Amazon Kindle 2016 (8th generation) full review
Update: Amazon has since released a more recent novel, the Kindle 2019. The rest of this review was written in 2016, so some of its recommendations may be a bit out of date!
The Amazon Kindle, updated for 2016 and now in its eighth iteration, is a brilliant buy for book worms. The RRP is low at just £59.99 from Amazon, but as part of its Black Friday deals we could see it go even lower - right now the Amazon Kindle is going for just £56.99 at Amazon. See our pick of the best Black Friday deals.
Let’s not pretend – Amazon makes the best eReaders. The Kindle is nine years old, and in that time we have now arrived at this, the eighth iteration of everyone’s favourite, cheapest digital means of reading a book. The Kindle Oasis may have caused a stir by being incredibly expensive, so what has Amazon changed on this, the ‘All-new’ Kindle? Here’s our Amazon Kindle 2016 review.
Price and where to buy
The Kindle is available to purchase now through, you guessed it, Amazon. It costs £69.99, which is the version we prefer – the £59.99 model is £10 less because you get ads on the lock screen. It’s only a small thing, but we don’t like the idea of getting Amazon advertising pushed on us from yet another source, especially when it’s on a product we’ve paid Amazon for. It’s available in classic black or the white model that we used for this review.
Design and build
Only those spoilt by the ridiculous luxury of the Kindle Oasis will balk in anyway at the build quality here. Sure, its cheaper plastic casing isn’t top of the line, but the Kindle’s simplicity is its secret weapon. There are no distractions; it has touchscreen input, no backlight and just one physical button (sleep/wake/off). When you’re reading a book, you can’t get much simpler than the page and a blank white border. It’s just like (whisper it) a book.
At first we were sceptical about the white model but it’s actually very inoffensive. If anything, it’s more comfortable to read as it is closer to the white of a page, whereas some black Kindles give the feeling of a boxed-in screen, which is best to avoid in order to get lost in the latest John Le Carré.
The new Kindle measures 160mm x 115mm x 9.1mm. This is actually smaller than the Kindle Paperwhite and only 1.4mm thicker than the Kindle Voyage. Like every Kindle available at the moment, the screen is 6in diagonally. It’s also the second lightest Kindle in the range at 161g – the only model lighter is the Oasis, and even that one is heavier then you’ve got the battery cover attached.
The new Kindle is seriously svelte, with a flat back compared to the previous generation’s angled casing. We could fit the new model into the inside pocket of a coat but it’s not phone sized so don’t try shoving it in your jeans. In short, you’ll struggle to find a better-designed e-reader at this price. It is quite plasticy though. Then again, it’s made of plastic.
Specs and features
As mentioned, the screen is 6in across diagonally, but where the Kindle’s low price point does show slightly is in the resolution. The pixel density is 167ppi, whereas all the other pricier Kindles have 300ppi. In reality though, this doesn’t matter. We powered through a novel with no legibility problems on the new Kindle.
It’s cool to see Amazon keep the touchscreen functionality from the last generation on the 2016 model. Taking away the buttons from its design gives the Kindle one simple task – display the book. You can tap anywhere on the screen (bar the extreme left and top) to turn the page. Tapping on the far left, or swiping back like you might on a tablet takes you back a page. It’s intuitive and works every time.
The touch input method is also necessary to use the Kindle Store and some of the Kindle’s features. Tap at the top of the screen at any time and you’re given a menu bar. From here you can go to the home screen, settings or the Kindle Store, as well as Goodreads, the feature where you can share and read reviews of books in your library with friends and the wider Kindle community.
You can also search in the book you have open. The touch controls make this far easier to do than on previous generations with buttons. It’s also really easy to bookmark and fold over pages, handy if you’re the only one at book club with a Kindle and you want to earmark certain passages.
The Kindle keeps the price down again by only being available with Wi-Fi connectivity, so if you want to be able to download books on the go over 3G, you’ll have to opt for the Paperwhite at least. Here, Wi-Fi allows you to download books, and also share passages to Facebook and Twitter, though this feature is rather clunky.
The best reason to keep Wi-Fi on is because it syncs where in the book you’re up to with your other devices. If you forget your Kindle on the commute, the Kindle app on your smartphone will simply sync to exactly where you are.
Keeping Wi-Fi on will affect the battery life, though. With it turned off, the 2016 Kindle will last for at least a month between charges. This is standard for a Kindle, but remains outstanding given how we are all used to charging our phones at least once a day. Bookworms will be in heaven – you could go on a three-week holiday and not even take the charger with you.
There are other good features like instant translation of words and the X-Ray feature that allows you, in some books, to view character descriptions and important passages to remind you of events. It’s also the first Kindle to ship with built-in Bluetooth for the visually impaired. Called VoiceView, unfortunately we couldn’t test it as we didn’t have the right accessories, but it’s good to see Amazon including it.
Weirdly, the biggest compliment we can pay the Kindle is that we didn’t really use any of these secondary features. Within minutes of taking it out the box we’d downloaded a book and were reading away without looking at any instructions. Its simplicity and cheap price (compared to the rest of the range) are the reasons it works so well.
If you are new to the eReader game or if your battered five-year old Kindle is showing its age this is the perfect choice. The 2016 Kindle does the basics just as well as the Kindle Oasis, which costs £200 more. Why not spend £200 on books instead? We highly recommend the entry-level Kindle if you don’t need a backlight and you want a clean, easy reading experience.
Amazon Kindle 2016 (8th generation): Specs
- 6in display with E Ink Pearl technology
- Optimised font technology
- 16-level grey scale
- 160 mm x 115 mm x 9.1 mm
- 161 grams
- 4GB storage
- Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
- Four-week battery life