With the release of the Kindle Paperwhite 5, the 11th generation Kindle, some people have been asking how it compares to the Kindle Paperwhite 3, also known as the 7th generation Kindle.
In years past, some of the earlier Paperwhite upgrades were fairly minor when new models were released, but this time with the Paperwhite 5 Amazon changed quite a few things, especially compared to the older Paperwhite 3 that was originally released in 2015.
With the latest 5.14.1 software installed on the Paperwhite 3, the software is 95% the same on both models (except the PW3 still doesn’t support Dark Mode or audiobooks), so the differences mostly come down to hardware.
Interestingly, the Paperwhite 5 weighs exactly the same as the Paperwhite 3, despite having a larger screen and being larger overall. It measures 174.2 mm x 124.6 mm x 8.1 mm and it weighs 205 grams.
The Kindle Paperwhite 3 measures 169 mm x 117 mm x 9.1 mm and it also weighs 205 grams (217 grams for 3G models).
Below is a list of all the main differences between the 7th and 11th generation Paperwhite models.
Kindle Paperwhite 5 Differences
Larger 6.8-inch E Ink screen.
Warm frontlight added.
Faster performance (turning pages, opening menus, etc).
Waterproof (IPX8 rated).
More storage: 8GB or 32GB with the Signature Edition.
Adds support for 5.0 GHz WiFi networks.
Bluetooth to connect speakers or headphones to listen to audiobooks and VoiceView.
17 frontlight LEDs instead of 4.
Flush front screen.
Better battery life (based on Amazon’s estimates).
Wireless charging (Signature Edition).
Auto Brightness (Signature Edition).
No cellular model.
Dark Mode for white text on black background.
Disable touchscreen so only swipes turn pages.
Power Saver mode.
Audible audiobook player.
Page turn animation added.
Both Kindles have 300 ppi E Ink screens, but the Kindle Paperwhite 5 has a slightly larger 6.8-inch screen instead of a 6-inch screen like the Paperwhites 1-4.
The biggest improvement with the Kindle Paperwhite 5 is the frontlight. It’s more evenly-lit, and Amazon finally added the option to use a warm light so you can customize the color tone of the frontlight.
Contrast has improved slightly on newer E Ink screens, but with the added front layer on the PW5 the difference is less noticeable when compared to the Paperwhite 3 with no extra layer over the top of the E Ink display. Perhaps there’s a small difference but it’s hard to tell because the frontlights are different colors on my two Kindles, and it makes the screen look whiter on the PW5. E Ink screens can vary from one to the next so it’s hard to make any kind of definitive statement on the matter.
One thing I like about the Paperwhite 3’s screen is it has a slight textured feel to it, and it doesn’t show fingerprints or smudges easily. The flush front screen on the Paperwhite 5 looks better but it’s a fingerprint magnet and more reflective. The added plastic layer also makes it seem like there’s a very subtle filter over the screen compared to the indented screen on the PW3.
When Amazon released the Paperwhite 4, there weren’t as many reasons for Paperwhite 3 owners to upgrade since the screen and core features were mostly the same, but now with the release of the Kindle Paperwhite 5 enough things have changed to reconsider upgrading.
The Paperwhite 5 has a larger display and it’s a bit larger overall, but not by much, and the weight is exactly the same so it’s not less comfortable to hold. The improved frontlight is the biggest plus, and it’s nice having more storage space, better battery life, and a USB-C port.
See my Kindle Paperwhite 5 review for a closer look at the new Paperwhite in action. Here’s a quick comparison video showing some of the differences between the two.