Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our
review process here.
We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Take a look at some of the best Android tablets out there and you may find yourself forgetting all about the iPad. While it's true that Apple produces some of the best tablets on the market and sets a high standard for design and performance, their Android counterparts offer some increasingly stiff competition. Tablets powered by Android operating systems tend to offer more flexibility, a greater variety of options, and lower price points than iPads or even Windows tablets.
If you've landed on this side of the iPad vs. Android debate: welcome. Check out our top picks for Android-based slates, including gorgeous high-end displays from Samsung, Amazon's very affordable take on the operating system, and everything in between.
Convenient S Pen included
Expensive, especially with accessories
Lags behind iPad Pro
If a premium tablet experience could only come from an iPad, no one told Samsung. The Galaxy Tab S6 is the company'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 like 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.
"The line between smartphones, tablets, and laptops continues to blur with every new device revealed these days. Samsung's new Galaxy Tab S6 is no exception." — Lance Ulanoff, Lifewire Editor-in-Chief
High-resolution, colorful display
Optimized for widescreen video playback
Powerful stereo sound
Awkward to hold vertically
Average battery life
Don’t let its size fool you. The sleek, slim Huawei MediaPad M5 may have an 8.4-inch display, but it delivers exemplary visuals with its 2560 x 1600 resolution and minimized bezels. The small tablet also packs some serious power with a Kirin 960 processor, a 13 MP rear camera, 4GB of RAM, Android 8.0 Oreo, and up to 128GB of storage. It can handle your graphics needs, even if those needs involve high-end 3D gaming. Streaming a movie? The tablet’s smart technology adjusts unclear frames or contrast to allow for a crisper, clearer, and more compelling visual.
For high-end audio to match, the Huawei is equipped with two built-in speakers from Harman Kardon for an immersive surround-sound-quality listening experience. Our testing showed that the tablet can last for up to several days on a single charge thanks to its 5100 mAh battery, which fully recharges in just two hours. Its internal power aside, the M5 has been designed to be externally aesthetically pleasing, with a curved-edge 2.5D glass screen that is as comfortable to hold as it is stylish.
"The MediaPad M5 lives up to its name, packing a solid multimedia experience into its compact frame." — Bill Loguidice, Product Tester
Micro-SD card slot
Great battery life
Limited onboard storage
This snappy little tablet runs on the lower end of price points in the field, but don’t let that fool you – it still packs punch. The eight-inch full HD display doesn’t offer the top resolution in the biz, but it is more than enough for streaming videos and gaming, and to go with the beautiful visual, Lenovo has packed in Dolby Atmos speakers for cinema-quality (and cinema-volume) audio. They’ve also loaded it up with a 64-bit, quad-core Snapdragon processor that our testing clocked in at 1.4 GHz, providing plenty of oomph for both high-quality entertainment and day-to-day tasks. They’ve paired that with 2GB of RAM to give you plenty of overhead on temporary storage for processing.
It all comes in a package that’s only 8.2 mm thick and 310 grams, so it’s among the most portable tablets in its class. It comes loaded with Android 7.1 for the latest OS compatibility, and there’s 16GB of internal storage with the ability to expand it even further with a micro SD slot. The Li-Polymer battery gives you 4850 mAh of battery life, and the cameras provide 5MP and 2MP of resolution (rear-facing and front-facing, respectively).
"This multi-user feature is perfect for families and makes this a great general-usage tablet." — Bill Loguidice, Product Tester
LTE support for calls and mobile data
Long battery life
Portable size and weight
Lower price from Amazon tablets
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" 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. 5,100 mAh), 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.
Ultra-thin and light
Inconsistent Wi-Fi performance
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablets have gotten reputations for their performance and entertainment value, and the Tab S5e more than meets expectations. The tablet’s size has been dramatically reduced, but it’s power has not: weighing less than a pound and measuring only 5.5 mm, it has an octa-core Snapdragon 670 processor, up to 6GB RAM and 128GB ROM, and up to 14.5 hours of battery life. Its 10.5-inch screen has an 81.8 percent screen-to-body ratio to maximize its Super AMOLED screen and 2650 x 1600 resolution.
Galaxy Smartphone owners will be able to easily sync content between both, allowing your tablet to function as a phone when it’s out of reach, or when you want to downgrade to one device for the day. With Bixby Voice, our testing was able to control the tablet with a voice command, and the One UI software has streamlined our content, curating what is most relevant to you for accessibility and ease, whether you use your tablet to work or to stream.
"There are lots of great tablet speakers these days, but the Galaxy Tab S5e’s quad speaker system by Harman’s AKG may just be the best." — Bill Loguidice, Product Tester
Double USB-C ports
Official keyboard is expensive and poorly constructed
A bit too heavy
It’s sleek, it’s powerful, and it’s hungry to carve out its place in the tablet-laptop market. The new Google Pixel Slate — understated, midnight blue, and weighing just 1.6 pounds — offers a highly portable device geared towards those seeking entertainment or a way to work on the go. The mid-tier model runs on an 8th Gen Intel Core m3 processor for fast speeds and smooth performance, and internal storage ranges from 64GB to 256GB. Whether you’re watching Netflix or working on Google Sheets, the 12.3” Molecule Display screen offers a crisp 3000 x 2000 resolution. Multi-taskers will enjoy Google Chrome OS’s bevy of tools, including split-screen and multi-window browsing, and built-in Google Assistant will help ensure your calendar is always up-to-date.
The device, while not exorbitantly priced on its own, is best enjoyed with the purchase of additional hardware like the Pixel Slate Keyboard, which offers the added value of being a protective case for the Slate, and the Pixelbook Pen. These accessories bring the price up into "splurge" territory.
The device is best enjoyed with the purchase of additional hardware like the Pixelbook Pen and the Pixel Slate Keyboard, which also serves as a protective case for the Slate. This used to mean a very high total cost for the full productive bundle. Google has made dramatic price cuts to all models of the Pixel Slate, though, along with including a free Pixelbook Pen, making the unique tablet more of an option than ever before.
Touchscreen detection is sometimes spotty
The Samsung Galaxy S line of tablets has been a fixture in the tablet market for a while, generally coasting right in the middle of the pack in terms of design and functionality. But the Galaxy Tab S4 is a really interesting new offering, and if you’re in the market for an Android tablet, this model offers some great features. First, the display includes Samsung’s tried-and-true AMOLED tech with a 10.5-inch, 2560x1600 screen, making for a 287 ppi density. The cameras offer decent visual specs, too: a 13MP AF sensor on the back with an f/1.9 aperture and an 8MP selfie cam (also with an f/1.9 aperture).
The whole system runs on a Qualcomm MSM8998 2.35 GHz processor with 4GB of RAM. You can pick it up with a 64GB or 256GB configuration, and it can be expanded to a whopping 400GB via microSD card. This tablet comes loaded with the latest Android OS, and it’s the first time that Samsung is included their DeX multitasking functionality in a tablet. Roll that in with an updated S Pen that offers 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity (great for control and for sketching), and this might be the tablet for you.
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. a 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.
"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
Android tablets often make for ideal kids devices due to their more reasonable price, and you can find many geared toward young users. The Kids Editions of Amazon's Fire HD tablets, though, take things a step further. Besides a brightly colored, easy-to-grip, and "kid-proof" bumper case, each tablet is loaded with a free one-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited. The service makes thousands of educational apps and age-appropriate games, books, movies, and shows available for kids to browse, with parents having full control of settings and specific restrictions. Amazon also covers the tablet with a two-year warranty to replace the device—no questions asked—if it breaks.
In terms of hardware, it's the same as Amazon's new, speedy version of the Fire HD 10. This latest model packs a gorgeous 10.1-inch, 1080p full HD display, a faster processor, 32GB of storage (with room to expand up to 512GB), and enhanced Wi-Fi. It's significantly faster than the previous model, which makes running all of those FreeTime apps much smoother, faster, and less frustrating.
"Our preschooler is constantly discovering new games and videos to enjoy on the FreeTime subscription, and it's easy for us as parents to make sure everything is appropriate." — Anton Galang, Product Tester, on the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet
The Galaxy Tab S6 from Samsung shows off the best of what an Android tablet can offer, from its superb AMOLED display and speedy performance to its convenient accessories and productivity features. If you're looking for a better value, other Samsung tablets at different price points deserve consideration, as does the Lenovo Tab 4. The biggest steal, though, is the Fire HD 10, but that's if you don't mind a limited, Amazon-centric version of Android.
Our expert reviewers and editors evaluate tablets based on design, performance, display quality, functionality, and features. We test their real-life performance in actual use cases, browsing and reading during a commute, working at home or at the office, and traveling. Our testers also consider each tablet as a value proposition—whether or not a product justifies its price tag, and how it compares to competitive products. All of the models we reviewed were purchased by Lifewire; none of the review units were furnished by the manufacturer or retailer.
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.
Lance Ulanoff has covered the tech industry for more than 30 years. He now serves as Lifewire's Editor-in-Chief, sharing his insights on consumer electronics and all things technology.
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.
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 healthy 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 7,000 mAh, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.