iPads and Windows tablets tend to get all the attention, but you can’t beat the affordability of an Android tablet. Having said that, it’s not always about price. Many people want their Android tablet to deliver on performance, too.
So, what makes a great Android tablet?
What to Look for in an Android Tablet
First, a disclaimer: For most people, an iPad satisfies everything they want. It delivers on performance, accessories, software, and more. The iPad is undeniably the most powerful tablet out there, but not everyone wants to be part of the Apple ecosystem. Moreover, not everyone wants to pay to be part of the Apple ecosystem.
Like most Apple products, iPads are not cheap. The cost of the newest iPad models ranges from $329 on the lower end to nearly $2,000. On the other hand, you can get a decent Android tablet, like the Amazon Fire HD 8, for about $60. Even if you get the newest Amazon tablet—the HD 10 (our budget pick, below)—it’s still half the price of the cheapest iPad.
Android tablets are a particularly nice fit for casual users who want their tablet to do the basics, and do them well. We’re talking about streaming video, playing games, reading ebooks, checking email and social media. Most Android tablets won’t measure up to the performance offered by an iPad, but they’re still great for the average user and especially for kids—thanks to their wealth of kid-friendly content, sophisticated parental controls, and supreme affordability.
That’s not to say there isn’t the rare Android tablet that truly delivers on performance. (There is, and it’s our power user pick, the Google Pixel Slate, below). However, for most people, an Android tablet wins out for its affordability and “good enough” functionality. To go from “good enough” to great, you’ve got to get one of the best Android tablets out there—like any of the favorites we’ve reviewed below.
Before we get to that, though, there are a few things to keep in mind when buying an Android tablet:
- Do you plan on just using WiFi, or will you need to tap into your cellular plan? All Android tablets support both Wifi and cellular data, but not all of them are compatible with all wireless carriers. If you plan on adding cellular service, double check that your tablet of choice is compatible with your carrier.
- Will you be using accessories with your tablet, such as a keyboard, mouse, or stylus? Some tablets are available for purchase as a bundled deal that includes accessories, allowing you to save even more. If not, however, make sure that the tablet you’re considering supports any accessories you plan on using.
Best Android Tablets: Our Top 4 Picks
The Huawei MediaPad M5 has everything you need in an Android tablet. It’s got a 10.8-inch screen with a high resolution, 2560x1600 display, with a sleek curved metal body and curved edge glass. This Android tablet looks good whether it’s on or off. But the speakers are the standout feature here, with Huawei Histen audio that creates a rich soundscape and noticeably superior listening experience. You can watch video on the Huawei MediaPad M5 for 12 hours before you’ll need to charge the battery again—at which point, it’ll take you less than 3 hours to fully recharge. There’s also a fingerprint sensor for added security, and a 13 megapixel rear camera (and 8 megapixel front camera). The Huawei MediaPad M5 looks great and works even better, which is why it’s earned our top spot.
Price: $359.00 on Amazon. Save with these Huawei promo codes.
How We Chose the Best Android Tablets
How did we choose the Huawei MediaPad M5 as the best Android tablet? We ranked it against the other top tablets, on everything that matters. Here’s how it stacked up.
In some ways, the display is everything with a tablet. You want to enjoy looking at it, especially if you plan on using it for an extended period of time watching Netflix or reading ebooks. We rated our tablets based on their resolution and brightness range. A higher resolution makes for a better, crisper viewing experience, while a range of brightness keeps it easy on the eyes—whether you’re sensitive to light, don’t care at all, or want to be able to filter out red light when you’re using it late at night.
The Huawei MediaPad M5 has a 10.8-inch 2560x1600 high-resolution display. That’s 0.3 inches wider than our runner-up, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, which has the same 2560x1600 resolution. The Google Pixel Slate is the upgrade here, with a 3000x2000 pixel resolution and 12.3-inch display. However, it also costs twice as much.
Our budget pick, unsurprisingly, has the least impressive display of the three. The Amazon Fire HD 10 has a 10.1-inch 1080p display with a 1920x1200 resolution.
Like most hardware, the speed of your tablet will slow down with time. This is a natural part of the device growing older, as it does its best to keep up with newer, heavier apps and newly released Android features that require more horsepower. However, you still want your tablet to work fairly fast, even with more app downloads and Android upgrades. For this to happen, you need at least 3GB of RAM to start with.
The Huawei MediaPad M5 has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of ROM, The GooglePixel Slate is the winner here, with an generous 8GB of RAM. However, for the everyday user, the 4GB offered by the Huawei MediaPad M5 or the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 will be more than enough. The Amazon Fire HD 10 has 2GB RAM, explaining why yet again, it’s our budget pick.
A short battery life is the bane of every smartphone owner’s existence, and the same holds true for tablets. Ideally, your Android tablet will last you at least a work day’s worth of use (think 8 hours or more), and it won’t take too long to charge either.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 promises an astonishing 16 hours of battery life, which beats out our favorite, the Huawei MediaPad M5, which has 12 hours. However, that’s better than both the Amazon Fire HD 10 and the Google Pixel Slate, which both clock in at 10 hours.
We all love the convenience of saving things to the cloud—until we’re stuck on an airplane and don’t have anything to entertain ourselves with. That’s where a good amount of internal storage comes in handy. We recommend having at least 32GB of storage. Depending on your needs, you may want more, but that should allow you to save a decent amount of songs, photos, and video.
The Huawei MediaPad M5, Google Pixel Slate, and Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 all have 64GB of storage. The Amazon Fire HD 10 comes in both 32GB and 64GB models. Both the Samsung and Amazon tablets include a microSD slot for additional storage.
A good Android tablet needs to support more recent versions of Android, or you’re going to miss out on some features and maybe even some apps. Most Android tablets don’t tend to receive software updates as frequently as you’ll see with iPads. That makes it doubly important to ensure the tablet you buy is running a more recent version of Android—the most recent if possible. We recommend tablets running Android 8.0 Oreo and above.
The Samsung S4 and Huawei are both running Android 8 (Oreo), while the Fire HD 10 runs the Fire OS. The Google Pixel Slate is the first Google tablet to run the Chrome OS instead of Android, so it has the newest OS of all the options on our list, with the added benefit of enjoying automatic updates as a Google tablet.
We love the low, low price of the Amazon Fire HD. However, you miss out on a lot for just $119.
When we think about value, over merely price, the Huawei MediaPad M5 is hands down the winner here. The value is also what edged it out ahead of our runner-up, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. The Huawei gives you a nice display with performance, storage, and battery life that suit the average user—all for a reasonable $359.
Only if you require extreme performance—such as if you plan on using your tablet as a makeshift laptop during travel, or you use gaming or design apps that require a lot of RAM—would it be worth it to upgrade to the Google Pixel Slate or Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. Both of these are designed to work more like a PC versus a tablet. However, that added functionality isn’t used by the typical person, which makes their cost feel exorbitant.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is a popular Android tablet, just like our top pick, the Huawei MediaPad M5. However, Samsung’s tablet is nearly double the price, and unless you’re planning to use your tablet as an extension of your PC, it’s not really worth it. The speakers feature Dolby Atmos surround sound, and far-field mics make it easy for Google Assistant to hear you, even when you’re across the room. It’s also got the longest battery life of all the tablets on our list, at 16 hours, and features a microSD slot if you need the additional storage. Samsung also throws in a stylus as an extra perk.
Price: $640.45 on Amazon. Save with these Samsung promo codes.
At just $120, the Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet feels like a steal. Of course, it’s got less storage (32 GB), reduced performance (2GB RAM), and a lower-resolution 1920x1200 display. But even with those drawbacks, the Amazon Fire HD 10 offers a lot that makes it a compelling option—particularly for those who just need their Android tablet to do the basics: browse the internet, catch a TV show, listen to music, and make video calls. The Amazon Fire HD 10 does all this and more, with Alexa built-in and a solid 10-hour battery life.
Price: $119.99 on Amazon. Save with these Amazon promo codes.
The Google Pixel Slate comes with an impressive 12.3-inch screen and 3000x2000 display. This Android tablet also doubles down on performance, with twice the standard amount of RAM (8GB) and the Chrome OS (featuring split-screen and multi-window browsing). Since the tablet is made by Google, OS updates automatically get taken care of in the background, so this tablet will last you longer than the others. If you require ultimate performance, and you just can’t get enough of Google, the Slate is a perfect choice for you. However, there are some downsides here: the Google Pixel Slate is very expensive and it has a comparatively low battery life, at just 10 hours.
Price: $779.99 on Amazon. Save with these Google promo codes.