Your buyer's guide for the best Android tablets in 2017
Android tablets 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 launching in 2017 which we haven't yet reviewed, and if you don't specifically need an Android tablet, be sure to check out our list of the best tablets for any operating system, including the latest iPads and Windows tablets.
Android tablets are much like iPads. The main difference is the software they run: Google Android. This has its own app store, but most apps are available for both iPads and Android tablets. 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, the iPad’s software. The latest version is Android 7 Nougat, but many tablets still come with Android 6 Marshmallow, or older versions.
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.
What size tablet should I buy?
The first thing to consider (apart from budget) is screen size. This ranges from around 7- to 13in, although for most people an 8- or 9in tablet represents the best compromise between usability and portability.
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. 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.
How much storage do I need?
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 after Android itself is installed, can be quite a lot less than that headline figure.
What about the screen?
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 a sharp-looking image that’s not jagged or blocky.
What features do I need?
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 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. 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.
Performance, battery life and cameras
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 good performance.
We also test battery life, so you’ll find how long each tablet lasts between charges. The best tablets last around 10 hours or more, while the worst only manage 4-5 hours.
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.
- Reviewed on: 19 April 2017
There's no doubt the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is the best Android tablet to be launched in years. If you're looking for a high-end device to rival the iPad Pro running Google's software then this is it. However, it's not without downsides. The price will be too high for many and doesn't include the Keyboard Cover, the software isn't the best for a tablet and that glass back isn't the best choice for multiple reasons.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 review.
- Reviewed on: 20 January 2016
As a standalone tablet, the Pixel C is superb. It’s better than the HTC-made Nexus 9 which was great but not exceptional. Which the 'C' most certainly is. Storage is a bit limited, but if you can live with 32GB it’s good value at £399. Paying an extra £119 for the keyboard is something we can’t see many buyers doing. If typing is a priority, you’d be better off spending your £518 on a decent ultraportable laptop as Android Marshmallow – good as it is – isn’t nearly as versatile as Windows. And while the keyboard is well designed, you’ll still prefer a full-size laptop keyboard. If you need to run Windows apps, the consider the Surface 3 which is slightly cheaper - even with the optional keyboard - but remember that there are even cheaper options such as the Asus Transformer T100HA.
Read our Google Pixel C review.
- Reviewed on: 10 July 2017
The Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 ticks a lot of the right boxes. It’s affordable, well built and plays back video to an exceptionally high standard.
But we’ll say it again – you need Amazon Prime to fully enjoy it. It’s not that it is a complete necessity, but the prominence in the operating system of Amazon’s own apps and services means without a Prime membership it’s a frustrating user experience.
This caveat aside, it’s an incredibly priced media consumption tablet that exemplifies Amazon’s dominance in the low-end market – this over makes it an attractive, interestingly unique option.
Read our Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 review.
- Reviewed on: 2 September 2016
In a stagnated market, the Huawei MediaPad M3 initially feels a little underwhelming. After extended use though, we reckon it’s a cut above the mid-range, but then again at this price you are paying for it. It’s a good alternative to an iPad if you want an Android tablet that’s bigger than an iPad mini but smaller than an iPad Air 2. But, who is specifically looking for that? The MediaPad is excellent and we recommend it, but it lacks a certain ‘wow’ factor that's largely down to the high number of existing Android tablets. The MediaPad 3 is a cut above, but you should also consider Samsung’s Galaxy Tab series for a similarly excellent Android tablet experience.
Read our Huawei MediaPad M3 review.
- Reviewed on: 19 May 2017
It's nice to see another new Android tablet and although the Mi Pad 3 isn't majorly different from the previous model and is more expensive, it's still a decent compact device if you don't mind importing it to the UK.
Read our Xiaomi Mi Pad 3 review.
- Reviewed on: 13 April 2016
This is a tablet well worth considering if you've been thinking about buying the iPad mini 4, as it can contend and sometimes outshine Apple's mini tablet when it comes to design and power. It's almost unbelievably thin and light and that screen is a joy to use.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8 review.
- Reviewed on: 27 August 2014
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is one of the best Android tablets we've ever reviewed. In terms of hardware it's the best you can buy right now and has a superbly thin and light design. There's very little to dislike here aside from some elements of the TouchWiz software and the higher price compared to Android rivals (the iPad mini 2 is the obvious alternative if you're not set on Android). If you would rather save money and aren't so bothered about top-notch spec and additional features like the fingerprint scanner and IR blaster, check out the Nexus 7 and LG G Pad 8.3.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review.
8. Amazon Fire
- Reviewed on: 23 November 2016
It's certainly not perfect, and the lack of Google apps will still put some people off, but the Fire is excellent value at under £50. The latest Fire OS is so Android-like that it's easy to use, and the Fire for Kids app makes it possible to limit what you kids can do and how long they can use the tablet. For some people it's well worth paying double for the Kids Edition version as you get the bumper case and the great warranty. There are some sore points: the poor cameras, the sluggish performance at times, and the long charging time. But at this price it's hard to complain. And you certainly won't find a better tablet for the same money.
Read our Amazon Fire review.
- Reviewed on: 26 January 2016
Whether Xiaomi intended to or not, the Mi Pad 2 is an Android tablet disguised as an iPad mini. This may disgust you or be exactly what you're looking for. Either way, we can't deny that this is a well-made, stylish tablet with decent specs for the price. You're best off getting the 64GB model and if the iOS style user interface is a turn-off, remember that Android is highly customisable.
Read our Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 review.
10. Lenovo Yoga Book
- Reviewed on: 1 November 2016
We can’t hide that we love the Lenovo Yoga Book. However, that might not mean it is for you; it isn’t the most practical of devices, sitting as it does halfway between casual use and productivity, with a bit of mystery thrown in. If you love bleeding edge technology and you have a bit of disposable income - do it, you won’t be disappointed.
The Yoga Book isn’t pretending it can replace your laptop, so don’t expect it to. You won’t get all your work done on it, but we are pleasantly surprised by how much we did get done when we needed to. Note taking with the paper remains the lasting attraction here, and while some tasks take slightly longer than if on a computer, the portability you gain for the price will be worth it for most.
The device could be improved in a second generation - if Lenovo can squeeze a more powerful processor into a Windows version this could be a truly 5/5 product. For now, it remains an excellent but curious addition into the consumer tech world, but one that - importantly - proves Lenovo can design products as good as anyone else in the industry.
Read our Lenovo Yoga Book review.