Kindle Oasis (2019) review

Amazon often takes a few years to update its Kindle ebook readers. There was a three-year gap between the Kindle Paperwhite 2015 and the Paperwhite 2018, for example, and now that two years have passed since the last Kindle Oasis, Amazon has deemed it time for a new one.

Yes, it’s shaping up to become our best ebook reader yet again, especially with the new color-adjustable front light — a feature Kindle fans have been asking about for years. But it’s a shame there isn’t much else in the way of new features. Don’t get me wrong, the Kindle Oasis is an excellent ebook reader and there’s not much I’d change about it, but is it too much to ask for a USB Type-C charging port?

At $270, I do think Amazon needs to modernize the port on the Oasis, as well as perhaps introduce a visual refresh with the interface. But okay, okay — I’m just nitpicking. For avid readers looking for a new Kindle, this is it.

A sharp E Ink screen, and a winning design

The base Kindle model is so compact; I can fit the 6-inch ebook reader in most of my pant pockets. It’s easy to transport, and lightweight to carry and read on the go. The flagship Kindle Oasis 2019 retains some of these qualities. It’s still relatively lightweight (lighter than the 2017 Oasis), and the design makes it comfortable to hold one-handed. But it’s too wide to fit into any of my pockets, so I’ve had to bring a backpack along to store it whenever it’s not in use, if I didn’t have a bag on me already.

The 7-inch screen is a treat, not only because it’s a large canvas to stare at, but also due to the high resolution (1680 x 1264). At 300 pixels-per-inch, the Kindle Oasis’ screen is delightfully crisp. Text is clear, sharp, and easy to read, and you can customize fonts, font size and more for a personalized reading experience.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

But it’s not just the screen that turns the Kindle Oasis into such a winning formula. It’s the aluminum chassis, which immediately makes the ebook reader feel substantial and high quality, as well as the smart design: There’s a thick bezel on one side with page-turning buttons. It doesn’t matter if you’re right- or left-handed, because the text on the screen will rotate to whichever way you hold the Oasis. The bezel allows you to comfortably hold the ebook reader without tapping the screen, all while still making the device look modern. It’s fantastic.

The buttons are the cherry on top. This is still the only Kindle that offers page-turning buttons, and not having to swipe or tap the screen to turn a page makes them well worth it. They’re satisfyingly clicky, too.

I had no trouble reading “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” in the park at noon.

The 25 LEDs that help light up the E Ink Carta screen keeps it shining bright, even in direct sunlight. I had no trouble reading The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, in the park at noon. This is still the only Kindle that has an ambient light sensor, so you don’t need to manually tweak brightness when going from bright to dark scenarios — the Oasis does it for you, though it can be a little slow to adjust.

Speaking of the E Ink screen, while the technical specs make it sound like it’s the exact same screen as the predecessor, Amazon said the Oasis has its “best Paperwhite display” yet,  and the technology is faster. That means jumping into a book from the home screen is faster, and so is looking up words, launching Settings, and more. The Oasis does feel more responsive and snappy, but I was only able to compare it to the basic 2019 Kindle.

Color-adjustable front light

The new feature on the 2019 Kindle Oasis is a color-adjustable front light. Of the 25 LEDs, 12 are white and 13 are amber, and this is what allows the screen to shift to an amber tone. Why would you want this? It makes reading at night more comfortable, and easier on the eyes.

Minimizing blue light consumption from screens is also good for your health, as too much of it before bedtime can adversely impact sleep. I much preferred reading on the warmer tone screen at night, and it’s nice that you can automatically set it to turn on at sunset and off at sunrise (or set your own custom schedule).

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    Warm tones on.

Many smartphones have blue light filters built into the operating system, and the Oasis’ main competitor, the Kobo Forma, already has this, dubbed ComfortLight Pro. Amazon’s late to the game, but I’m thankful it’s finally here. If you don’t like blue light filters, you can simply ignore the feature, and it may make sense to save money and purchase the 2017 Kindle Oasis.

Performance and interface

I mentioned the Kindle Oasis feels more responsive overall, and it’s likely thanks to a mixture of the improved E Ink technology and the processor inside. The Oasis is quick to react to my interactions — quick enough for an ebook reader, at least — and I didn’t notice any ghosting while reading.

The buttons are the cherry on top.

The Oasis comes with 8GB of internal storage, but there’s a 32GB model you can grab as well. The former will store thousands of books, but if you’re a big audiobook fan, you can only store about 35 Audible audiobooks. That’s not too much — I think in 2019, the 32GB model should be the standard, especially as audiobooks can take up a lot of storage space.

The Kindle interface is easy to navigate, but it hasn’t changed much over the years. A visual refresh would be nice, as there’s room to make it look a lot cleaner and more elegant.

Extra features, benefits

The Kindle Oasis comes with the same great features available on all Kindles, including the ability to listen to Audible audiobooks if you have an account — just pair Bluetooth earbuds to listen in. There’s also X-Ray, which scans the text on the page to give you contextually relevant information about fictional or nonfictional characters, settings, and more.

Unsure of a word? You can also just tap and hold it to pull up the dictionary, and you can select sentences or paragraphs to highlight them or share them to social media.

There’s an experimental browser if you really want to look something up or read an article, but the keyboard can be a little slow to type with, and the webpages also show up broken. I tapped on one of the recommended sites — The New York Times — and the site displayed as a garbled mess. It’s not worth the fuss, so just pull out your smartphone.

If you find yourself reading more than one book a month, it’s worth considering Kindle Unlimited. If you buy the new Kindle Oasis, Amazon is offering the service free for six months, and you get unlimited access to a select catalog of books. You can “borrow” up to 10 per month. After the six month grace period, it’s $10 a month — considering most books cost around $8, it makes financial sense.

If you’re a Prime subscriber, you can access Prime Reading, which lets you similarly borrow books from a Prime Reading catalog, which is a different selection of books. There’s also Amazon First Reads, which gives you early access to a specific new book from Amazon’s Editor’s Picks for free every month — if you’re a Prime Member. If you’re not, it will cost $2.

I much preferred reading on the warmer tone screen at night.

And if there are multiple Kindles in the household, you can share certain books you buy in the Kindle Store to a family library, so there’s a good chance you don’t need to give up your Kindle to let someone read a book. There are plenty more features that help deliver a rich reading experience on Amazon’s Kindles, including a partnership with Goodreads, as well as a “Read” banner on books you’ve completed, which is a nice touch.

We’re still on Micro USB?

Amazon claims the Kindle Oasis will last six weeks on a single charge, based on a half-hour of reading per day with wireless and Bluetooth turned off, and the light setting at 13. I had Wi-Fi on and the screen was set to auto-brightness, and the Oasis dropped from 64% to 41% over the course of four days. That’s with reading for a little more than 30 minutes per day. You won’t have to worry about battery life.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

My biggest annoyance with the Kindle Oasis is that it comes with a Micro USB port. Yes, you don’t need to charge it often, but if you already charge your laptop or phone with a USB Type-C charging cable, wouldn’t it be great if you could top up your Kindle without having to pull out a second cable? You can get a $200 Motorola phone with a USB-C port, and it’s well past due on Amazon’s Kindles.

Not only would it add convenience as you would just need to have one cable to charge most of your devices, but it would also allow you to juice up the ebook reader faster. At the moment, Amazon says it takes three hours for the Oasis to go from zero to full, which is just unnecessarily slow in 2019.

Price, availability, and warranty information

The Kindle Oasis costs $270 for the 8GB model with Wi-Fi, and $300 for the 32GB model on Wi-Fi. You can spend $350 to get the 32GB version with “free cellular connectivity” as well — it simply allows you to download select books over cellular data, without the need to connect to Wi-Fi, but there are limitations on what you can do on cellular.

The price drops to $250 for the 8GB Wi-Fi model if you opt for “Special Offers,” which places offers and ads on the lock screen of your Kindle. It’s worth considering if you want to save a few bucks.

Amazon offers a standard limited warranty that covers manufacturer defects for one year from the date of purchase. You can buy additional warranty packages if you feel the need for it.

Our Take

Yet another refinement on a winning formula, Amazon’s latest Kindle Oasis is just shy of being the perfect ebook reader.

Is there a better alternative?

This is the best of the best, that is if you’re eyeing a Kindle and specifically prefer Amazon’s bookstore. Otherwise, it’s worth taking a look at the Kobo Forma from Rakuten. It has broader support for more ebook formats, and matches the Oasis on several fronts. It even has a larger screen, though I prefer the more compact nature of the Oasis.

If you’re coming from the 2017 Kindle Oasis or if you bought the 2018 Kindle Paperwhite,  there isn’t much of a reason to upgrade to the latest Kindle Oasis. For anything older, it’s a good upgrade pick if you’re the type of person who rapidly consumes ebooks in your spare time. Casual readers can save money and opt for the $90 Kindle, which is bare-bones, but all you really need.

Check out our best ebook readers guide for more.

How long will it last?

The Amazon Kindle Oasis should last you four to five years, if not more. Kindles have a long shelf life, so you don’t need to upgrade them as fast as you may upgrade your smartphone. The Oasis also has an IPX8-rated level of water resistance, which means it’s safe to use in the tub or pool.

Should you buy it?

Yes. If you simply devour multiple books a month and want the best of the best ebook readers, the 2019 Kindle Oasis is your best bet.