With so many e-readers on the market, choosing the right one for your needs can be challenging. You'll often find a device that checks a few boxes but not all. The Boox Leaf2 from Onyx, on the other hand, will tick plenty of those boxes thanks to its pleasant reading experience, range of features, and excellent software. It boasts a high-quality E Ink Carta 1200 display that mimics the look of real paper, making it ideal for long reading sessions without causing eye strain or discomfort.
Like its bigger brother featured on our best e-readers list, the Boox Leaf2 is packed with features like built-in speakers, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, physical page-turn buttons, a G-sensor for auto rotation, and dual-tone front lights. It even runs Android 11, giving you access to a vast library of third-party reading apps (among thousands of other Android apps), so you'll never be at a loss for something new to read.
The Boox Leaf2 is also extremely portable, with a small, thin, and lightweight design that makes it easy to take with you on the go, much like a Kindle. And with its decent battery life of around two weeks with minimal daily usage, you won't have to worry about running out of juice in the middle of your favorite book. Whether commuting to work, traveling, or relaxing at home, the Boox Leaf2 might become your new favorite e-reading companion.
The Boox Leaf2 is a stylish e-reader that comes with a full suite of apps and services, offering an excellent user experience for reading e-books and listening to audiobooks. It features a crisp 7-inch HD E Ink touchscreen display, convenient built-in page-turn buttons, two quality speakers, and an ultra-light and thin design that makes it perfect for reading on the go.
- Screen: 7" HD E Ink Carta black and white screen
- Resolution: 1680x1264
- Storage: 32GB
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (2.4GHz + 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.0
- Front Light: Front light with CTM (warm and cold)
- OS: Android 11
- Battery: 2,000mAh
- Buttons: Power button, page-turn buttons
- Weight: Black version: 185g, white version: 170g
- Dimensions: 156 x 137 x 6.0 mm
- CPU: Qualcomm Quad-core
- RAM: 2GB
- Document Formats: PDF, DJVU, CBR, CBZ, EPUB, AZW3, MOBI, TXT, DOC, DOCX, FB2, CHM, RTF, HTML, ZIP, PRC, PPT, PPTX
- Image Formats: PNG, JPG, BMP, TIFF
- Audio Formats: WAV, MP3
- Battery Life: Up to 26 days (standby mode)
- Built-in page-turn buttons for convenience
- Dedicated optimization options for each individual app
- Dual speakers for listening to audiobooks
- Access to the Google Play Store
- No auto-mode for the front lights
- Many Google Play Store apps aren’t optimized to run on the device
- Not waterproof
Price & availability
The Boox Leaf2 is available for $200 from the official Boox website and the Onyx Boox website, which is an authorized reseller in North America. While you won’t find it on Amazon, you can find it on a few other well-known websites like Target, Walmart, and B&H for the same price.
The highly functional e-reader is available in two color options: black with a flush screen (weighing 185g) and white with a recessed screen (weighing 170g) for a crisper viewing experience.
Design and what's in the box
The Boox Leaf2 e-reader comes with a microSD card ejection tool, a USB-C cable, a quick start guide, and a warranty, providing everything you need right out of the box. While a protective case isn’t included, one is available on the official website. It comes in two variations: mint green and light brown. It has a tri-fold front lid that can be folded to become a stand, and when you open and close the front cover, the device automatically enters sleep and wake mode.
When unboxing the Boox Leaf2, you’ll first notice the thin bezels around the top, right, and bottom edges, as well as how lightweight it is.
The built-in page-turn buttons on the left side of the screen are the next thing you'll notice, giving you a significantly wider bezel on that side. The buttons are extremely convenient since they help reduce how often you have to touch your screen, which means fewer fingerprints and less cleaning. Plus, their functionality can be further customized under "Side Key Settings." For instance, the buttons can perform a pre-programmed action when held down for a second or two.
At 156 x 137 x 6 mm, the Boox Leaf2 is fairly thin, comfortable to hold with one hand, and easy to carry wherever you go. The power button is located on the top of the Boox Leaf2, while everything else is on the left side of the device.
From top to bottom, you’ll find a speaker, the microSD card slot, another speaker, and finally, the USB-C port.
Overall, the Boox Leaf2 is a sleek and ergonomic device, all the way down to the modern rectangular page-turn buttons. Compared to similar e-readers, it’s thinner and has more of a boxy shape with slightly rounded corners, which is a real eye-catcher.
It’s thin enough to fit into a slim, medium-sized pocket on a backpack or purse. On top of that, the sharp, beautiful display looks good from all angles and doesn’t disappoint.
The 7-inch E Ink Carta touchscreen offers a high-quality resolution at 300 dpi, ensuring text is sharp and easy on the eyes.
The dual-tone front-lit display has a layer of glass that protects it from scratches and other damage and a special coating that reduces the likelihood of glare. The manual lighting settings for the display let you adjust the warm and cold lighting individually or in tandem for the perfect blend to suit your needs. This ensures you'll have a pleasant reading experience no matter the time of day.
To keep the screen clear and the text readable, you can manually refresh it as needed (from the pull-down options) and change the "full-refresh frequency" in Settings. It's measured in taps, so you can set it to refresh from every one tap up to every 30 taps.
The refresh rate setting doesn’t make a huge difference when using apps with a lighter background. For instance, the screen remains mostly clean and clear when it’s set at a low rate, like 5 to 10 taps. When you increase this to 20 to 30 taps, the screen is still pretty clear, but you will definitely see some ghosting, especially when there are a lot of larger text elements and images on a page. Nonetheless, it’s not overly distracting.
This all changes when using apps with a darker background; even at a lower refresh rate, the ghosting is more noticeable and annoying. The ghosting gets out of control at a higher refresh rate, the text becomes very hard to read, and the page elements become muddled. So if you plan on using apps with dark backgrounds or want to enable dark mode in an app’s settings, you’ll want to keep the refresh rate low to keep things readable.
Even though the customized OS packs its own launcher, menu bar, and settings, there are many Android features that remain familiar, like pull-down notifications and the ability to go back or home by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. There are also pull-down shortcuts for settings like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, volume, do not disturb, and airplane mode. You can also take screenshots and screen recordings and share files via Nearby Share and Bluetooth.
Admittedly, there are many options in Settings, and many of the native Boox apps also contain a lot of options, so it can take some time to customize everything to your liking. However, as someone who likes to explore every little setting, I can attest that the time invested is worth it since this helps to optimize the device and enhances your overall experience since it will be tuned to your preferences.
Thanks to the built-in speakers, you don’t need to connect a Bluetooth device to listen to audiobooks. The speakers offer clear, quality sound, and the maximum volume level is pretty loud, which is great for listening in high-traffic areas of the house.
The device also offers a text-to-speech service by Google, so you can listen to your e-books out loud using the speakers or a Bluetooth device. This converts the book text to synthesized speech and especially comes in handy while cooking or cleaning. After tapping the headphones icon, the book will be read out loud to you, and you can pause or stop as needed. While listening, you can adjust the volume of the voice and modify the speech speed.
While the Boox Leaf2 has no native notes feature, you can highlight and annotate your favorite passages and share them with friends. Auto rotation is another convenient feature; the device can do a complete 360, automatically adapting to any screen orientation you’d like to use.
Then there’s the MOON Light 2 feature, which allows you to independently adjust the brightness of cold and warm LED lights, making it easy to customize the lighting to your specific reading environment through two handy sliders.
Thanks to the native BooxDrop and PushRead apps, transferring files and content between the Boox Leaf2 and your computer or mobile device is a breeze. You’ll just need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network and visit the URL specified in the apps. While testing out this feature with the native BooxDrop app, I had no issues at all. The process is straightforward and works like your typical cloud service, like Google Drive and Dropbox, which are also supported since this is an Android device.
The Boox Leaf2 is equipped with a snappy Qualcomm Quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage, which allows for excellent performance when navigating the UI. It also features Bluetooth 5.0, two speakers, a microphone, a G-sensor for automatic rotation, and a 2,000 mAh battery, making it a well-rounded e-reader. The microSD card slot lets you add 512GB of storage, giving you ample space for all of your favorite e-books and audiobooks.
One of the most impressive things about the Boox Leaf2 is how smoothly its screens and pages transition. You'll barely notice the screen flashing from black to white; the only time it's more noticeable is when there's a full refresh. On the other hand, apps with dark or black backgrounds have very noticeable, unpleasant ghosting, so you'll want to refresh those more often. Luckily, you can play around with the convenient app optimization settings to tweak things to your liking, and each app offers its own settings to ensure that it runs smoothly.
You also get out-of-the-box access to the Google Play Store, operating as a skinned version of Android 11 that’s pretty smooth for an e-ink device. In heavier apps, it can be a little slow to respond, but the native apps are already optimized for a pleasant experience.
The Google Play Store gives you access to thousands of free and paid Android apps, although many aren’t optimized for E Ink screens and won’t have the best performance. Even worse, some apps may not work at all; for instance, I couldn’t get the Audible app to load. However, the compatible apps run very well, thanks to the competent internals.
Opening apps isn't an instant action; you do have to wait a few seconds for applications to load. It's also worth noting that native apps open slightly faster than third-party apps from the Google Play Store. The included web browser, NeoBrowser, is a rebranding of Google Chrome optimized for e-ink devices. When you first open it, you'll be given the option to turn on Lite mode, which is highly recommended for a much smoother experience. Browsing can be slow, but it gets the job done for quick searches and opening external links in apps.
Using the Boox Leaf2 is quite an enjoyable experience, as it runs smoothly and is very responsive. However, with only 2GB of RAM, things get extremely sluggish when numerous apps are open in the background. I found that after opening 3 to 4 apps, it’s best to close them to clear out the RAM and speed things back up a bit.
This is also likely where a built-in “freeze” feature automatically closes out certain apps to prevent them from running in the background when the device is idle. There is also a setting that automatically closes out unused apps after 7, 15, 30, or 60 days.
According to Onyx, the battery should last 26 days on a charge. Of course, this all depends on your overall usage. In Settings, you can customize the sleep mode and power-off times; there’s also an option to delay the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and audio connections after a specific amount of time when in sleep mode. The lower these are, the more battery you’ll save.
The front light will also contribute to how much battery is used; the brighter the display, the more battery power you’ll use. In addition, like with all Android-powered devices, some apps are more power-hungry than others. That said, with a 2,000 mAh battery, you can expect a few weeks of battery life with very light usage.
The Boox Leaf2 arrived with approximately 85% battery life, and after using it for a couple of hours each day, it completely died on the evening of day 13. Charging the battery up to 100% took just under 2 hours (1 hour and 58 minutes, to be exact) using a 30W charger. This is on par with similar devices.
Regarding specs and design, the Boox Leaf2 is very similar to the Kindle Oasis, which also offers a 7-inch 300 PPI display, built-in page turn buttons, and stylish cases. The latest version of the Kindle Oasis is from 2019, so it’s not using the latest technologies (like USB-C); it’s available with 8GB and 32GB of storage. The Kindle Oasis is USD $280 with lock screen ads and$300 without the ads. The Boox Leaf2, on the other hand, is free of ads and just $200; plus, it features the newer E Ink Carta 1200 display, released in 2021.
The Kindle Oasis is waterproof, unlike the Boox Leaf2, so if you’d like to read in the bathtub, pool, or at the beach, the Kindle Oasis is the better option. With the Kindle Oasis, you’re also locked into the Amazon ecosystem and can’t install third-party apps like you can with the Boox Leaf2. It also doesn’t have built-in speakers, so you’ll need to use Bluetooth to connect a headset or speaker to audiobooks. As you can see, the Boox Leaf2 is clearly a better option based on its features and price.
The Kobo Libra 2 is another similar e-reader with a 7-inch 300 PPI HD E Ink Carta 1200 display, 32GB of storage, Bluetooth, landscape mode, and built-in page turn buttons. It’s also available in both black and white variations. However, it’s slightly cheaper than the Boox Leaf2 at $190. While the Kobo Libra 2 doesn’t have built-in speakers, it offers a few advantages over the Boox Leaf2.
For instance, the Libra 2 is waterproof and has a native dark mode and ComfortLight Pro for manual and automatic brightness and color temperature adjustment. At 215g, it’s a bit heavier than the Boox Leaf2, which is 170-185g depending on the variation you choose; it’s also thicker. If you’re a huge fan of the Kobo ecosystem, it might be worth going with the Kobo Libra 2; however, the Boox Leaf2 gives you more freedom and customization options (like app optimization).
Should you buy it?
If it isn’t already obvious from the wide range of amazing features, you should definitely purchase the Boox Leaf2; it truly shines when compared to similar devices thanks to Android OS and its performant specs. The $200 price is a bit higher than some may want to spend on an e-reader, but it’s worth it for the high-quality display, built-in speakers, physical page-turn buttons, and the freedom to use any reading apps you’d like. Plus, you get 32GB of built-in storage, and you can add up to 512GB more through the microSD slot. Purchasing the Boox Leaf2 is a no-brainer for anyone who wants to store and read thousands of books, documents, and audiobooks.
Moreover, the long battery life ensures you can use it for days or weeks on a single charge, making it perfect for long trips and commutes. Let's not forget that the Boox Leaf2 doesn't lock you into a single ecosystem; you can choose anyone you want, thanks to the Google Play Store. Although finding an Android app that will run properly may take some trial and error, it's worth the extra effort. This advantage makes it an extremely versatile device catering to different needs and preferences.
While it's not waterproof, this isn't a deal-breaker for many people (including myself). My only real gripe is that the front lights cannot be set to adjust automatically to the environment; they can only be manually adjusted. This can be a pain if you like to read during the day and at night, especially since there's no way to save these settings. However, in the end, the Boox Leaf2 provides a high-quality and seamless experience worth considering for its impressive features and functionality.