Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition review: The upgrade is worth the money this Black Friday – LSB

The Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, despite the fancy name, is a simple device. It’s exactly the same as the new, fifth-generation Kindle Paperwhite, but it costs $50 more and has four upgrades: 32GB of storage (up from 8GB), wireless charging, an auto-adjusting front light, and no ads.

Since we’ve already established that the standard Paperwhite is a great e-reader, the focus of this review is simple: find out if these four improvements are worth the extra money.


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Totally awesome e-reader

My colleague Alex Perry reviewed the regular fifth-generation Paperwhite, but here are my main impressions (coming from someone whose primary e-reader was previously a second-generation Paperwhite).

The new Paperwhite is just the right size and fit perfectly in my hand. It’s also beach-ready, with an IPX8 rating, which is a big deal for me, especially compared to my iPad mini, which isn’t officially waterproof at all.

fire on an orange tablecloth

The USB-C charging port on the bottom was a much-needed upgrade from the microUSB port on previous Paperwhites.
Credit: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

I only have one beef with the design of the device and that is the fact that Amazon moved the power button from the bottom to the top, which took some getting used to. (It’s worth noting that this change happened on a previous iteration of the Paperwhite.)

The new Paperwhite is much faster than my old model, but it could be even faster, especially when navigating menus. The battery lasts forever and having a USB-C port instead of the old microUSB connector is a blessing.

So what do you get for that extra $50?

lit in front of the bookshelf

Compared to my ancient, 3rd generation Paperwhite, the new one is shaped a bit more like a typical book, which isn’t a bad thing.
Credit: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

One thing you won’t get on this Kindle is ads. Compared to ads on some other devices, Kindle ads aren’t as intrusive, but I’d still rather not have ads on something I’ve paid for. You can remove the ads from the base model Kindle for an extra $20, but then the price difference between the two is only $30, which means you should really look at the other goodies you get with the Signature Edition.

You know what they say about memory: more is always better. However, unless you’re a voracious reader or constantly send a bunch of periodicals to your Kindle, you won’t need more than 8GB. The Kindle Paperwhite SE has 32GB, which is overkill, but it’s comforting to know you’ll never have to worry about storage.

Whether wireless charging will be worth it depends entirely on whether you typically use it in other scenarios. All Kindles have great battery life, so you won’t be charging them very often. I have wireless chargers in my car and scattered around the house, so being able to just throw the Kindle on them and charge it is a nice, if minor, improvement.

kindle paperwhite

MagSafe isn’t the best way to charge your Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, but it works!
Credit: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

Fun fact: I tried charging the Kindle Paperwhite SE using Apple’s MagSafe magnetic charger for iPhone, and not only did it work, but the charger sticks (albeit ever so slightly) to the Kindle like it does to the iPhone. Pretty awesome.

The display, automated

The last big improvement to the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition is the display.

The 6.8-inch 300 ppi display is sharp, clear, beautiful to look at and won’t tire your eyes even after long reading sessions. The bezels on the sides and top of the device are much smaller than the previous iteration, but there’s still enough room to place your fingers without accidentally turning the page.

kindle paperwhite on orange background

The display now makes brightness adjustments on its own.
Credit: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

Now for the big difference between the regular and SE versions of the Paperwhite: Automatic front light adjustment. The best way to explain the importance of this feature is to think about smartphones: literally every modern smartphone has this feature. You don’t think much about it, but if someone takes away the feature, you’ll definitely notice.

It’s similar to the Paperwhite. The display automatically adjusts brightness based on the amount of light in your environment. I like to read in very low light and the Kindle adjusts the screen brightness pretty much as I would. The device supports dark mode (bright text on a dark background) and if I switched to it, it readjusted the brightness accordingly. I like the feature, and while I can live without it, I’ll be a little annoyed to have to manually adjust the brightness again.

Cheap upgrades

This may be because I’m just reviewing some Apple devices—Apple charges an arm and a leg for upgrades and extra features—but I think the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition is worth it.

For $50 you get no ads ($20 worth), wireless charging, 32GB, and an upgraded display. None of this is essential, but it feels like you’re getting decent value for your money.

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