Amazon’s Kindle Scribe is the exciting new high-end device in the e-reader range that advances the Kindle experience. But it’s just as important for Amazon to keep pushing the baseline for people who want to get into the ecosystem but don’t want to overspend.
So let’s move on to the new $100 Kindle (or $120 ad-free). This model, also referred to as “2022 release” or “Kindle (11) on Amazon’s product pages. For the first time, the base Kindle has the same 300 PPI screen density as the rest of the lineup, and Amazon added the top and side bezels streamlined around the 6” screen to make the device smaller and lighter. USB-C, Bluetooth audiobook support, and an expanded 16GB of storage round out the spec sheet.
We’ve had the new Kindle for a few days, not long enough to read more than a few hundred pages or dent the battery, but long enough to get some insight into the device’s strengths and weaknesses. The main question to answer is: who should buy this Kindle and who should shell out $40 more for the waterproofing and bigger, nicer screen of the current Kindle Paperwhite?
The new Kindle’s killer feature might be how much smaller it is than the current Paperwhite or older models. The 6-inch screen is the same size as the old Paperwhite, but Amazon has slimmed the display bezels down at the top and sides to look more like that of the current Paperwhite. The result is a lightweight device that fits especially well in the hands of children (a Kindle Kids Edition with a case, two-year warranty, and a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ costs an additional $20).
The new screen is fine. It’s definitely nice that it now hits the 300 PPI density of the more expensive models. It’ll be an upgrade for anyone still using an unlit or lower-resolution Kindle.
Those are two things to know about the screen that don’t show up well in our images. First, with only four front-lighting LEDs (compared to 17 on the current Paperwhite), you might find that the screen isn’t perfectly evenly lit. On my test device, this was most visible at the top of the display, although the content on the screen is always perfectly legible. Second, the front light has a fairly bluish tint compared not only to the Kindles with “warm light” capabilities, but also to the tint of an older 10th Gen Paperwhite we compared it to. If you’re sensitive to blue light, especially if you do a lot of reading right before bed, your eyes might thank you if you get a Paperwhite instead.
The $100 Kindle is also not waterproof like the last few Paperwhite generations, so it’s not a good device for “relaxing bathing or by the pool.” While its USB-C port has some sort of moisture sensor that prevents it from charging if it detects a little water in the port, which could save you from zapping it after an accidental spill, it’s not the same as complete waterproofing.
The only other notable hardware feature that Amazon doesn’t advertise is that the $100 Kindle appears to use the same processor that’s included in the latest version of the Paperwhite (a MediaTek MT8110; the new Paperwhite and Kindle run with it the old SunSpider browser benchmark at about 8,000 milliseconds, compared to 11,700 for the previous generation Paperwhite). This is still a pretty weak processor compared to any budget smartphone, but compared to older Kindles there’s a barely perceptible hint of extra speed when downloading or opening books or navigating menus.