Why Does New Kindle Paperwhite Have Lower Rating Than Older Paperwhites?

KIndle Paperwhite 4

Looking over the reviews at Amazon, it’s interesting to see that the latest Kindle Paperwhite, with nearly 10,000 reviews, has the lowest customer rating over all four generations of Kindle Paperwhites.

What is it about the latest Kindle Paperwhite that has customers giving it a lower overall rating?

There’s not a huge difference in ratings but it’s enough to show a decline over the years.

The Paperwhite 2 had the highest customer rating of all the Kindle Paperwhites with an average of 4.5-stars.

The Paperwhite 3 dropped down a tick to 4.4-stars. But now the Paperwhite 4 has taken an even greater step down to 4.2-stars.

Breaking things down further, the Paperwhite 4 has 78% 4 and 5-star reviews and 13% 1 and 2-star reviews. Compare that to the Paperwhite 3 with 86% 4 and 5-star reviews and 8% 1 and 2-star reviews.

The lower rating is particularly interesting because the Paperwhite 4 brings the most improvements compared to previous upgrades to the Paperwhite line.

The Paperwhite 4 adds a waterproof design and a flush front screen, along with a lot more storage space with 8GB and 32GB options. They also added Bluetooth and audiobook support, and they included the option to read with white text on a black background, which is a surprisingly popular feature.

Aside from that, it’s pretty much the same Paperwhite as it was before, and yet the overall customer rating is going down?

Are reviewers just grumpier than they used to be? Or is it simply the upgrades that Amazon has added are things that most people don’t care about? Either way it looks like things are going in the wrong direction if based solely on customer feedback.

30 Responses to “Why Does New Kindle Paperwhite Have Lower Rating Than Older Paperwhites?”

  1. I think it could be a few things.

    The PW2 addressed some important reading experience issues for a dedicated e-reader. The screen clarity, the evenness of the front light (fixed the discoloration of the PW1), PDF handling (after an update) and speed.

    Those are all things that improve it’s main/only purpose. Reading.

    That, at least explains why the PW2 was so popular.

    Next…things that could cause the low rating of the PW4 (the PW3 simply didn’t improve anything enough to matter to most people who already had a PW2).

    1. Customer fatigue…. it’s possible that people just don’t feel like leaving yet another review for the “most popular” ereader (subjective…yes I know).

    2. Two of the additions don’t really improve the main purpose of the device… 1. Waterproof. 2. Audible. Most people don’t need a waterproof Kindle, and most people would rather listen to audio through another device.

    Now, if the PW4 kept the flush screen… and simply came out with a color temp Front Light… I think it is possible it would’ve been more popular.

    Those are my thoughts anyway.

    • I bet you’re right. It they would’ve added a warm light like on the Oasis it would probably have a higher rating.

      • If I would’ve bought the PW4…then the Oasis comes out with the Color temp light…. I would’ve felt gipped. Knowing that the PW would include it at some point.

  2. I disliked the flush front screen. I have to hold it just right, or my thumb will touch the screen, unlike when the screen is recessed slightly from the frame.

    • I agree with you. I got the PW3 last July as my first e-reader and I saw no reason to upgrade to be PW4. I like the recessed edge around the screen exactly for keeping thumb prints off of it. The screen resolution, speed and design is the same as the PW3 so there is no incentive for me to upgrade.

  3. The screen has horrible contrast, the lighting is more amped up blue, and it feels cheap with the plastics. It was the first Kindle device I have ever loathed.

    The Paperwhite 3, Manga edition, with 32 GB of storage, and rather elegant lighting and phenomenal contrast is the best Paperwhite ever

    But nothing beats the Kindle Voyage display. But 4 GB is painfully low.

    The Oasis is outdated in light of e-readers like the Onyx Nova Pro, which simply annihilates the Oasis in display, contrast, storage, file format flexibility, and quality.

    Go Onyx or go home. 🙂

    • Storage? The Oasis has a 32GB version too.

      The Onyx doesn’t have page-turn buttons, which is a dealbreaker for me personally. Having tried a touchscreen-only ereader, I’ll never buy another.
      And file-format flexibility isn’t important for me either. I sideload all my books from Calibre.

      In what way is the quality better?

      • I have two Onyx readers, I would not say the quality is better than the Oasis. I would say it’s better than the Paperwhite though.

      • It may depend on what you’re reading. The Kindle simply cannot handle PDFs.

        Onyx readers are bigger and have far more PDF options.

        The ebook experience is arguable. Kindles are great for that. But it’s nice to be able to drag and drop books as opposed to having to use Calibre to sync.

        • Most of what I read are PDFs that need to be reflowed. Send to Kindle will do that and save the files on the cloud and sync with my other Amazon devices. If I’m stuck in a long line at the store, I can literally pull out my phone and pick up my school materials where I left off on the Kindle. You don’t even need to plug the Kindle into the computer to do this. I like my Onyx readers, but they are only a better choice if a PDF is scanned or has an excessive number of charts and tables.

  4. The Paperwhite 4 has terrible contrast, the worst I’ve ever seen in any reader and also feels cheaply made. Text looks blurry and doesnt pop out. So even with the other perks like waterproofing, flush screen and more storage the screen quality is what counts the most. Aso, the official Amazon case is also of lower quality than the Paperwhite 3. The Paperwhite 3 in my opinion is better especially if you have a manga 32 GB version.

  5. Because the first ones were solving real problems and omissions. Now there are incremental improvements because, unless something completely unexpected happens, e-readers are mature in what they do. I would only buy a new one when the current one broke.

    If a similar analysis were possible with iPhones there would probably be a similar effect.

  6. I think that most of the complaints were about the poor battery life, increased hardware failure rate, blue tint of the screen, poor contrast and glare.

    With the price increase customers tend to be more critical. The 10th gen basic has more problems but a higher overall rating because it is significantly cheaper and has a decent battery life.

    Finally, excepting the Voyage glossy screen ereaders are not a huge hit.

    • Realizing I might fry my Oasis leaving it in the car when regularly visiting a location electronics can’t go, I decided to pick up a device that won’t cost hundreds of dollars to replace. I went to my local Best Buy store, held and read a few pages on the Paperwhite and the Basic and bought the Basic. For some reason the more expensive model feels huge (it is) and cheap, but the cheaper model does not.

      I think the gen 10 Paperwhite is just not a very good product.

      • Totally agree with you about the Basic, Mike. It’s a great backup for my Voyage, and as Nathan said in his review earlier, the text seems darker on the Basic than on the new Paperwhite. It’s super light weight and easy to hold. And I do use the Audible option once in awhile. I got it on Prime Day and getting it at a discount is even sweeter.

  7. Perhaps it’s because people might not care about these new features as much as we think they do. The ‘average’ user probably doesn’t. I generally only care about a couple of features myself. Everyone is different, but myself personally, I don’t care about the waterproofing one way or another, I don’t care about audio book support (got my smartphone these days, I don’t care about case design as long as I can see the screen well. Don’t need bluetooth, don’t need white on black. So I don’t see a reason to upgrade. I do care, personally, for the ‘warm’ lighting as I’m a night reader, but am too cheap to buy the new Oasis. I also would care if it supported .epub, but that’s not gonna happen with Amazon. So I have a Kobo. There you have it :). Maybe others feel the same way I do?

  8. I must be in the minority here. I really liked my 3 but I love my 4. I prefer the flush screen and the slightly smaller size and weight was a noticeable difference to me at least.
    My only disappointment was the white on black screen wasn’t as great as I hoped. I had assumed I’d use it more at night but don’t like the way it looks.

    • You may be in the minority here, but considering the rating is above 4 stars, you are not in the minority overall. It would seem most people are plenty happy with the Paperwhite 4.

    • I agree with you. I thought that the Paperwhite 3 felt like a brick especially with the official leather cover. And it looked huge compared to other ereaders. I also really like the uniformity of the front light on the Paperwhite 4. That and the Oasis 2 have the best I’ve ever seen. It is easy to forget that it is using a light and instead just has a white screen.

  9. Read the reviews. The new water-resistant flush-front Paperwhite has the following issues:
    — a power button that’s too easy to press by accident while reading
    — weird screen contrast issues
    — constant processor and page-turn lag (sometimes as long as 3 seconds)
    — higher price

    For me, the lag is the worst issue. It’s maddening.

  10. What is actually more surprising to me is the abysmal 3.9 star rating of the new Oasis 3.

    • Which is 4.4 in the UK.

      In fact, in the UK there is essentially no difference between the present models – current generation Kindle 4.6, Paperwhite 4.5, Oasis 4.4; previous generation Kindle 4.2, Paperwhite 4.6, Oasis 4.1.

      I suggest that the only significant difference is in the basic Kindle, probably because of the backlight (which was a real omission); the new Oasis currently has a tiny sample size (18).

    • It’s impossible to take the negative reviews seriously when people are so clueless. I just read through a bunch of 1 and 2 star reviews and most are complaining about stuff that doesn’t make sense or is easily remedied if they knew what to do. And leaving a 1 star review because it doesn’t have a USB C port is a little over the top. Some people are saying the battery drains really fast. They’re probably loading like 600 books on it and don’t realize it has to index all of those. My Oasis’ battery is still going strong at 65% on the first charge and I’ve read for several hours and have done a video review with lots of navigation and refreshing, and I haven’t even had airplane mode turned on.

      • I think that Amazon should better explain indexing and what to expect. Until I started visiting Mobilereads and sites like these I had no idea about indexing.

        It makes it confusing to read these reviews because some ereaders (8th gen Kindle) have legitimately poor battery life and others (Oasis, Voyage) really don’t.

        That being said some of those reviewers are coming from older ereaders. The first four generations of ereaders had superior battery life based on not having a light, lower resolution, and simpler UI that doesn’t run things in the background. They didn’t need a “power saver” mode like modern Kindles do to have great battery life.

  11. I like the new PW better than the last version, especially the flush screen and the appearance of the text, it seems easier on my eyes for extended reading than the previous model.

  12. I have gotten used to my PW4 where the weaker contrast doesn’t bother me anymore – but I do read with higher bold setting than I did with 3. I upgraded because Waterproofing was my #1 needed upgrade reasoning, but I agree with others than the texture, feel and clarity of the PW3 screen is superior.

    With the PW4 I deal with some smudges. With the PW3 I kept dealing with dirt getting in between the indented screen and bezel. So, plus and negatives on both sides.

    I think people are getting more irritated with Amazon doing updates without more work into them. Why keep so much of the same hardware wise and software wise in between years of releases?

    • To clarify with that last part, I said that because I believe this is a reason people are getting pickier and more judgmental with these new releases.

  13. I was forced into switching to the PW4 because my trusty Nook Simple Touch finally gave up the ghost and I tried the new Nook Glowlight Plus but couldn’t seem to get sideloading working properly.
    All in all, the PW4 is acceptable. That said however, the touch screen is just a bit … “touchy”. It’s very easy to move several pages at a single tap. Irritating but not a game changer. The battery life on the other hand is a definite disappointment. I know I read more than the tested 1/2 hour per day but having to recharge every other day is a major irritant.

  14. I just paid for a new PW and don’t like it at all. The reading screen is actually smaller as the black “frame” around the page is actually just a darkened part of the screen. The text doesn’t seem any crisper nor the lighting any better than the previous model. THe entire device is a tiny bit smaller too, just enough to have to buy a new cover.

  15. i got one today and sent it back to amazon. the screen seemed blue. granted i use warm lighting on all my devices, but the only way to get the screen to seem white was to amp the light all the way up.