iPhone apps: Kobo vs. Kindle

I last posted in November 2009 that I still can't get the hang of e-books. It's almost two years now and here I am not only stating that I am a confirmed e-book convert but trying hard to help a friend with hers too.

I was having a chat with Stella last week when she told me she purchased herself a Kindle. I asked if she realised she will not be able to buy e-books for her Kindle so easily. She did not. She was not happy to find that out and so I offered to help her figure it out, which I did.

Then I thought I could do the same with the Kindle app for my iPhone, since I am not too happy with Kobo now (long story, how it happened). And I now I am a happy Kindle customer. The Kindle app may not have the nice-to-have features like statistics and awards, but I find it better than Kobo.

Here are my take in comparing the two apps:

PerformanceKindle performs better. It has less waiting time and moves to a new chapter like another page. Kobo has a few seconds of waiting time from a chapter to another.Kindle
Turning the pagesIt does not give you a book-like page turning. It swipes. I did not like it at first but soon got used to it.I like Kobo that it emulates a real page quite well. I do prefer this on Kobo.Kobo
Search functionIt has the so-very-important search function. Nada. Go figure.Kindle
Reading between devicesKindle synchronises reading seamlessly between devices and backs up notes and highlights via Whispersync. It actually asks you first before the syncing to ensure you want to do it. I find that smart, so it does not automatically go to a page I do not want when I change devices.It does not sync between devices and I lost ALL my book highlights and more importantly, my notes. How that happened I'll tell later, when I feel less traumatised.Kindle
Storage of booksI am able to archive books in Kindle, so I can choose to keep a selected number of books in my devices.I can remove books from my app and later add it back by bookmarking it in the site. Not from the app like Kindle.Kindle
Reading in landscapeI like the way the iPad displays the book in landscape mode. It columnise the book into two making reading much easier. It really feels like I am reading a book book.Kobo does it all in one huge column.Kindle
Highlight and notationAccess to the highlights and notes in Kindle is just two taps away. You need three in Kobo. May not seem like a big difference but in an intense flow of reading a book, it does.Kindle
DictionaryOxford. Access right on the page you are reading, hence it might be truncated but most of the time, it is sufficient.Webster. The whole page comes up, making it easier to read. Provides options to check it out in Wikipedia and Google within the app. The strength over Kindle is that Kobo allows you to define phrases and not just one word.Kobo
Screen orientationKindle's screen orientation lock is very intuitive and can be performed in the midst of reading. For now, it uses the iPhone/iPad's orientation lock.Draw
Screen brightnessYou need to close the Kindle app, do it at Settings in iPhone and get back in. You can change the brightness of the screen right there on the book. Very useful.Kobo
Reading ProgressionKindle kept it simple. One progress bar in any page you are reading. It is good, important really, to know how far you are at any one point. However, it does not show you progress by chapter.It only show your progress within the chapter. You have no any idea how much into the book you've read. It may be better in iPad but I still could not figure what it actually shows.Draw
InterfaceKindle's interface could be improved. It will be nice to have books in shelves. Not necessary, but nice to have.I like Kobo's interface and it looks better. Books can be displayed in shelves. Display of books can be customised, new folders can be created. It logs your activities, reading patterns, it keeps track of which book you have finished. The awards a' la FourSquare are pretty cool, not necessary, but cool.Kobo
TextKindle fully justifies the text in the page leaving big gaps in some of the lines.Kobo is easier to read with word-hyphenation. I don't mind that it is not justified.Kobo
Copy and pasteA hard-to-get thing but still, I wish I had it. Kindle allows me to share selected text in Facebook or Twitter. Now, why would I want to do that?Kobo does not have it too but at least it allows me to email selected text, albeit limited. I email what I need to myself but it is a long piece, it is quite troublesome.Kobo

11/5/2012 update: I am encountering problems purchasing ebooks from both Kobo and Kindle, but I am not giving up on them, I am using them both now. And on the contrary, I am now all for ebooks. I wish I could exchange some of my book books into ebooks.

25/2/2013 update: Kobo has made improvements to its app and I am enjoying using it now. I have made updates to the above table and now there is a draw. However, I am not using Kindle as much now and if you do not agree with my points above on Kindle, let me know.



  1. I really loved using my Kindle on our trips this summer but haven't been using it much lateley. I think with the busyness of artprize and my new job...
    Anyway, I have an ArtPrize exhibit at our church and today I met a man originally from Malaysia and I thought of you my old blogging friend, so I came over to day hello.
    Check out my post from this past Wednesday to read more about the exhibit!

  2. Hey Julia,
    Sorry for the late response :)
    How did the exhibit go? I visited the site when I received this comment and I love it. Wish I was there in the middle of your creation. Did you win anything?


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