The tablet world seems to be on pause since the release of the Google Pixel C, which closed out 2015 – only just – but with Mobile World Congress just around the corner, we’re hoping for some higher-profile releases to launch. Samsung introduced a Windows 10 powered offering during CES 2016, but we’re all still waiting for more Android offerings to launch, and hopefully February will be the month we see those launches, with the new slates hitting shelves before the Spring gives way to Summer. For now though, here are the best Android tablets you can get your hands on right now.
10. Amazon Fire, Fire HD
The Fire line of tablets have been around for years now, and they were introduced with one goal in mind; to offer a cheaper tablet and get people hooked on Amazon services. Last year’s revamp still lives up to that original goal, the Fire HD and Fire tablets – available in a 6-inch kids offering, a $50 7-inch option and a pricier 10-inch version – offer users a nice compromise between price and performance. The only problem with these offerings is that these are only compatible with Amazon’s service, there’s no Google Play Store here, and updates have become few and far between from Amazon themselves these days, which is becoming a pain for users that have been with the brand for more than a couple of years now.
09. Lenovo Tablet 2 A10
Lenovo has become something of a sleeper-name in the Android tablet game since their original Yoga Tablet offering. With the Lenovo Tab 2 A10 however, they took a different, simpler route. The Tab 2 A10 is certainly nothing special, it’s not the fastest, the display is not the sharpest or the brightest and the hardware build and design is pretty “meh” overall. For a Google Android (as in the same Android as most phones, not the Amazon Android as above) tablet well below $200 however, the Lenovo Tab 2 A10 starts to make a lot of sense. It’s cheap and makes for a great tablet for casual use, and for first-time tablet buyers, as we found out in our review last year.
08. Samsung Galaxy View
When Samsung released the Galaxy View, it was hard to wonder whether or not they were joking. Turns out that they weren’t, and the Galaxy View is the 18.4-inch Android tablet that…some people wanted? Regardless, Samsung get points here for trying something a little different here, and we wish that they would continue to do more of that. The problem with the Galaxy View however, is that there’s not much to write home about other than that large display. At 1920 x 1200 it’s of a lower-resolution than the smaller Galaxy Tab S2 and the processor under-the-hood isn’t too much to shout about, either. Still, if you always wanted a portable HDTV running Android, with a touchscreen to boot, Samsung has the Galaxy View for you.
07. Dell Venue 8 7000
Along with the Nexus 9, this offering from Dell is one of the oldest options still in our list, and for good reason. With a different design making that gorgeous display stand out, and a real professional look and feel throughout, the Venue 8 7000 has a hell of a lot to offer. The only question that needs answering now, is whether or not Dell will bestow a Marshmallow update upon their smaller tablets. We certainly hope so, but as it stands right now, the Dell Venue 8 line is well worth considering if you’re in the market of a more premium portable Android tablet.
06. Lenovo YOGA Tab 3 Pro
If you want versatility in an Android tablet – without a keyboard accessory – then the Yoga Tab 3 Pro is one of your best options. With a good-looking display, a stand that can be used in all orientations (and even double as a hook for the tablet) the Yoga Tab 3 Pro is as flexible as you are, and there’s a big battery in that handle to keep it going throughout a day or more. This version of the Yoga Tab brings things up a notch however and adds in a pico projector to get HD films set up as an impromptu theater whenever you want, as well as excellent speakers to boot. You can read our review to learn more about the Yoga Tab 3 Pro here.
05. Google Nexus 9
Google and HTC’s partnership on the Nexus 9 was something of a surprise for a lot of people out there, and while it still gets a mixed reception, it’s become an excellent option to consider over the year-plus that it’s been available. For one thing, this now runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow (unlike most others on this list) and for another it has a great screen at 8.9-inches that’s colorful and bright, even if bright sunlight. Nice and thin, with quality BoomSound speakers, the Nexus 9 is worth considering even today. If you’re looking to do more gaming with an NVIDIA chip however, look below, and if you’re looking for a better-built and larger Nexus tablet, keep going still.
04. NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet K1
While NVIDIA may not have succeeded with their original SHIELD Tablet, they resolved to do better with their K1 model, and that’s just what they did. The 8.0-inch 1920 x 1200 display still isn’t the most dense out there, and its industrial design is pretty unassuming, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts here, and that just happens to be a lot. The Tegra K1 at the heart of this SHIELD Tablet is incredibly powerful, and offers some of the best gaming performance available on Android. With an optional controller and the ability to stream Steam games to it, the SHIELD Tablet K1 is one of hell of a content consumption device.
03. Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet
When we reviewed the Xperia Z4 Tablet from Sony last year, we gave it a thorough once over and were mightily impressed. We still are of course, but it has tailed off a little. It still hasn’t received an update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow and there’s a new keyboard king in town. Still, if you prefer a 16:10 aspect ratio for films and TV, as well as an excellent fit and finish with a super-thin, water-resistant build, then this is the one to get. It is however, really quite expensive, and despite its versatility, there are a couple of other options that are more affordable in the long run.
02. Google Pixel C
Despite some teething problems at launch, the Pixel C has become an excellent example of what Google can do with hardware when they try hard to get it right. With small changes to Android itself, and frequent updates to keep the Pixel C sharp and up-to-date, there’s a lot to love about the Pixel C. Not the least the magical keyboard which works wonders when using a fullscreen app or getting some email dealt with. This is excellent hardware, and there’s no taking that away from Google, but Android as it is on tablets still needs some work, and hopefully the Pixel C will show Google how good Android can be on tablets if they keep working on improving it.
01. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 – 9.7-inch
Where the Pixel C lacks software extras and niceties, the Galaxy Tab S2 brings them back in abundance, with software additions and tweaks to make Android more useful. Not to mention that display. The Super AMOLED, Full HD 9.7-inch display is gorgeous and makes websites a joy to browse, as well as movies pop with all the punch and clarity you could ask for. It’s a little on the expensive side, but if you want an Android tablet to do everything, and do everything well, then this is the option that you’ve been looking for.