Heading into 2016 off the back of last month’s Mobile World Congress, it’s a little disconserting to see that there are few Android tablets being launched. Or at least, tablets that have anything to offer beyond the best of the best from last year. Lenovo did introduce a new lineup of budget-minded hardware, which is nice to see, but there’s little else out there in terms of 2016 contenders. In fact, Huawei’s big announcement from the show in Spain was – gasp – a Windows 10 tablet, and a premium one at that. So, where does that leave the world of Android tablets in March, 2016? Sadly, much where we were last month – with the choice of excellent 2015 hardware from a myriad of the usual suspects.
10. Amazon Fire, Fire HD
The Amazon line of Android tablets has certainly become less clear over the past couple of years, with more models added all the time. Still, that doesn’t mean that there cheaper Fire and Fire HD offerings aren’t worth looking into anymore. In fact, the Fire HD model comes in a competent 10-inch version that should offer families a lot of value. With a kids option also available, as well as a shockingly cheap 7-inch Fire version, the Fire line of tablets will get people into the tablet world, and make consuming apps, games and generally anything else fun really easy. As always, it’s worth noting these use Amazon’s App Store and services, there’s no Google here, sadly.Buy the Lenovo Tab 2 A10 from Amazon
09. Lenovo Tab 3
While Lenovo’s new Tab 3 line of tablets – available in 7-inch, 8-inch and 10-inch versions – won’t be available until June, we managed to spend some time with them on the show floor during MWC 2016 last month. Starting at just $79, these are seriously good value, and perhaps even better value than lat year’s Tab 2 model. With a fairly stock interface, Google services – meaning full access to the Google Play Store – and decent specs (including a quad-core CPU and HD displays) these also have some intriguing kid options in the software. With good speakers and decent all-around performance, the Tab 3 line of devices should be a great option for those looking for value above all. More information can be found on the Tab 3 line here.
08. Samsung Galaxy View
The above photo – from Samsung themselves no less – with the Galaxy Note 5 pictured on the left sort of sums up who the Galaxy View is for; those who want bigger than bigger. The Galaxy View has been around for some time now, and it seems more and more as though it’ll forever be one of those products with those that “get it” and those that just don’t know what to do with it. With an 18.4-inch display, the Galaxy View is practically a portable – albeit small – Smart TV, and it’s clear Samsung intends it to be used as such. Being able to use your Samsung smartphone as a controller for the thing is a neat idea, but with just a 1080p display and mediocre specs under-the-hood it’s clear that Samsung didn’t try too hard here. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see someone try something new in the Android tablet space, even if that is just to “make it bigger”.Buy the Galaxy View from Amazon
07. Google Nexus 9
Despite the fact that it’s a Nexus, the first HTC and Google partnership since the original Nexus One didn’t really work out all that well for either party involved. Constantly on sale from HTC and all but forgotten in the wake of the more Googley Pixel C, the Nexus 9 has its problems. The display is okay and nice and bright, but it’s the 8.9-inch size of the device that helps save what would otherwise be a fairly boring tablet experience. The BoomSound speakers give the overall sound reproduction lots of oomph and such, but with little more than a larger smartphone experience, the Nexus 9 doesn’t have much to offer overall. Still, if you’re a stock Android fiend, and you can find one at a decent price then the Nexus 9 could end up being a favorite of yours.Buy the Nexus 9 from Amazon
06. Dell Venue 8 7000
It was a surprise to most people last year when Dell launched a high-spec Android tablet, but it was even more surprising when it was the mundane PC manufacturer that had one of the better-looking hardware designs of the year. With a gorgeous OLED display and a powerful Intel processor on the inside, there’s a lot to love about this higher-end Dell tablet. Right now, the big question is whether or not this will be updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but I see no reason why it shouldn’t be. Prices have steadily fallen since its original launch, and it now represents a fairly decent high-end tablet with a build and design to match, without costing the earth.Buy the Dell Venue 8 from Amazon
05. Lenovo YOGA Tab 3 Pro
Lenovo has become something of a quiet success in the world of Android, and while they might now own Motorola, it’s their own YOGA brand that is making some of the better Android tablets out there. With a bulge that houses a large battery, acts as a nice handle for reading books or magazines and keeps the kickstand safe, this isn’t your average sort of tablet. That stand is what makes the YOGA Pro 3 so versatile, it allows for a tilt view on a table, a good watching experience and it even has a hook to be hung up where convenient, too. With a 10.1-inch display, the YOGA Tab 3 Pro ticks a fairly standard box, but with a Pico Projector built-in to that aforementioned bulge, this is the one tablet that you can use to watch films and such wherever and whenever you’d like. If you’re interested in learning more, you can read our review here.
04. NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet K1
While NVIDIA might have had a rocky ride trying to get other manufacturers and such to use their Tegra line of processors, the graphics giant has had no such trouble in going it alone. With the SHIELD Tablet K1, NVIDIA have created a fairly standard Android tablet with a few key differences and improvements. For one, the SHIELD Tablet K1 has one of the most powerful mobile processors ever made running the show, and for another NVIDIA have made this a true gaming powerhouse. The 8-inch display is no 4K 50-incher, but with the ability to stream Steam games from your PC, and even play classic PC games, like Sleeping Dogs, with excellent graphics through a dedicated controller, this ticks a lot of boxes for gamers. When you’re done gaming, the stock Android build – which has recently been updated to Marshmallow – also makes for a standard tablet experience for everyday tasks, too.Buy the SHIELD Tablet K1 from Amazon
03. Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet
When we reviewed the Xperia Z4 Tablet some time ago, we were very impressed with the overall experience that Sony had put together. With strong internals – taking shape in the form of a Snapdragon 810 and 4GB of RAM – water and dust-resistance and a seriously good keyboard attachment, Sony had a winner on their hands. At just 6.1mm thick, the Xperia Z4 Tablet was an elegant-looking device with lots of power on the inside. With software tweaks to make Android better on a tablet-come-laptop sort of design, this is easily one of the better options out there. The only thing that brings the Xperia Z4 Tablet down is its massive price tag, but if you’re willing to pay the premium, it is reflected in what you get.Buy the Xperia Z4 Tablet from Amazon
02. Google Pixel C
After being on shelves for a couple of months now, we’ve finally figured out why Google took the approach of staggered updates for the Pixel C. At launch, it was mired with bugs and little problems here and there. Now though, the Pixel C has become a serious contender as one of the best tablets out there. The design is excellent, it feels rigid and solid in your hand, and the keyboard is not just an afterthought here, but a genuine inclusion as one of the devices’s main selling points. The sad thing however, is that stock Android continues to offer very little in the way of extra features for tablet users, and for all its good points, the Pixel C can often feel like a giant phone with a great keyboard.
01. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 – 9.7-inch
If an all-rounder is what you’re looking for, and for the majority of users it is, then Samsung has pretty much the only excellent option around. With a 4:3 9.7-inch display, which is a stunning Super AMOLED panel, the Galaxy Tab S2 is great for movies, browsing the web and yes, getting a little work done on the move, too. Samsung have loaded their well-designed tablet with a number of added extras, all of which help make Android more useful on a tablet and bring added value to the table. Going toe-to-toe with the iPad is no easy task, but Samsung almost make it look easy with the Galaxy Tab S2.