Kindle 9: Basic Rebooted

All-New Kindle 9
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I’ve been reading on this for a few days now. It’s a little bit smaller than my regular Paperwhite, but the size doesn’t bother me none. I like the smaller size. I purchased it without special offers as I don’t need to see all of that. I’m an avid reader and read A LOT. I haven’t noticed a difference in battery life between this and my Paperwhite. I have to charge that one daily too. As I said, I read A LOT. The front lighting is awesome. I love that. 

We’re now into the tenth generation of the iconic Kindle, first launched way back in 2007 and selling out in just five and a half hours. So here goes with the All-New Kindle 9 review.

While there might not be the same buying frenzy now when a new model drops, this new iteration of Kindle Basic is well worth your further investigation.

First, a word to clear up any confusion about those generations…

Kindle Basic was last retooled as an eighth generation device in mid-2016.

The ninth generation Kindle took the form of a new and improved second-iteration Oasis in 2017. The first IPX8-rated Kindle, Oasis is water-resistant to 2 meters for up to an hour and also boasts Audible support.

Fast forward to the tenth generation and, along with a facelifted version of Paperwhite in 2018, we’ve now got Kindle 9. Also known as Kindle Basic, we’ll look today at how this uprated entry-level e-reader is starting to look rather less basic in 2019.

We’ll break down Kindle 9 by category so you can see whether this budget model for less than a Benjamin meets your needs or whether you’d be better upgrading to Paperwhite, Oasis, or Voyage. Remember: there’s no such thing as the right e-reader simply the right e-reader for you.

First, though, take a glimpse at a capsule summary of the leading advantages and drawbacks of Kindle 9…

What We Like

  • First basic Kindle to feature a front light with 4 LEDs so bring on reading in the dark
  • Battery life giving the same 4 weeks of reading time you’d expect from Kindle before you need to hit the charger
  • 6-inch glare-free screen has a higher contrast than earlier Kindle Basics while the display retains the same form factor albeit with more rounded edges while weighing an extra half-ounce
  • Minor redesign sees all-new Kindle looking slightly slimmer with 1/8-inch shaved off height and depth
  • E Ink panel similar to earlier versions of Paperwhite and you’ll get sharp text rendered so it looks like real paper
  • Flick between reading and listening to Audible content using Bluetooth-enabled headphones or speakers with free trial available
  • Choose versions with or without Kindle Unlimited and decide whether you want Special Offers or not
  • A pure and lean reading experience with none of the distractions brought about by tablets so you can lose yourself in your latest novel

What We Don’t Like

  • Not waterproof unlike the more upscale Kindle models
  • Unfortunately still uses micro-USB, a fragile and sub-par connection
  • Storage for audiobooks is rather underwhelming
  • The 167ppi resolution has not seen an upgrade despite appearing marginally crisper, and it’s less than half the resolution of Paperwhite
  • No cellular connectivity so you’ll need a WiFi connection although you won’t need a computer to download content since Kindle 9 is fully wireless

Design: Minimalist and Striking

The design tweaks on Kindle 9 review are subtle.

Edges have been very slightly smoothed out and the form factor has been reduced even if you’d find that hard to detect without close scrutiny. Both height and depth have been nominally reduced. We’re talking just 1/8-inch here. Overall dimensions are 6.3 x 4.5 x 0.34 inches so it’s small enough to slip in your jacket pocket.

Although it’s still featherlight at just over 6 ounces, it’s actually gained a little weight. Nevertheless, extended one-handed reading sessions won’t leave you feeling burdened or fatigued.

There’s no Amazon text on the chassis now. It’s been replaced by the trademark logo instead for a sleeker and less blatant aesthetic.

The plastic body could certainly do with a refresh and it lends to a cheap feel.

You’ll get the same color options of black or white.

The changes that count come in terms of the display and specifically that front light…

Display Weak But Reading Light Ups The Ante

Screen density has not been improved markedly on Kindle 9.

The same pretty limp 167ppi resolution might benefit from slightly sharper contrast but it’s still less than ideal.

If you’re looking at graphics and images, you’ll find them far less detailed than if they were rendered on Paperwhite.

When it comes to text, that lacking resolution isn’t such a problem. The issue, really, is that Amazon are still plying the same old panel when there are plenty of components available offering double the resolution.

Bezels are oversized and the screen is still recessed rather than flush. Again, this is an area that would have merited attention during redesign. On the plus side, the screen is less prone to getting scratched.

There’s a button on the bottom edge to fire up Kindle but no other physical buttons around the outer edge making it a dream to grasp unencumbered. You’ll obviously get no accidental key-hitting either.

For the first time ever, basic Kindle gets a backlight with 4 LEDs rather than the quintet you get on Paperwhite.

This light means you can finally read Kindle Basic in the dark, a small but very valuable tweak. The added advantage is the fact the front-lit display also gives you an improved experience when you’re reading in direct sunlight.

You’ll need to manually control this lighting and you won’t benefit from auto-brightness mode but you should always peg your expectations with any budget model.

So, the resolution still sucks but the reading light is a welcome addition.

How about general performance?

Interface and Overall Performance

The Freescale processor and 512MB of RAM remain the same on Kindle 9 with a single storage option of 4GB.

Navigation is still less brisk than on the more expensive Kindle models but you won’t get the lag and delay that marred the original Kindles.

Format support is impressive:

  • DOC
  • DOCX
  • GIF
  • HTML
  • JPEG
  • Kindle
  • Kindle Format 8
  • MOBI
  • PDF
  • PNG
  • PMP
  • PRC
  • TXT

You’ll also enjoy Audible support to complete an impressive roster.

ePub files are not accessible.

You can connect Kindle 9 to a PC for drag-and-drop ease.

If you’re ad-averse, there’s a version without special offers that will sideline these adverts for a modest surcharge.

Reading Experience Is Basic But Pure

The simple touchscreen allows you to tap on the left to recap and the right to power through your book.

The usual highlighting by tapping remains the same and you’ll also get the same limitations with fonts but that’s hardly a deal-breaker.

We didn’t really expect any radical changes and Kindle 9 is still a pure and tactile reading experience that might not be the same as reading a real book but certainly comes close.

Kindle Basic offers a no-frills reading experience but that, in our opinion, is part of the attraction.

Same Remarkable Battery Life

For once, the claims made about battery life hold good.

If you’ve bought a new iPhone or MacBook, you’ve probably been bitterly disappointed as battery life fails roundly to live up to promises from day 1 and seems to go progressively and rapidly downhill.

Amazon suggest that 30 minutes daily reading will yield up to 4 weeks of life on a single charge. This is a realistic and accurate assessment.

When it’s time for a boost, you’ll be able to impart a full charge in 4 hours which is relatively swift.

Battery life has always been a key selling point for e-readers and Kindle 9 continues that tradition in fine style.

Kindle Store

Kindle Store is without doubt the best single e-book spot you can find.

You’ll have access to almost 3 million titles you can either buy and download immediately or add to your Kindle account for downloading at your convenience.

If you’re a Prime member, you can access Prime Reading allowing you to read books and magazines free of charge on rotation much like a conventional bricks-and-mortar library.

Pricing of Kindle books is extremely competitive.

If you don’t mind the idea of a paid subscription, Kindle Unlimited gives you access to a wide array of titles for one all-inclusive monthly fee. If you’re not sure how much you’d use this, why not opt for the version offering a 3-month free trial? As with any subscription service, cancellation can be a tedious affair. It’s not rocket science, though and with any luck you’ll want to keep going with Kindle Unlimited anyway.


While you’ll still only get a single choice of storage pegged at 4GB, this translates to several thousand books since e-book files are minute.

Cloud storage offers you an added string to your bow if you find yourself pining for more space.

What Else Rates a Mention?

  • Audible: If you love reading but also listening to audio books, why choose? With Kindle 9, you can read or listen by using Bluetooth-enabled earphones or a speaker if you prefer. Bear in mind, Immersion Reading is not supported so you won’t be able to read and listen simultaneously. Try before you buy with a free trial and 2 free audio books to get you started
  • Kindle Unlimited: With over 1 million books up for grabs for a single monthly fee, try Kindle Unlimited for 3 months and decide for yourself if you’d get enough mileage from this service before committing
  • Connectivity: It bears repeating that you won’t get the option of cellular coverage connectivity with Kindle 9 so make sure you’re OK with WiFi only to avoid disappointment
  • VoiceView: This screen reader is available over Bluetooth audio. You’ll get spoken feedback when navigating your device and you’ll also be able to make adjustments to text font and sizing. You can read books with text-to-speech.
  • Warranty: The regular warranty is 1-year. For US-based customers, there are optional extensions for 2 or 3 years

What’s The Downside of Kindle Basic?

How you view the display and resolution depends to a large extent on what you’re used to and how high your expectations are…

If you’re just starting down the e-reader route, you’ll likely find resolution adequate if underwhelming. 167ppi is nothing to write home about and it’s substantially less crisp than the pricier Kindle stablemates offer, but contrast has been at least marginally improved.

Overall, though, we have to place resolution in the negative column and it’s disappointing Amazon didn’t address this issue with more purpose. This is doubly the case with Paperwhite costing only fractionally more yet offering almost double the screen resolution.

Not water resistant, this represents a downside only if you spend a lot of time reading in the bath or you like lounging poolside on your vacation.

Micro-USB is weak although this time you’ll at least get a charging cable included free of charge, an insulting omission in the earlier iteration.

With few significant downsides, it’s really only that resolution that will likely swing the balance in your buying decision.

Overall Verdict

Kindle 9 best review is a rock-solid update and gives you quality at a highly affordable price-point.

If you’re not obsessed with a premium build and you can easily do without a waterproof device, Kindle Basic is a worthwhile purchase. If you are looking for both of those factors, though, you’d be well advised to invest in Paperwhite instead.

While you might ask yourself whether you’d be better off with a tablet instead, ask yourself this…

How often do you spend your “reading” time on a tablet actually reading and how often are you distracted instead by social media or aimlessly browsing online?

If you’re looking for a purist device, a dedicated e-reader still makes sense in 2019 even as we become ever more connected. Indeed, this always-on nature of society means disconnecting and enjoying some time offline is more valuable than ever so don’t write off the singular nature of Kindle. We view it as a legitimate advantage not a drawback.

While this update has been some time in the making and skips anything particularly radical, Kindle Basic keeps on doing what it does best with the added bonus of that front light so you can read into the wee hours and finish that latest thriller without needing to reach for a reading lamp.

Kindle 9 is not for everyone but if you’re looking for quality and ease of use on a budget, go Basic and you won’t regret it.

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