Ever since Samsung launched the original Galaxy Tab, Android tablets have gotten bigger, they’ve steadily evolved into some seriously powerful and useful hardware. This year saw manufacturers branching out, adding features to Android that Google still hasn’t in both hardware as well as software, with keyboard and ever-larger displays hitting the market. The Android tablet has become more of a companion device than ever before, and manufacturers like NVIDIA have realized that the high-resolution displays and portability of these devices are what makes them so attractive. From Sony, Samsung, Dell, Lenovo, NVIDIA and others we’ve seen some great Android tablets this year, but not all of them are as good as each other. These are our picks for the best Android Tablets of 2015.
3rd Place – Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet
Sony has been creating Android tablets for a long time now, ever since the Honeycomb days. Not all of them have been good, and in fact some of them suffered product recalls over the years. With the Xperia Z4 Tablet, they developed a super-thin tablet, coming in at just 6.4mm thick, that also packed some serious specs as well. With a Snapdragon 810 and 3GB RAM powering a 10.1-inch Quad HD display, the Xperia Z4 Tablet was thin, speedy and a real looker. Despite its thin frame, the whole back was covered in a non-slip material to make it nice and grippy in-hand. Then they added a laptop-style keyboard to the whole affair and things quickly got even better, with some tweaks to Android to make it more useful with a mouse and keyboard and it was even water-resistant. All of this made the Xperia Z4 a tablet you could truly use anywhere for anything. Sadly, the Xperia Z4 Tablet is a pricey affair, and considering the drawbacks that any Android tablet has it wasn’t quite worth the added premium. An expensive tablet that a lot to offer, the Xperia Z4 Tablet has a lot going for it, but it was always asking too much for a lot of people. For a full, detailed look at the Xperia Z4 Tablet, there’s our review found here.
2nd Place – Lenovo YOGA Tablet 3 Pro
Lenovo might not be a name that instantly springs to mind when talking about Android tablets, or indeed anything running Android. Further East however, and they’ve been shipping more smartphones than some of the biggest brands. When they approached Android tablets with the YOGA branding a few years ago, they offered innovative hardware to shake things up a bit. Now with the YOGA Pro 3, Lenovo have taken things to a whole new level. The same stand that can be used at all sorts of angles, which also features a hook, is here once again. Building on that though, Lenovo put a Pico Projector in this thing to make it a tablet that can deliver one of the best movie experiences in a tablet. With a Quad-Core Intel Atom as well as a 10.1-inch Quad HD display, the YOGA 3 Pro ticks all of the regular boxes as well. The bump provided a massive battery as well as something to hold on to, and it helped create one of the more original tablet designs that is one of the best out there in the YOGA 3 Pro. The only drawbacks here really are the uncertainty of software updates and some questionable included apps, together with a high price tag. Having said that, there are few tablets that can boast a movie cinema in its spec list. Just as with the Xperia Z4 Tablet, you can read our review of the YOGA Tablet 3 Pro here.
Winner – NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet K1
NVIDIA had a rough start in the world of Android, their Tegra line of processors never made it big in smartphones, and they only ever found themselves inside of Android tablets, and few of those at that. Still, the latest generations of chips are good enough for Google and NVIDIA have got it alone with a number of devices. The latest SHIELD Tablet now features a Tegra K1, an impressively powerful CPU with a Maxwell GPU found inside of gaming PCs all over the world. This makes the SHIELD Tablet K1 an excellent device for those looking to get some gaming on the go, at home or wherever. With the controller and case that doubles as a stand, the SHIELD Tablet K1 can store games from your PC’s Steam library and with GeForce NOW, players can stream games they don’t even own for a flat-rate per month. On top of that, it’ll play all manner of high-end Android games as well as some specific PC games ported to the SHIELD platform.
It’s gaming muscle is not enough to give it the nod alone however, and that’s why it’s great to see NVIDIA take a pragmatic approach to software design. Android is already good enough as it is, so why change it for the sake of it? NVIDIA have kept Android pretty much as Google intended it to be and just added things on top of it where needed. This means that speedy software updates are assured, and NVIDIA continue to better their products with incremental updates that focus on every tiny detail as well, this is a tablet that can do whatever you want. The SHIELD Tablet K1 is not just an Android tablet for gaming nuts, as the software is just as you’d find it with other Android tablets, letting you do whatever you want, even if that’s browsing the web or gorging on YouTube. With some impressive power it has the best toolkit to playback media and play games like no other out there. Despite all of this impressive stuff, the SHIELD Tablet K1 is an affordable little beast, with an 8-inch Full HD display it doesn’t have quite the same displays as others out there, but it’s almost half the price in some cases. Half the price for a whole lot more under-the-hood is worth one little sacrifice like the display, we’d say. We reviewed the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet K1 not too long ago here.