The Kindle Oasis (2019) is a refresh of Amazon's top-of-the-line ebook reader, which was last updated in 2017. The Kindle Oasis is expensive but it has a number of features that the popular Paperwhite doesn't — auto-brightness, a new Warmth feature that cuts blue light from the display, auto-rotation, and dedicated page-turn buttons. You also get more LEDs in the front light for a better reading experience in dark rooms. Is the new Kindle Oasis worth the premium that it demands as a halo product, or are you better off buying the Paperwhite at nearly half the price? Let's find out.
The Kindle Oasis (2019) retains its predecessor's large 7-inch display but it now has 25 LEDs in its front light, as opposed to 12 in the Kindle Oasis (2017). We didn't have any issues with the front light of the older model and we don't have any now. The real improvement is in the auto-brightness adjustment. On the 2017 model, auto-brightness was aggressive to the point of being distracting. That's changed with the Kindle Oasis (2019).
This time around, Amazon has nailed the auto-brightness algorithm. It's far less sensitive and adjusts screen brightness only when necessary. This feature finally works as it should. The other notable display feature is called Warmth. This is quite similar to Night Sight, which we've seen on iPhones, iPads, and Macs, and the Night Modes on many other devices. It cuts out blue light and gives the screen a yellowish tiny. This is claimed to reduce eye strain and has been reported to help people sleep better.
You can set the level of Warmth easily — the slider is right below the brightness setting. You can even schedule Warmth so that it is automatically activated for certain hours of the day. We do most of our Kindle reading in brightly lit places and during our commutes, so we rarely used this feature. However, if you read books before going to sleep, you'll very likely appreciate this feature.
We have no major complaints about the display of the Kindle Oasis (2019). Our only minor quibble is that even though the screen isn't very reflective, it does reflect a little light and this could annoy people around you. Once during a train journey, the Oasis (2019) reflected a little bit of sunlight onto a co-passenger's face — much like the glare from a wristwatch — and they asked us to move it a little. To reiterate, this is a very minor complaint and is unlikely to affect most people.
The device has dimensions similar to those of its predecessor. There are thick borders on all sides of the screen, with one side being a lot thicker than the others. This is to accommodate the page-turn buttons and a ridge that allows you to grip the device with one hand. We still find the Oasis a bit too bulky, though.
The page-turn buttons work fairly well, but on a small number of occasions we had to press a button twice to make the page turn. We faced this issue very rarely and weren't able to reproduce it on demand. The Oasis is designed to be held with one hand when reading, and its auto-rotate feature is great if you want to use it in either hand and still use the ridge for grip. This feature was present in the previous Oasis too and it works just as well. Another feature carried over from the old Oasis is its IPx8 rating for water resistance. This is a good feature, but it's also available on the Kindle Paperwhite now.
There's a power button at the top and a Micro-USB port at the bottom. Some might wish that Amazon had moved to the newer USB Type-C port for charging and data transfers. This might irk you if your other devices all now have Type-C ports and you want to reduce cable clutter.
Reading for long hours on the Kindle Oasis (2019) was really comfortable and we felt no eye strain whatsoever. The reading experience has always been pretty good on Amazon's top-end Kindle line, and it remains that way. The selection of fonts is limited to nine options but we like the default Bookerly quite a bit and didn't feel any need to change it. We have no complaints about the Kindle Oasis (2019)'s battery life either — a full charge lasted us well over two weeks with around an hour of reading every day.
The Kindle Oasis (2019) supports audiobooks via Amazon's Audible service in the US, but this feature is not available on the device in India. This is quite puzzling, especially considering that Audible has now launched here. Another complaint we have with all Kindle devices is their lack of support for the EPUB ebook format. This is perhaps the most popular file format for ebooks outside the Amazon ecosystem, but porting these files to a Kindle still requires converting them to MOBI or AZW files using programs such as Calibre.
Amazon's Kindle ecosystem has a really low entry barrier now, which is good. Quite a few books are available as part of Prime Reading (a part of the Amazon Prime subscription) to get you started, and many more are available for less than Rs. 200 each, which compares favourably against printed books.
The Kindle Oasis (2019) is available in two variants — 8GB Wi-Fi only (Rs. 21,999), and 32GB Wi-Fi + Free 4G (Rs. 24,999). We had the 4G variant for review and yes, it does have free 4G so you can purchase and download books on the go on your Kindle. Considering that audiobook support is not available on either variant in India, we think it makes little sense to pay the premium for 4G connectivity alone, since the extra storage space is unlikely to make much of a difference. Books are barely 5MB each so 8GB is more than enough for everything you could want to store on a Kindle and then some.
The device is fantastic for reading, but it is really hard to justify these prices in a world where the Kindle Paperwhite has almost all of the Oasis' must-have features. If value for money is important, we're going to have to turn you towards the Kindle Paperwhite or the Kindle (10th Gen). However, if you want the most feature-loaded ebook reader available in India and the price is not a problem, then the Kindle Oasis (2019) is the one for you.
Overall rating (out of 5): 4