Your guide to the latest and best Android tablets of 2017. Check out our latest reviews and buyer’s guide on the top Android tablets for this year.
Jump straight to our full best Android tablets chart
Android tablets range from around £50 to £500 (some cost even more). They vary in size and quality, but some are exceptionally good value indeed and are typically the best iPad alternatives. In the chart below we rank the best Android tablets available to buy in the UK in 2017. There are also new tablets coming in 2017 which we haven’t yet reviewed. If you don’t specifically need an Android tablet, be sure to check out our list of the Best tablets.
Android tablets are much like iPads. The main difference is the software they run: Google Android. This has its own app store – Google Play – instead of Apple’s App Store, but in it you’ll find a similarly broad selection of apps. Most apps are available for both iPads and Android tablets, but there are a few occasions you’ll find apps and games are only available for the iPad, and even then, they usually appear on Android soon after.
Android itself is quite similar to iOS, which is the name of the iPad’s software. The latest version is Android 7.0 Nougat but many tablets still come wit Android 6 Marshmallow, or even Android 5 Lollipop, and that’s perfectly fine.
Amazon Fires are a little different as they run on Android, but it’s Amazon’s heavily customised and locked down version. They make good kids’ tablets, so if you’re after a tablet for a child, check out our list of the Best tablets for kids.
As with iPads, the first thing to consider (apart from your budget) is screen size. This ranges from around 7- to 11in, although there are a couple of larger Android tablets with 13in screens. For most people, an 8- or 9in tablet represents the best compromised between usability and portability, although 10in tablets can be thin and light. What you can’t escape is the footprint associated with a bigger screen, so it’s worth making sure your chosen tablet will fit in your favourite bag.
With bigger screens comes more weight. Aim for a maximum of around 450g, as anything heavier can be uncomfortable to hold for long periods, such as watching a film. And if you like to keep your tablet in a case, this will add more weight. But if you’ll use the tablet propped up on your lap or on a desk for most of the time, weight isn’t an issue.
Ideally, you should aim for 16GB of internal storage as a minimum, but more is obviously better. Many, but not all, Android tablets have a microSD slot so you can add more storage when you need it. If you’re going for a tablet with no slot, make sure you buy the biggest capacity you can afford, as videos and some apps can use up an awful lot of storage. And don’t forget that the big number on the box – 16GB, say – is the total amount. The usable amount, i.e. the amount which is empty and available for you to use, can be quite a lot less than that headline figure.
Also, check that the tablet allows you to install apps on the SD card, as not all do, but occasionally it’s the app itself which restricts you to internal storage only.
Few tablets these days have poor-quality screens, but some do. Look for an IPS or AMOLED screen and avoid anything with a ‘TN’ screen as these have poor viewing angles.
In terms of resolution, higher is better, but the more important number is pixel density. Aim for 250 pixels per inch or higher, as this will mean sharp-looking image that’s not jagged or blocky.
Most Android tablets have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and some have NFC as well. NFC may come in handy, but it’s by no means essential. What’s more useful for most people is a video output so you can connect your tablet to your TV (usually via HDMI). However, you can use an Android tablet with a Google Chromecast for watching catch-up TV, YouTube and other internet video services.
Some tablets have GPS, which makes them useful for navigation, but not all do, so check before you buy. Another thing to watch for is a SIM slot. This is useful if you want to get online when you’re travelling or out of Wi-Fi range. However, you’ll usually pay more for a 3G or 4G tablet, and you will need a dedicated SIM card with a data-only plan. It’s better to tether your tablet to your smartphone if your phone’s 3G or 4G provider allows this. For more see How to use an Android phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Don’t worry unduly about a tablet’s processor or RAM, but if you want to know if a particular model is great for gaming or too slow for web browsing, then read our reviews which include benchmark results: you can’t rely on specifications such as processor speed, or the number of cores to guarantee a good turn of speed.
We also test battery life, so you’ll find how long each tablet lasts between charges in our reviews. The best tablets last around 10 hours or more, while the worst only 4-5 hours. This can make a big difference when choosing between otherwise similar tablets, so it’s worth checking this out before buying.
The same applies to cameras, and as with performance, you shouldn’t judge by the number of megapixels. Instead, check out our test photos in each review to see whether you’re happy with the quality on offer. Few Android tablets have great cameras, and quite a few have awful ones, so if photos, videos and Skype are important, don’t buy before you’ve read the reviews.
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