Not everyone wants an iPad. Although Apple’s share of the market continues to increase, Android tablets still possess plenty of allure, not least because of their seamless integration with the Google ecosystem. Not all Android tablets are created equal, though, so it’s best to narrow down exactly what you’re looking for in a tablet before dropping several hundred bucks.
Do you want raw power or an enormous display? Would you rather opt for marathon battery life or find a great keyboard? Below are our picks for the best Android tablets for every situation imaginable. Just grab your favorite, set up that device, download a few hot apps, and you’re ready to rock.
If you’re flexible when it comes to choosing a mobile OS, check out our roundup of the best tablets.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 ($650-plus)
With a significant lack of competition at the top end of the Android tablet market, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S series has been dominant, and the S4 is the best release yet. Packing a 2,560 x 1,600-pixel resolution, the 10.5-inch Super AMOLED is the best you’re likely to find. This screen is sharp, bright, and a joy to watch movies or play games on. The four AKG-tuned speakers sit in each corner and support Dolby Atmos Sound. They’re loud, though they inevitably lack bass.
Inside, there’s a capable Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM that’s fast enough for anything you might throw at it. You can get the Tab S4 with 64GB or 256GB of storage, but there is also a MicroSD card slot. Samsung’s user interface sits atop Android 8.0 Oreo, and you can switch into DeX mode with a keyboard dock, transforming your tablet into a laptop replacement that can prove handy in a pinch. There’s also the S Pen if you like sketch or jot down notes. The Tab S4 has plenty of stamina, too, with a 7,300mAh battery that’ll see you through most days.
Amazon Fire HD 10 ($150)
The Amazon Fire HD 10 is the most affordable tablet on our list. It has a decent display with a resolution of 1,920 × 1,200 pixels flanked by stereo speakers with Dolby Audio support, making it a good device for watching movies on the go. The Fire HD 10 also features dual-band Wi-Fi, so you can connect to both 2.5GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands for fast download speeds. The tablet has a quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. It’s no speed demon, but it does offer adequate performance considering the price.
You can buy with 32GB or 64Gb of storage, but it also supports MicroSD cards. It should last up to 10 hours on a single charge, which is pretty good. This tablet runs Amazon’s Fire OS — an operating system based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop — so any future software and security updates will come from Amazon. Alexa is built-in for hands-free voice commands, but as it isn’t a traditional Android tablet, there is no Google Play Store — you have to download apps directly from Amazon’s App Store. If you’re happy with a smaller screen and more limited specs, then the Amazon Fire HD 8 is also a real bargain at $80.
Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite ($200)
The successor to Huawei’s MediaPad M3 comes in two varieties — an 8-inch screen or a 10.1-inch screen, both of which sport a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 pixels. They feel and look like premium tablets despite the low price. The standout feature on the MediaPad M3 Lite is the stereo speakers, which were co-engineered with Harmon Kardon. You’ll find Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 425 processor inside, coupled with 3GB of RAM, so these tablets are capable of running the latest apps and games. There’s also a fingerprint sensor on the front.
The MediaPad M3 Lite runs Android 7.0 Nougat, with Huawei’s EMUI 5.1 on top. The 10-inch model boasts a 6,600mAh battery, while the 8-inch model makes do with 4,800mAh, but you’ll have to pay an extra $50 for the 10-inch model. If you like the look of Huawei’s wares, but want something with more power and productivity features, then check out the Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro. We don’t recommend the cheaper T series.
Asus ZenPad 3S 10 ($290-plus)
We’re including this in last place because there’s a real lack of good choices for Android tablets, but we’d advise going for something newer. The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 features a 9.7-inch display that has a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels and is surrounded by a 5.3-millimeter bezel. As far as processing power goes, this tablet has a 64-bit MediaTek processor paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. It does support MicroSD cards, so you can increase storage by up to 128GB. There’s also a fingerprint sensor and an 8-megapixel main camera, but this aging tablet runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box.
One of the main points Asus wants to emphasize with the ZenPad 3S is the great audio experience it provides. The tablet comes with five-magnet stereo speakers and a built-in NXP amplifier, which protects it from damage when you keep the volume cranked up for long periods of time. The tablet also has a Hi-Res Audio component that supports 24-bit, 192Khz audio. This means that if you’re using headphones, the sound you’ll hear will mimic 7.1 surround sound. As a bonus, the Zenpad 10 also works with the Asus Z Stylus.
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