Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition – stepping up (review)


Polishing an already elegant design, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition struggles to justify its premium price tag.

While smartphones and tablets managed to kill off many devices, eBook readers are still going strong because they’re often the best tool for the job. If you’re only looking for a device for reading on the go, rather than a jack-of-all-trades gadget, then an eBook reader is easier to read than a tablet and less strain on the eyes. It also offers a battery life of weeks rather than hours, plus it’s much more lightweight and affordable.

After honing the design for 14 years, Amazon’s Kindle is generally considered the gold standard of eBook readers. That’s assuming you’re happy to buy your eBooks from Amazon. The standard $239 Kindle Paperwhite is the sweet spot in terms of price and features – and it’s on special at the moment for $169. So does the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition bring enough to the table to justify an extra $120? Or would you be better off spending a little bit more on the top shelf Kindle Oasis?

Review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition

Australian websitehere
Price$289 RRP
Warranty1 year
OtherYou can read other GadgetGuy Amazon news and reviews here 

First impressions

Like all Amazon eBook readers, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition is a delight to hold. It feels impossibly thin and light, making it comfortable to grasp in one hand for extended periods. 

The lack of physical home and page buttons makes the Paperwhite great for both righties and lefties, with the ability to tap or swipe either side of the screen to turn the page. The touchscreen interface isn’t always intuitive as using the old physical buttons, but you soon get the hang of it.

When it comes to reading, the crisp 300 dpi display makes the screen as sharp as the printed page. Minimal glare ensures it’s perfect for reading outside on a sunny day. Inside, the backlight lets you read in any lighting conditions, even in bed without a lamp. You can adjust the warmth of the backlight manually or else schedule it to gradually shift at certain times of day.

Don’t stress about reading by the pool or at the beach. This Kindle is IPX8 rated to protect against accidental immersion in up to two metres of fresh water for up to 60 minutes, or up to 0.25 metres of seawater for up to 3 minutes.

The icing on the cake is slick integration with Amazon’s eBook store, making it easy to buy books directly from the eBook reader and keep your progress in sync with the Kindle app on your other devices like smartphones and tablets. There’s also the Kindle Unlimited subscription, which grants you access to a wealth of titles for $13.99 per month.

Depending on where you want to buy your eBooks, some people might prefer the greater freedom granted by rival Kobo eBook readers which support the widely available EPUB eBook format.

Of course, all these selling points also apply to the standard Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. So, what’s so special about the Signature Edition?

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition specs

Screen size6.8-inch
Screen resolution300 dpi
Dimensions174 × 125 × 8.1 mm
Weight208 gm
Storage32 GB
ChargingUSB/ Qi wireless


The Signature Edition adds Qi wireless charging, which sounds exciting until you remember that Kindles offer a ridiculously long battery life. When you only need to recharge your eBook reader less than once a month, the convenience of wireless charging doesn’t seem all that important. The Kindle’s size also makes it awkward to rest it on some wireless chargers.

The next bonus feature is a generous 32 GB of storage, compared to only 8 GB on the standard Paperwhite. Considering how little space an eBook requires, realistically 8 GB should be more than enough storage for most people.

You’d only make the most of 32 GB if you’re also loading on Audible audiobooks, which take up about 150 MB each. There’s no 3.5 mm headphone jack, so you’ll need Bluetooth headphones. That said, there’s also the option to listen to Audible audiobooks on your smartphone, which might be more convenient.

It’s worth noting that, when you want to load more books onto the Signature Edition, you need access to Wi-Fi. It can’t tap into the free 4G-based WhisperNet service – that’s limited to top-of-the-line $439 4G LTE + Wi-Fi Kindle Oasis.

The Signature Edition’s final bonus feature is an auto-adjusting backlight, which it inherits from the Oasis. It’s the most subtle improvement over the standard Paperwhite but perhaps the most useful. When the backlight kicks in, it’s such a smooth transition that you don’t even notice it as you move from outside to inside and then into a darkened room.

GadgetGuy’s take

With the standard Paperwhite currently discounted, the Signature Edition’s price jump is too high, considering that most people wouldn’t make the most of the advanced features. If you would make the most of them, you should weight it up against paying extra the Oasis.

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition would be most attractive for people who really want 32 GB of storage for audiobooks but don’t want to use their smartphone, or to cough up $339 for a 32 GB Wi-Fi only Kindle Oasis.

Would I buy it?

No, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is a better option for most people.

Value for money
Ease of use
Wireless charging
32 GB storage
Auto-adjusting backlight
No 4G WhisperNet option