The Kobos and Kindles are nearly identical in style and design, with all models sporting a slim black body and black and white screen. Each model is front-lit, meaning you see light reflected off the screen rather than LEDs shining directly into your eyes (as is the case with your mobile phone). Every model released since 2021 also uses E Ink Carta 1200 display technology, meaning text is razor-sharp.
In terms of screen resolution, every Kindle and the majority of Kobo machines use 300 PPI (pixels per inch). The exception is the Kobo Nia, which has a PPI of 212. The difference to the naked eye is slight, but noticeable side by side. The rest of Kobo’s lineup, which includes the Clara 2E, Elipsa 2E, Libra 2, and Sage, all run at 300 PPI.
Another thing you’ll need for comfortable reading is a decent screen size – the average paperback is nine inches diagonal. You can read comfortably on any e-reader larger than six inches, which all Kindles and Kobos are.
One area where the two differ is in the materials used. Although all Kobos are made of plastic, a few more premium Kindle models (Oasis and Scribe) use aluminum and glass for the screen. The result is a glare-free, scratch-resistant, and downright prettier screen. The Kobo Elipsa 2E uses a magnesium alloy as well as plastic.
Another area of design that could influence a purchasing decision is waterproofing. You’ll want something with an IPX8 waterproof rating, which is the highest rating you can get. This means that the device can be fully submerged, so you can use it in the bath or in a swimming pool. You will find that all Kindle and Kobo e-readers, except Kindle, Kindle Scribe, Kobo Nia and Kobo Elipsa, are IPX8.
One last feature, which is nice to have rather than essential, is the page turn buttons. This may seem trivial, but it is much more comfortable, especially if you have joint problems. The Kindle Oasis has this, as do the Kobo Libra 2 and Kobo Sage, but the Oasis also has an aluminum stand and a micro-etched glass display, making it a winner style-wise.
Winner: To light up
Kindle vs Kobo: software, storage and Bluetooth
E-readers are designed to replicate the experience of reading on paper, so each page takes noticeably longer to load than what you’d find on a smartphone screen. The Kindles I tried were probably slightly faster than the Kobos, but they hold very little. I found particularly fast response times in the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, Kindle Oasis, and Kobo Libra 2.
As for storage, it really depends on the model, rather than whether you’re buying a Kindle or a Kobo. Although books can be stored in the cloud on both devices without taking up internal storage, you will need decent storage in order to build a library on your device.
The devices with the best storage are the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, 32 GB, Kindle Oasis, 32 GB, Kobo Libra 2, 32 GB, and Kobo Elipsa, 32 GB. However, it is worth noting that the average Kindle book does not is only 2-3 MB, so even an 8 GB device can hold thousands of books.
Winner: It’s a tie
Kindle vs. Kobo: audiobooks
Another piece of software you might want to consider is Bluetooth connectivity, although this is only important if you’re an audiobook listener. If you already have an Amazon Audible account, consider purchasing a new Kindle. Once you connect your Amazon account, your audiobooks will appear in your library alongside your ebooks. All new Kobos also have Bluetooth connectivity, except for the Kobo Nia.
That said, Kobo audiobooks are rather expensive. An Amazon Audible account will cost you £7.99 per month, which includes one free audiobook per month. You can also cash out credits if you don’t use them each month. On the other hand, Kobo audiobooks can only be purchased individually. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, a 223-page book, costs £14.99.
Neither brand is compatible with other types of audiobooks. For this reason, I would recommend Kindles for audiobooks. You’ll want one with decent storage, like the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition.
Winner: To light up
Kindle vs Kobo: showcases