There are two sides to the Kindle e-reader debate. For some it brings a specialised experience with an unparalleled sense of transcendence and for others it sits uneasily in a world where Apple iPad, Android tablet or even a phone can fill that role, in a way. Something to ponder over if you are not tethered to the belief that real books are the only way to read. That neatly takes us to the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, the 2021 iteration, which is the fourth Kindle model in the line-up.
Fourth, in a way at least. If we don’t weave this in as a variant of the existing Paperwhite—ideally, we shouldn’t, because there’s enough that’s been added to make this feel like a new e-reader. The price tag of ₹17,999 for the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition pegs this at a serious ₹4,000 premium over the standard Paperwhite e-reader. Your call on whether this is worth an upgraded display (read auto adjusting illumination) and wireless charging (hello, smartphones!).
Just like the plain-Jane Paperwhite, the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition also has a 6.8-inch glare-free Paperwhite display with integrated lighting and 16-level grey scale (this isn’t a colour display). Yet, it isn’t the same as before. The peak brightness has been boosted, which should help with the outdoor reading on a winter’s afternoon when you want to enjoy some sunshine. This type of a display is anyway very resistant to reflections and ambience induced glares, which really helps with the comfort of reading.
The other big addition is the auto-adjusting lighting (essentially, this is auto brightness), something the less expensive Paperwhite does not have. It is a bit surprising that a feature as basic as this, still isn’t a standard fixture across the Kindle line-up. it should be. The Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition and the more expensive Kindle Oasis (around ₹21,999) have this, the more affordable Kindle Paperwhite (around ₹13,999) and the entry-spec Kindle (around ₹7,999) miss out in the present generations. It isn’t a new feature and is aimed at course correction.
Setting this up will be easier too. It isn’t entirely pleasant to type on a Kindle screen when there is the underlying urgency to set up a sparkling new e-reader and get started with a book that cannot wait anymore. Now, your phone can help you get started, via the Kindle app on your phone. It is simpler and gets you to the doorstep of a world of reading quicker—you can download all your Kindle books from the cloud, complete with the last progress stage. The Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition upgrades the storage to 32GB, a serious step forward from 8GB on the standard Paperwhite.
If you’re upgrading from a Kindle that you’ve held on for a while, you’d appreciate the new interface as well. That’s the biggest visual overhaul the Kindle interface has received in years. The idea is to make it more intuitive, and to a large extent, it has worked. Home and Library are now easier to identify tabs on the bottom of the screen, while a more smartphone-esque ‘swipe down to access controls’ gesture is now part of the Kindle experience too. Transition animations still exhibit some amount of sluggishness from time to time, but there is a definite speeding up of navigation as you move around the Home and Library options, as well as the menus.
Kindle and battery life have always evoked a sense of relief. These humble e-readers don’t need to be charged often, and last weeks (not days or hours) on a single charge. The Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition now gets wireless charging as well. Theoretically, it will work with any Qi standard wireless charger you may already be using for your iPhone or Android phone. Yet, owing to the larger size of the Kindle, you’d find this works better on flatter-design wireless chargers (such as the SanDisk iXpand 15-watt wireless charger) than the ones which have a slightly curved back, designed more for the phones they are meant to work best with (such as the OnePlus Warp Charge 50 wireless charger).
Speaking of the battery life, the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition should last as much as 10-weeks on a single charge. That summarises the advantage of a specialised reading tool in a world where phones and tablets have become the all-in-ones. Try going on a binge reading session on your phone, and the eyes will hurt after a while. And on a tablet, you’ll be hunting for the charger after 7-8 hours of reading.
The thing is, you would be expecting us to say the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition is a giant leap forward for the Kindle e-readers. It isn’t. Think of this as a more capable version of the 2021 edition of the Kindle Paperwhite. That brings with it some bragging rights. If you’ve already ordered yourself a Paperwhite, there could be that sense of regret, that you’ve just missed out on a lot of future proof features.
That said, the basics of a Kindle don’t change. They simply evolve. Even if you have an older Kindle and don’t really feel the need for more storage or auto brightness controls or wireless charging, you would do well to hold on to what you have. But if you must have the very best the Kindle has to offer, the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition should definitely be what you splurge on. In fact, this has more than the pricier Kindle Oasis too.