Kindle Paperwhite vs Kobo Clara 2E: Which eReader Should You Buy?

Kindle Paperwhite vs Kobo Clara 2E: Which eReader Should You Buy?
At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

For as long as the eReader has been a concept, so too, has the war between the Amazon Kindle and Kobo existed. Both have come out with two new eReaders, the Kobo Clara 2E and Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite, but when both devices share the same purpose and many similar features, how do you choose? While both have their strengths and weaknesses, we decided to do a deep dive into both eReaders in true Battlemodo-style.

The question remains – who will win the eReader war this time ’round?

Kindle Paperwhite vs Kobo Clara: Specs & Features

Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite 2021

  • Display: 6-inch glare-free, 300 PPI E Ink display
  • Storage: 8GB or 16GB
  • Features: IPX8 waterproofing, text-to-speech, Bluetooth compatibility, adjustable light temperature and dark mode

Kobo Clara 2E

  • Display: 6-inch glare-free, 300 PPI HD E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen
  • Storage: 16GB
  • Features: Made from recycled and ocean-bound plastics, IPX8 waterproof-rating, audiobook compatibility, dark mode, adjustable light temperature and brightness


Kobo Clara 2E vs Kindle Paperwhite 2021
Image: Isabella Noyes/Gizmodo Australia

From the design side of things, there’s not too much to note. The obvious difference between these two eReaders is in its screen size. The Kobo Clara 2E sits at a basic 6-inches while the Kindle Paperwhite goes up to 6.8 inches and looks noticeably bigger. In this scenario, you can decide whether you want an eReader that fits comfortably between your hands (the Kobo) or if an eReader with a larger screen (the Paperwhite) will make for a much more comfortable reading experience.

Ignoring the difference in screen sizes, if you look closely at the Kindle you can see that its bezels are thinner, maximising overall screen capacity. On the reverse side, the Kindle has a smooth back, save for the Amazon smile logo, while the Kobo has wave-like impressions that are a nice touch (if you don’t choose to cover it up with a case).

The biggest difference lies in the location of each device’s sleep/power button. The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite’s is located at the bottom, to the right of its USB-C charging port. The Kobo Clara 2E’s power button is on its back, located at the top left of the eReader. It also uses a USB-C cable to be recharged, which can be found at the bottom of the device.

Personally, I find the location of both buttons to be a little unorthodox. The Paperwhite’s button is easier than the Clara 2E’s to press when I’m in a hurry to toss it to the side, but I expected each button to be located at the top of the eReader, where it’d be less likely to be pressed.

The Clara 2E’s power button is larger, circular and smooth to hold. While fitted with its Rakuten Kobo SleepCover however, it requires a firm, purposeful push if you want to put it to sleep since the addition of the case creates this dip to protect the button against accidental bumbs.

On another note, both brands have taken a leap in the direction of sustainability, creating both eReaders from predominantly recycled plastics. In particular, the Clara 2E is Kobo’s first-ever eco-conscious eReader, with 85% crafted from recycled and ocean-bound plastics.

Meanwhile, the Paperwhite uses 60% post-consumer recycled plastics and 70% recycled magnesium. This isn’t anything out-of-the-ordinary for Amazon, since most of its Kindle range is also made from similar recycled goods. But a step towards environmental sustainability is always a good step, especially when getting an eReader itself can be seen as a friendly purchase in the right direction.

Winner? The Kindle Paperwhite (2021), simply for the thoughtfulness and convenience of the eReader’s power on button when wearing its protective case.


Kobo Clara 2E vs Kindle Paperwhite 2021
Image: Isabella Noyes/Gizmodo Australia

At a glance, both the Kindle and Kobo share similar screens. Both display book covers and text in black and white, have the option to switch to dark mode or adjust screen colour warmth and share an equal 300PPI glare-free screen.

When it comes to customising your screen, I favour the Kobo in this regard. The Clara 2E makes it easy and obvious where to adjust the colour temperature and brightness while you’re reading, since you can tap the top part of the screen anytime you like to access the settings.

The Paperwhite, on the other hand, allows you to create a “warmth schedule”, where you can instruct the Kindle to automatically adjust its colour temperature as the sun goes down or at a specific time of your choosing. The other way to adjust its brightness is by swiping down from the top of the screen, which will bring down two sliders so you can add amber light or switch dark mode on.

Side by side, it’s near-impossible to note a big difference in the displays. Since both share a crisp 300PPI, glare-free screen the only comparison we can make is the screen size. However, if you want to know which screen can go bluer than the other, it’s the Kobo. When set on their maximum brightness capacity and stood alongside each other, it’s jarring how different they are. But if we want to contest which one can go warmer, it’s (maybe) the Paperwhite. Ultimately, they’re so similar in this regard it wouldn’t really matter which one you picked.

The real difference rests in the touchscreen’s sensitivity. The Kobo relies on a firm tap to react to any actions, whereas you can use a featherlight touch when operating the Kindle. Again, this comes down to your personal preference. Given the Kindle’s faster processor, I’m a fan of the Paperwhite. If I accidentally skip a couple pages ahead, at least it’ll take a mere second to switch back. None of this is as noticeable unless you’re comparing the two of them together (but that’s my job, not yours).

Winner? This is a hard one, because they’re both incredibly similar. If I have to pick its the Paperwhite, but only because the processor and sensitive touchscreen are more my jam.

Processor speed

Regardless of which eReader you choose, each one suffers a painful delay when loading new titles or even turning the page. Unless you decide to make your iPad your primary reading device, there’s always going to be about a two-second pause.

So, when we’re comparing the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite vs the Kobo Clara 2E, which one is better? Although both are meant to possess a 1GHz processor, the Kindle is noticeably faster than the Kobo Clara 2E. While the Paperwhite’s performance does slow down when navigating its user interface, its unlikely you’ll spend a lot of time there.

If you check out the video above, you should notice the difference in page turning speeds. The Kindle is just a smidge faster and smoother than the Clara 2E, so if the lag is bound to irk you, then choose the Kindle.

Winner? Kindle Paperwhite (2021).


Image: Isabella Noyes/Gizmodo Australia

Neither interface allows for a perfect, smooth experience. The processor’s lag is most evident when you’re exploring the eStore or figuring out which book in your library you’re going to read next.

Even though the Kindle possesses the slightly faster processor, sliding up and down the home screen to look around is a punish. While the layout does allow you to spot more books that might catch your eye, it’s still a clunky experience to say the least.

The Kobo Clara 2E’s home screen, while compact, takes longer to load new titles and a while to register your actions.

While you can persist and shop eBooks directly from either eReader, I’d recommend you stick to browsing on your phone or PC. It’ll be much quicker and once your purchase is complete, your new book should automatically download to your eReader.

Winner? Kindle Paperwhite (2021).


Image: Isabella Noyes/Gizmodo Australia

The Kindle Paperwhite sits at a RRP of $239 for the 8GB version and $259 for the 16GB version. On the other hand, the Kobo Clara 2E’s retail price is a flat $229.95. It’s obvious that the Kobo Clara offers more for its price tag, with a built-in 16GB of storage, adjustable light temperature options and audiobook capabilities.

While all Kindle models support Bluetooth connectivity and allow you to hear speech-to-text readings with headphones, this one does not support audiobook listening.

Winner? Kobo Clara 2E offers more bang for your buck with a wealth of reading light temperature options and audiobook capabilities.

So, which eReader should you buy – Kobo Clara 2E vs Kindle Paperwhite?

Kobo Clara 2E vs Kindle Paperwhite 2021
Image: Isabella Noyes/Gizmodo Australia

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner. While I want to reassure you that both eReaders are excellent choices, one only just surpasses the other. The speed of the Kindle Paperwhite is what wins me over when it comes to these two eReaders, but I don’t want anyone to discount the Kobo Clara 2E.

The part of me that’s a bargain hunter will tell you to pick the Kobo Clara 2E. It’s the cheapest option and you get the added bonus of listening to audiobooks, which is better value if you want an eReader that can do both. It even has a larger internal storage capacity, which is crucial if you switch between both reading formats.

But one thing I didn’t get to discuss earlier was the battery life. You see, the Kindle Paperwhite far outlasts the Clara 2E, especially if you’re planning on using the Kobo eReader to listen to audiobooks. The Bluetooth usage saps all the juice out of the Clara 2E, forcing you to recharge it sooner than later. I’ve had to charge the Kobo weekly thanks to this feature while in comparison, my Kindle’s gone over a month before plummeting to the red bar of death.

When it comes down to it, it’s the difference in processor that makes me turn away from the Clara 2E. The contrast is about 0.5 seconds, but the processor in the Kindle just runs that little bit better. There’s less glitchiness and noticeably smoother when you turn the page.

But if we look at both eReaders from a wider angle – both are waterproof, made from recycled materials and share similar displays plus screen settings – you can’t go wrong with either. But when I’m forced to choose, I’m going to recommend Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite (2021). I’m sorry, Kobo. You were good, but I’m waiting for you to be great.

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At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.