While there’s a range of ereaders on the market, there’s no arguing that the Kindle has taken the top spot in terms of popularity. But narrowing down your ereader purchasing to a Kindle is only the first step. After that, there’s the crucial question of which Kindle model to get. Two of the most well-loved Kindle models are the Paperwhite and the Oasis. They both have similar sized screens and share a lot of features. So, the Kindle Oasis vs. Paperwhite: which one should you get?
First, a little bit of history. The Kindle Paperwhite came out in 2012, and its latest generation/update was in 2021. The Kindle Oasis came out in 2016, and its latest generation/update was in 2019. I will be comparing the most recent generations of both, though because the Oasis has not been updated in three years, it will likely either see a new generation in the next year or so or be officially discontinued.
If you’re looking for affordability in choosing between the Kindle Oasis vs. Paperwhite, the Paperwhite is a clear winner. It starts at $140 while the Oasis starts at $270. For both, you can choose between the default 8 GB storage or a pricier version that has 32 GB. Given that Kindle ebooks are easily stored in the “cloud,” the average reader won’t need more than 8 GB unless they plan on storing a lot of audiobooks on the device. You can also choose between being ad-supported (a cheaper option that has ads displayed, though not while you read) or not.
There are two versions of the Paperwhite: the standard Paperwhite and the Paperwhite Signature. The Paperwhite Signature comes with that extra storage as well as an auto-adjusting light feature and a wireless charging option.
The Kindle Oasis vs. Paperwhite in terms of size are pretty similar, though they have some key differences in design. The Kindle Oasis has a 7-inch screen, and the newest Paperwhite has a 6.8-inch screen. The Oasis also has page turn buttons on one side, so it is wider. Some Amazon reviewers still find it easy to hold in one hand, but others found it difficult to grip like that. If you have smaller hands and want to be able to hold your ereader in one hand, the Paperwhite will likely fit this requirement better.
Despite the wider appearance and slightly larger screen, the Kindle Oasis vs Paperwhite are about the same weight (6.6 ounces vs. 6.41 ounces) because the Oasis is thinner.
The Oasis was designed as a luxury option for ereaders, so it has an aluminum case with a glass screen while the Paperwhite has a plastic case and screen. Some Amazon reviewers find that the aluminum case feels more solid and high-quality, while others said it’s slippery to grip and takes on the temperature around it — warm in the summer and cold to the touch in the winter.
The other noticeable difference in design between the Kindle Oasis vs. Paperwhite is the Oasis’s “bump,” visible in the side view above. The top of the ereader is very thin, while the bottom third or so is more than twice as thick. This is a divisive design choice: some reviewers find it actually rests more naturally in their hands, while others find it awkward.
Page Turn Buttons
The biggest factor besides price when considering the Oasis vs. Paperwhite is the Oasis’s page turn buttons. The original few generations of Kindle came with physical buttons to press to turn pages, but they were phased out. Some readers find the switch from buttons to swiping to change pages to be a big step down.
The Oasis’s screen automatically adjusts to how you hold it, so you can push the buttons with your thumb whether it’s in your left or right hand. The buttons can also be programmed for which one is the forward page button and which is back. Fans of the Oasis say that reading with the buttons is more immersive, since page-turning requires such a tiny movement, and that the buttons offer pleasant feedback (a quiet click) when pressed.
These reviewers also find that using the touch screen (such as on a Paperwhite) to flip pages is less immersive and can lead to more errors; it’s easier to accidentally brush the screen with a fingertip while reading than to accidentally press a button.
Inside of the casing, the Oasis vs. Paperwhite are almost identical. They both have the same amount of storage space, they’re both waterproof, they both have Bluetooth capability but no headphone jack, and they both have options for ad support in their cheaper versions.
One concrete difference between the two is that the Paperwhite has USB-C charging, which is slightly faster and more convenient than the Oasis’s mini USB charging. The Paperwhite Signature can also charge wirelessly with a Qi charging pad.
The other differences they have are pretty minimal. The Oasis has a larger LED array, so its screen at full brightness is brighter than the Paperwhite at its full brightness. Some reviews say that the Oasis needs to be charged more often because of this larger LED array, however. Both have options for warm light.
Side by side, the Paperwhite may be very slightly more responsive, but not in a very noticeable way. One review mentioned that they see more “ghosting” (a faint impression of the previous page) on the Oasis. The Paperwhite also handles PDFs slightly better: it does a partial page refresh instead of flashing black every PDF page turn like the Oasis. (This video shows the two side-by-side.) The Paperwhite is also more responsive to zooming in and out.
The average reader won’t be trying to read many PDFs on their Kindle, though, and this difference is only because the Paperwhite has been updated more recently. If the Oasis gets a new generation soon, it will almost certainly also have that partial refresh option on PDFs.
The Kindle Oasis vs. Paperwhite: The Overall Winner
Given the huge price difference between the two — the Kindle Oasis is almost twice as much as the Paperwhite — the Paperwhite is my pick for the overall winner. I’m also concerned that the Oasis not having been updated in three years means that it’s either going to have a new generation out soon — which would mean that Oasis buyers in 2022 will likely kick themselves for not holding out until it came out — or that the model is being discontinued, which may make it harder to maintain.
If you want an ereader that feels luxurious or you’re a die-hard fan of the page turn buttons, though, and price is no object, the Oasis will perform very similarly.