I thought it would be fun to make a list ranking all Kindle ereaders from the worst ever to the best ever.
I’m not including the kids Kindles in the list because they’re no different from regular Kindles—they’re basically just a bundle package that includes a cover, a better warranty, and Amazon Kids+ subscription.
I’m also counting the 4th and 5th gen Kindles from 2011 and 2012 as the same model because the only difference between them is the color. I’m also counting the white and black Kindle DX as the same model because they’re mostly the same, but the black version has an upgraded screen.
Keep in my this list is based on my opinion only. I’ve owned and reviewed every Kindle that has been released, except the Kindle 1 and Kindle 2.
See the Kindle Comparison Table more details about each Kindle model that Amazon has released.
#20 – Kindle 1st Gen
The 1st gen Kindle started things off in 2007 so it deserves some credit for that, and it was the only Kindle to come with a memory card slot, but it looks like it was designed by someone who had no idea what they were doing. Seriously, it’s one of the oddest-looking gadgets ever made. It’s hard to believe anyone was ever willing to pay $400 for it.
Image found via eBay.
#19 – Kindle DX
Some people really liked the larger screen on the Kindle DX, but it was never very popular and it cost a small fortune and Amazon never updated the software to add newer features like other models at the time. The keyboard was wonky, and without a touchscreen it was difficult to navigate, and the device was so big that it was awkward to hold.
#18 – Kindle 2
The Kindle 2 was released in 2009. The design was nicer than the 1st gen model, but it still had unusually large bezels and an unsightly large keyboard below the screen. It sold for a whopping $369 when it was released.
#17 – Kindle 7th gen
The Kindle 7 was released in 2014 and it was the first entry-level “Kindle” to have a touchscreen. This is when Amazon removed the page buttons and started making the designs super basic with bland, blocky plastic casings that weren’t as classy as previous models, and they were still using the same old lower resolution screens. Not a fan.
#16 – Kindle 8th Gen
The 8th gen Kindle was very similar to the 7th gen model, but the design was a bit smaller and lighter, and they added Bluetooth to use the VoiceView accessibility feature. The screen was still majorly outdated when it was released; most other companies had stopped using 800×600 resolution screens years ago.
#15 – Kindle 4 and 5
The 4th and 5th gen Kindle were basically the same, but one was black and one was grey. These didn’t have touchscreen, but I personally really liked the designs. They had page buttons on each side of the screen and navigational buttons below the screen, but without a huge keyboard that was useless 95% of the time like previous models. They also has a nice slightly metallic finish that made them feel nicer than most modern entry-level Kindles, and they sold for a very reasonable $69. That’s why I’m ranking them a bit higher than some of the touchscreen Kindles.
#14 – Kindle Touch
The Kindle Touch was released in 2011 alongside the 4th gen Kindle, and it was the first Kindle to get a touchscreen. It had a low resolution screen and no frontlight, and it marks a change when Amazon no longer allowed using the web browser for free over 3G. It was on the market for less than one year before it was replaced by the first gen Kindle Paperwhite.
#13 – Kindle Oasis 1
The 1st gen Kindle Oasis was released in 2016 and it was the first Kindle to feature an asymmetrical design with page buttons on only one side of the screen. It was a nice device overall but they made it so most of the battery was in the cover. This was the worst ideas ever because you could only get a battery cover from Amazon and then when they stopped making them you could no longer find battery covers anywhere. Stupidest design decision ever.
#12 – Kindle 10th Gen
Released in 2019, the 10th gen Kindle was the first entry-level model to have a frontlight (it’s hard to believe it took that long), but it still had the same low resolution screen that all other ereader companies had stopped using a half decade before.
#11 – Kindle 3 (Keyboard)
Of all the old school Kindles, the Kindle 3 was the most popular and well-liked. Some people still use them to this day. The Kindle 3, also known as the Kindle Keyboard, was released in 2010 and Amazon continued to sell them for several years even after newer models were released. It had some unique features that were later phased out, like text-to-speech and the ability to surf the web on 3G models for free.
#10 – Kindle Paperwhite 1
The first generation Kindle Paperwhite was released in 2012. It was the first ever Kindle to have a frontlight, although it was far from the first ebook reader to have one. The lighting uniformity wasn’t great on the first gen model, but it was a design Amazon would stick with until 2018.
#9 – Kindle Paperwhite 2
The second gen Kindle Paperwhite came out in 2013. It featured an upgraded “Carta” screen, a faster processor, and a better frontlight, but was otherwise nearly identical to the 1st gen Paperwhite.
#8 – Kindle Paperwhite 4
Released in late 2018, the Kindle Paperwhite 4 brought more changes to the Paperwhite line than previous generations, but overall it was still the same basic device with the exact same screen as before. The biggest change was they made it waterproof and added a flush front screen, which was made of plastic instead of glass like previous Kindles. Consequently the screen wasn’t quite as sharp and clear with the added plastic layer over the top, and it was more smudge and fingerprint prone.
#7 – Kindle 11th Gen
The 11th gen Kindle was released in 2022. Amazon finally upgraded it to a 300 ppi screen so it’s the first entry-level “Kindle” to have something other than a 167 ppi screen. It also has a frontlight, a USB-C port, 16GB of storage, and it’s thinner and lighter than the previous model.
#6 – Kindle Paperwhite 3
The Kindle Paperwhite 3 was released in 2015. It was basically the same as the Paperwhite 2, but it featured a higher resolution 300 ppi screen, and it came with more RAM and storage space. It remained on the market as the best selling Kindle for over 3 years before Amazon replaced it with a newer model. Some people like it better than the Paperwhite 4 with the flush screen, me included.
#5 – Kindle Oasis 2
The second generation Kindle Oasis came out in 2017. It was the first Kindle to feature a larger 7-inch screen, and it was also the first waterproof Kindle. Amazon got rid of the horrible charging cover from the first gen model, but the battery was small so battery life wasn’t great. It’s pretty much exactly the same as the Kindle Oasis 3, except it lacks a warm frontlight.
#4 – Kindle Scribe
The Kindle Scribe is the first Kindle to come with a stylus for notetaking and drawing, and it’s the only Kindle to have a large 10.2-inch 300 ppi screen. Not everyone needs a Kindle with such a large screen, but not everyone wants a smaller 6-7″ Kindle either, and it fulfills a different purpose and can do things no other Kindles on this list can do.
#3 – Kindle Paperwhite 5
The fifth gen Kindle Paperwhite was released in 2021. It brings the most changes to the Paperwhite line with its larger 6.8-inch screen, the addition of the warm frontlight, a USB-C port, support for dual-band WiFi, it’s faster, and the upgraded Signature Edition adds wireless charging, an auto brightness sensor, and 32GB of storage space. But it still has the flush plastic screen that’s a fingerprint magnet and isn’t quite as clear.
#2 – Kindle Oasis 3
Released in 2019, the 3rd gen Kindle Oasis is well-liked among Kindle users with its premium design, the warm frontlight, and the fact that it’s the only Kindle that still has page buttons, but it’s kind of outdated compared to more current Kindles with an older microUSB port and the screen doesn’t refresh as cleanly as the newer screen on the Kindle Paperwhite 5.
#1 – Kindle Voyage
The Kindle Voyage has the best screen of any Kindle ever released. Something about the micro-etched glass equates to a screen that is clearer and sharper than any other Kindle, and the text is darker as well, even darker than newer Carta 1200 screens that supposedly have better contrast. Another great thing about the design of the Kindle Voyage is the page button sensors. You can use the buttons or the touchscreen if you want; they aren’t forcing you to use buttons like the asymmetrical Kindle Oasis so the design nicely accommodates both usage types.
At first I was like, “Yeah…Of course Nathan picked the Voyage as The Best.”
But, dang it if I have to agree…even with the often uneven front light.
The Build quality, and design was Great! Especially with the power button on the back…where it should be.
Really a shame they didn’t proceed with that line. I gave mine away to my sister…and I kind of miss it.
Thanks for the list (along with explanations…that’s key). Really enjoy it.
Steve H. says
I still have my Voyage….but unlike so many, I find the Scribe has a more even screen and light temperature control and is great for images in ebooks. Contrast is less important to me as fonts can be emboldened.
For me, size matters.
I still have the Voyage. I like having the buttons on both sides. But it is pretty sad that the Kindle with the best screen was released in 2014.
Still have my Voyage, don’t use it very much, but I just can’t quit it.
I have to agree that the Voyage is one of the best. Ditto with what @sooperedd says. I don’t use mine much but I still have it. 🙂 Although I did just use it last night because my previous-generation PW’s battery was low and I didn’t want to get out of bed to get my Signature PW.
Steve H. says
My first Kindle was the Keyboard 3…liked it…started me down the rabbit hole. Got the DX and loved the size until the battery died. I still have the first Oasis, whatever it was made of, it felt great in the hand.
To me the latest is the best…got a lot of home improvement, technical and cooking books and they look great on that screen…also Sci fi book covers.
Charles Kemp says
I wish that Amazon would build a new Voyage but make it at least a 6.8 inch screen. I am sure it would be expensive but worth it.
Jeff Leyser says
About two years ago I arrived at a hotel room and realized I had left my Voyage in the seat back pocket on the plane.
I miss it to this day, and consider that one of my life’s greatest errors. No Kindle I’ve bought since has been even half as good.
I too loved my voyage. Eventually it wouldn’t charge because the port became too loose. I loved that thing.
The website, Unclaimed Baggage, still sells Voyages from time to time. https://www.unclaimedbaggage.com/collections/electronics
If the voyage only had dark mode 🙂
I looked and looked and looked at the screens of my Voyage versus my Oasis 2 when the Oasis 2 first arrived. I could not see ANY difference in sharpness or clarity between the screens. The only difference was that the Oasis was NOT an unpleasantly cold blue like the Voyage screen.
My vote for best screen is the Oasis 2. It got rid of the cold blue Voyage look and otherwise was absolutely equivalent to my Voyage only larger and more useful! Both had very even front lights.
I sold the Voyage on eBay with no regrets. Have never missed it. It beat the Oasis in hand feel, absolutely, but that was about it.
Agreed. My Oasis 3 is a poor replacement for my Voyage. Sure, it has page turn buttons, but it’s harder to hold, with the slick back, has poor battery life and costs more.
I also did not like the Voyage nor did I like any of the versions of the Oasis. I did not like any of the paper-whites until the 6.8 current one – but even that is a ‘barely like’. I bypassed reading Kindle books moving to Kobo until the Scribe came out. I really, truly like this device – the size- the screen clarity and evenness of lighting. I do not have any desire to use the notebook capability – I just want to read. I am retired so I spend most of my time reading. When I go out the 6.8 PW goes with me but I seldom need to use it. In my mind – Amazon’s Scribe is their best creation.
I have to admit, eventually, I will probably need and want a larger e-ink device. But so far, my eyes are doing well with the 8″ screen of my Sage. I was dubious about whether the new Carta screen was going to provide me much benefit above the Forma, but it’s very noticeable. My Forma is still loved, and it is the reader I take out of the house because of the lighter weight, but the Sage has just been the bomb for me. Trumps every other reader I’ve owned.
While I never thought I would like the notebook capability, as it turns out, I got a Kobo stylus as a Christmas present, and I do enjoy it! It really DID convert my not-so-hot 65 year old handwriting (a mix of cursive/print) into text nearly flawlessly! And being able to export notes to Dropbox, very, very nice.
I’m glad to hear you are enjoying your larger reader, as I say, something like Scribe or Elipsa may well be in my future.
It’s good that both Kobo and Amazon have larger devices out.
You know what I’d like to see? Options for remote page turning built into the styluses! That’s the sort of thing that could be really nice, especially in these larger devices.
The Voyage is by far my favorite Kindle.
Totally agree with Voyage. Best device. Still have it. It still works. Better design than my Oasis.
Another vote for the Voyage! Still regularly using it to this day, and not (yet) tempted by any newer Kindle offerings.
While I have newer models, the Kindle 3 is still my favorite. It has (mine still works) features not available on ANY of the newer models. Still miss the lack of page turn buttons.
I belong to a group of Kindle readers and many have lamented the passing of their K3. Many of them switched to a Paperwhite model.
P.S. Originally ordered a Kindle 2 but not long after Amazon announced the K3 so I returned the Kindle 2 and waited for my K3G order. Wow! That was a major upgrade at the time.
I have the Paperwhite 3 and it is awesome!
Another vote for the Voyage. I still have it and use it almost nightly. I love that the power button is on the back and not the bottom. I would love for them to bring it back and add dark mode. For me that is the only thing missing.
Fergus Duniho says
I don’t have nearly as many Kindles as you do, and I would rank what I have in terms of how essential they are. My Paperwhite 5 gets the most use. Thanks to its warm lighting, I prefer to use it at night, and for most books, it is more convenient than older models. My DX comes in second, because it is useful for books that benefit from a larger screen. Although it lacks many features, it is the best ereader I’ve used without a touchscreen, and I have it jailbroken to customize my fonts and display book covers on the screen saver. Once I get a Scribe, the DX may not be so essential, but that’s wait-and-see for now. My Touch is better suited for books with lots of footnotes, because they stopped firmware updates on it before adding pop-up footnotes and getting rid of the back button. It’s also my only Kindle that can run Active Content. My Paperwhite 4 is the least essential, because it is just like the Paperwhite 5 except that it is smaller and lacks some of its improvements.
A brand new unopened Kindle Voyage just sold for $326 on eBay. Pretty amazing!
Lyn Fabian says
The thing I miss is being able to set the font size by pressing a button and it doesn’t change until you reset it. My font size has to be reset 3 or 4 times while reading and I hate it
Lou Sevens says
Lou Sevens- here – great thread- I’ll rank the ones I am pretty sure I owned. I might edit later, note I never owned a Voyage but it seems to have been popular.
1. Kindle Scribe- my favorite because the larger screen is important to me, I also like when I am on a train or hotel being able to write notes. I actually did some trades and got a second one. I am getting far more reading done.
2. Most recent (I think 2021) Paperwhite, Larger screen than prior models and excellent battery life.
3. 2013 Kindle paperwhite- It lasted 5 years and was still going- I must have traded it in
4. 2019 Kindle Oasis- I did like the page turning, I traded it in along with my backup 2021 extra Paperwhite for a second scribe. However, I found I didn’t like the batter life.
5. 2011 first Kindle – 4th generation- it lasted 2 years before maybe getting surged on a cruise. It was my first one, I liked loading everything on and borrowing library books. However, it was my first ereader so was very important.
6. 2017 Kindle Oasis- I did like it but battery life was horrific.
In summary, I would say the Scribe is now my goto. I might end up sending back the Paperwhite if I don’t use it as much but it is excellent.
I would say over time battery life and screen size are most important to me.