If you’re looking to get your hands on an e-reader, you’re most likely considering a Kindle. The Kindle Paperwhite, in particular, is the most popular in the lineup and arguably the one that suits most users. However, Rakuten’s Kobo Libra 2, announced a few weeks after the Paperwhite back in 2021, offers a refreshing alternative to a Kindle-centric market. With an ergonomic design and a price that rivals the Paperwhite’s Signature Edition, the Libra 2 has made choosing the right e-reader even more challenging.
Curious which one you should buy? Read our comparison below to get the lowdown.
Kobo Libra 2 vs Kindle Paperwhite Comparison Chart
Design and Screen
The Kobo Libra 2 has a more ergonomic design than the Kindle Paperwhite.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Kobo Libra 2 is its design. If the Kindle Paperwhite is sleek and proportional, the Libra 2 is asymmetrical, thanks to a side bezel that extends as a grip area. It’s a form factor closer to Kindle’s more premium Oasis model and one that similarly boasts page-turn buttons. While it may look clunky to some, it does provide a better one-hand hold than the Paperwhite’s thin bezels.
Speaking of bezels, it’s hard to tell where these end and where the 6.8-inch screen of the Kindle Paperwhite begins. The flush-front design makes the Kindle look more seamless. In contrast, the Kobo Libra 2’s 7-inch screen is set in. Together with its side grip, this slightly recessed display means fewer fingerprint smudges. Dirt and debris, however, are more likely to accumulate in between the screen and bezel.
Fortunately, whether you’re opting for the Kobo Libra 2 or the Kindle Paperwhite, you’re getting an IPX8 -rated device. While reading submerged in a pool or bathtub may not be a common use-case scenario, at least your e-reader will survive the occasional water spills here and there.
Both devices use E-Ink touchscreens with similar 300ppi resolution and adjustable backlights. Shoppers can get the Kobo Libra 2 in black or white models. On the other hand, the Kindle Paperwhite is only available in black.
Storage and Features
You’ll get plenty of storage — more from the Kobo Libra 2 — from these e-readers. They also come with adjustable backlights.
If you’re talking about storage in e-readers, a little goes a long way. Kindle’s Paperwhite comes with 8GB of storage. Amazon says that’s enough to hold thousands of books. You also get access to free cloud storage for Amazon content. Rakuten, on the other hand, is more specific with the Kobo’s capacity. The Libra 2 has 32GB of storage and can carry about 24,000 books — enough to have a personal library at your fingertips.
As mentioned in the design, the Kobo Libra 2 comes with a couple of convenience features. Page turn buttons, for instance, make it easy and tactile to flip pages. The adjustable lights, marketed as ComfortLight PRO, allow users to calibrate brightness and temperature. When it comes to the reading experience, the Libra 2 offers 12 different fonts and 50 different font styles.
The Kindle Paperwhite also features built-in lights with adjustable temperatures. In addition, Kindle allows readers to customize text size and boldness, alignment, font type, and margins.
Supported Formats and Connectivity
The Kobo Libra 2 supports more formats, including those outside the Kobo ecosystem. Nonetheless, the Paperwhite enjoys better connectivity and Kindle Store recommendations.
If you have a Kindle, it’s easy to purchase a book from Amazon and have it on your Paperwhite almost instantly. The e-reader supports 13 formats, including Audible for audiobooks. However, Amazon’s Kindle still works best with books purchased from the Kindle Store. While you can upload PDF files or convert EPUB files to read with your Paperwhite, formatting is usually lost.
Kobo Libra 2 has a more open ecosystem with support for 15 file formats. Moreover, if you don’t purchase a book from the Kobo Store, you still get to take it with you even if you decide to switch devices. On the Kindle Paperwhite, your Kindle Books are tied to your Amazon account. The only downside is that the Libra 2’s audiobook functionality is still limited to those purchased from the Kobo Store.
In terms of book variety, the Kobo Store and Kindle Store are neck and neck. Both get new titles at about the same time. The volume and availability of recent and older materials are also evenly matched. However, Amazon does a better job than Kobo in offering recommendations.
For the non-Kobo purchased books, you can transfer them to another e-reader via USB-C, one of the connectivity options of the Libra 2. The Kindle Paperwhite also offers a similar feature. Both devices also come with Bluetooth for streaming audiobooks and Wi-Fi connectivity for purchasing books. Kindle’s e-reader has the edge here, thanks to dual-band Wi-Fi support.
Battery Life and Accessories
Both the Kobo Libra 2 and Kindle Paperwhite boast impressive battery life ratings and are compatible with stylish covers.
While dedicated e-readers are still better than reading from an iPad, they’re still electronic devices that need charging. Fortunately, the Kobo Libra 2 and Kindle Paperwhite have impressive battery life ratings. Kindle’s more transparent, saying you should get about 10 weeks of battery life on reading half an hour each day. Meanwhile, Kobo simply claims the Libra 2 has “weeks of battery life”.
Based on user reviews, the “weeks” of the Libra 2 is about seven weeks on an hour of use each day. Like the Kindle Paperwhite, actual battery life will vary with use, especially if you browse libraries more often or listen to audiobooks frequently.
To protect your e-readers, both Kobo and Kindle sell covers. The Kobo Libra 2 SleepCover is designed with a built-in stand for portrait and landscape modes. It’s also available in four colors. For the Kindle Paperwhite, you can get the Kindle Leather Cover. While it doesn’t have a built-in stand, its textured cover has a microfiber interior to protect your Kindle’s screen from scratches. When opened, it also automatically wakes up your Kindle.
The Kobo Libra 2 is the better e-reader. However, if you’re on a budget, the Kindle Paperwhite might be more appealing.
The Kobo Libra 2 is the best e-reader to get. While its price is closer to the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, it boasts features available only in Kindle’s more premium Oasis model. These include an ergonomic design and page-turn buttons. Kobo Store also rivals the Kindle Store when it comes to the availability of titles. It’s more open, too. So if you plan on switching devices in the future, you can keep non-Kobo Store purchases and transfer them to a new e-reader.
For some, this lack of third-party compatibility in Kindles is a deterrent. Still, the Kindle Paperwhite isn’t highly-rated for no reason. Yes, it misses out on a side grip or page-turn buttons; but the basics are covered. The Kindle Paperwhite comes with an adjustable backlight, ample storage, strong battery life, and access to the Kindle Store’s massive library. Plus, it’s cheaper than the Libra 2, making it a budget alternative.
No, you can’t. Kobo does not support Kindle file formats.
Since Kindle is under Amazon, the notion is that it has access to a larger ebook store than Kobo. However, the Kobo Store has been growing the volume of its titles over the years and gets new material at the same time as Kindle does. Kobo also supports more file formats
No, it doesn’t. The Kindle Paperwhite comes with 8GB of onboard storage. If you want a higher capacity, you can go for the 32GB Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition.
Yes, the Kobo Libra 2 is a worthy successor to the Libra H20. The Libra 2 offers noticeable performance upgrades to the H20.