Android Best Tablets 2017 More than other tablet operating systems, Android goes from low to high. The broad flexibility of Google’s OS lets manufacturers build useful products ranging from $50 to more than $500, fitting a broader range of niches and tastes than the Apple iPad, which has dominated the tablet market since its first release in early 2010. We’ve rounded up our top picks here.
While Android dukes it out with the iPad and Windows tablets at the top of its range, and doesn’t always win, its strengths at smaller sizes and lower price points can be hard to beat. Android tablets also sometimes show up with crazy experimental features like a pico projector or a separate Wacom touchpad for artists. But all of those innovative features make Android a little harder to program for than the iOS or Windows, so you may find that hot games and top productivity apps come to one of the other platforms first. To get the skinny on the latest whizbang features, make sure to read our full reviews on your prospective device.
One thing to be aware of: we anticipate that Samsung will update its flagship Galaxy Tab S line at Mobile World Congress in late February. So if you’re interested in a high-end Android tablet, you may want to wait until you see what Samsung rolls out next month.
Android Best Tablets 2017 Start With Software
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single version of Android, and even within the same version, manufacturers like to add customized interfaces to differentiate their tablets. Most tablets today run 6.0 Marshmallow. The latest iteration, 7.0 Nougat, is not currently on any tablets outside of Google’s Nexus brand. Unfortunately, we don’t recommend the only available Nexus tablet, the Pixel C, with any enthusiasm. Do not buy a tablet with a version earlier than 6.0. Android 6.0 added important privacy and permission options, and versions earlier than 5.1 may harbor serious security flaws.
Companies like Amazon and Samsung like to put their own spin on Google’s OS, adding a bevy of features, new app stores, and completely revamped user interfaces. It’s not for everyone, but those who are familiar with Amazon’s Fire OS or Samsung’s TouchWiz should give the latest devices from each company a try. And if you’re already heavily invested in the Amazon App Store, you might want to stick with one of the latest Fire tablets.
Even if you don’t have the most recent OS iteration, Android continues to be the most configurable tablet operating system you’ll find. It’s a master multitasker, with an excellent notification system and top-notch integration with Google services like Gmail, Hangouts, and Google Maps. Android is home to plenty of great apps, but there still aren’t as many tablet-specific options as you’ll find for the iPad.
Cellular or Wi-Fi?
All of the major carriers are currently selling cellular enabled tablets. You can add them to a monthly family plan, or pay for data by the day. T-Mobile and Verizon tablets are unlocked and can be used on any service that the tablets’ radios are compatible with, while AT&T and Sprint tablets tend to be locked to that service.
If you have a hotspot option on your smartphone plan, you can save money by just using that with a Wi-Fi-enabled tablet. But that will burn your smartphone’s battery, of course. And unless you’re on a T-Mobile plan with BingeOn, be aware that streaming video on a tablet will quickly eat up an LTE service plan.
Some of our favorite tablets are available in both LTE and Wi-Fi versions. The Galaxy Tab S2 has an LTE version, and the Asus Zenpad Z8 (and its big brother the Z10) is sold by Verizon with LTE.
Don’t Forget About Design
Performance on even the least expensive devices tends to be passable these days, so pay extra attention to design and display quality. The software experience might improve over time, but that chintzy plastic body isn’t getting any upgrades. Low-cost tablets also tend to have dull, 1,024-by-600 or 1,280-by-800 screens, which can look grainy to the modern eye. Higher-quality tablets are often in the 2,048-by-1,536 range, which is notably shaper. We recommend IPS and AMOLED displays for their wide viewing angles, vibrant colors, and excellent contrast.
There are plenty of bargain bin options out there promising the same Android experience as big names. While many of these off-label tabs are perfectly serviceable, we recommend choosing a brand you can count on for software support and hardware quality control.
Check out the selection here for the best Android-based tablets we’ve tested. Have a favorite we didn’t include? Tell us in the comments. If you’re looking for a great phone to complement your new tablet, head over to our Best Android Phones roundup. Or if you want to look beyond the realm of Android, check out our roundups of the Best Tablets across all operating systems.
FEATURED IN THIS ROUNDUP
The 7-inch Amazon Fire tablet doesn’t offer high-end specs or the latest apps, but it’s the best way to put a wealth of multimedia content at your fingertips for an almost unbelievable $50 price.
Nvidia Shield Tablet K1
If you want to take your games to a tablet, the Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 delivers a top-notch gaming experience and a robust feature set for a very reasonable price.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0
Samsung has upgraded the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 tablet from the original Galaxy Tab S in just about every way, including a premium new design, top-of-the-line performance, and a very good camera.
Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro
Lenovo’s Yoga Tab 3 Pro is a high-end Android tablet with a built-in projector that’s great for watching and sharing video.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 is a great Android tablet for multitasking, but you’re paying a sizable premium over the smaller Tab S2 8.0.
Amazon Fire HD 8
Amazon’s latest Fire HD 8 tablet is a great value for media consumption, as long as you can live without access to Google Play.
Asus ZenPad 3S 10
Asus ZenPad Z8
The Asus ZenPad Z8 for Verizon Wireless is a relatively affordable Android tablet with a sharp display and solid performance, but you’ll get more for your money elsewhere if you don’t need a tablet with cellular connectivity.
Lenovo Yoga Book (Android)
The Lenovo Yoga Book tablet with Android includes a Wacom touchpad, making it a unique choice for creative types and note takers.