It’s Time To Retire the Kindle Paperwhite Line


White Kindle Paperwhite

While working on the Kobo Clara HD and Kindle Paperwhite comparison review yesterday, it became plainly clear to me that it’s time for Amazon to move on from the Kindle Paperwhite.

At this point the idea of a Kindle Paperwhite 4 makes little sense when you stop to think about it. Amazon (and consumers) would be much better off with a lower-priced Kindle Voyage 2 than a Paperwhite 4, or a new model altogether.

The problem with a Kindle Paperwhite 4 is the fact that it would still have to be enough like the current Paperwhite to bear that same name.

The thing that makes all three generations of the Kindle Paperwhite the “Paperwhite” model is the simple fact that they all share the exact same design.

Amazon also calls the screen on the new 7-inch Kindle Oasis a “Paperwhite” display. They could’ve called the Oasis the Paperwhite Plus or something similar if they wanted to stick with that moniker, but they didn’t. Instead they used the Oasis design with a “Paperwhite” display. So by that logic, a Paperwhite 4 would need to share the same design as the other Paperwhites. Using the same name with a different design is just going to make things needlessly confusing (there’s already enough confusion with all the entry-level models that have been called “Kindles” over the years).

The 1st Kindle Paperwhite was released back in October 2012. It was Amazon’s very first frontlit Kindle, and it looks exactly like the current Kindle Paperwhite.

After six years of the same Paperwhite design, it’s time to move onto something else. The Kindle Paperwhite needs a refresh, not just a couple of tweaks under the hood with the same outer design like previous updates. It’s one of the largest and heaviest 6-inch ebook readers around nowadays—it’s much larger than the the Kobo Clara HD, and the Clara HD is the 5th different design from Kobo for a 6-inch frontlit ereader since the Paperwhite was first released. After all this time Amazon is still plodding along with their very first frontlit model. It’s kind of funny when you think about it. Who but Amazon could go six years without updating the design of one of their leading products and still remain at the top of the market the whole time.

35 Responses to “It’s Time To Retire the Kindle Paperwhite Line”

  1. Yes I agree, a lower-priced Kindle Voyage could replace the Paperwhite.

    Be interesting to see what kind of sells Amazon puts on for Kindle come the 4th of July… 😉

  2. I agree with your article. Funny that you would write this article because I just traded in my Paperwhite for an Oasis last week. I had a bunch of Amazon credits, so I used them towards the Oasis and a cover. Am glad I did. Love the page buttons, and I wish every reader had page buttons like my B&N Glowlight 3 and the Oasis. I also like to be able to invert the white to black screens. It’s great when I read at night. Anyhow, this article gets a big thumbs up from the old man!! 🙂

  3. The reason I love my Paperwhite is because I have very bad vision. I also love the touchscreen. If something else can give me the resolution, large font size, page turning by touch, and read .azw/.azw3 I suppose I’d go for it. I don’t want an Oasis because of the buttons.

    • You don’t have to use the buttons and the screen is bigger. A Voyage two would likely share those features you need and also connect to Bluetooth for Audible.

  4. The PaperWhite is their best-selling e-reader so, were they to produce a new e-reader and drop one of the two models– Voyage or PaperWhite — it would make sense to continue the PaperWhite name; updating it with the features of the Voyage with better (physical) page buttons and adding color-temperature controls. Price would be between the 2 models.

    As a marketing exec in my former life, I lived by the phrase “a rose by any other name is why you need a marketing guy”.

    • But what you are describing is no longer a Paperwhite, it’s something entirely new. Why reuse an older model’s name for a new product? And how could they reasonably call it a Paperwhite if they add the option to turn the screen orange or yellow?

      • Car companies do this kind of thing all the time. In the mid 80s the Corolla switched from rear to front wheel drive. It’s now the size the Camry was back then.

        Dodge only makes four door chargers etc.

      • I agree with you. If the Kindle Paper White 4 has completely new features,
        This device, should have a new name.

    • It is not the name that sells in this case. It is the price tag. On the top 50 electronic devices you will see the Paperwhite, but also the Basic and the Fire. What you will not see is the Voyage nor the Oasis. Based on price, not name.

      I guarantee you whatever Amazon calls it, the cheapest ereader with a built in light will outsell all other eink kindle models.

      The name “Paperwhite” by itself doesn’t sell. The name “Kindle” sales. People care so little for the second name that even professional reviewers will write “Voyager” instead of “Voyage.” And people in both user reviews and ordinary conversation will refer to whatever device they own as a Kindle no matter what the specific model is.

      • Now the question begs, why are people so damn cheap? Actually, that may be the case with Amazon but not necessarily so with others such as Apple where the most expensive model is technically the best seller. But I guess the higher price is justifiable, better screen, better camera, more memory, etc whereas an eReader is a single purpose device. But still the Paperwhites fat bezels are enough for me to run for the woods in 2018. I dont care how cheap it is those gigantic bezels scare me.

      • I have owned every Kindle since it showed on Oprah show 2007. My favorite, by far, is the Wifi/3G Paperwhite. Size does matter

  5. I still think the Voyage has the best design of any eReader, the terrible part was the lackluster Origami case Amazon designed for it.
    I’d be happy with a new Voyage with physical page turn buttons, comfort light, waterproof, 8gb, bluetooth and an onyx book style cover similar to the Paperwhite model.

    and of course im still rooting for a 300ppi Basic Kindle model.

  6. I own a paperwhite and a voyage. Love my voyage, but I never ever use the page turns. I swipe. Just easier for me.

  7. I totally agree. Recently, I bought a Paperwhite because it was on sale (89 euros). But compared to my Kobo’s and my Kindle Voyage, it’s clear that the Paperwhite is older.

  8. Another big problem with reusing the same name for a new product is it makes it very confusing for customers to research the newer model. If they release a new version that’s a cross between the current Paperwhite and the Voyage, and they still call it the Paperwhite, it makes it difficult to find information about the new model because anytime you run a search it’ll turn up info about the older model. It would make a lot more sense to use a new name for a new model. They would need to call it the Kindle Emberlight or something different because once they change the features and design it’s no longer a Paperwhite.

  9. I truly hope that Amazon will release a brand new model. I like Kindle Voyage because of the buttons, but it’s already 4 years old. It’s time for a larger screen and adjustable color temperature. Page-turning buttons will be really nice. But Amazon doesn’t care what we want as long as it keeps selling its outdated devices.

    Most people I know read on tablets anyway and don’t understand why I insist on an ereader.

  10. Nathan, I think you are right on a name change for exactly the reasons given. There may be more to the puzzle though. Will Amazon still carry the basic Kindle? Nothing like it on the “competitive” landscape…not Kobo or Barnes and Noble; everyone has a basic frontlit model. Will the Paperwhite become the new basic Kindle. Will the Voyage get some form of redo…improved buttons, light control? Will the Oasis get an upgrade? Size, light temperature control or dpi resolution increase?

    • I think there’s a place for a basic model if they would put more emphasis on portability. To me a 6-inch Kindle is still too big and uncomfortable to stick in pocket to take around everywhere. A smaller Kindle Mini could come at a lower price point and offer something the more expensive models lack.

      I just noticed that Amazon refers to the basic Kindle’s screen as “Paperwhite” in the technical details section. That’s just wrong on so many levels…

      • Kobo has already proven that a mini model doesn’t sale. It is too close to the size of a phone. People are not going to carry around a phone, a Kindle and an Ipod. They’re going to carry around a phone and nothing else.

  11. The Kindle Paperwhite is still the world’s bestselling eInk eReader. I don’t see it going away. I’m guessing the new one will be slightly lighter with the “night light” feature.

  12. It’s also time for McDonald’s to retire the Big Mac, and for Ford to deep six the F-150. Oh, and let’s cancel the whole “iPhone” fad thing too.

    • The paperwhite isn’t that iconic, besides even If Apple were to cancel the iPhone name, and replace it with “Youphone” it will still sell incredibly well.

  13. Books made it hundreds of years without “updating their design”. They are still using paper and still serve their purpose admirably. For something so basic as reading I don’t see why devices need to be updated frequently.

    • You know ereaders made it through a decade without “updating their design.” They are still using plastic and metal and still serve their purpose admirably. For something so basic as reading I don’t see why books need to be updated frequently.

      And yet oddly enough everywhere I look I find different editions of books. Why don’t they get that I’m right and just not bother?

  14. Books have changed massively over those hundreds of years: From handwritten collections on pergament to laser-printed and machine-bound mass productions of today.

    What didn’t change, was the basic concept. The means to put that concept to work have changed, and massively so.

    Same for eReaders: The basic concept won’t change completely, but the technical implementation can (and should!) develop further as technology improves.

  15. Kindle Paperwhite 4 has to have immersion reading for it to sell and make sense.

  16. I, for one prefer no buttons to have push. I like the Paperwhite name designation since it allows me to know upfront it is an e-reader which can easily be read in bright sun. The screen doesn’t need to be smaller… especially if a larger font is necessary for aging eyes. If a few font options isn’t enough then I can’t inagine how many other things in an individual’s life must be full of shortcomings. I never heard any avid reader complain the font in an old fashioned book was atrocious and in need of so many choices. As for the black-vs-white and also the bezel size…Seriously?!! Black and white work equally well and if a bezel size is someone’s only complaint… then you are leading a charmed and blessed life.
    Myself, I am in the CCU trying to make a decision about my leg being amputated now versus trying to weigh the odds of healing a staph infection in my blood which has attached to my right artificial knee and rods which comprise Leg.
    Be thankful you can read, afford an e-reader and have the time to devote to a hobby you love so much!

  17. I own a Voyage. Its beautifully designed. However, I recently purchased a second reader as a backup. It happened to be a Paperwhite, white in color. I caught it on Prime day, paying $79.99 with special offers. I agree with those who claim that the Paperwhite being best for the money. I personally do not see the name going away. Personally? With all my experience with these, I would love to see a 7 inch Paperwhite with the Voyages flush bezel. Add page turn buttons and price it around $139.99 with ads. That is a winner.

    • But here’s the problem: If you have a new 7-inch model and call it the Paperwhite, it will make it very difficult for people to find information about that specific model, not to mention things like covers and accessories. Every time you run a search it will get clogged up with results from previous models dating back to 2012. There’s already too much confusion over which model is which. No need to add even more variations to that.

  18. If it’s not broke don’t fix it.

  19. I love my kindle Paperwhite. I would like to upgrade to the Oasis 32 GB for the storage and waterproofing. But, the design of the Oasis SUCKS! They moved the wide area where I hold the kindle to the side on the Oasis (very awkward to hold) had they kept the standard Paperwhite design which works great for comfortably holding the device I would already own one. (plus the paperwhite will fit into my hip pocket and the Oasis will not). There is no point in upgrading the shell of the paperwhite. When something works great there is no reason to fix it. However, internal upgrades to storage, functions and waterproofing would make the Kindle Paperwhite the go to device for me. Also, I like the thickness and weight of the Paperwhite, leave that alone.

  20. “internal upgrades to storage, functions and waterproofing would make the Kindle Paperwhite the go to device for me.”

    Ditto – that’s exactly why I’m considering a switch to the Kobo Clara HD or maybe the Pocketbook Lux 4. I love the form factor of the Paperwhite, but something with bigger storage in particular would be great. Waterproofing would be a nice bonus, but with only one fully functional hand, I’m not much of a bath reader, so it’s not an absolute must have for me

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