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Kobo Forma vs Sage (2022): Is It Time To Switch E-Readers?

Announced together with the Kobo Libra 2 last October 2021, the Kobo Sage is a hybrid e-reader and note-taker near the top of the brand’s product lineup. The stylus-compatible device also introduces support for audiobooks, something missing from its predecessor, the Kobo Forma. While the Sage certainly brings something new to the e-reading experience, the Forma remains a compelling alternative, affordable as it is capable. Plenty of features between the two also overlap. So the question is, is the Sage worth an upgrade from the Forma?

Kobo Forma vs Sage E-Reader Comparison Chart

ModelKobo FormaKobo Sage
 
Price
ScreenHD Mobius E Ink flush touchscreenHD HD flush E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen
Screen Size8 in.8 in.
Resolution300 ppi, 1440 ร— 1920p300 ppi, 1440 x 1920p
Storage8GB32GB
ConnectivityWi-Fi, MicroUSBDual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C
WaterproofIPX8IPX8
Adjustable BacklightYesYes
Ergonomic DesignYesYes
Page Turn ButtonsYesYes
Supports AudiobooksNoYes
Dark ModeNoYes
Battery LifeWeeksWeeks
Dimensions7.0 x 6.3 x 0.16 in.7.1 x 6.31 x 0.29 in
Weight197 g240.8 g

Design and Screen

While both readers have an ergonomic design, the Kobo Sage has the edge over the Forma when it comes to the screen.

Kobo Forma vs Sage Design Review
The Kobo Forma (left) is noticeably lighter than the Kobo Sage (right).

One of the appeals of Kobo is that most of its e-readers sport an ergonomic design, a feature popularized by Kindle’s premium Oasis model. This extended side bezel makes one-handed reading possible, although the iPad-esque size of the Kobo Forma and Sage can be challenging. Still, having a dedicated grip area with integrated page-turn buttons is always welcome.

Even without an ergonomic design, both the Forma and Sage take measures to make it easier to grip. For instance, the back of both devices features a matte, textured area. The e-readers also work in either landscape or portrait modes and will be fine for left-handed users as well.

Unlike the Kobo Libra 2, however, the Forma and Sage brandish flush screens, similar to most Kindle devices. Although it lends the e-readers a seamless appearance, they are more prone to fingerprint smudges. And speaking of screens, it’s hard to miss out on what Kobo Sage offers. Its 8-inch E-Ink Carta display is a noticeable improvement over the Forma’s Mobius E-Ink.

If you’re worried about splashes, Kobo has you covered. The two e-readers boast an IPX8 rating and are waterproof for up to 60 minutes under two meters of water.

Storage and Features

The Kobo Forma and Sage have similar front light and customizability features. However, the Sage wins when it comes to onboard storage and stylus compatibility.

Kobo Forma vs Sage Storage and Features
Dropbox cloud storage is available on these two readers (left) but stylus compatibility is only supported by the Kobo Sage (right).

If you’re looking to store an entire library on the Kobo Forma and Sage, then you’ll have no problems. The Forma offers 8GB of storage while the Sage enjoys a 32GB capacity. Forma used to come in a 32GB variant but has since then been discontinued.

Both the Kobo Forma and Sage also have access to cloud storage. However, it’s not native to these devices like the Kindle Cloud is. Instead, Kobo integrates with Dropbox, allowing any PDF or EPUB file you upload to automatically sync to a device. This should speed things up by getting rid of the need to transfer files via a computer.

A key difference of the Sage over the Forma is its Kobo Stylus compatibility. Users who love to mark or annotate ebooks and PDFs stand to benefit the most from this feature. Unfortunately, the stylus is sold separately. Certain files may also have permission limitations.

In terms of reading experience, the Forma and Sage both have ComfortLight PRO for adjustable brightness and color temperature. You can also customize fonts, with both devices offering 12 different fonts and 50 styles. In addition to these features, the Kobo Sage supports Dark Mode.

File Formats and Connectivity

Building on the features of the Kobo Forma, the Kobo Sage adds audiobook support and upgraded dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

File Format and Connectivity
Borrow free books with OverDrive (left); listen to audiobooks on the Kobo sage (right).

Kobo’s strong suit has always been interoperability with several file formats and an open ecosystem. With the Forma and Sage models, 15 file formats are supported natively. These include EPUB, PDF, MOBI, PNG, and TXT. Kobo’s Sage also extends support for audiobooks, although these are still limited to purchases from the Kobo Store.

Nonetheless, you can take all your Kobo Store books with you even if you decide to move to a different e-reader. It’s something you can’t say for Kindle, which has all your purchases tied to an Amazon account.

Kobo supports OverDrive, an app that allows readers to borrow free ebooks from public libraries. However, the feature is limited only to select countries. As mentioned in storage, you can also load non-Kobo Store files on your Forma and Sage, either through Dropbox or wired connectivity.

Speaking of connectivity, the Kobo Sage gives readers more options. Aside from USB-C, there’s Bluetooth for streaming your audiobooks and a faster, dual-band Wi-Fi. In contrast, the Kobo Form still relies on MicroUSB and single-band Wi-Fi.

Battery Life and Accessories

While you get more accessories for the Kobo Sage than the Kobo Forma, the former lags behind when it comes to battery life.

Kobo Forma vs Sage Battery Life and Accessories
Here’s a closer look at the SleepCovers for the Kobo Forma (left) and Sage (right)

Kobo estimates you’ll get about six weeks of battery life from the Forma. However, this rating is based on 30 minutes of reading per day at low brightness. Read longer, and the battery will drain faster with some users sharing they get anywhere between two to three weeks from the Forma on a single charge.

For regular use, the Sage should also last up to six weeks. In reality, you’re getting a much lower battery life. Despite its larger screen and note-taking ability, the Sage has a 1,200mAh battery compared to the smaller Libra 2, which uses 1,500mAh. For reading, 1,200mAh should be enough for 20 hours on the Sage. If you’re note-taking, however, expect shorter battery life.

Accessories are few. Aside from the Kobo Stylus, the only other accessory worth getting is an e-reader cover. You can get the proprietary SleepCovers for both the Forma and Sage models. This allows your e-reader to stand in landscape or portrait modes. If you’re not a fan of the color options, third-party suppliers also design covers for Kobo.

Lastly, the Kobo Sage is also compatible with PowerCover, a protective cover with a built-in battery for on-the-go charging. Think of it as a protective powerbank for e-readers.

Verdict

The Kobo Sage is a more feature-packed e-reader than the Kobo Forma, but its battery life does leave a lot to be desired.

As the successor to the Kobo Forma, the Kobo Sage puts in a lot of effort to please. It’s still a large, 8-inch e-reader, but there are noticeable improvements in its screen, connectivity, and performance. The Kobo Sage boasts a couple of new features, too, including compatibility with the Kobo Stylus and support for audiobooks. If these two are must-haves for you, the Sage will be a better purchase.

If you only want a standard e-reader, however, then the Kobo Forma will suffice. Its screen is high-quality and you’re getting access to Kobo’s growing library and open ecosystem, too. Like the Sage, the Forma also has an ergonomic design and adjustable lights. Its modest 8GB storage may deter some, but there is DropBox integration for cloud storage. Plus, it’s a more affordable e-reader compared to the Kobo Sage.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ What’s the difference between the Kobo Forma and Sage?

The Kobo Forma and Sage are both 8-inch e-readers. However, the Sage adds compatibility with the Kobo Stylus and support for audiobooks in its list of features. Kobo’s Sage also boasts dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity and a larger 32GB storage over the Forma’s 8GB.

๐Ÿ“Œ When did Kobo Sage come out?

The Kobo Sage was first available last October 6, 2021.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Kobo Forma waterproof?

Yes, the Kobo Forma is waterproof for up to 60 minutes under two meters of water. It comes with an IPX8 rating.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Kobo Sage too big?

As an e-reader, the Kobo Sage is comparable in size to the Apple iPad mini. It also weighs 240 grams. While its larger screen makes the reading experience better, its current form might be too big for users with smaller hands.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.