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Is kindle black and white only?

Welcome reader! In this comprehensive guide, we will explore whether Kindle e-readers are limited to black and white only or if they offer color display capabilities. With their high resolution screens and vast libraries of ebooks, Kindles have become extremely popular for avid readers. However, their lack of a color display is often cited as a drawback. Read on as we examine the display technology behind various Kindle models and what that means for color ebook enjoyment.

Kindle Display Technology Overview

Since the first Kindle was released in 2007, Amazon has used electronic paper display (EPD) technology for all of its e-reader models. This technology mimics the appearance of regular ink on paper. It reflects light just like real paper, providing excellent readability without glare. EPDs are also bistable, meaning they maintain their image without needing power. This allows the battery to last for weeks on a single charge.

However, EPD technology relies on black pigments and white space to generate images and text. As a result, Kindles have thus far been limited to 16 levels of grayscale. While the screens provide incredibly crisp text and high resolutions up to 300 ppi, they cannot reproduce color. Let’s take a deeper look at the various Kindle models and their display specifications.

Kindle Model Release Year Display Resolution Color or Black & White
Kindle 2007 167 ppi Black & White
Kindle 2 2009 167 ppi Black & White
Kindle Keyboard 2010 167 ppi Black & White
Kindle 4 2011 167 ppi Black & White
Kindle 5 2012 167 ppi Black & White
Kindle Paperwhite (1st gen) 2012 212 ppi Black & White
Kindle Paperwhite (2nd gen) 2013 212 ppi Black & White
Kindle 7 2014 167 ppi Black & White
Kindle Paperwhite (3rd gen) 2015 300 ppi Black & White
Kindle Oasis 2016 300 ppi Black & White
Kindle 8 2016 167 ppi Black & White
Kindle Oasis 2 2017 300 ppi Black & White
Kindle Paperwhite (4th gen) 2018 300 ppi Black & White
Kindle 9 2019 167 ppi Black & White
Kindle Oasis 3 2019 300 ppi Black & White
Kindle Paperwhite (5th gen) 2021 300 ppi Black & White
Kindle (11th gen) 2022 167 ppi Black & White

As the table shows, all Kindle models over the past 15 years have used black and white electronic paper displays. Advancements have increased the resolution significantly, with most current models boasting 300 pixels per inch. But color capability has remained elusive.

Color E-Reader Technology

Full color electronic paper displays do exist, thanks to developments in e-reader technologies like E Ink Triton and Kaleido. These allow for the generation of color through RGB filters or layered ink crystals. However, they come with trade-offs compared to traditional EPDs:

  • Less resolution/clarity
  • Higher cost
  • Reduced refresh rates, increasing ghosting
  • Higher power demand, reducing battery life

Due to these limitations, Amazon has yet to incorporate color EPD technology into its Kindle lineup. The company seems determined to maintain the high resolution, quick page turns, long battery life and affordable pricing Kindles are known for. Adopting color E Ink would require unacceptable compromises in those areas for now.

Will Future Kindles Have Color E Ink?

While color EPD technology remains a work in progress, it is advancing rapidly. Contrast ratios, refresh speeds and image quality are improving. As the technology matures and production costs decrease, it seems inevitable that Amazon will release a color Kindle model.

However, the timing remains uncertain. It took over 10 years from the original Kindle release before a color model was even rumored. In 2018, evidence of a developmental Kindle with color E Ink screen surfaced, sparking speculation. But as of late 2022, no color Kindle has emerged. It seems Amazon is waiting until color e-paper matches the performance of current models.

Other e-reader makers like Pocketbook and Ectaco have already integrated color EPD into products. So the pressure is on for Amazon to keep pace. Cost will likely remain the deciding factor on when we see a color Kindle. With their market dominance, Amazon has the luxury of waiting until color makes economic sense before implementing it.

For now, Kindle remains tied to black and white only. But the future almost certainly holds full color capabilities once the technology has ripened. As a leading e-reader producer, Amazon will eventually give readers the color experience they crave. But excellent readability, battery life and value will have to be maintained, and that may still take several years of color EPD advancement.

Current Workarounds for Color Ebooks

While Kindles are currently limited to black and white only, there are some workarounds for readers wanting to access color content:

Method Description Downsides
Convert to Grayscale Automatically convert color images in ebooks to grayscale – Loss of original color
– May lose details
Read on Tablet/Phone Use Kindle app or other e-reader apps on color tablet or phone – Smaller screens
– Strain on eyes
– Battery drain
Print to PDF Print color pages to PDF then transfer to Kindle – Time consuming
– Lose interactive features
Convert to B&W Manually convert images to black & white – Very time consuming
– Loss of color data
667 Experimental Browser Enable hidden web browser to view some color content – Very limited functionality

As you can see, the options for color content on Kindles are constrained and often come with significant disadvantages. For most seamless access to color books, graphics novels, children’s books and other vibrant content, a dedicated color e-reader or tablet is still necessary.

The Future of Kindle Color

Based on the gradual evolution of display technology and Amazon’s calculated product roadmap, educated guesses can be made about the future Kindle color timeline:

  • 2023 – Color Kindle prototype leaked/announced
  • 2024 – Low-volume color Kindle release
  • 2026 – Large scale color Kindle launch
  • 2028 – Majority of new Kindle models in color

Of course, breakthroughs in color E Ink could accelerate this schedule. But Amazon will likely delay until issues like ghosting, clarity, cost and battery drain meet their standards. In any case, it seems all but certain color Kindle models are on the horizon even if the exact year remains up in the air.


Although black and white e-readers fit the needs of most Kindle users today, color capabilities are the obvious next frontier. Amazon recognizes the demand but has not yet adopted color E Ink technology due to its drawbacks compared to traditional EPDs. However, with steady improvements in color e-paper readability and performance, Kindle will almost certainly go color in the next 5-10 years. For now, readers wanting color have limited workarounds. But the future is bright for a full featured, color Kindle model once the technology fully matures.