Amazon Kindle Scribe vs. Onyx Boox Note Air 2 Plus: Which e-ink tablet is best?

For many people, the Kindle Scribe is their first glimpse of an e-ink reader that actually lets you do more than just read e-books. But other brands like Onyx Boox and Remarkable have combined e-ink tablets with a stylus for years now. So the question is, how does Amazon's newcomer match up against more experienced companies? 

Onyx Boox has over a dozen e-ink options to choose from, but we've chosen the Onyx Boox Note Air 2 Plus as its best premium option to compare against Amazon's new flagship e-reader. From specs to features, here's what you need to know about how the Amazon Kindle Scribe matches up against the competition.

Amazon Kindle Scribe vs. Onyx Boox Note Air 2 Plus: Specs and design

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Amazon's new Kindle Scribe.

The Amazon Kindle Scribe.  (Image credit: Amazon)

From what Amazon has shared about the Amazon Kindle Scribe, it looks to maintain the quality of its fellow Kindle e-readers with a pixel-rich display with auto-adjusting light, a lightweight design, and weeks-long battery life. Amazon didn't reveal the tablet's processor or RAM, however, which is more important for an e-ink tablet that does more than just read e-books.

We're comparing it against the Onyx Boox Note Air 2 Plus, which doesn't have quite the same visual quality with 73 fewer pixels per inch but does have a solid 4GB of RAM powering a 2GHz octa-core processor. For comparison, the popular Remarkable 2 tablet has just 1GB of RAM, and 2-3GB is more common in most Fire tablets. 

Given the Kindle Scribe's estimated 4-12 weeks of battery depending on usage — while the Note Air 2 Plus allegedly lasts about a week per charge — it's likely the Scribe is more energy-efficient but packs less power. We'll know more once we review it.

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CategoryAmazon Kindle ScribeOnyx Boox Note Air 2 Plus
Display10.2-inch (300ppi), 16-level grayscale10.3-inch (227ppi), 16-level grayscale
LightAdjustable warm light and auto-adjusting front lightMOON Light 2
ProtectionUnknown, not waterproofASAHI protective glass, not waterproof
ColorTungstenDark green
Dimensions230 x 196 x 5.8mm229.4 × 195.4 × 5.8mm
Processor/RAMUnknown8-core, 2 GHz; 4GB
Storage16GB, 32GB (+$50), 64GB (+$80)64GB plus 5GB cloud storage
Operating systemFire OSAndroid 11
Supported formatsKindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; PDF, DOCX, DOC, HTML, EPUB, TXT, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion; Audible audio format (AAX)TXT, HTML, RTF, FB2,, MOBI, CHM, DOC, DOCX, PRC, EPUB, PDF, PPT, DjVu, JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, CBR, CBZ, MP3, WAV
Battery lifeEstimated 3 weeks with daily writing and wireless off3700 mAh

Both e-ink tablets have remarkably similar measurements, though the Onyx Boox is 0.4oz heavier. Sporting aluminum frames and a USB-C charging port, the two tablets each have a thicker bezel on the left-hand side that's meant for comfortably gripping it while your other hand writes with the included stylus. 

Both tablets come with a basic magnetic stylus that can attach to their respective tablets, as well as the option to upgrade to a "premium" or "pro" stylus. The Amazon Premium Pen has a dedicated eraser and a shortcut button to activate whichever tool you most often use (like a highlighter). The Onyx Boox Pen2 Pro has an "ergonomic shaft" and a dedicated eraser as well, though no shortcut button. 

You'll also appreciate that both tablets have dynamic lighting. Like the Kindle Oasis, the Kindle Scribe has adjustable warm light and auto-adjusting front light based on the room you're in. And the Onyx Boox Note Air 2 Plus has a MOON Light 2 backlight, which also lets you adjust between warm and cold LEDs and has "Flicker-Free" tech.

Onyx Boox says its tablet has Asahi protective glass to prevent scratches and other damages. We don't know yet what kind of protection Amazon added, except that it doesn't have IPX8 water resistance like the Kindle Paperwhite and Oasis tablets. 

Onyx Boox tablets run Android apps, including Kindle

A man circles a passage on the Onyx Boox Note Air 2 Plus with his stylus.

The Onyx Boox Note Air 2 Plus. (Image credit: Onyx Boox)

The reason that the The Onyx Boox Note Air 2 Plus needs RAM is the same for any Android tablet: to run apps. It can technically support any Android 11 app despite using e-ink instead of a traditional LCD. 

In practice, as we saw with the Onyx Boox Nova3 Color, certain apps like video streaming or gaming apps look terrible because e-ink refresh rates can't keep up without major ghosting. But if you ignore those outliers, you can download anything from email apps (Gmail, Outlook) to e-book apps (Kindle, Kobo) and browsers like Chrome and get the full experience. And because it's an e-ink tablet, you won't get the same eye strain you'd deal with from a computer or traditional tablet. 

Ghosting — where artifacts of past screens remain partially visible when you scroll down a page on an e-ink display — could still be an issue unless you're constantly refreshing the screen, which looks distracting. Onyx Boox says that its "SNOW Field" screen mode solves this issue, "partially refreshing" the screen to prevent ghosting.

A woman sketches on the Onyx Boox Note Air 2 Plus

(Image credit: Onyx Boox)

The electronic paper display has two layers, a capacitive layer for multi-finger swipes and a Wacom sensor layer for the stylus. The device recognizes the vast majority of open-source file types. It can connect to other devices like headphones via Bluetooth, in case you want to listen to audiobooks with the Audible app.

Overall, this pricey e-ink tablet will work for reading and annotating e-books but is mainly designed with serious productivity in mind. It's something you'll want to bring with you to daily meetings to check messages and take notes. 

The Amazon Kindle Scribe sticks to the Kindle template

A person jotting down some notes on a PDF work document on a Kindle Scribe.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Unlike the Amazon Fire tablets, which run a Fire OS skin over an Android interface and support a limited number of Android apps, it appears the Kindle Scribe sticks to Amazon's proprietary software. Amazon describes the Kindle Scribe's main function as to "add notes to books, mark up documents, create to-do lists, and generally write on the screen just like paper." It's an e-ink notebook for annotating PDFs and Kindle e-books, first and foremost. 

Along with working in the Kindle app, Amazon says the tablet will include "templates for notetaking and to-do lists." And in 2023, it'll launch Send to Kindle, which lets users "transfer content from their computer or phone for reading or notetaking, including PDF, Microsoft Word, and other document formats."

In other words, the Kindle Scribe is sticking to a much more straightforward purpose of notetaking, eschewing productivity apps that you'll find on the Onyx Boox. In doing so, Amazon could make a lighter and longer-lasting e-ink tablet because it doesn't need powerful memory to support ancillary apps. If you want more productivity features, Amazon expects you to choose something like the Fire HD 10 instead. 

Amazon Kindle Scribe vs. Onyx Boox Note Air 2 Plus: Which should you buy?

Someone cuddled with their Amazon Kindle Scribe and enjoying a book.

(Image credit: Amazon)

It's easy to make a case for the Amazon Kindle Scribe. The popular Kindle and Audible ecosystems are built right into the OS. It's slightly more comfortable to hold. The extra display resolution will make reading and writing on it more pleasant, and the Premium Pen has that useful shortcut button. Plus, even if you upgrade to 64GB to match the Note Air 2 Plus, the Kindle Scribe will save you about $80.

On the other hand, you have to ask yourself what you'll use this tablet for. If it's mainly for note-taking, then the focused Kindle Scribe has the straightforward tools that you need. But if you want a larger app library and don't mind some trade-offs with the display and battery, the Onyx Boox Note Air 2 Plus should be your choice based solely on its Android 11 support.

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, Wearables & AR/VR

Michael is Android Central's resident expert on wearables and fitness. Before joining Android Central, he freelanced for years at Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, and Digital Trends. Channeling his love of running, he established himself as an expert on fitness watches, testing and reviewing models from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, Suunto, and more.