Update, 09/13/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have determined these are the best Android tablets you can buy.
Tablet computers are as diverse as any other major class of computing device. There are a wide variety of tablets out there, each person’s needs are going to be different. That being said, there are a few key considerations that apply to everyone.
First, the screen is perhaps the most important factor. Tablets are known for their large screen sizes, ranging from around 7-inches to 13-inches. Considering that the largest smartphones (once known as “phablets”) almost overlap with the low end of the tablet range, you’ll have to decide whether you want a small tablet or a large phone. Most Android tablets are in the 10-inch to 13-inch range and are usually used as laptop alternatives or media consumption devices.
As for screen technology itself, virtually all Android tablets use LCDs, as OLED technology isn’t as widespread in the market. It is also worth looking for a tablet with a laminated display. Such a display eliminates the air gap between LCD and glass and has a positive effect on brightness, crispness, and how attractive the image looks.
Storage capacity is less of a problem on Android tablets compared to the competition from Apple. While iPads all have a fixed amount of storage, most Android tablets support SD or microSD card expansion for photos, video, music, and apps. That means saving money on storage in the short term isn’t a decision you’ll regret down the line.
Finally, there are no longer major pitfalls in core specifications such as processing power (CPU) or memory (RAM). Android tablets, even budget ones, have reached the threshold where everyday tasks are handled without issue. You may have to wait for a second longer for an app to open or a web page to load on a cheaper Android tablet, but the gap between budget and premium performance for these types of tasks isn’t something to worry about.
If you want a tablet for creative work such as video editing or high-performance uses such as 3D video gaming, you should aim for higher-end hardware. For an Android tablet, that means an 800-series Snapdragon processor or an equivalent from another system-on-a-chip maker.
Now, let’s get into our recommendations.
- ✓ More performance than most people need
- ✓ Premium hardware from top to bottom
- ✓ Perfect general-purpose screen size
- ✓ Included S-Pen
- ✗ The screen is LCD and not Super AMOLED
When considering a tablet to declare the “best overall” it’s tempting to simply point at the model with the highest specifications and the biggest price tag and call it a day. But, for us to consider a tablet the best overall, it has to be one we can recommend to anyone. No matter which way you look at it, that’s the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 fits that bill perfectly.
It has the same cutting-edge Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 hardware as the rest of its range but comes at a far more palatable price. What do you give up for spending less money? You get an 11-inch screen, which in our opinion is the most practical size for most people. Anything larger starts moving into fringe territory for typical tablet use.
You’re also giving up having an OLED display, which is probably where the biggest saving has occurred. The thing is, Samsung’s LCD displays are top-notch and while the LCD screen won’t have the black levels or vibrancy of an OLED, it’s still going to be an objectively gorgeous display.
So, for a very fair price, you’re getting a tablet with sweet-spot screen size and class-leading performance in the Android tablet market. Thanks to Samsung DeX, you can even use it as a laptop-like system, albeit with a mildly cramped screen for multitasking.
Samsung sells a 2-in-1 book cover keyboard with a trackpad for protection and functionality. Also, like the entire Tab S8 line, you get an S-Pen to use with the tablet for whatever you might need. When you’re done with the stylus, you can slot it into the back of the tablet easily.
The standard Tab S8 is really is the most feature-complete all-around Android tablet. We have no problem recommending it to everyone.
Best Android Tablet Overall
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
Samsung’s mainstream flagship tablet ticks every box on most tablet user wishlists, with the exception of OLED screen technology. Given the big price saving LED brings to the table, it’s a worthy tradeoff.
- ✓ The best tablet hardware for the money
- ✓ Great as a general entertainment device out of the box
- ✗ Has ads unless you pay extra
- ✗ Requires a little extra work to get Google Play working
There’s budget, and then there’s budget when it comes to Android tablets. When you’re spending between $100 and $200 on a tablet, it usually comes with serious compromises in at least one key area. That is unless you’re Amazon, in which case it’s possible to put a tablet with decent specifications and build quality on the market for relatively little money.
Thanks to advertising subsidies, Amazon manages to sell tablets like the Fire HD10 for just $150. If you opt to pay the lower price, you’ll see advertising on the tablet’s lock screen. Whether that’s an acceptable tradeoff is entirely up to you, but the lock screen adverts are easy to ignore and never interfere with the tablet while in use. More importantly, you have the option to disable ads permanently at a later date for an additional fee, so you can purchase the lower-priced Fire HD 10 and make the decision yourself with no regrets.
As for the tablet itself, this latest model of the 10-inch Fire HD series looks great on paper. It has an eight-core CPU, 3GB of RAM, a 1080p display, and either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. It’s perfectly balanced for its intended use, which boils down to consuming streaming video, ebooks, comics, music, and light gaming. You should also have no trouble running mainstream applications such as the mobile Microsoft Office Suite, Zoom, and social media.
The real elephant in the room is that Amazon uses a customized version of Android that doesn’t come with the Google Play Store. If you really need access to the Play Store, we’ve got a great guide on installing Google Play on Amazon tablets that should sort that issue in a few minutes. Apart from this small issue, there isn’t a better budget tablet for the money.
Best Budget Android Tablet
Fire HD 10
Not every cheap Android tablet is bad, and the Amazon Fire HD 10 is a good, cheap tablet. It’s perfect for Zoom calls and basic productivity tasks.
- ✓ The latest high-performance CPUs and GPU
- ✓ Wi-Fi 6E and 5G for cloud gaming and multiplayer
- ✓ Gorgeous 12.4-inch AMOLED screen, perfect for gaming
- ✗ Costs significantly more than the 11-inch LCD S8 tablet
- ✗ Might be a little bulky for handheld play for some users
Gaming on a tablet can mean different things. There’s local gaming, where you’re running a game on the tablet’s own hardware. Then there’s cloud gaming, where you’re streaming a game over the network and simply using the tablet as a portable screen.
In either of these situations, we think the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus is the best gaming tablet you can buy right now. All of the S8 tablets, including the base model we’ve named as our best overall tablet, share the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 hardware. Essentially, the S8 Plus doesn’t have a raw performance advantage over the smaller model.
What it does have is a 12.4-inch Super AMOLED display, which means fast response times, perfect blacks, and rich colors in your games. The larger size is perfect for controller-based gaming where you’re setting the tablet down and even for handheld play you can more easily see what’s going on at typical usage distances.
The S8+ is also equipped with 5G and Wi-Fi 6E, which makes it ideal for cloud-based gaming on WiFi or mobile internet.
While the asking price of the Galaxy Tab S8 Plus may give you pause, we think this tablet offers the best Android gaming experience today.
Best Android Gaming Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus
The Tab S8 Plus has the same high-end performance as the standard S8, but that large Super AMOLED screen makes it perfect for local gaming or cloud gaming over Wi-Fi and 5G
- ✓ Very affordable
- ✓ Great laminated screen
- ✓ S-pen included attaches magnetically
- ✓ Low overall specifications and storage are not an issue if you only want to draw
- ✗ Mediocre as an all-around tablet
- ✗ If you want a drawing Android tablet that can do everything else, get an S7 or S7+
It wasn’t that long ago that owning a digital drawing tablet like a Wacom meant taking out a small loan and saying goodbye to a bag of cash. Now there are many excellent, affordable drawing tablets on the market that also can be used as general-purpose computers.
If you buy either of the two Galaxy Tab S7 models listed above, you’re also getting excellent drawing tablets, thanks to the included S-Pens. However, what if you weren’t interested in the other premium features those expensive tablets offer? What if you were only interested in drawing? In that case, we’d recommend the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite instead.
The S6 Lite is the budget model of Samsung’s previous flagship line of Android tablets. It offers mid-range processing power and won’t be of much use for gaming or video editing, but you get nearly the same drawing experience as tablets that cost hundreds more.
The battery is rated for 13 hours of use, the screen is laminated, and the included S-Pen attaches magnetically to the tablet. Since this is a last-generation device, prices have been dropping significantly, making it perfect for artists who don’t care for cutting-edge technology but need a quality drawing device.
Better yet, YouTuber Teoh Yi Chie has a wonderful artist’s perspective in this Tab S6 Lite review. In the video, you can see exactly how the S6 Lite performs in the hands of a talented individual and decide if the Tab S6 Lite is good enough for you.
Best Android Tablet for Drawing
Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
If drawing is your only concern when picking up an Android tablet, the Tab S6 Lite comes with the great S-Pen and is perfect for art and doodles, for an affordable price.
- ✓ Perfectly adequate specs for its job
- ✓ Incredibly valuable add-ons
- ✓ Excellent parental control options
- ✓ USB-C charging
- ✓ Sensible kid-friendly case included
- ✗ Case styling isn’t great, whether for kids or not
- ✗ Doesn’t prepare your kids for regular devices
Buying smart devices for young children is, quite frankly, a nightmare. Not only do you have to strike a balance between junk devices and ones that are too expensive to risk in tiny hands, but you also have to worry about managing the content they’re exposed to. Amazon has you covered on both counts with the Fire HD 8 Kids Pro.
The specifications are impressive both for the price and the target audience, and most kids will be perfectly happy with the moderate amount of performance here. Amazon’s kid-friendly tablets ship with a rugged case that includes a kick-stand, so drops and falls shouldn’t be too damaging to the tablet. However, if your little menace (or angel) does manage to break the tablet, you’ll get a free replacement for the first two years.
We honestly had to do a double-take at this last point. Amazon’s own language on the product page implies that this guarantee covers your child breaking the tablet. News articles reporting on this as far back as 2015 and more recently echo that face-value claim.
On the content front, the Fire HD 8 Kids Pro includes a subscription to Amazon Kids+ for one year, and there are books, games, apps, and streaming content aimed at ages 6-12. If you want content for younger children, then you’ll want to buy the non-Pro tablet instead. The hardware is the same, but the content and software are aimed at younger children.
Finally, there are strong parental control systems in place, so as long as you stay within Amazon’s walled garden, there’s no risk your child will see something inappropriate. We simply can’t find another kid-focused tablet that has as many bases covered as the Fire HD 8 Kids Pro.
Best Android Tablet for Kids
Fire HD 8 Kids Pro
Technology for children need to have parental controls, a good battery life, and is durable to handle the life of a kid. The Kids Edition of the Fire HD 8 hits all of those marks!
- ✓ Bigger than any phone screen, yet much more compact than a typical tablet
- ✓ Fair specifications for general purpose use
- ✓ The cellular model works with GSM providers in the US
- ✓ Excellent price, especially considering the cellular feature
With massive tablet-style phones being both common and available in every budget segment, is there still a place for small tablets in this world? We think the Galaxy Tab A7 confidently makes an argument for these smaller tablet products. At 8.7-inches, it’s still significantly more spacious than even the largest phones, but far more pocketable than devices 10-inches and up.
This particular model offers GSM cellular connectivity, which is a major selling point at this price. Its support for 4G LTE, coupled with the right data plan, can make the Tab A7 a potent mobile content consumption and web browsing device.
Low-end specifications will limit multi-tasking and applications such as 3D games, but for everything else, the CPU will go the distance—if perhaps a little slowly. Apart from that slight downside, the Tab A7 Lite LTE offers the same Samsung UI and general build quality we’ve come to expect, putting it above most of the tablets in this price range in that regard.
Best 8-inch Android Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite
If you need a smaller tablet that’s easier to carry around, the Tab A7 Lite is a good choice. This model also allows the use for cellular data, so you can use it wherever you need to.
- ✓ Its massive screen is perfect for multitasking
- ✓ The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is blazingly fast
- ✓ Dual front-facing webcams
- ✓ DeX mode feels like a laptop interface
- ✗ More expensive than the excellent M1 MacBook Air
- ✗ The keyboard and touchpad accessory is expensive
We’ve long held that the iPad Pro 11-inch or the 12.9-inch tablets are the best laptop-replacement devices for those that like and use Apple devices. However, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Ultra 5G should have Apple sweating—the “Pro” tablet crown might be moving to a new head sooner rather than later.
The star of the show is that absolutely enormous 14.6-inch Super AMOLED screen. Given that the tablet comes with an S-Pen included in the price, the Ultra is a contender for the art tablet crown as well, were it not for the rather steep asking price.
For productivity use, the Tab S8 Ultra’s screen size makes the tablet significantly more comfortable to use for general multitasking. Samsung’s DeX software is also key here since it converts the touch-centric tablet into something similar to computer OSes such as Windows or macOS.
You can use virtually any keyboard and mouse combo with an Android tablet, but Samsung has a dedicated keyboard and touchpad cover to complete the laptop transformation—just be prepared for the $350 price tag.
If you’re happy with the total cost of ownership of this laptop-killing titan, then the S8 Ultra might be the only computer you need.