Kindle Oasis Vs Kobo Sage: Which E-Reader Is Better?


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  • The Kindle Oasis (from $250) and Kobo Sage ($259) are two comparatively priced, premium e-readers.
  • Both devices offer high-end features and similar content libraries — and support for library ebooks.
  • However, Amazon’s Kindle Oasis design and battery life make it the better e-reader for the price.

Amazon and Kobo (owned by Rakuten) are two of the biggest names in the e-reader market with their respective device lines. 

Amazon offers three unique models of Kindles: Kindle (from $90), Kindle Paperwhite (from $140), and Kindle Oasis (from $250). Rakuten has six Kobo models currently on sale: Nia ($100), Clara HD ($120), Libra 2 ($180), Forma ($210), Sage ($259), and Elipsa ($400). 

It’s important to note that all of the Kindles have starting prices that increase depending on the storage size you choose and if you choose to have the device ad-supported. If you do choose that option, which is $20 cheaper, the screensaver on the device will be advertisements for books typically available on Kindle Unlimited as opposed to the cover of the book you’re currently reading.  

To see which e-reader will give you the best reading experience at a high-end price point, representing the best each brand has to offer, I tested Amazon’s Kindle Oasis against Rakuten’s Kobo Sage. The Oasis is Amazon’s highest-priced model. While the Sage is not Kobo’s highest-priced model, it’s the one with a price point most comparable to Amazon’s.

The six categories used for testing the devices were: size of the device, which includes the device’s design; battery life; screen features, including brightness and warmth settings; page turn, testing the responsiveness of the page turn buttons and screen refresh; content options, which encompasses all of the ways each brand allows users to add books; and accessibility with fonts, left-handed options, and features for the visually impaired.

In every category, a distinct judgment could be made in favor of the Kindle Oasis. For the avid reader looking for the best e-reader option on the market, the Kindle Oasis is it.

Size

A kindle on top of kobo on the left, and a side view of both devices on the right.

The size, design, and thinness of each e-reader (the Kindle is both smaller and thinner).

Angela Tricarico/Insider


The Kindle Oasis has a 7-inch screen on the diagonal, but the device itself measures 6.3 x 5.6 inches. The Oasis also has a tapered design, being 8.4mm thick at one end and tapering off to 3.4mm at the other. The thicker end is where the page turn buttons are located, so the device has a built-in grip that is conducive to one-handed reading no matter if you’re right or left handed. 

This size and design make the Oasis much easier to handle, which is further helped by its light weight of 188 grams. 

With an 8-inch screen, the Kobo Sage is slightly bigger all around. The device is 7.1 x 6.3 x 0.2 inches. It’s also slightly heavier, weighing 240 grams. I find that the device feels top-heavy when I am holding it one-handed because there is nothing to grip onto with the smooth plastic backing. It’s bigger all around, making it harder to throw in my bag for on-the-go reading. 

The overall design of the Kindle Oasis is better than that of the Kobo Sage. The tapered edge makes the device feel less clunky and heavy, plus I find it easier to hold for extended periods of time.

Battery life

To test the battery of each device, I used them both over one week with the same screen and power settings. After charging the battery to 100%, I set the brightness to 50% on the Kobo, and turned off the Kindle’s auto-brightness and set that to 50% as well. I decided to leave the Wi-Fi on and turn the


Bluetooth

off, to reflect the most widely realistic use. I read for 30 minutes each day on each device and then put it in sleep mode. 

As shown in the table above, after one week of reading with the same settings, the Kindle Oasis had over two times the battery life left in it over the Kobo Sage. 

Screen features

A hand holding the Kindle Oasis on the left, and a hand holding the Kobo Sage on the right.

The Kindle Oasis’s page layout (left) compared against the Kobo Sage’s page layout (right).

Angela Tricarico/Insider


Both the Kindle Oasis and the Kobo Sage have 300 ppi (pixels per inch) matte screens with E Ink. Neither screen can produce color images, but the Oasis screen is also advertised to have 16-level grayscale, which creates more depth in images.

You will also find a front-lit screen on either e-reader here. Amazon has named that technology Paperwhite, while Kobo calls it ComfortLight PRO. They’re essentially the same thing, though. The screens being front-lit, as opposed to backlit, give them the look of real paper instead of something more screen-like, as if you were reading on an iPad. Kindle advertises the Oasis as having 25 LEDs in the screen.

Both devices also have adjustable brightness and separate adjustable warm light to give the screen less of a stark white glow and more of an amber one — like using an LED light bulb versus. an incandescent bulb. The Kindle Oasis has a scheduling feature that allows users to choose on and off times for the warm light, while the Kobo Sage only has a feature that will adjust the screen warmth depending on the time of day (i.e. warmer at night). Each device also has a night mode that makes the text white and the background black. The most common use for this is to have that turned on at night, similar to the night shift and dark mode features on iOS. 

Though these are largely the same, the Kindle Oasis is more user-friendly when it comes to adjusting the brightness and warmth of the screen. There are two sensors located above and below the page turn buttons to detect your surroundings and automatically adjust the brightness of the screen accordingly.

The Kobo Sage’s lack of the auto-adjust feature was especially noticeable when I tested the e-readers outdoors. On a sunny day, it isn’t necessary to have the brightness up at all — the sun lights the screen well enough on its own. Once I take either device back inside, the Kindle adjusts to my significantly less bright surroundings, while I have to manually adjust the brightness on the Kobo

Kobo screen with stuff written on it.

The Kobo Sage stylus at work within the pages of an e-book.

Angela Tricarico/Insider


A feature unique to the Kobo Sage is support for the Kobo Stylus ($40). The stylus is compatible only with the Sage and Elispa models, and it allows users to write directly on the e-reader screen like you would paper. You can make notes in the margins of books, underline sentences and circle individual words, in addition to highlighting passages using the highlight button. 

Though the stylus is a great feature, it doesn’t seem like it would be useful outside of a select group of individuals, like students. I think the auto-adjusting screen brightness and scheduled warmth of the Kindle Oasis wins out over the Kobo Sage’s screen features. 

Page load

Both devices have page-turn buttons on the right side. If you’re using the device in its default setting, it’s perfect for right-handed users. Each device can also be flipped easily for left-handed users to have the page-turn buttons on the left.

On the Kindle Oasis, the top button turns the page forward and the bottom goes back one page; on the Kobo Sage, it’s the opposite. Both devices allow users to change this, though: if you’re used to one way and decide to switch devices, it can easily be swapped in settings. 

After testing both e-readers, I find that the Kindle Oasis has a more responsive page turn button. I never have to press too hard, and the page turns almost instantly. When I use the Kobo Sage, the page turns quickly when it registers that I pressed the buttons, but I feel like I am always using more pressure to click the button or having to press it two or three times before anything changes on the screen.

Both e-readers also have screen refresh settings that allow you to pick when the screen does a full refresh, opposed to just changing the words on the screen. Sometimes, especially on the Kobo (where the default for a full refresh is after every chapter), you can see the words from the page before if the screen hasn’t fully refreshed. 

Another issue with the Kobo is that the highlight feature does not refresh when you adjust the sentence you’ve highlighted. If you’ve removed part of the highlighted sentence, it will still look like you’ve highlighted it until you go to the next page and then go back.

When comparing the two devices head to head on page load, the Kindle Oasis comes out on top because of its page turn responsiveness and better overall screen refresh.

Content options

The stores shown for the Kindle Oasis and Kobo Sage.

The Kindle Oasis’s book store layout (left) compared against the Kobo Sage’s book store layout (right).

Angela Tricarico/Insider


The Kindle Oasis and Kobo Sage can be used with just Wi-Fi, meaning you don’t need to have a computer to load new books onto your e-reader. On both, you can actually purchase books and audiobooks directly on the device, so long as you’re connected to the internet and have a credit card saved in your Amazon or Kobo accounts. 

Bluetooth capabilities are found on both devices, so you can connect the device to headphones or a speaker and listen to audiobooks. If you’re using a Kindle and have an Audible subscription, you can listen to your Audible books on the Oasis.

Both e-readers also let users borrow digital copies of books from their local public library, so long as their library supports OverDrive. It’s easier to get a library book on the Kobo because you can do it directly on the device. 

To borrow library books on the Kindle, you have to use a separate app on your tablet or phone. Libby is a subsidiary of OverDrive, so the content selection is exactly the same, but it’s only supported on mobile devices and transfers books to the e-reader over Wi-Fi from within the mobile app.

Amazon and Kobo also have a selection of exclusive content. Many of Kobo’s originals, which include ebooks and audiobooks, are by popular romance authors.

However, Amazon has a better original collection that is larger and spans many genres. All of the Amazon Original Stories are shorter in length than the average novel, and many fall into themed collections. Some recent ones have been authored by bestsellers Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Jasmine Guillory, Emma Cline, and Roxane Gay. 

In this category, the judgment comes down to my own interface preference, because the options are nearly identical. I prefer the Kindle store layout and content library over Kobo, however the Kobo is better in this area for frequent library goers. 

Accessibility

The Kindle Oasis with the accessibility menu on the screen.

The Kindle Oasis’s accessibility options and tools displayed.

Angela Tricarico/Insider


As mentioned above, both devices’ default settings assume the reader will be holding it right-handed, with the page turn buttons on the right side of the device. As long as the screen orientation settings are not locked, both of them will automatically adjust and flip the screen if the device is being held with the buttons on the left side, so the top and bottom buttons will continue to work in the same way for page turning. 

Both devices also allow users to change the font style and text size in books. The Kindle Oasis offers nine font options, while the Kobo Sage has 12. Readers are able to make the font size bigger and the text itself bolder to create the easiest screen for them to read on. OpenDyslexic, a font created to help dyslexic readers, is available on both Kindle and Kobo. 

The Kindle Oasis has a section in its settings dedicated to accessibility, while the Kobo Sage does not. The three settings available to Kindle Oasis users are: display size, which changes the size of the text in the settings menu as well as your library; invert black and white, which inverts all of the text, images and page colors when turned on; and VoiceView screen reader, which reads the words on the screen out loud when you touch them on the screen, as long as the device is connected to a Bluetooth speaker or headphones. 

With dedicated accessibility settings, including a screen reader, the Kindle Oasis has the edge with accessibility options. 

The bottom line

With a starting price of $250, the Kindle Oasis has a high-end price tag that matches the kind of experience the device offers when compared to both the similarly-priced Kobo model and the other two e-reader models Kindle offers.  

Because of its unique and user-friendly design, conducive to one-handed reading for long periods of time, the Kindle Oasis is the best high-end e-reader on the market right now. Kobo Sage, which is competitively priced, is too large and lacks some special features — including the automatically adjusting brightness sensors — that make the Kindle Oasis a better choice all around.



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