Whether you want to make a practical gift to a reader friend or treat yourself to a new e-book reader, you’ve probably heard that Kindle is the go-to device and that you can’t go wrong with it. However, it’s not your only option. If you have a larger budget, the iPad can be great for reading books and, for certain categories for readers, it can be better than a Kindle.
While Kindle’s supremacy among e-book readers cannot be contested – it, after all, the device that popularized eBooks – it’s no longer alone on the market, and the iPad is actually is a worthy contender.
Curious to see which device is right for you? Read on.
How does the Amazon Kindle, which was designed specifically for reading, compared to the iPad, which is a multi-purpose tablet? This might sound surprising, but even opening the default Books app on iPad delivers a pretty immersive experience. You have all your books neatly organized in your library, flipping the pages feels smooth and natural, and you have some useful customization options so that you can read as you feel comfortable: adjust the brightness, the color of the paper, the font, and with the latest iPadOS versions, there’s even dark mode. The app you use remembers your progress, you can add bookmarks and take notes.
Reading on an iPad feels natural and comfortable, but not for long periods. And this is where you’ll notice that Kindle was designed with readers in mind: Kindle’s screen is much easier on the eyes, and you won’t get tired, not even after getting pulled in a book all night long. Kindle’s screen is also better suited for outdoor reading because it’s matte and doesn’t reflect light. And, with all of iPad’s features, to this day, Kindle remains the device that does the best job at replicating real book pages, thanks to the e-ink display.
In terms of battery life, Kindle is again superior, which makes sense, considering that it’s mostly made for reading. While the iPad’s battery life isn’t bad for a tablet (up to 10 hours), Kindle’s can last for WEEKS. Give it a full charge, and you can forget about it. With the iPad, however, you might find yourself reading while the device is charging, which is a bit uncomfortable.
And finally, for the reading experience, you have to consider the distractions. You can browse the Web on a Kindle, but it’s mostly made for reading; you can read for hours on end without interruptions because there’ll be no annoying notifications pulling you out of the book. On iPad, it takes a lot of self-control and perhaps even airplane mode to read quietly because you’ll constantly be getting notifications. If you’re too easily and too often interrupted, it could be detrimental to you. Not all reading is for fun: most users are now inclined to read for their job or to acquire a new set of skills in particular hobby and domain they enjoy. You can’t do much learning with annoying pop-ups appearing all the time.
If you don’t have a particular tech brand you’re loyal to, then Kindle is a fantastic choice – especially if you’ve never owned something similar before.
However, if you’re already deep into Apple’s ecosystem, then the iPad will fit right in. All your books (and data in general) will sync seamlessly across your devices, which is amazing if you also read a lot of documents for work. Your notes even synchronize from your iPad to your Mac and iPhone, which really makes your job easier. Besides, you won’t have to worry about losing your data because it’s all kept safe in your iCloud account. If you delete your messages by mistake, you can use tools that can help you recover them, and the same works for books and other documents. You can easily recover your notes, which on Kindle can be quite tricky.
Books you can read
Do you read mostly novels? Then the Kindle will be your best friend. There are thousands of books you can buy on Amazon, not to mention the samples and free books you can find from time to time. Amazon also has deals all year round, so you can basically build your dream digital library on a budget.
However, if you also want to read comic books, graphic novels, and magazines, an iPad is a better choice, simply because it has a full color LED screen. If you have kids and want to read to them, there’s no question about it: an iPad looks much more exciting and will catch their attention better than Kindle’s black and white screen.
On iPad, you also have a lot more reading app options. You can stick to the classic iOS Books app or download Nook, Overdrive, Google Play Books, and much more. You can import PDFs from your library and basically any document format out there, whether that’s a work document, rulebook, or PDF. Kindle, meanwhile, is a bit more conservative and will limit your app options.
Bottom line: which device should you buy?
Still not sure which device you should buy? Here are some quick pointers:
Get a Kindle if:
- You read for hours at a time
- You’re concerned about eye health
- You want the best possible battery life
- You read mostly novels
- You want to read without distractions
- You want a device that mimics the pages of a real book as much as possible
Get an iPad if:
- You love the Apple ecosystem, and you have other Apple devices
- You’re looking for a multi-purpose device
- You want to read for fun, but you also need extra productivity features
- You want more variety and flexibility for reading apps
- You want your documents and reading progress to sync across devices
- You read comic books, graphic novels, and books that are more focused on visuals
- You want to read to your kids
Finally, there’s the matter of price, and if the budget is your main consideration, then Kindle is the best choice. The all-new Kindle oasis retails at around $195, and you can always find it on offer on Amazon. Older Kindle models go lower than $100. Meanwhile, the most basic iPad starts at $329, and the iPad Pro starts at $799, which is way beyond most people’s average budget.
Markus lives in San Francisco, California and is the video game and audio expert on Good e-Reader! He has a huge interest in new e-readers and tablets, and gaming.