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Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 at Amazon
"A worthy competitor to the iPad Pro."
Best Features: Huawei MediaPad M5 at Amazon
"Delivering exemplary visuals with its 2560 x 1600 resolution and minimized bezels."
Best Value: Lenovo Tab 4 at Amazon
"Providing plenty of oomph for both high-quality entertainment and day-to-day tasks."
Best iPad Alternative: Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e at Amazon
"A great Android tablet for those who want something that resembles an iPad but don't want to use iOS."
Best for Multitasking: Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 at Amazon
"A really interesting new offering...with some great features."
Best Design: Samsung Galaxy Tab A at Amazon
"A device that weighs barely over a pound and has a battery life that can last up to 13 hours."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: ASUS ZenPad 3S at Amazon
"The ultimate tablet for most people."
Runner-Up, Best Value: Huawei MediaPad T1 at Amazon
"Featuring a mighty battery that can...continuously browse the web for eight hours without a recharge."
Best Splurge: Google Pixel Slate at Best Buy
"A highly portable device geared towards those seeking entertainment or a way to work on the go."
If you're in the market for a high-performance tablet but aren't too keen on the Apple ecosystem, you'll want one of the best Android tablets. Each of these devices runs a genuine Android OS, which not only gives you an open architecture to do with as you please but unfettered access to the Google Play library of apps.
If you're planning to use your tablet as an ad-hoc laptop, you may want to invest in one with expandable storage, as some tablets can handle up to an additional 512GB of memory in addition to their latent storage.
Tablets are incredibly versatile devices, so make sure to check out our how-to guides to see everything your tablet can do for you.
Large, gorgeous high-resolution screen
Solid speed and overall performance
Long-lasting battery life
Dated hardware and software
Many of the best 2-in-1s run Windows because of its superior desktop capabilities, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 will make you forget you ever knew that. Design-wise, it’s a worthy competitor to the iPad Pro. It has a vivid 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display that claims to be the world’s first HDR-ready tablet. This produces higher contrast ratios and brighter highlights, which does wonders for darker scenes, but don’t expect to find a lot of HDR content just yet. You’ll have to wait a bit until streaming services catch up. At least you’ll be ready when they do.
Our tests showed that the S3 runs Android 7.0 Nougat with a Samsung overlay that’s easy to navigate. At the heart is a Snapdragon 820 processor, which is powerful enough for your computing needs, but unfortunately not as good as Snapdragon 835, which rolled out in the Galaxy S8. It also has 32GB of internal storage and a 6,000mAh battery that yields above-average performance.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of this tablet over an iPad is the inclusion of its S Pen. The S3 version is bigger and more pressure-responsive than those used with Samsung phones, and that helps users truly unlock the potential of the 2-in-1. Of course, to do that you’ll also need the keyboard attachment, which is sold separately.
“The display delivered outstanding visuals with perfect brightness and color reproduction.” — Don Reisinger, Product Tester
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
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
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.
Full HD display
MicroSD card slot
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A 10.1” is designed for entertainment and performance. The vibrant high resolution screen has a 1920x1200 resolution and a gorgeous image, thanks to the powerful Octa-core 1.6Ghz processor and 2GB of RAM. You can expand the memory from 16GB to an additional 200GB with the microSD reader. You can also connect directly to a TV or another device with the microUSB.
Android Marshmallow 6.0 is the latest and greatest version of the operating system, making for a clean UI and easy transfer. It also lets you open up two apps side by side, for easy multitasking between messaging and games. And if you have additional Samsung devices, Quick Connect makes transferring videos and photos between TV easy. All this comes in a device that weighs barely over a pound and has a battery life that can last up to 13 hours.
Short battery life
Screen is a bit reflective
ASUS released the ZenPad as a direct challenge to rivals at Samsung and Apple, including similar specs and build quality, but with more storage and at a lower price. This is the ultimate tablet for most people, delivering the latest and fastest technology at a stomachable price point.
The smart and sleek design gives priority to the 9.7-inch 2k IPS screen, which runs on ASUS proprietary VisualMaster technology for a stunning 2048 x 1536 resolution. It scores 264 ppi, which is the same as the iPad. The gorgeous screen has an impress 78 percent ratio compared to the body, leaving just enough room below for a super accurate fingerprint sensor that is quick and convenient. In addition to the fingerprint scanner, the device has a microSD slot for additional storage and a USB-C port for quick charging. There isn’t room for much more, as the bezel is less than a quarter inch thick, which ASUS claims is the thinnest in the world. The back sports a smooth premium anodized aluminum body that is both strong and attractive.
Most impressive of all is the lightning-fast performance, thanks to a beastly hexa-core 2.1 GHz processor, 4GB of RAM and the Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS. Just for good measure, ASUS threw in dual five-magnet speakers, an 8MP camera and a high-capacity battery to make this tablet the best overall package on the market at an unbeatable price.
Solid network connectivity
Huawei proves that a $100 tablet can be worth buying with its new Mediapad T1. The compact seven-inch screen sports a slim and lightweight design, just 8.5MM thick and weighing just 15 ounces. The screen resolution is a respectable 600 x 1024 pixels with oncell IPS to reproduce over 90 percent of Adobe RGB color space for bright color and contrast. That may not rival the latest Samsung Galaxy, but it combines with a 178-degree, wide-view angle for a pleasurable viewing experience on an entry-level tablet.
The device’s real standout value comes in its mighty battery that can last over 300 hours on standby time or continuously browse the Web for eight hours without a recharge. The battery is housed in a light silver metal unibody case, which prominently features Huawei’s logo. Performance, while not blowing away any benchmarks, delivers for the pricetag. It runs on a Spreadtrum SC7731G chip with 28nm quad-core 1.2 GHZ ARM, and runs the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system and EMUI 3.0 powered by Huawei.
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 Galaxy Tab S3 may be old, but it has an outstanding design and compelling list of features for the price, including a gorgeous screen and outstanding audio. The older processor does cause some hiccups with high-end gaming, but for watching videos, writing, and productivity the Tab S3 is a winner.
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.
Don Reisinger is a full-time freelance writer based in New York City. He has been covering technology, video games, sports, and entertainment for more than 12 years.
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.