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4 things Amazon didn’t tell about Kindle Paperwhite 2021

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There are still a few missing facts and specs that you would need to decide whether to buy Kindle Paperwhite 5 or not – and which version.

The 2021 Kindle Paperwhite 5 has finally arrived. For a price $10 higher than the previous generation, it offers a larger 6.8-inch display, adjustable warm light, and USB-C port.

You can explore an official product page on Amazon or read our Kindle Paperwhite 5 FAQs, but in the end you may realize you still need additional information or interpretation.

Below, you will find my critical approach to Kindle Paperwhite 5 features and specs.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 5 2021 analysis

1. Screen resolution is at least 1600 × 1200 px

Amazon says Kindle Paperwhite 5 features a 6.8-inch display with 300 ppi.

▸ What is “ppi”? The abbreviation stands for “pixel per inch,” and it measures the pixel density of a computer screen.

▸ If you know the display’s resolution (measured in pixels) and its size (the length of its diagonal – a distance between opposite corners – measured in inches), you can find its pixel density.

▸ To find an approximate screen resolution of Kindle Paperwhite 5, I did the opposite thing.

▸ First, I compared the aspect ratio of Paperwhite 4 and 5. It’s similar, and it’s around 4:3. Then, I used Pixels Per Inch Calculator to find the screen resolution.

▸ The resolution of 1600 × 1200 px for an 6.8-inch display, results in a pixel density of 294 ppi. Therefore, we can say that the screen resolution of the 2021 Kindle Paperwhite 5 is at least 1600 × 1200 px.

▸ On the web, you can find a false info that Kindle Paperwhite 5 has 1430 × 1080 px display. The resolution is the same as that of 6.8-inch Kobo Aura H2O – but it translates into the pixel density of 264 not 300 ppi.

▸ For comparison, Kobo Libra H2O sports the 7-inch display with 300 ppi and 1680 × 1264 px resolution.

2. Battery life is only 3 times longer than in tablets

Amazon says a single battery charge in the Paperwhite 5 lasts up to ten weeks.

▸ Deep down in the technical specifications, we read, that the battery life is based on “a half hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at 13.”

▸ The previous-generation Kindle Paperwhite could run up to six weeks on a single charge, based on similar assumptions. It’s a huge improvement in battery life, having in mind that the display is 13% larger and the front light is now operated by 17 LED lights, not 5.

▸ For comparison, the battery life in Fire HD 8 tablet is up to 12 hours of mixed usage: reading, browsing the web, watching video, and listening to music.

▸ A typical battery life in tablets is between 8 and 12 hours of continuous use. Basically, tablet producers want to tell you that you need to plug in your device every day.

▸ That’s the difference, you say, between tablets and e-readers. Tablets have to be recharged every night, while e-readers once a month.

▸ What if we compared the data in hours? For Kindle Paperwhite 5, the calculation is: 10 weeks × 7 days × 0.5 hours = 35 hours.

Battery life, based on continuous, average, mixed use, is:

  • Amazon Fire HD 8 – up to 12 hours
  • Kindle Paperwhite 6.8 – up to 35 hours

▸ As you see, the battery life in the Kindle Paperwhite 5 (and all other e-readers) is not weeks. An avid book reader will probably have to use the charger every other day.

3. Wireless Charging Dock is a beautiful waste of money

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2021 charging dock
Wireless Charging Dock is compatible only with Kindle Paperwhite 5 Signature. It costs $29.99 / Image: Amazon

Amazon says the Signature Edition comes with a wireless charging support. You can use a universal charging pad, or buy a dedicated Wireless Charging Dock.

▸ Wireless Charging Dock costs $29.99 and can be used only with Kindle Paperwhite 5 Signature. It includes a stand where charging coils are hidden. It will start charging the Kindle the moment you place the device on the dock.

▸ The Paperwhite 5 Dock is a similar idea to the charging dock that’s compatible with Fire HD 8 Plus. With one difference: the frequency of use.

▸ You will use the Fire HD 8 dock every day, that’s for sure. If you are not an avid book reader (35 hours of continuous use, remember?), you will need the Paperwhite 5 dock every few days or weeks. Plus, you will need a USB-C charger anyway, if you want to recharge the Kindle when you are away from home.

▸ I wonder whether Fire HD 8 Plus charging dock could work with Paperwhite 5. Everything depends on the position of the coils. They are in the middle of the Kindle (because they are in the middle of the dedicated dock). Therefore, it’s quite probable you would use the Fire HD Plus dock with Paperwhite 5, if you put it on the dock in a portrait position.

4. You may turn off auto-adjusting light after all

Amazon says that Kindle Paperwhite 5 Signature Edition comes with auto-adjusting front light.

▸ Auto-adjusting brightness is a must feature in tablet and smartphone screens. In the direct sunlight, backlit LCD screens are so dark, you can’t see anything. The brightness should be increased to the highest possible level. The rule is simple: the more ambient light, the higher the brightness.

▸ Auto-brightness in e-reader displays is trickier. In theory, it should work the other way around. Because of the nature of an e-paper display, the front brightness in the direct sunlight can be set to 0, and everything on the display will be perfectly visible.

▸ Users complain that auto-brightness in Oasis 3 is weird. It works the same way as in tablets: the more ambient light, the higher the brightness level. Why increase brightness (and drain the battery faster) when you don’t need it?

▸ It gets trickier when ambient light gets lower. Because the rule “less light, lower brightness” is not linear. In reality, the highest brightness level is needed in the middle ambient light, and should decrease:

  • to 0 in the direct sunlight,
  • to something between 0 and half of the maximum level in complete darkness.

▸ Originally, I thought that auto-adjusting front light would have been a great way to increase battery life. However, as it’s quite unpredictable, I’m not so sure about it.

▸ Signature Edition costs $189.99 instead of $139.99 for the Paperwhite 5 Regular. Why pay the extra $50 for the feature you may end up turning off completely?

• • •

Kindle Paperwhite 5 with adjustable warm light

Which version of the Paperwhite do you intend to buy? Here is a quick comparison of specs.

Kindle Paperwhite 5 – Regular vs. Signature

Regular – Regular version of Kindle Paperwhite 6.8, Signature – Signature Edition version of Kindle Paperwhite 6.8

Regular Signature
Screen 6.8-inch 6.8-inch
8 GB Storage Yes,enough for thousands of books or over 35 audiobooks No
32 GB Storage No Yes,enough for thousands of books or over 160 audiobooks
microSD card No No
Speakers No No
Headphone jack 3.5 mm No No
Front light Yes, 17 LEDs Yes, 17 LEDs
Warm light Yes Yes
Auto-adjusting light No Yes
USB-C port Yes Yes
Wireless charging No Yes
Battery life Up to 10 weeks Up to 10 weeks
Cellular variants No No
Waterproof Yes, IPX8 Yes, IPX8
Climate Pledge friendly Yes Yes
Kindle Unlimited free plan No No
Colors Black Black
Price from
$139.99
from
$189.99

• • •

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