Amazon Kindle 11th Generation review: Much needed upgrade for budget-conscious buyers

Amazon finally brings its entry-level e-reader out of sabbatical.

Amazon Kindle 11th Gen review
Amazon Kindle 11th Gen price in India is set at Rs 9,999.

Even though Amazon makes a lot of Kindles today, the Paperwhite’s clearly its most sought-after product. And for good reason. The line-up hits the sweet spot bringing high-end features, like for instance adjustable lighting, waterproofing and wireless charging, usually an Oasis staple to a slightly more accessible price point. E-readers are a niche use case and for those really invested, the Paperwhite has always offered terrific value at a bargain price.  

But the Paperwhite’s growing popularity and Amazon’s unflinching focus on making it better meant, the entry-level Kindle was – or had to be, we’re not sure — put on the back burner. The latest 11th generation model launched in late 2022 has come after a 2-year-long hiatus. With a handful of upgrades and a higher asking price than usual, question is, is it worth the wait? Well, mostly yes.

Kindle 11th Generation— Out of sabbatical

There are four key changes that make this Kindle the “all-new” Kindle. Those are subtle, but meaningful, especially for the user base that Amazon is targeting.

Also Read | OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G: Best smartphone under Rs 20,000?

The chassis looks familiar. With its all-plastic build and raised chunky bezels, it’s instantly recognisable as a Kindle. And a budget one at that. But it’s more compact through and through (8mm versus 8.7mm, 158g vs 174g) making it much more pocketable than the 10th generation model from 2019. You still don’t get any ingress protection whatsoever, which is a bummer in this day and age.

Amazon Kindle 11th Gen review
The Kindle is very pocketable.

Still, the dimensions here alone make up for most of your money’s worth. The Kindle is so tiny, you can carry it anywhere you want, even in your back pocket. But what’s impressive is that despite the overall trim, the screen size remains 6-inch, same as the last model. It’s easy to make big things, the challenge is to make them small(er) and for that Amazon deserves all the credit.   

Also Read | Amazon Kindle 11th Generation quick review: Out of sabbatical

Flip over to the bottom and you’ll also find a USB Type-C port in this generation replacing the last-gen’s Micro USB port. There’s no fast charging (or wireless charging either) so to say, but it helps to make the base Kindle feel more modern and up-to-date.

Amazon Kindle 11th Gen review
The screen is 300ppi.

The same is true about the screen. These Kindles had the worst screens in the whole line-up, but the 11th generation model brings them at par with the Paperwhite, at least in sharpness. A big step-up from the 2019 base Kindle, the new version has a 300ppi screen (versus 167ppi) and four built-in LEDs to illuminate it.

And what a difference that makes. Not only is reading on it a more fulfilling experience, you can now –also—do it regardless of ambient lighting. Adjustable warm lighting is not available, but a dedicated dark mode is and that solves the issue of reading in the dark. You couldn’t do that with the older model.

Also Read | Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: King of slab phones

The last big update is the storage. You get 16GB of storage in the 11th generation Kindle (versus 8GB in the last version) which may seem impossibly large for books on first look but it adds an element of future-proofing to the package and should come in handy if you’re looking to dip your toes into audiobooks, or simply reading more PDFs stored on your computer.

Amazon Kindle 11th Gen review
You finally get USB C charging.

Speaking of which, there’s no denying that software or user interface in Kindles has come a long way from the early days. It’s slicker, relatively speaking in e-reader terms, but when Amazon started making these devices, the goal was to make them more paper-like eventually and even though it has a Paperwhite in the line-up, the core experience still remains far from using a sheet of paper, be it in flexibility or versatility.

The platform has opened a bit, agreed, like it’s easier to sync books without having to cross-check format and what have you, but all Kindles – including the 11th gen— are distinctly Amazon to this day, both inside and out. While there’s nothing wrong with that, to be able to use these gadgets outside of the guardrails or the Amazon ecosystem if you will, would go a long way in making them more commonplace. It goes without saying, it should help in sales, too.

Amazon Kindle 11th Gen review
Battery life is great.

But we digress. The software experience on the Kindle 11th gen is mostly same as a Paperwhite or even an Oasis, though we do wish Amazon would put more physical buttons on all it Kindles (currently only the Oasis has them). The home page has two sections including one dedicated for the whole library of books you own, on both device and the cloud.

Also Read | Apple’s first India offline retail store, Apple BKC: Sneak peek

A feature called Whispersync keeps tabs on what you’re reading across all your devices (including your mobile phone, if you use the Kindle app there). When inside a book, a press on the right of the screen flips the page forward while a press on the left opens the previous page. You can go back to your home screen or tweak settings like brightness from the top of the screen. There is a makeshift (experimental) browser if you want to browse the web, though elements like taking notes and finding word meanings are available in-house.

Should you buy it?

Look, you should still go for the Paperwhite if you can afford it. It’s available starting at Rs 13,999 at the time of writing. The base Kindle’s big USP feature has always been its relatively affordable pricing. But the 2019 model had begun showing signs of ageing long ago, and quite frankly, was making little sense each day, so much so that it was hard to recommend even at a sticker price of Rs 7,999.

Amazon has finally brought its entry-level e-reader out of sabbatical with the 11th gen model. The price has gone up –it costs Rs 9,999— but it’s easier to get around it considering all the quality-of-life improvements that Amazon has put inside it, making the base Kindle a no-brainer for budget-conscious buyers, once again.

Pocketable design No IP rating
Upgraded display with dark mode Wide bezels, no physical buttons
Great battery life Tied to Amazon services
USB Type-C

Get live Share Market updates and latest India News and business news on Financial Express. Download Financial Express App for latest business news.

First published on: 09-04-2023 at 19:55 IST