Screen size: 7-inch | Storage: 8GB/32GB | Resolution: 300ppi | Weight: 188g | Backlight: Yes | Touchscreen: Yes (and page turn buttons) | Battery life: up to six weeks | Launch price: $269/£229/AU$389

The best Kindle display
Page turn buttons
Great for late-night reading
Usually too expensive

We're always very torn with the Kindle Oasis line and the newest 2019 edition is a tempting choice to head up our list of the best Kindles. But just look at that asking price. Even during sale events, it's incredibly expensive for an ebook reader.

For your money though, this top of the line luxury ereader has the best display of any Kindle. It's an inch larger than the others and while the resolution might be the same 300ppi as the Paperwhite, the increased brightness makes the display even crisper. You don't have to worry about getting smudgy fingerprints on this Kindle too as it has a pair of page-turning buttons that are suitable for both left and right-handed readers. The buttons are excellent actually and much more accurate than the screen swipes on other Kindles which can sometimes fire you forwards more than one page at once for some reason.

The metal chassis on the rear of the Kindle Oasis feels beautifully premium and the wedge around the battery side aims to give you something to hold onto, but truth be told, it can be a little slippery compared to the other models - not ideal considering the price.

The only real difference on the new 2019 model over its 2017 sibling model is a new warm light feature. This is a little easier on the eyes and great if you're reading in the dark or you want something a little less stimulating when reading before bed. It's a lovely addition that we hope makes its way down to the future line of cheaper Kindles at some point.

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Amazon Kindle Kids Edition

Built-in safety features for younger readers

Screen size: 6-inch | Storage: 8GB | Resolution: 167ppi | Weight: 288g | Backlight: Yes | Touchscreen: Yes | Battery life: Up to four weeks | Launch price: $109/£99

Includes a sturdy cover
Neat learning options
Restrictions can be lifted later on
Costs more than regular Kindle

The Kindle Kids Edition is physically the same as the standard 2019 Kindle we mentioned earlier but comes with a sturdy cover as standard along with built-in child-friendly software features. It also has double the storage at 8GB, which given the small size of ebooks, is only really any use if you're planning on stuffing it with audiobook files.

Online access to the Kindle store and other websites is blocked on the device itself so you don't have to worry about them splurging on more titles or browsing sites they shouldn't. The Kindle Kids Edition also comes with a year of access to over 1000 child-friendly titles to read. You can track how much time your child has been reading and other stats via an app. Like the Fire Tablets, the Kindle Kids Edition comes with a free two-year warranty against faults or accidental breakages.

A built-in Vocab builder creates flashcards for later learning if required and the dictionary feature is super useful on all Kindles as you just hold a finger over any word for a definition popup to appear.

If your child outgrows some of the safety features, you can actually unlock the regular online features of this Kindle via a PIN code, which helps future-proof your purchase further. If your child is already high-school age, then you might want to give this version a miss for one of the above models instead.

The Kindle Kids Edition has not been released in Australia at the time of writing.

What does 'with special offers' mean?

You might notice two price points on most Kindles, especially when buying directly from Amazon. One with special offers and the other without, with 'without' being cheaper.

This basically means do you want discrete ads on the lock screen or not. These static ads usually promote ebooks and other Amazon-related sales. You simply open your Kindle up as normal though and don't have to manually close them and we've never accidentally clicked through to any ads either.

Kindles 'without special offers' simply replace them with a generic background image. Your Kindle doesn't unlock or load any slower with ads and they never appear when you're reading and we've found that some of the sales highlighted are actually worth clicking through to.

Short version, we don't think it's worth paying the extra money to get the ads removed at all - you can also do this at a later date after buying the Kindle if you like though.

Is there a new Kindle coming soon?

Unlike mobile phone manufacturers, Amazon is actually pretty good at keeping its upcoming hardware designs under wraps. But what it lacks in leaks, it makes up for with routine. 

Of all the Kindles we've talked about today, we think it's most likely the 2018 Kindle Paperwhite is the model most likely to get a new version this year. A Kindle Paperwhite 2020 model doesn't have an awful lot to improve on in all honesty, but if Amazon would consider adding some Oasis-style page turn buttons or maybe a warm-light feature, we'd be all over it. But then again, such modifications would make the super-expensive Kindle Oasis an even tougher sell. Or maybe the Kindle Voyage might make a comeback to sit between the two. 

We wouldn't be shocked if Amazon crammed Alexa into its next Kindles either given it's in pretty much everything else nowadays.

What is a 4G Kindle?

The latest Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Oasis models are available in standard Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi 4G models. The 4G models are considerably more expensive, but the 4G data itself is free of charge so you don't need a SIM card, data plan or mobile tethering.

This means you can download books and audiobooks and use online features such as Wikipedia entry lookup on words on phrases without being on the Wi-Fi. If you spend a lot of time away from home or want to avoid signing in to local Wi-Fi hotspots this could be a handy feature, but it is an expensive initial purchase for what we feel is a feature most users won't need.

Naturally, if you don't mind the reflective glass screens instead, you'll find a Kindle app on leading tablets too if you'd prefer a single slate in your bag that you can enjoy apps, videos, games and colorful graphic novels on too. If you fancy a browse, check out our picks for the best gaming tablets which are excellent devices for general tablet use too.

Brendan is the Managing Editor of the Hardware & Gaming team for all things eCommerce at GamesRadar. Formerly the Deals Editor at our sister site, TechRadar, he's obsessed with finding the best tech, games, gadgets, and hardware at the lowest price. He spends way too much of his free time trying to decide what new things to watch on Netflix, then just rewatches It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia instead.