Kindle Paperwhite (2021) adds bigger screen, USB-C and Signature Edition

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Amazon has updated the Kindle Paperwhite, with the new 2021 version of the ereader getting a bigger display, USB-C charging, and a much-improved screen lighting system. In addition to the new model, Amazon is also adding a Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition to the range, with more storage and wireless charging among other improvements.

It's been a while Amazon last updated the Kindle Paperwhite, all the way back in 2018 in fact. Back then, the 4th generation of the ereader slotted neatly into a middle spot in the line-up: more feature-rich than the entry-level Kindle, but not as expensive as the flagship Kindle Oasis.

2021, though, nudges some of the features upscale. The new Kindle Paperwhite now has a 6.8-inch display, rather than the 6-inch panel of before. The bezels have been slimmed to 10.2mm, with a flush-front design.

As before, it's 300 ppi resolution, so you're not actually getting any extra detail in the image. However, the larger size should make for more comfortable reading, and there's a glare-free finish and 20-percent faster page turns. The casing is IPX8 waterproof, too.

The screen illumination has been improved, now with more LEDs and the ability to mix cool and warm light for adjustable warmth. That can make it more comfortable to read in low-light conditions. Amazon says the e-paper screen can also crank up 10-percent brighter at its maximum setting, and there's a white-on-black reading mode too.

Arguably the change which will delight long-time Kindle users the most, though, is the port change. Gone is the old microUSB connection for charging, replaced by a USB-C port. It's a welcome switchover, given the prevalence of USB-C smartphone and tablet chargers now.

There's up to 10 weeks of battery life – though that of course depends on how much you read and what setting you have the screen illumination switched to – and Amazon says that a 9W adapter will fully charge the Kindle Paperwhite in 2.5 hours.

The Kindle Paperwhite 2021 comes with 8GB of storage and is priced at $139.99, while the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition has 32GB of storage. It also adds a sensor for auto-adjusting front lighting, changing the brightness automatically according to the ambient light conditions. There's wireless charging support on the Signature Edition, too, compatible with any Qi charging pad.

Both run the latest version of Amazon's Kindle software, with a new UI promising swifter navigation between different sections like the home screen, library, and your current book. There's also a simplified setup process, relying on the Kindle app for iOS and Android to streamline the Kindle Paperwhite settings.

What's absent at this point is a cellular Kindle Paperwhite option. Instead, both rely on WiFi for connectivity. Both are offered in black, with a selection of official covers – in leather, cork, and fabric finishes – available too. Finally, there'll be a Kindle Paperwhite for Kids, bundled with a kid-friendly cover and a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+; it also has Amazon's two-year "worry free" guarantee. It's priced at $159.99.

Preorders for all three Kindle Paperwhite versions open today. The ereaders will ship from October 27.