Android, Tablets

These Are The Best Android Tablets In 2019

By Wired
20 January 2019
The best Android tablets, including the best cheap Android tablet and the best for Netflix

Don’t count the traditional tablet out just yet; it’s still useful for working, doodling and Netflixing. Android slates, in particular, come in all shapes and sizes, and devices with similar specs can feel totally different in day-to-day use. If you’ve no interest in the iPad, check out our list of the best Android tablets below.

Our top pick is the do-it-all Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 with its predecessor the Galaxy Tab S3 also holding firm in the list. If you just want something cheap and cheerful, try an Amazon Fire HD 8 in either the regular or Kids edition.

Looking at new Android tablet releases in the next few months, some of the most intriguing are Lenovo’s upcoming Smart Tabs (from $230), which you can dock into speakers to act as Alexa home hubs.

More widely, Google is pushing a shift from Android to Chrome OS on tablets, and we’ve already seen an announcement from CES for an Asus Chromebook Tablet CT100, designed for use in the classroom.

Recommended: Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

 Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Pros: Beautiful screen, DeX 2-in-1 skills, excellent S Pen stylus
Cons: Keyboard cover not included

This is one Android tablet we can recommend without qualification. The successor to our previous favourite (and still worth considering), the Galaxy Tab S3, it’s also our pick for a laptop replacement.

Full-sized Android tablets don’t really get better than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 ($770), and at this price, you’d expect top quality. It’s slim and sleek aluminium with minimal bezels yet still well built, with black and white models to choose from. And thanks to its glorious, best-in-class 10.5in 2560x1600 Super AMOLED screen with HDR mode, it’s the tablet you’d want to hand for a portable cinema session.

Battery life is brilliant, both in use and on standby, with 7,300mAh of lithium polymer battery versus the Tab S3’s 6,000mAh. The S Pen stylus is superb for everything from hovering over text to live drawing, with more than 4,000 pressure levels, but equally if you’re not interested it can be left at home in a drawer. There’s an LTE model with a NanoSIM slot and 64/256GB internal storage with up to 512GB via microSD. Even its AKG/ Harman stereo speakers manage to sound reassuringly warmer than rival tablet speakers.

The real draw, though, is the Tab S4’s ability to get stuff done. Samsung claims the Tab S4 can run 20 apps at once. We tried it and… it can indeed. There were no hiccups whatsoever courtesy of Android Oreo 8.1 and a Snapdragon 835 processor that’s admittedly slightly out of date but still plenty powerful enough here.

Samsung’s DeX service allows you to quickly switch to and work from a laptop-style view which you can use with its $153 Keyboard Cover or pump to a monitor (via USB-C to HDMI) with mouse support too. This makes it the best Android tablet pick for productivity, though just to be clear this is not quite a true laptop replacement.

One minor ding, which probably can’t be helped: in use the Tab S4 is an absolute fingerprint magnet, front and back. So perhaps invest in a cleaning cloth to keep it looking pristine.

Price: $770 

Best cheap Android tablet: Amazon Fire HD 8

Amazon Fire HD 8

Pros: Beginner friendly, hands-free Alexa, Show Mode perfect for families
Cons: Pushes Amazon services, screen is so-so, no Play Store

The Fire HD 8 ($100) is technically an Android tablet, but it sure doesn’t act like it. This should be the first choice for anyone uncomfortable with gadgets as it’s just so darn easy to get on with. Amazon’s services - Shopping, Kindle, Prime Video - are front and centre and with the excellent (if slightly fiddly) Show Mode dock and hands-free, built-in Alexa that works even when it’s locked, it’s essentially an Echo Show, too.

The Fire HD 8 comes in three fun, matte plastic finishes - black, red and blue - and like the even bubblier Fire HD 8 Kids below, one of the Fire HD 8’s neatest tricks is the ability to set up child-friendly profiles that block ads and in-app purchases and set time limits via a Parent Dashboard. Battery life is good, lasting up to ten hours, and it’s reliable in day-to-day use.

Amazon is one of the only tablet makers not pushing more and more pixels. The 8in 1280x800 screen here is nothing special and might well disappoint next to shiny, high-end smartphone displays. Chances are, though, you simply won’t care considering the price. One of the only real downsides is that there’s no access to the Play Store, so if mobile games, for instance, are a priority, look elsewhere.

Additionally helpful to those on a budget, storage is 32GB or 64GB and expandable to 256GB via a microSD card so you won’t pay double just for more space. 

Price: From $100 

Best small Android tablet: Huawei MediaPad 8.4

Huawei MediaPad 8.4

Pros: Light and compact, fast charging, good screen
Cons: Bizarre Huawei extras, no headphone jack

Huawei’s MediaPad 8.4 ($320) is a light and compact tablet to throw in your bag, catch up on shows on your commute or flick through in bed. Style wise, it looks not too dissimilar to an iPad Mini, if we’re honest, even down to the space grey and champagne gold, curved aluminium finishes, if not quite as precisely polished. That might not be a bad thing if you’re a fan of the Apple aesthetic but not its software.

The MediaPad’s 2560x1600 display is sharp with vibrant colours, if not the brightest around, but the 3:2 screen ratio makes it very practical for flitting between apps. The dual Harman Kardon-certified stereo speakers are also surprisingly decent for a 7.3mm thick tablet that’s easy to hold and type on.

There’s some kooky Huawei additions to be found in its EMOTION UI, such as a Mirror selfie app, but these are easily ignored. The fact there’s no headphone jack might be more of an annoyance though Huawei does bundle a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box.

Performance is zippy, the 13MP and 8MP cameras do the job and the 5,100mAh battery means the MediaPad 8.4 will last you ten to 11 hours, or a couple of days’ normal tablet use. Fast charging is another bonus.

Price: $320 

Best for Netflix: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Pros: Gorgeous display, cheaper than the Tab S4, S Pen
Cons: Older, lower specced model

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3 ($669) makes the list purely because it isn’t so very different from the Tab S4 and it’s considerably cheaper. The Tab S3’s current RRP is £519, but you can actually still pick one up for closer to £400 online - now we've got your attention. The main differences are the slightly smaller 6,000mAh battery and slightly older Snapdragon 820 CPU. There’s also the slightly smaller 9.7in, slightly lower-res 2048x1536 Super AMOLED display. It’s still fantastic for movies and videos, though, with satisfyingly rich colours and deep blacks.

It also doesn’t get DeX support to turn your Android tablet into more of a 2-in-1 but, again, if you’re in the market for a Samsung tablet to kick back with, rather than frantically entering data into spreadsheets, this will work just fine.

You still get the excellent S Pen accessory, though, the AKG/Harman stereo speakers and the 5MP and 13MP cameras which are much more than anyone ever needs on a tablet. It’s also lighter than the Tab S4 at 429g for the Wi-Fi version versus the Tab S4’s 484g. So, although it might not be quite so specced up as Samsung’s latest, the Galaxy Tab S3 is still a brilliant all-rounder that will please a lot of people.

Price: $669

Best Android tablet for kids: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids

Pros: Cheap and cheerful, smart parent filters, smash-proof case
Cons: Not much to fault, limited offline Kids content

Yes, you could just buy an Amazon Fire HD 8 (above) and stick it in a colourful case, but if you’re looking for something more involved, Amazon also makes a terrific Fire HD 8 Kids edition ($167). It’s our current pick for the best tablet you can buy for kids, and it's also available in 7in and 10in tablets.

Designed for children aged three (!) to 12, it all makes a lot of sense. There’s the combination of the drop-resistant ‘Kid-Proof Case’, which comes in blue, pink and yellow colourways, and the two-year guarantee against accidents and mechanical faults that means Amazon will send you a new one if it breaks. There’s the big, bold, genuinely kid-friendly interface. And there’s the bundled, year-long subscription to Amazon Fire for Kids Unlimited, which usually costs £2 a month or £5 for a family of four.

What is Fire for Kids? It gets you access to over 5,000 fun and educational apps, games, videos and books all aimed at children aged three to ten. Dora, Disney, it’s all there. Offline access is limited, but if it's for home use then that won’t be a problem. 

There’s more - the Amazon Parent Dashboard lets you set filters and limits as well as monitor what your kids are using the tablet for both on the device and remotely. As for specs, it’s kitted out with the same 8in HD screen and 32GB of storage, expandable to a huge 400GB, as the proper Fire HD 8. There’s also a very decent ten hours of battery life, to boot. 

Price: $167 

Best for battery life: Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus

Lenovo tablet

Pros: Good value for money, great stamina
Cons: Blocky design, weird button placement

This Lenovo tab is a good option for anyone looking for a no-frills workhorse that will last all day. Lenovo claims the 7,000mAh unit inside the Tab 4 10 Plus ($230) is good for up to 20 hours. In use, that’s more like 13-14 hours, but that’s still considerably longer than most similarly sized and specced Android tablets, and its standby performance is excellent.

Elsewhere, things look a little more standard - after all, this is a full Android tablet available for less than £200. The 16:10, 1920 x 1200 display lends itself to on-the-go movie viewing, and it’s bright, too, at up to 400 nits. The dual, front-facing Dolby Atmos speakers are solid and the 5MP fixed-focus front camera is perfectly serviceable for video calls.

Extras include a fast fingerprint sensor on the front (to set up multiple user profiles) and the ability to add up to 128GB of storage via the microSD card slot. And the Tab 4 10 Plus is well served by Lenovo accessories including a shock-resistant bumper for kids and a Bluetooth keyboard.

There are a few compromises to be made here. The Lenovo is running an old version of Android with no sign of an update, performance is good not great and, despite the fact it’s impressively thin at 7mm, this and the size can actually make it a little unwieldy. The buttons are also in odd positions which sounds minor but gets irritating. Still, all things considered the Tab 4 10 Plus remains something of a bargain. 

Price: From $230