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New 2021 Kindle Paperwhite has larger screen, USB-C charging and better battery life

At $140, the new Paperwhite e-reader costs $10 more than the previous version. Available for preorder now, it ships on Oct. 27.

The next-generation Kindle Paperwhite is available for preorder now and ships on Oct. 27.

Amazon

At long last, there's a new Kindle Paperwhite. It's got a larger 6.8-inch E Ink display, USB-C charging and some other small improvements for $10 more than ($140, £130, AU$239) its predecessor, which was last updated back in 2018. A step-up model, the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, adds wireless charging and additional storage -- 32GB instead of 8GB -- as well an auto-adjusting light sensor for $190 (£180, AU$289). Available for preorder now, both models are fully waterproof (IPX8) and ship Oct. 27. 

In some sense, the next-generation Paperwhite is a less fancy-looking version of the the flagship Kindle Oasis ($250), which has a slightly larger 7-inch display. Like the Oasis and the previous Paperwhite, this new version has a 300-ppi display, so text and images should appear with the same level of sharpness (Amazon calls it "laser-quality" text). The auto-adjusting light sensor is a feature found in the Oasis, so with the Signature Edition you're getting a Kindle with comparable features to the Oasis, plus USB-C and wireless charging, features we assume will come to the next Oasis. Alas, the new Paperwhite does not include physical buttons for turning pages -- you'll still need to tap the screen for that.

While the new Paperwhite's display is considerably larger, at 6.8 inches compared with the previous 6 inches, it weighs only about 23 grams more than the previous Paperwhite (205g vs. 182g). The new model also has a smaller 10.2mm bezel.

At its max setting, the adjustable "warm" light has a 10% brightness boost over the previous Kindle and battery life is also improved, according to Amazon: It's rated at up to 10 weeks now. (That's probably with Wi-Fi disengaged, we'd guess.) Additionally, Amazon says page turns are 20% faster, though some of those performance gains may be due to software optimization. Amazon recently redesigned the Kindle interface, the first time it's done so in five years. 

The adjustable 'warm' light gets 10% brighter at the max setting.

Amazon

After Amazon's Fire tablets were upgraded with USB-C charging, a lot of folks have been waiting for USB-C to come to the Kindle line. Amazon says that the new Paperwhite takes "2.5 hours to reach full charge time using a 9W adapter or larger." No power adapter is included with either the standard or Signature Edition Paperwhite and you'll need a Qi charging pad to wirelessly charge the Signature Edition.

The new Paperwhite will also come in a Kids Edition for the first time for $160. That model includes a cover, a 1-year subscription to the Amazon Kids Plus service and 2-year "worry-free" guarantee that allows you to replace the device for free should it get damaged in any way.

Like the previous model, the next-generation Kindle is also fully waterproof.

Amazon

Cellular connectivity remains an option for the high-end Kindle Oasis, but these new Paperwhite e-readers are Wi-Fi-only. They come with a free four-month Kindle Unlimited membership and Amazon says both models are built with 60% post consumer recycled plastics and 70% recycled magnesium. Bluetooth connectivity is available for listening to Audible audio books over wireless headphones or a Bluetooth speaker.

The 2018 Kindle Paperwhite has been on sale lately, dropping to as low as $71. That older model will disappear with the arrival of the next-generation Paperwhite.

The Kids Edition includes a cover.

Amazon

While the new $140 price tag may seem pricey, Amazon typically offers discounts on many of its electronics devices throughout the year and during the holiday buying season. You won't find the new Kindle Paperwhite for $71 anytime soon, but we'd be shocked if it didn't go on sale for Black Friday, which is just a couple of months away. Amazon also generally offers up to 20% off when trading in previous models.

Even with the slight price bump, the new Paperwhite looks like it's still the goldilocks model in Amazon's line of dedicated e-readers. We'll have a full review in the coming weeks.  

Read more: Best e-readers for 2021