Now that the Kindle Paperwhite 4 has finally been released, which Amazon calls the 10th generation Kindle, let’s see how it compares to the Kindle Paperwhite 3, also known as the the 7th gen Kindle.
It took Amazon over 3 years to release a new Kindle Paperwhite model, and the last upgrade was fairly minor.
The Paperwhite 4 brings more changes to the Paperwhite line than previous generation updates, but overall not a lot has changed.
The design has been tweaked and they made it waterproof and added more storage space, but the core reading experience remains the same.
The new Paperwhite turns pages and responds at the exact same speed as the PW3 so there’s no performance advantage.
The PW4 is slightly smaller and lighter. It measures 167 mm x 116 mm x 8.18 mm and weighs 182 grams (191 grams, 4G model).
The Paperwhite 3 measures 169 mm x 117 mm x 9.1 mm and weighs 205 grams (217 grams, 3G).
Most of the changes are hardware related, but there are a few differences with the software too.
Kindle Paperwhite 4 New Features
Waterproof (IPX8 rated).
More storage: 8GB or 32GB.
Bluetooth added to connect speakers or headphones to listen to audiobooks and VoiceView.
5 frontlight LEDs instead of 4.
Flush front screen.
Inverted mode for white text on black background.
Disable touchscreen so only swipes turn pages.
Power Saver mode.
Audible audiobook player.
Both Kindle Paperwhites have the same 300 ppi E Ink Carta display, and both have frontlights, but with the added plastic layer the Paperwhite 4’s screen looks slightly different.
In direct sunlight the text quality looks the same to my eyes but the Paperwhite 3 has a slightly lighter background without the added plastic layer, and despite having one fewer LED, the PW3’s frontlight is a bit brighter. Some folks say their Paperwhite 3 has darker text without the added plastic layer over the front, and that may be true, but I can’t see a noticeable difference under good lighting. Perhaps it’s more noticeable under different lighting conditions, and it depends on how clean the screen is (the plastic definitely shows smudges more and that can give the screen a somewhat cloudy appearance).
The frontlight has a yellower tone on the PW4, but frontlights vary so much from one to the next you can’t put much stock in that. There’s less shadowing at the bottom of the screen on the PW4, and one difference with it is the frontlight turns off completely at the lowest setting, whereas the frontlight can’t be turned off on older Paperwhite models.
Personally I like the slight textured feel of the Paperwhite 3’s screen better than the feel of slick plastic, but the flush front screen on the new Paperwhite is easier to keep clean, except the plastic shows more fingerprints.
Considering the fact the Kindle Paperwhite 4 is only $10 more than the Paperwhite 3, they did manage to add some nice upgrades for the price.
But if you’re coming from a Paperwhite 3 and you don’t care about having a waterproof Kindle with more storage space and a built-in audiobook player, then there really isn’t much of a reason to upgrade at all. In fact some will probably prefer the Paperwhite 3 without the added layer over the screen.
For those with older Kindles or the entry-level Kindle an upgrade makes more sense, especially considering you can trade-in old Kindles to get 25% off a new one.