Difference Between a Kindle E-Reader and a Kindle Paperwhite?

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There are so many different models of Amazon Kindles and e-readers, it’s easy to get confused over what each model offers and what the differences are. To make it even more confusing, new models of Kindle e-readers often include features first introduced on other models or slight improvements that may not be noticeable at first glance.

However, when it comes to things like charging speed, minor improvements can make a big difference. So let’s break down the differences between the Kindle, the Kindle Paperwhite, and other Kindle e-readers and editions.

Overview of the Kindle

The original Amazon Kindle e-reader is now in its 10th generation. This model was launched in 2019 and is the first Kindle basic model with a front light.

Kindle 10 Specs

  • Display: 6 inch display with front light
  • Resolution: 167PPI  with 16-level grey scale
  • Size: 6.3 x 4.5 x .34 inches
  • Weight: 6.1 ounces
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth audio, USB 2.0
  • Content supported: AZW3, AZW, TXT, PDF, MOBI, PRC, HTML, DOC, DOCX, PMP, AAX
  • Kindle 10 additional options:
  • Comes in white or black colors
  • Comes in an ad-supported version or without ads

Overview of the Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite is now in its 5th generation. The current model of the Paperwhite was released in late 2021. It is the first Paperwhite with a USB-C port and the first Paperwhite that allows you to adjust the color temperature of the light from cooler to warmer tones.

In addition, the Kindle Paperwhite 5 has an IPX8 waterproof rating, so it is safe to use in the bath or at the pool and can be safely submerged in water for up to an hour.

Kindle Paperwhite 5 Specs

  • Display: 6.8-inch display with front light
  • Resolution: 300 PPI  with 16-level greyscale
  • Size: 6.9 x 4.9 x .32 inches
  • Weight: 7.23 ounces
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth audio, USB-C
  • Content supported: AZW3, AZW, TXT, PDF, MOBI, PRC, HTML, DOC, DOCX, PMP, AAX

Kindle Paperwhite 5 additional options:

  • Comes in an ad-supported version or without ads

Differences Between the Kindle 10 and the Kindle Paperwhite

The significant difference between a Kindle e-reader and the Kindle Paperwhite is that while the Paperwhite is slightly larger and heavier, it also has several additional features that the basic Kindle does not have. The most significant additional features of the Paperwhite 5 are:

Larger 300 PPI Display

The Paperwhite has nearly double the pixels per inch of the Kindle 10. In the past, the Paperwhite used a higher quality e-ink than the Kindle, but now both use E Ink Carta.

Improved and Adjustable Light

The Paperwhite has 17 LED lights, while the Kindle 10 has 4 LEDs. More lights on the Paperwhite make it easier to use in bright light or outdoor conditions because the display can be up to 10% brighter at its highest setting.

The new Paperwhite also allows you to adjust the temperature of your light, from warm to cool, and even schedule light changes based on time of day.

Faster Charging

The Paperwhite has a longer battery life than the Kindle 10 and charges more quickly with USB-C rather than USB 2.0


The new Kindle Paperwhite is IPX8 rated waterproof, so it can safely be used at the beach or in a bath. 

Differences Between the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition

To complicate things a bit more, there is also a Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition with a few special features and options. The Signature Edition has all the features of the Paperwhite 5, along with:

  • 32GB of storage instead of 8GB
  • Adaptive front light that automatically adjusts lighting temperature based on lighting conditions
  • Wireless charging capability in addition to USB-C charging

Which is Better: the Kindle or the Kindle Paperwhite?

Both e-readers are excellent choices, which is why Amazon continues to update and release new versions of both devices. For most people:

  • Choose the Kindle 10 if you want a simple, basic e-reader for use on a train or plane and don’t need a lot of additional features or capabilities
  • Choose the Kindle Paperwhite 5 if:
  • You use your e-reader in or around water
  • You use your e-reader for long periods in a wide range of conditions. The higher resolution screen and adjusting the lighting reduce eye strain and improve comfort over prolonged use.
  • Choose the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition if:
  • You need a lot of storage for textbooks, graphic novels, or other high-memory e-books
  • You prefer wireless charging

With so many versions and models, it can be hard to tell which Amazon e-reader is the right choice for you and compare the differences between the models. Therefore, Amazon has created a comparison chart of all the different Kindle versions you can see here for further reference. Understanding the critical differences between Kindle e-reader models will help you compare features and capabilities and make the right choice for your needs.

Every Kindle e-reader has a slightly different set of features, which makes it difficult to distinguish between them and makes them appeal to different readers with different needs and preferences.

The key differences between the Kindle and the Kindle Paperwhite are screen size and resolution, lighting quality and options, and the new Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof. These features can be an excellent upgrade for people who want more comfort and versatility in an e-reader.

On the other hand, knowing the difference can help you decide if you wish to invest in the more expensive Paperwhite. Either way, you can take advantage of the convenience of the Amazon marketplace, Audible integration, and Amazon’s cloud storage that expands your e-book library.