Article updated on October 25, 2022 at 8:00 AM PDT

Kindle 2022 E-Reader Review: The Cheaper Alternative to the Paperwhite

The latest entry-level Kindle has enough appealing new features to make you think twice before paying up for a Paperwhite.

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David Carnoy
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Until this year there's been a pretty clear delineation between Amazon's entry-level Kindle and the step-up Kindle Paperwhite. The pricier model offered a screen that was bigger, with higher resolution and a better internal light. That crisper E Ink display -- 300 pixels per inch, or nearly twice the density of the 167 ppi on the older Kindle -- made the Paperwhite an easy recommendation to those who could afford it. But things have gotten a bit more complicated now with the arrival of the Kindle 2022, which matches the 300-ppi display density of the Paperwhite and throws in USB-C charging, all for $100. Yes, that's $10 more than what the Kindle 2019 cost, but it's also $40 less than the Paperwhite. 

8.6/ 10

Amazon Kindle 2022

$100 at Amazon


  • Slightly lighter and smaller design than previous model
  • 300 ppi high-resolution display
  • Built-in light
  • Good value ($40 less than Kindle Paperwhite)
  • USB-C charging


  • Not waterproof
  • Lacks more premium feel of Paperwhite

With that kind of price difference, it would be easy to declare this new Amazon e-reader the Kindle to get. But it's not quite that simple, even if there's much to like about the Kindle 2022, including its lighter, smaller chassis, which makes it easier to hold for longer reading sessions -- and will fit smaller hands better.

While it has the same 6-inch screen size of its predecessor (the Paperwhite has a larger 6.8-inch screen), it measures 6.2 by 4.3 by 0.32 inches (158 by 109 by 8 mm) and weighs 5.56 ounces (158 grams). Those are all smaller measurements than the 2019 Kindle. By comparison, the Kindle Paperwhite weighs 7.23 ounces (205 grams).

Read moreBest E-Readers for 2022

Size and weight differences aside, the first thing you notice about the Kindle 2022 is that it does feel cheaper than the Paperwhite. The Paperwhite is fully waterproof and its sealed screen is protected by a layer of glass. The plastic on the back of the Paperwhite also seems to be made of a higher grade and the device just feels sturdier and more premium. That said, if you choose to protect your new Kindle with a case -- several are available on Amazon, including Amazon's own nicely designed $30 Kindle Fabric Case that I tried -- you won't even see the back and durability is less of a factor. 

The Kindle 2022 vs. the Kindle Paperwhite
Enlarge Image
The Kindle 2022 vs. the Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle 2022 (left) is more compact, but the Paperwhite (right) does have a larger screen and more premium look and feel.

David Carnoy/CNET

The Paperwhite also incorporates a more sophisticated front lighting scheme, with 17 LEDs compared to the Kindle 2022's four. You can adjust the amount lighting on the entry-level Kindle but not the color temperature (warmer and cooler) like you can with the Paperwhite and top-end Kindle Oasis. For those who just want to have some sort of lighting option so you can read at night or in less well-lit environments, that probably won't be a big deal (one of the big appeals of an E Ink e-reader is that you can view their screens in bright sunlight). But you can get the display on the Paperwhite to look more paper-like and those who have more sensitive eyes may prefer the additional lighting controls. Also, some may prefer the Paperwhite's extra screen real estate, especially if you like to use larger font sizes for reading.

Amazon didn't skimp on the storage for the Kindle 2022. It comes with 16GB, which is actually 8GB more than what you get with the base model of the Paperwhite. Battery life is also said to be extended up to six weeks. As noted, this Kindle now charges via USB-C, but be aware that only a USB-A to USB-C charging cable and no power adapter is included in the box. 

The new reader is also available in a child-friendly version called the Kindle Kids ($120). That model has the same hardware, but adds a cover, a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids Plus -- a large collection of kid-friendly reading material -- as well as a two-year warranty.

The Kindle 2022 is Amazon's new entry-level e-reader

The Kindle 2022 has a smaller 6-inch display.


Kindle 2022 performance: Similar to Paperwhite

I didn't notice a difference in the performance of the new Kindle compared to the Paperwhite. E Ink continues to have some inherent lag, but e-books seemed to open at the same rate on both devices and page-turn speeds seemed to be the same to my eye. Unlike the Kindle Oasis, which has the option of clicking physical buttons for turning pages, you can only tap on the screen of the Kindle and Paperwhite to turn pages. I don't mind that, but it's a deal-killer for button die-hards.

It's also worth noting that you can choose to have the display refresh with every page turn. That makes the screen flash, which is slightly irritating. I leave that setting off because I didn't notice much in the way of E Ink ghosting and the screen does refresh every 25 pages or so, which seemed sufficient. 

Like other Kindles, this model is Bluetooth-enabled so you can listen to Audible audiobooks or use the speech-to-text feature (it's now called VoiceView Screen Reader), which can be enabled in the Accessibility menu. If you pair the Kindle with a set of Bluetooth earbuds, headphones or a speaker, you can have text on the screen read to you (and if you tap a button, a voice will tell you what button you've tapped). This is a good feature for people with limited vision or anyone who would prefer to have someone read to them. 

More than a year ago, Amazon revamped the Kindle home screen and made some improvements to the Kindle user interface and menu system. I'm not going to get into all that or really dig into the Kindle's general features, but most people, including me, seem pretty happy with the changes. And in case you were wondering, you don't have to just buy stuff through the Kindle Store. You can send certain file types, including noncopy-protected ePub files, to your Kindle using the free Send to Kindle service (you can read how to do that here).   

Kindle 2022 final thoughts 

We used to recommended stepping up to the Paperwhite if you could afford it, mainly because it had a higher resolution display than the entry-level Kindle, which allowed text to appear more crisp. But with both models now featuring similar displays -- at least as far as resolution goes and the crispness of text and images -- the Kindle 2022 is a significantly more appealing entry-level e-reader and the gap between the two models has narrowed. That said, the Paperwhite does feel more premium and durable and has a handful of key extra features: a bigger screen, waterproofing and a more sophisticated and adjustable lighting scheme. 

Ultimately, your decision may come down to how much each of these Kindles is discounted during Amazon's sporadic flash sales. The Paperwhite has hit $100 at times and I'd expect to see it around that price during the holiday season. The Kindle 2019 dipped as low as $50, so at least $30 off this new model would seem to be a strong possibility. The question is how big a price difference will there be between the two models during sales events? If, say, the Paperwhite costs only $20 more, it's the better buy. But if the price delta is more like $30-$40, the Kindle 2022 is probably the way to go if you don't need waterproofing.  

Kindle 2022 key features, per Amazon

  • The lightest and most compact Kindle: 5.56 ounces (158 grams)
  • 300 ppi high-resolution glare-free E Ink display
  • Adjustable front light (4 LEDs) and dark mode
  • Extended battery life: Single charge via USB-C lasts up to 6 weeks
  • 16GB of storage (double the storage capacity of the previous generation)
  • Bluetooth for audiobooks and text-to-speech
  • Uses 30-75% recycled plastics, 90% recycled magnesium and has 100% recyclable device packaging
  • Two colors: black or navy
  • Price: $100