The 9 Best Android Tablets of 2021

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The Rundown
This slate is yet another win for Samsung, offering an incredible 2-in-1 tablet with a gorgeous screen and powerful specs.
The Galaxy Tab S6 isn't the flagship anymore, but it still has a gorgeous screen and powerful specs to make it a worthwhile buy.
Best iPad Alternative:
Lenovo P11 Pro at Walmart
A great Android tablet for those who want something that resembles an iPad but don't want to use iOS.
Best for Kids/Family:
Amazon Fire HD 10 at EBay
The 10-inch Fire HD, the largest and most powerful of the company's offerings, is still one of the cheapest tablets you'll find anywhere.
Best for Productivity:
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 at Amazon
The Tab S7 pared with a keyboard and stylus can turn into a productivity powerhouse, just like its more costly sibling, the S7+.
If you're looking for a tablet to make calls and utilize mobile data, the brand new LTE enabled Tab A is your best choice.
Best Ultra-Budget:
Amazon Fire 7 at Amazon
The Fire 7 tablet is one of the cheapest Android tablets on the market and is a particularly good budget option for kids.
If you're looking for a high-quality tablet that won't break the bank, the Tab S6 Lite has a lot to offer.
For an affordable 8-inch tablet, the Fire HD 8 offers a good combination of price and performance.

The best Android tablets hit a wide range of price points and features. Top-tier flagship Android slates like the latest Samsung Galaxy Tab series feature powerful processors, high-resolution, high refresh displays, quad speakers, and attractive premium designs. The higher-end tablets also offer accessories like a keyboard and stylus, essentially turning them into a 2-in-1 and allowing to use them for productivity, note-taking, and drawing.

Despite the numerous high-end options, there are also mid-range and budget Android tablets. Amazon's Fire series, for instance, doesn't have the most powerful hardware but its affordable price and sturdy build makes it a great choice for families with children. If you're on a tight budget, be sure to take a look at our roundup of the most affordable tablets. And for a wider range of options regardless of operating system, take a look at our overview of the best tablets.

Otherwise, read on to see the best Android tablets to get for any purpose.

Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+
What We Like
  • Beautiful 12.4-inch AMOLED screen

  • Tons of processing power and some software tricks

  • Premium build quality and design

  • S-Pen comes included

What We Don't Like
  • Suffers from non-tablet apps

  • Slightly odd aspect ratio

  • Fairly expensive

The Galaxy Tab S7+ is the newest flagship tablet from Samsung is a powerful 2-in-1 device that builds on previous generations. Both it and its S7 variant boast gorgeous 12.4-inch Super AMOLED displays, a thin, lightweight build, and additional accessories like a keyboard and S-Pen to get a full laptop experience. Front and center is a high refresh 120Hz display, giving you smooth, seamless performance for multitasking and games.

Under the hood, you're looking at a device with a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor and configuration options of 6GB or 8GB RAM and 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage. All the variants of the slate can take an additional 1TB in microSD memory. You also have the option of picking up a 5G connected model, giving you data connectivity everywhere you go on top of the dual-band Wi-Fi 6. Needless to say, the Tab S7+ is a tablet without compromise.

Screen Size: 12.4 inches | Resolution: 2800x1752 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ | Camera: 13MP/5MP rear and 8MP front | Battery: 10,090mAh

"When paired with the additional keyboard cover, operating in DeX mode looks and feels almost like a hybrid of a Chromebook and a Windows laptop experience." Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Best Value: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
What We Like
  • S Pen included

  • Vibrant display

  • Dual rear cameras

  • Thin and durable design

  • Atmos-supported speakers

What We Don't Like
  • Keyboard cover not included

  • Less battery capacity than previous model

  • Pricey

If a premium tablet experience could only come from an iPad, no one told Samsung. The Galaxy Tab S6 is last year's flagship model, and it certainly looks the part. Samsung's Super AMOLED display technology is applied to stunning effect on its nearly bezel-free 2560x1600-pixel 10.5-inch screen. While thinner and lighter than its predecessors, the Tab S6 manages to pack in even more power. Its Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 mobile processor doesn't match the performance of Apple's iPad Pro, but it can easily tackle any day-to-day tasks, including multitasking and basic gaming.

To function as a 2-in-1 tablet, the Tab S6 connects to a detachable keyboard cover much like Microsoft's Surface Pro does. And like the Surface Pro, this essential keyboard is sold separately and adds to an already rich price tag. The S Pen stylus comes included, though, snapping magnetically to a spot on the back of the tablet. It's an excellent accessory that's handy not just for drawing and jotting down notes, but also for Bluetooth controls and new motion gestures.

Perhaps more helpful for productivity is Samsung DeX, which extends a desktop-ish version of your interface onto an external display, all while keeping your device in tablet mode. In our hands-on experience, using the Tab S6 with DeX along with a keyboard made for something very close to a productive laptop experience.

Screen Size: 10.5 inches | Resolution: 2560x1600 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 | Camera: 13MP/5MP rear and 8MP front | Battery: 7,040mAh

"I was able to use the S6 on and off for most of the day, and I still had some battery leftover for the next day."Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best iPad Alternative: Lenovo P11 Pro

Lenovo P11 Pro
What We Like
  • Excellent build quality

  • Solid battery life

  • Reasonably affordable price point

What We Don't Like
  • Middle-of-the-road performance

  • Display lacks a bit of definition

  • Some software quirks

The Lenovo P11 Pro is the best Android tablet you can purchase from Lenovo, and even though it isn’t the best Android tablet you can purchase, period, it does bring a lot of interesting features to the table. Because Lenovo is, first and foremost, a laptop manufacturer, the build quality particularly of the keyboard cover bundle is pretty solid. The cloth covering on the outside of this keyboard cover, plus the high-quality unibody aluminum build of the tablet itself, make for a really premium hardware experience. 

Once you get the tablet powered on, there are a few things you’ll notice. The 2560 x 1600 OLED screen, from a color perspective, is vibrant and beautiful. But because the display uses Pentile tech, there’s some fuzziness you’ll notice on particularly small text. The Snapdragon 730G isn’t the flagship Qualcomm chip, but it will handle almost anything short of heavy gaming with ease.

You can pick up the tablet with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM, though you’ll want the higher total for productivity. The battery life is billed at up to 15 hours of use and is more capable than even the more premium offerings from Samsung. All of this comes in at a price right around $500, which isn’t terrible but might irk some users when you factor in the mid-tier processor and less-desirable display tech.

Screen Size: 11.5 inches | Resolution: 2560x1600 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G | Camera: 13MP/5MP rear and 8MP/8MP front | Battery: 8,600mAh

"The 350 nits of brightness offers plenty of range and the 11.5 inches of real estate make it an excellent screen for watching videos and gaming."Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Best for Kids/Family: Amazon Fire HD 10

Amazon Fire HD 10
What We Like
  • Kid-friendly

  • Crisp and bright HD screen

  • Fluid navigation

What We Don't Like
  • Restricted operating system

  • Middling audio

  • Poor multitasking performance

While they technically run on Android, Amazon's line of Fire HD tablets use the company's own version of the operating system called Fire OS, promoting Amazon's collection of content rather than anything from Google. That means, unfortunately, no access to the vast array of apps on the Google Play store. But Amazon has no shortage of media either, and Amazon Prime subscribers in particular benefit from seamless access to their purchased shows, movies, and music.

Perhaps the biggest selling point, though, is that Amazon makes their tablets available for pretty much unbeatably low prices. Its sharp 224ppi IPS screen, 2.0GHz octa-core processor, 2GB RAM, and 32 or 64GB storage (expandable by 512GB) represent a great value at the price, even if it's leagues behind iPads and more premium Android tablets. It's enough to put all your (mostly Amazon-purchased) media at your fingertips—and you get the Alexa hands-free voice assistant to help you out along the way. If you have kids, the Fire HD 10 comes in a durable Kid's Edition with a special case and parental controls.

Screen Size: 10.1 inches | Resolution: 1920x1280 | Processor: Mediatek MT8183 Helio P60T| Camera: 2MP rear and 2MP front | Battery: 6,300mAh

"Software-wise, it’s a double-edged sword depending on how much you use Amazon’s line of products and services." — Jordan Oloman, Product Tester

Best for Productivity: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7
What We Like
  • Excellent display and hardware

  • Slim, portable design

  • Reasonably priced

What We Don't Like
  • No AMOLED display

  • Necessary keyboard cover costs extra

  • Some hiccups from Android

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 is an excellent, mid-tier tablet that just happens to run Android. It’s no secret that Android, as a mobile operating system, is just not nearly as optimized for tablets as Apple’s iPad equivalent. There is plenty to like about the Tab S7, and that starts with the hardware. While the Tab S7 doesn’t have the AMOLED panel seen on the Tab S7+ (the most obvious difference between the two), its 11-inch IPS display is insanely sharp, and still one of the best LCD panels you can get. It has a 120Hz refresh rate, so it feels ultra smooth whether you’re watching HD video or just swiping around the menus and settings.

This refresh rate also helps with the S-Pen, which feels remarkably lifelike in drawing and note taking, thanks also to the Wacom-support stylus tech and the sub-9 ms latency. And, because the S-Pen comes bundled with the Tab S7 at no extra charge, the only accessory you might buy is the official keyboard cover from Samsung (and we recommend it because it will expand the functionality a lot).

Speaking of that productivity, another key advantage of going with the Tab S7 is the clever Samsung DeX option. This basically operates like a skin on top of Samsung’s One UI and makes everything look like a laptop operating system--letting you open multiple overlapping windows and browse files in a taskbar-based experience. The display feels a little small for heavy productivity, but it will certainly do the trick in a pinch.

The Snapdragon 865+ and the integrated graphics are also very capable of running games, which is great because since Xbox Game Pass lets you stream triple-A titles right to your tablet, it makes the Tab S7 a viable gaming option. The base configuration with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM will run you about $650, which isn’t cheap but also not exorbitant. What’s nice is you can expand the storage with microSD card compatibility. Overall, if you don’t have allegiances to the iOS ecosystem, and you don’t mind getting past a few of the Android hiccups, this is a very recommendable tablet.

Screen Size: 11.0 inches | Resolution: 2560x1600 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ | Camera: 13MP/5MP rear and 8MP front | Battery: 8,000mAh

"The Tab S7 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865+ processor—essentially the fastest mobile chip on the market outside of Apple’s proprietary Bionic series tablet chips."Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Best with LTE: Samsung Galaxy Tab A (2019)

Galaxy Tab A 8"
What We Like
  • Compact

  • Lightweight

  • 4G compatible

  • Decent sound quality

  • Has a headphone jack

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't work with S Pen

  • Relatively low resolution

  • Mediocre rear camera

While they're not at the same level as the higher-end Tab S series, Samsung still brings a high-quality Android experience to the table with its mid-range Galaxy Tab A tablets. Samsung's brand new version of the Tab A comes in a very attractive 8.4-inch chassis, a great blend of portability and usability (bolstered by an extremely sharp 1920x1080 full HD display, up from the previous generations 1280x800). There's a powerful octa-core processor replacing the quad-core Snapdragon, an upgraded 5MP camera, and, most importantly for some, LTE support so you can make and take calls and utilize mobile data anytime you're away from a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Though the battery is slightly smaller in the 2020 model (though only barely, at 5,000mAh vs. 5,100mAh), it's still got the capacity to keep you browsing, reading, and gaming for long stretches without needing to be reupped. It's also very affordable for an LTE tablet, and is also available as a purely Wi-Fi device for even less, directly through Samsung's website. It's a sharp, versatile, powerful modern tablet and a new high water mark for Samsung's tablet offerings.

Screen Size: 8.0 inches | Resolution: 1280x800| Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 429| Camera: 8MP rear and 2MP front | Battery: 5,100mAh

"The Galaxy Tab A is compact and lightweight, weighing only 10.6 ounces. You can easily hold it in one hand, as it measures only 7.95 inches tall and 4.93 wide." — Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best Ultra-Budget: Amazon Fire 7 Tablet

What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Offers access to most apps and Amazon services

  • Alexa built-in

What We Don't Like
  • Need to pay extra to get rid of ads

  • Not the best specs for more intensive use

The Fire 7 tablet is the single most affordable Android tablet on the market, period. Its base model is 16GB and costs just $50, but you also have the option of a 32GB model for $70. Getting it without ads will also drive up the price by another $15. Fundamentally, what you have here is a very affordable tablet that runs on Amazon's locked-down operating system and gives you access to all the various Amazon services and apps. Like all the other Amazon Fire tablets it has Amazon Alexa built-in allowing you to interact with the tablet through voice commands and also use it with smart home devices.

The 7-inch screen is IPS, giving you good viewing angles, though the 1024x600 resolution is a little on the fuzzy side at 171ppi. The processor is also nothing to write home about, consisting of a 1.3GHz quad-core CPU and 1GB of RAM. It's enough to get most basic browsing, web apps, and some games, but not much beyond that. Still, for the price, it's hard to ask for much more. The Fire 7 serves as a great device for Kindle books, Netflix, Spotify, Audible, Prime Video, and other services. The only thing you won't have access to is Google services like Google docs, Chrome, and Google Sheets, but ultimately that's not a huge deal since the Fire 7 wasn't designed with productivity in mind. As a kid's tablet or general living room family tablet, it'll do a great job.

Screen Size: 7 inches | Resolution: 1024x600 | Processor: 1.3GHz quad-core | Camera: 2MP rear and VGA front | Battery: 8 hours regular usage

Best Mid-Range: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
What We Like
  • Reasonable mid-range price

  • Includes S Pen

  • Solid audio quality

  • Fairly attractive design

What We Don't Like
  • Screen isn't Super AMOLED

  • No keyboard support

The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a more affordable variation of the Tab S6 which makes some small, but necessary sacrifices to hit a lower price point. You get a slightly lower resolution 10.4-inch 2000x1200 display compared to the 2560x1600 panel on the S6. Another downside is that this isn't Samsung's rich Super AMOLED screen so you won't get the bright, saturated colors and dense, inky blacks, with the dense and inky blacks Samsung's AMOLED screens are known for.

Under the hood is an Exynos 9610 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. You can also use a microSD card slot if you need more space. It can handle browsing and a reasonable amount of multitasking, but it won't be a good option if you like to play games. It doesn't have quad speakers, but it does support dual stereo speakers with solid audio that's enhanced by AKG and Doly Atmos so it's still a nice option for watching Netflix.

Another place this slate excels is for a certain amount of productivity. That's because it comes with the S Pen, allowing it you to use it for writing and sketching. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with a keyboard attachment like the Tab S6 or S7+ so you're held back from using it as a full 2-in-1 laptop replacement.

Screen Size: 10.4 inches | Resolution: 2000x1200 | Processor: Exynos 9611 | Camera: 8MP rear and 5MP front | Battery: 7,040mAh mAh

Best Mid-Sized: Amazon Fire HD 8 (10th Generation) Tablet

All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet
What We Like
  • Great screen for streaming services

  • Kid-friendly

  • Hands-free Alexa

What We Don't Like
  • Sluggish performance

  • Tinny audio

  • Locked-down OS

The Fire HD 8 is an 8-inch tablet from Amazon that punches above its weight and modest price point when it comes to capabilities. You get an 8-inch 1280x800 display which gives you reasonably crisp text and graphics, but it won't look as good as the higher resolution Samsung tablets on this list. Performance is enough that you can run most apps and some games, but don't expect to be doing any serious multitasking and productivity.

The real value of the HD 8 comes in its ability to keep kids occupied. It has parental controls built-in and you can throw on a bumper case with Amazon's Kid's Edition, giving you a bit of extra protection. All this gives you an affordable tablet that can handle streaming, Kindle books, and some games without breaking the bank.

Screen Size: 8.0 inches | Resolution: 1280x800 | Processor: MediaTek MT8168 | Camera: 2MP rear and 2MP front | Battery: Up to 12 hours regular usage

"If you’re looking for a nondescript tablet on a tight budget, the Fire HD 8 is a great option." — Jordan Oloman, Product Tester

Final Verdict

For Android users looking for a device without compromise, the best tablet to get is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ (view at Amazon). It's the most powerful 2-in-1 Android tablet on the market, with a gorgeous high refresh display, powerful processor, and plenty of productivity features due to the Book Cover and S Pen. For a much more affordable alternative for kids, we like the Amazon Fire HD 10 (view at Amazon) for its durable bumper case and effective parental controls.

About our Trusted Experts

Bill Loguidice has more than 20 years' experience writing for a variety of major technology publications including TechRadar, PC Gamer, and Ars Technica. He's passionate about all forms of technology and how they continue to impact and enrich our lives every day.

Jordan Oloman holds a Master's in Media and Journalism and has written for a number of publications about gaming and tech, including in-depth tablet testing and reviews for Lifewire.

Anton Galang started as a writer and editor in the tech industry in 2007. He focuses on the areas of technology and education, reviewing and writing about a variety of products for Lifewire.

Andy Zahn has been reviewing products for Lifewire since 2019, and he has a background in consumer technology and photography.

Erika Rawes has been writing for Lifewire since 2019, and also writes for DigitalTrends, USA Today, and other publications.

Jason Schneider has been writing for Lifewire since 2019 and boasts ten years' worth of experience covering consomer technology.

Ajay Kumar is a Tech Editor at Lifewire with nearly ten years of experience covering the industry. He's previously been published on PCMag and Newsweek where he reviewed hundreds of phones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

FAQs

What is the best 7-inch Android tablet?
Our favorite 7-inch Android tablet is the highly affordable Amazon Fire Tablet 7. It costs just $50, making it one of the most affordable tablets on the market. The 7-inch screen is IPS, and it has 1GB RAM and a 1.3GHz quad-core CPU. Despite Amazon's walled garden, it can work with most multimedia apps and services like Netflix, Spotify, Audible, Kindle, and more.

What is the best 10-inch Android tablet?
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is a more affordable mid-range slate than the high-end S7+, but it still offers a great set of hardware and features. It comes with a Snapdragon 670 processor, up to 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, and a 14.5-hour battery life. The Super AMOLED screen is bright and crisp, making it a great choice for multimedia content consumption.

Which tablet is best, Android or Windows?
The Android OS tends to be more geared toward multimedia than productivity compared to Windows slates. Windows tablets like the 2-in-1 Surface Go 2 offer the advantage of being able to run Microsoft programs and services like Photoshop, Word, Excel, and others. They also come with a detachable keyboard and can work with a stylus for note-taking and drawing. That said, many Android slates, like the latest Galaxy S7+ have closed the gap, offering the same accessories for productivity, coming with multitasking abilities, and even being able to run desktop programs.

The Ultimate Android Tablet Buying Guide

As far as gadgets go, the Android tablet market is probably more limited than you might think. This is largely due to two things: Apple and Microsoft have commanded the tablet/all-in-on market in a big way, and the Android OS is probably not the preference when you can get a tablet-style laptop that runs full-on Windows. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a nice tablet with Android—there are plenty of capable options out there. What it does mean is that your decision isn’t quite as cumbersome as if you’re searching for one of the best laptops.

Tablets now occupy an interesting space in the market. The aforementioned Microsoft Surface line has all but pushed true Android tablets to the non-business part of the market. As a result, Android tablets are often just entertainment devices, similar to iPads, and as such the power and processing requirements aren’t the key focus. One part of the market that Android tablets are truly shining in is on the budget end, as Amazon’s line of Kindle Fire tablets can be seen everywhere from kids’ playrooms to bulk-ordered tablets for storefronts and businesses. If you’re looking to get into the tablet world without breaking the bank, these tablets can be a great choice, but they don't offer deliver cutting edge performance.

There’s still a solid number of choice, high-end Android tablets to choose from, including offerings from Samsung, Asus, and Lenovo, but also from overseas, “flagship killer” brands like Huawei. In this guide, we’ll break down the key pillars when shopping for a tablet, from form factor and display to processing power and battery life.

Galaxy Tab S5e
Lifewire / Bill Loguidice 

Size, Weight, and Durability

The design of any tablet has to balance two factors: sleekness and durability. If your tablet is too thin and futuristic, it risks being bent in your bag. But if your tablet is too thick and chunky, it’ll be hard to handle. Take the Galaxy Tab S6, a current flagship from Samsung—at only 5.7mm thick and weighing a mere 420g, this tablet goes toe to toe with Apple’s flagship iPad pro on the sleekness scale. But because Samsung seems to have used a more durable metallic enclosure, there is slightly less concern about durability.

On the other end of the market, you’ll find the Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet. This device sports a similar footprint on the display side, but measures nearly 10mm thick, and ways almost 100g more. This more affordable take on the 10-inch tablet definitely sacrifices sleekness.

One last note on durability is the presence of water and dust resistance. There are a slew of non-flagship tablets out there that do offer some degree of ruggedness (there’s even a Galaxy Tab Active), but the Sony Xperia Z series is one of the only lines that offered an IP rating with their main tablets. The rest of the market seems to have decided that users don’t need to use tablets in the elements, and have elected to move away from IP ratings. If you’re planning to use your tablet for flying drones outdoors or to bring with you on hikes, you’ll need to go for a decidedly less sleek, more rugged Android tablet.

Display

In general, you’ll find tablets in two main sizes: Roughly seven-inch mini tablets and roughly ten-inch full-sized tablets. There are a lot of other sizes in between from some brands (Amazon offers an 8-inch Kindle Fire, for example), but the main conversation when it comes to display is whether you want portability or an immersive screen. As far as resolution goes, tablets have not been immune to the pixel wars that have been raging in the smartphone space.

Flagship tablets from Samsung will give you around 2500x1500 in resolution (what is often referred to as UHD or QHD). You won’t tend to find 4K resolution on tablets though, as the screen size doesn’t really require it in the same way that a flatscreen TV does. Anything that is in the 2000-pixel territory, essentially doubling what we used to consider true-HD, 1080p resolution, will be more than enough for the average human eye.
Most premium tablets will feature OLED technology for the most vibrant colors and truest blacks, but if you go for more budget options, expect to see an IPS display or LCD. This, again, isn’t a huge deal since you’ll be looking at the screen so close to your face. But since these tablets are largely focused on entertainment, making sure that Netflix streaming looks as good as possible is actually a pretty prevalent concern.

Processor, Storage, and RAM

Many Android users know all too well how important it is for an Android device to be built around top-tier internals. That’s largely because so many different brands develop different hardware that needs to run Android’s software (more on that later), rather than a soup-to-nuts iOS experience. On the processor front, you’ll see most Android tablets running a mobile processor, most typically from the brand Qualcomm. The latest iteration, the Snapdragon 855, can provide speeds nearing 3 GHz on a single core, and many of the most premium tablets will go for a four- or even eight-core setup. While these aren’t CPUs that you’ll see in a high-end laptop, they are more than enough processing power for a tablet experience.

The other side of the performance coin is how much RAM is included. You’ll see a lot more variance in this, but tablets will usually have at least 2GB of RAM, and sometimes up to 8 GB. Additionally, you’ll find Android tablets that offer as little as 16GB of pure internal storage (like the budget level Asus tablets) and as much as 512GB or even 1TB of storage on truly flagship models. All of these numbers are important, but they should only be purchase deciders if you plan to use your Android tablet as a full-on computer. Most people who want to play mobile games, browse the web, or watch video, will find that even 2 or 4GB of RAM is enough, and those same users likely won’t need to store files directly on the tablet.

Speakers, Camera, and Interface

Huawei MediaPad M5
 Lifewire / Bill Loguidice

The main way you’ll interact with a tablet is via the touchscreen (though we’ll address computer-style peripherals in the accessories section later on). Beyond the display, the other important factor for entertainment is the speaker system on-board. Because tablets are larger than smartphones and have more space for a pair of sizable speakers, and because they can be positioned further apart, you’ll get a better stereo spread. However, similar to laptops, this likely won’t be the focal point of your tablet as there really aren’t any brands that do this well. In general, the bigger the tablet, the louder and fuller the speakers will sound.
While flagship tablets from brands like Amazon will give you dual camera setups (13MP & 5MP on the Galaxy Tab S6), budget brands won’t provide quite that resolution. And because these tablets are in most cases entertainment devices rather than on-the-go camera stand-ins like smartphones, this is not a huge focus for this category.

Software

Android is an operating system designed, first and foremost, for mobile phones. As a result, it’s really ideal for tablet usage that leans in that direction, rather than treating it like a computer. Google itself has sort of confirmed this fact by opting for Chrome OS in the Pixel Slate, rather than Android. The latest version, Android 10, is certainly getting closer to a computer-like experience, offering improved performance and stepping up multi-tasking. We recommend limiting your modern tablet search to those devices that feature Android 10 or at least Android 9, as these are the two most recent versions, and will likely get timelier support and updates. Android does roll out updates regularly, but they can be slow to arrive for some brands.

The other consideration on the software front is the “skin” that many manufacturers put over the raw Android OS. While Apple builds their iPads themselves and loads them up with software that has been designed specifically for the hardware, Android devices usually require a bit of porting for the software to work well on the wildly different hardware out there. Samsung is a brand notorious for putting heavy UI skins on Android, ultimately eating up more processing power than necessary. This is why many people seek what’s called “Stock Android” from their phones and tablets. The closest example to this that we could find is in the Huawei MediaPad. This device offers a really light skin out of the box, and as a result, runs very smoothly.

Battery Life and Connectivity

One last feature consideration is how friendly a tablet is to your on-the-go lifestyle. That basically breaks down into a couple of categories. Firstly, battery life is an important concern if you’re planning to rely on your tablet for long trips or business meetings. Because these devices are larger than smartphones, they have more room for bigger batteries, but they also have much larger screens to power. Most Android tablets will have a battery around 7,000mAh, and these will tend to last you around 10 to 15 hours of video watching—basically enough for a full day of basic use.

If you’re on the go, the other thing to consider is whether you want cellular connectivity or if Wi-Fi will suffice. Many tablet models will offer the same exact device with and without the 4G connectivity, but you’ll likely have to pay a premium (sometimes a few hundred dollars) to get that feature—not including the monthly charge you’ll incur on the service itself. And, because most people use a tablet as a secondary device in addition to their phone, the inclusion of cell service is very specific to those that want to use their tablet as a primary device. Otherwise, we recommend getting a Wi-Fi-only model and using your phone’s hotspot.

Price

Because Android tablets don’t quite have the mainstream market share of, say, Apple and Microsoft, you can actually find great value throughout the full range. Flagship units from marquis brands can run you a reasonable $500 retail price tag, even for top specs and a big, beautiful display. You can also find a lot of great value in the middle of the range, with options from Lenovo’s Tab line hovering around $200. You can even get into the Android tablet game for as little as $50 (even less during holiday sales) if you go for a bottom-spec Kindle Fire. We actually find that it’s really hard to find super-premium Android tablets, like you’d find with the latest iPad Pro, because when you get to that price point, most manufacturers will switch to a touchscreen laptop or a Chrome tablet setup.

Popular Brands

Samsung:

The king of the Android phone market is sort of the de facto king of the Android tablet market. These aren’t necessarily the best tablets for the money, but if you love the Samsung experience, going for something in the Tab S line (even a generation or two old) is an excellent deal.

Amazon:

Known originally as the Kindle e-reader manufacturer, Amazon has made a nice name for themselves in the tablet space. The Kindle Fire line is far from flashy—even the premium HD versions suffer from spotty performance. But this is a great place to start if you want to get a tablet for your kids or need to bulk order a few tablets for use in your business or classroom.

Lenovo:

One of the most capable manufacturers of tablets is Lenovo, and even though many of the touchscreen offerings lean the way of Windows (like the Yoga series), you’ll find excellent options in their Android-centric range.

Huawei:

The wild card in the game comes from Huawei. While many of this Chinese brand’s products are currently difficult to get in every country, you can’t argue that the MediaPad line gives you clean, snappy performance for a fraction of the price of more well-known brands. These aren’t budget tablets, but for the performance, they are a steal.

Lenovo Tab 4
 Lifewire / Bill Loguidice

Accessories

The obvious accessories available are cases and screen protectors. There are plenty of offerings from key brands like Speck and Incipio, but because Android tablets aren’t as prevalent as Apple products, you just won’t find the same breadth of variety, especially if you have a lesser-known model from Huawei or Asus. Amazon does offer some kid-centric Kindle Fire bundles that feature really rugged cases and some software add-ons to enhance.

The real standout accessories deal with productivity. Samsung, for instance, offers a really nice Bluetooth keyboard case for getting work done, and the latest Tab S6 comes standard with the now ubiquitous S Pen. In fact, many tablets offer keyboard cases and will function reasonably well with styluses. Again, this is mostly important for those who want a replacement for their laptop, rather than those who are just browsing and watching video. But seeing as iPads and Surface products are taking over a lot of the traveling business world, it’s important to note that you can get pretty close to that experience here, too.

Conclusion

Android tablets are sort of the black sheep of the tablet space. They aren’t quite full-on computers as the Android OS is really not set up for that. On the other hand, because so many hardware manufacturers have to retrofit Android to their devices, you aren’t getting the clean, stock experience of an iPad. What you do get with Android tablets is customization of the OS (like you’d see on an Android phone) and, most importantly, a really good deal. Because the demand is lower, as long as you don’t need a full-on computer experience, and as long as you are okay with the Android workflow, this is where you’ll find the best deal in the tablet market.

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