Amazon Updates Kindle Product Images to Show Grayer Screens

When the new basic Kindle launched last month, some users complained that the screen was grayer on the new Kindle than on other Kindle models. I had initially dismissed the gripes as being the result of having an E-ink screen next to a bright white bezel, but apparently Amazon has decided there’s some truth to the complaints.

Over the weekend Amazon quietly replaced the product images for the new basic Kindle with images which show a slightly grayer screen. Here are the new and old images side by side.

amazon kindle 2016 basic

It’s not clear why Amazon made the switch, but as you can see, the new images are much grayer than the original product shots. And in case you were wondering, Amazon hasn’t replaced the high resolution product images in the press room, just the ones shown to the public.

Amazon has also added a note to the product listing which calls attention to the Kindle’s lack of a frontlight. If you visit the listing, you’ll find a new section directly below the bullet point description titled “Planning on reading in low-light settings?” where Amazon points out the the Paperwhite, Oasis, and Voyage all have frontlights.

I can’t say that I minded the gray screen or the lack of a frontlight, but those are the top two complaints in the 500 odd reviews left on Now Amazon has acknowledged the criticism in the most understated way possible.


Do you know what I find most interesting about this?

It’s the fact that Amazon is revising its product images at this late date.

Amazon has been using this screen on their basic Kindle since 2014. That earlier model had the same screen resolution and lacked a frontlight. Reviewers even commented on the gray screen and gave the 2014 Kindle a score of 4.1 stars out of five (the 2016 model rates 3.8 stars).

Basically people have been pointing out the exact same problems for a couple years, and now suddenly the screen and frontlight complaints are a problem – or rather, Amazon is more sensitive to criticism on this point than they were in the past.


Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Fjtorres25 July, 2016

    Well, pointing out the differences might steer shoppers to the Paperwhite…

  2. Will O'Neil25 July, 2016

    A lot depends on the quality of your vision. If your eyes are good then the basic Kindle is fine in any but the lowest light. If your vision deteriorates (e.g., if somehow you happen to grow older) then the higher screen contrast you can get with front lighting becomes awfully nice — like the difference between being able to read and not. I tend to think that it’s good that Amazon is being a little more up-front about what you can expect.

    It’s true that after you’ve been reading for a while your eye adapts and sees the background as “white,” even if viewed in isolation it is distinctly gray. But that doesn’t mean that the contrast is truly that great.

    1. Nate Hoffelder25 July, 2016

      I don’t have good vision, and I didn’t have any trouble with the basic Kindle. It’s what I’m using right now.

      1. Will O'Neil26 July, 2016

        Wait a few years.

    2. DavidW26 July, 2016

      I think most of that comes down to improper lighting.

      Suppose you are reading a Paperwhite or other lighted ereader. From experience I can tell you that outside you can’t even tell if the light is on or not. There is no difference between max and min light setting when reading outside.

      Using my reading lamp I can see the difference between max and min light but it’s subtle. Whether you’re reading a paper book or an eink kindle a good reading lamp is a worthwhile investment. You need a lamp that projects light directly onto the reading surface. You’ll have less eye strain with reading and it makes a tremendous difference in reading comfort.

      If you just use a table lamp, a floor lamp in the corner or even an overhead light then yes you need that front light on the kindle. But reading outside or reading inside with a good reading lamp, I think you’ll find that even the basic kindle is quite readable.

  3. DavidW26 July, 2016

    Amazon used a gray screen in their image of the 2014 basic kindle. I was surprised when they used a white one in the 2016 basic kindle image. That was probably why the reviews were more positive for the 2014 kindle.

    1. Nate Hoffelder26 July, 2016

      Except I looked at the product page for the older Kindle before I finished this post. It was shown with a white screen, not a gray one.

      1. DavidW27 July, 2016

        This image?

        That is clearly a gray screen and what is found on the product page for the 2014 basic Kindle.

    1. DavidW27 July, 2016

      I don’t agree with you that Amazon has advertised it wrong. They are communicating that a kindle looks like more like ink on a page than it does a glowing lcd screen. They used the word similar instead of identical.

      Showing a stark white screen is false advertising, but saying that it looks like real paper is not meant to be dishonest.

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