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Kindle Oasis (2019 model) review

The Kindle Oasis may be the premium e-Reader experience but high cost and myriad issues stop it from being truly great.

Kindle Oasis (2019) review
(Image: © Amazon)

Our Verdict

If all you want to do is read e-Books and listen to audiobooks, the Kindle Oasis is the premium experience. But it's tough to recommend over a standard tablet, or even the cheaper Kindle models.

For

  • High resolution screen
  • Exceptional battery life
  • Innovative design

Against

  • Ridiculously expensive
  • $250 model still has lockscreen ads
  • Audiobooks require wireless earphones

The Amazon Kindle Oasis is designed to be the finest incarnation of the Amazon Kindle line. Since the arrival of the Amazon Kindle in 2007, Amazon’s e-reader offerings have been the quintessential product for fans of digital books. While the best tablets, like the iPad Pro, might trounce the Kindle family of devices in terms of versatility, the crisp E Ink screen and extreme battery life that e-reader’s offer are is a clear step above traditional tablets for recreating the feeling of reading your favorite page turner.

Being tied into the Amazon ecosystem, there’s an endless sea of books to read through. If you’re an Amazon user with a Kindle Unlimited account, you’ll also have access to a gigantic library of books for a small monthly charge. Audible subscribers can also listen to audiobooks exclusively on the Oasis.

But just because Amazon's tried-and-tested Kindle ecosystem leads to an easily accessible reading environment doesn’t mean that the highly priced Kindle Oasis is automatically a great device. Does the e-Reader match its great library as a solid host or is it an unwelcome guest at Amazon's book club?

Kindle Oasis review: Design

  • Premium feel
  • Bump for grip is love it or hate it

As a high-end device, users have noted that the Kindle Oasis feels substantially more premium than cheaper Kindle offerings. It’s a sizable device with its aluminium frame reaching 6.3-inches x 5.6-inches and coming in at a weight of just 0.41 lbs, it’s a device that can be easily carried around without even noticing it.

Unlike most tablet devices, the Amazon Kindle Oasis doesn’t follow the usual slab design you’ve come to expect. Instead, this iteration of Amazon’s reading devices has a large 0.33-inch thick bump on one side of the rear for a supposedly better grip while reading. Thoughts on this bump are mixed with some saying it makes the device harder to hold than a flat slate design whereas others have praised the unique design.

Kindle Oasis

(Image credit: Amazon)

Due to this design, the Kindle Oasis’ screen has a rather large bezel on the front that can be used to rest your thumb on. This bezel does bring one benefit: in the empty space between screen and frame sits two physical buttons which can be used to flip pages without using the device's touchscreen capabilities.

Thankfully, despite the bump and physical buttons, Amazon has designed the Kindle Oasis as an ambidextrous device. Whether you’re left-handed or right-handed, the Oasis’ screen-flip feature will automatically orientate what you’re reading and the function of its page buttons. For those who like to read in landscape, fiddling around in the settings will allow you to rest the device on its side.

Kindle Oasis

(Image credit: Amazon)

A baffling design inconsistency with this new generation of Oasis devices is the lack of any audio hardware despite offering the ability to listen to Audible audiobooks. You won’t find any speakers or headphone jacks on the Kindle Oasis; Amazon has instead opted for a simplified design in lieu of a sleek finish. If you want to take advantage of this cool new feature you’ll need a pair of wireless earphones.

However, the design does benefit from a substantial IPX8 water protection solution that can keep your device submerged in two meters of water for up to 60 minutes. Unlike cheaper e-readers, the Kindle Oasis is perfect for reading at the beach, in a swimming pool, or in the bath. It could even survive the dreaded toilet if need be.

Kindle Oasis review: Performance

  • E Ink display is gorgeous
  • No headphone jack

The 2019 refresh of the Kindle Oasis is reported to have better performance than its predecessors although it’s more of an incremental upgrade over the previous model. While the e-reader’s E Ink display will refresh marginally faster than other similar devices, it’s not anything to write home about.

Nevertheless, Amazon’s latest iteration of this premium offering remains as fast as you’d expect it to be. Every digital flick of page a large or scroll of through Amazon’s Kindle store will result in a complete refresh that some may find unsightly or annoying. It’s an inevitability of the low-power E Ink technology but in the age of smartphones its look does remind of an age long past.

Kindle Oasis

(Image credit: Amazon)

Numerous upgrades to the device’s high-resolution E Ink display have been introduced this year to create a more versatile reading experience than its competitors. Opting for a large 7-inch display compared to the 6-inch screens on the Kindle Paperwhite series at a dense 300 pixels-per-inch resolution means that words are presented in an incredibly crisp fashion no matter what size or font you opt to use. 

Customers have noted that comic books also look gorgeous on the Kindle Oasis’ screen although fans of color may be disappointed at their monochrome presentation. It’s a limitation of E Ink technology that some may never get over.  

Heralded as its biggest new feature, users can now change both the brightness and warmth of the screen to make it more tolerable to read in different lighting situations. Powered by 25 LEDs underneath the screen, the Kindle Oasis ranges from a bright pure-white to a dull orange for night-time reading that doesn’t assault the eyes. Whether it’s day or night you can now read for longer periods without eye strain.

Kindle Oasis review: Battery Life

  • Decent battery life
  • Slow charging thanks to micro-USB

Since the Kindle Oasis is designed to be nothing more than a device for reading, we expected Amazon's high-end e-reading device to bring in a commendable battery life. Thankfully, that seems to be the case: users of the newest Kindle Oasis have noted that the device’s battery life lasts for around six weeks if you’re only using the device for light reading.

Kindle Oasis

(Image credit: Amazon)

Even users who are heavy readers – hence the purchase of a dedicated e-reader – have stated that the battery life is enough to read several 300+ page books in a single charge. However, those that use the Oasis to listen to Audible audiobooks with the system’s Bluetooth support will notice much lower battery life than normal.

While the system sprucely charges from empty-to-full battery in around three hours, charging could have been faster if Amazon had opted for a USB-C connection instead of the outdated micro-USB. For a premium device in 2020 this is unacceptable.

Kindle Oasis review: Price/Value for Money

At $249.99 for the entry 8GB model that still suffers from lockscreen advertisements, which is frankly disgusting, the Kindle Oasis is a steeply priced device. If you want the top-end 32GB version with built in cellular connectivity you’ll have to fork out a hefty $299.99.

Should you buy the Kindle Oasis?

While Amazon has clearly designed a solid e-reader, a top-end Oasis isn’t too far from the price of a solid Apple iPad. With such incremental improvements over the last model, it’s not easy for us to wholeheartedly recommend. However, if you really want the best-of-the-best in e-reading technology, Amazon’s product is there.