Kindle Oasis vs. Kindle Voyage – Worth the Premium?

Kindle Oasis Review
If these were Schuyler sisters, the blue one would be Peggy. Left to right- Kindle, Kindle Oasis, and Kindle Voyage (Photo by Anthony Karcz)

Amazon announced their flagship e-reader, the Kindle Oasis, back in April. Beyond the best-in-industry 300 ppi screen that it shares with the Kindle Voyage and Paperwhite, the Oasis features a unique form factor, 10 LEDs, and an included leather charging cover that can power the device for months.

The problem when it comes to comparing different Kindle versions is that the base functionality of the devices is exactly same (at least among the e-ink readers): you can read and purchase books on a crisp screen that lasts for weeks. The question then becomes, are the extra features built up around that screen worth the extra cash? After all, you can pick up a Kindle Paperwhite, that has the same screen, but without the paucity of LEDs (4 to the Oasis’s 10) or page-turning buttons for over $100 less (or even less than that if you are quick and cash in on the Prime Day deals).

It’s hard to deny that the Kindle Oasis is a premium product. Right out of the box, I was impressed with the feel of the device. I was surprised by how solid it felt even though it was shorter than my Kindle Voyage (the Oasis sports a square form factor). Powering it up, it’s snappy and responsive. And the brightness provided by the 10 LEDs (the Voyage only has 6) is readily apparent. This is one e-reader where you won’t be straining to read the text.

Kindle Oasis Review
Kindle Oasis on the left, Voyage on the right (Photo by Anthony Karcz)

I instantly fell in love with the included cover. The leather is nice and it clicks in to place with a satisfying snap. While it’s there, it’s quietly charging your Kindle. If you’re not a fan of covers for your Kindles, just pop it off when you want to read and your Oasis will be topped off. The only caveat is that you can’t charge the cover without plugging in the Oasis, so my dream of leaving the cover on the charger while I read uninterrupted will have to wait. Still, the book-style cover is worlds better than the add-on Voyage cover with it’s interesting, but ultimately not-that-useful, origami flap.

Kindle Oasis Review
Kindle Oasis on the left, Voyage on the right (Photo by Anthony Karcz)

Reading is as satisfying on the Oasis as it is on the Voyage. The 300 ppi screen is the closest thing to paper you can get in an electronic device. It’s easy on the eyes and reading in the dark doesn’t leave you with a headache (the LEDs illuminate the screen rather than shining in your face). I did find that I missed the Voyage’s automatically adjusting brightness in dark rooms though – the Oasis is brighter, but you have to manually tweak the brightness.

The other thing I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about were the page turn buttons. The Voyage has capacitative buttons that buzz under your thumb as you turn the page. They’re not raised, so it provides a very clean-looking device that effectively provides the same haptic feedback as a button. The Oasis’s actual buttons though? They win hands down. They’re easy to find in the dark, you’re not likely to slip your thumb off them accidentally, and it’s very clear if you’re pressing forward or backwards. And if you switch between hands while reading, flipping the device 180 degrees will reassign the buttons so that they’re still the same. It’s a very thoughtful touch.

If you like to read with one hand, you should definitely consider the Oasis. The square form factor means that it fits readily in one hand. The device has more heft on the side with the page turn buttons as well, so it’s clear that it’s intended to be used this way.

It’s hard to choose between the two high-end Kindles, they provide very similar experiences. But, once you purchase an add-on cover for the Voyage, it’s only $30 more to get the Oasis. For that small a difference, I prefer the Oasis to the Voyage.

However, today only, for Prime Day, Amazon has thrown a very rare discount on the Voyage, taking it all the way down to $149. For a difference of $55 (if you pick up a leather origami cover), it’s hard to pass up. If you miss the deal, and you’re in the market for a high-end Kindle, get the Oasis, it’s clearly the best Kindle that Amazon has to offer and it will make you very happy for a very long time.

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