The knee-jerk reaction for many people shopping for a tablet is that the iPad should be their first choice, but an Android tablet can often be a better option, depending on your needs. For one thing, tablets from Samsung, Lenovo, and others tend to be less expensive than iPads. Plus, if you already own an Android phone, you may be more comfortable with a tablet that uses the same operating system and apps you’re already accustomed to.
There are several choices and features to consider. Do you want a large-screened tablet for surfing the web and watching videos, or a smaller one that’s easier to carry with you and useful for things like e-books? Should you gravitate toward Samsung, the leading Android tablet maker, or consider one from Lenovo or other manufacturers?
To help you answer all of these questions, we asked six Android experts to share their thoughts on their favorite Android tablets. Whether you’re looking for a feature-packed product that can effectively replace a laptop or a more basic and inexpensive model for watching movies on the go, here are the tablets they recommend.
The best overall Android tablet
With an 11-inch screen and storage options of 128GB or 256GB, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 is favored by Geoff Quattromani, host of the Technology Uncorked podcast. Tablets have traditionally been used for content consumption — reading email, browsing the web, watching videos. But the S7 turns the tablet into a content-creation device, he says. The included S Pen stylus provides a real writing experience on the screen — and an excellent way to take notes or create artwork. By hooking up a full keyboard and touchpad, you can use the tablet like a laptop via Samsung’s DeX desktop experience mode. For people who prefer a large display with extra accessories, the Tab S7 is capable enough that it can be hooked up to a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and external storage drives to effectively replace a computer. And it has a great battery life of close to 15 hours.
The best (less-expensive) Android tablet
Malik Hammad, owner of TekClue, says this is one of the best deals out there. The S6 Lite has a 10.4-inch, 1080p display and comes in both 64GB and 128GB capacities. But that’s not what sets it apart: “Unlike many laptops and tablets, the S6 Lite comes with an ultimate accessory, which is the S Pen stylus that supports all your scribbling, drawing, and note-taking, probably my favorite part of investing in a tab like this,” Hammad says. The tablet has thin bezels, powerful speakers, a quad-core processor, and an expansion slot that lets you add an additional 1TB of storage space.
The best budget Android tablet
Three experts suggested the Tab A7 as an affordable, capable option that will satisfy most users. C. Scott Brown, a writer for Android Authority, says, “I use it as a kitchen tablet. It sits on a stand on my kitchen counter, always at the ready for recipes, YouTube how-to videos, and web searches. There’s nothing flashy about it, but it gets the job done, and you can’t beat the price.” Our colleague at the Verge, Dan Seifert, is also a fan, describing the A7 as “much more affordable than an entry-level iPad.” He writes that it “works just as well for watching video and reading books and articles.” Plus, the “10.4-inch, 1080p screen is vibrant and colorful, the battery easily goes for ten hours or more of video, and the quad-speaker system sounds tremendous.” He also calls it “surprisingly thin, with a metal chassis that feels stiffer and nicer than the plastic-clad Amazon Fire tablets.” Mark Steinberg, a senior technologist at B&H Photo, also likes the Tab A7. Beyond the screen size and storage options, he is impressed by its relatively quick performance, quad speakers, and 8-megapixel front and 5-megapixel rear cameras.
The best Android tablet with a kickstand
The 10.1-inch Yoga Smart Tab is Lenovo’s best offering yet, says Kaelum Ross, owner of the review site What in Tech and a senior technical project manager at Fujitsu Services. Despite the impressively low price, Ross says this tablet doesn’t compromise in any notable way. It has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, making it suitable for using most non-gaming apps and media as well as browsing the internet. (If you want to use more demanding apps, like for editing or graphics-intensive games, you’ll want a more powerful tablet like the Tab S7.) “It also boasts an excellent build quality, strong speakers, and a gorgeous full HD display,” Ross says. The unique built-in kickstand is very useful, too, offering a case-free way to prop up your tablet.
Best Android tablet under $100
Android tablets priced under $100 tend to be slow, come from lesser-known brands, or run a more limited version of Android. According to Ross, however, the Tab M8 defies these norms. With an 8-inch screen and 16GB of storage, the Tab M8 offers full Android capability from one of the best tablet makers today. There are compromises, of course — the screen and speaker quality is serviceable, not excellent — but even with its limited specs, this is still a decent media, internet, and general app device for basic users or kids, Ross says. And it has an incredible battery life (up to 18 hours). “For a tablet under $100, this one is a bit of a no-brainer,” he says.
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