iPads may get the attention of most tablet owners, but there are plenty of Android-based options out there.
Android tablets vary in size and quality, but some are exceptionally good value and can make very superb iPad alternatives. In the chart below we rank the best Android tablets available to buy in the UK in 2021 so far.
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 the occasional Windows tablet.
Android tablets are much like iPads. The main difference is the operating system (or OS) they run: Google's Android platform. Android, as you're likely to find it on most devices, comes with an app store all its own, called the Play Store. Chances are all the popular apps you'd find on an iPad running iOS will also be available to Android users too, however, there are the odd exceptions or those times where an Android version of an app takes a little longer to appear than it does on iOS.
As for Amazon's Fire tablets things are a little different, as they run on a forked version of Android that's heavily customised, locked down and employs Amazon's own app store in place of the Google Play Store. Fire tablets make for 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 7in to 13in, although for most people an 8in 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 when watching a film. That said, if you intend for your new slate to spend most of its life propped up on your lap or on a desk weight isn’t likely to be so much of an issue.
How much storage do I need?
Ideally, you should aim for 32GB of internal storage as a minimum, but more is better for downloading media.
Many, but not all, Android tablets feature a microSD card 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 in a single hit.
And don’t forget that the big number on the box – 32GB, say – is the total amount. The usable amount, i.e. the amount which is empty and available for you to use after the Android OS 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 LCD or (better yet) 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 300 pixels per inch (often abbreviated to 'ppi') or higher, as this will ensure a sharp-looking image that’s not jagged or blocky.
What features do I need?
Most Android tablets feature WiFi and Bluetooth as their primary means of connectivity, and some have NFC as well. NFC may come in handy for pairing to other compatible devices quickly, 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 most Android tablets with Google's Chromecast for watching catch-up TV, YouTube and other internet video services that are supported.
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 WiFi range.
However, you’ll usually pay more for a cellular (3G/4G/5G) tablet, and you will need a dedicated SIM card with a data-only plan to enable in. In truth, it’s better to tether your tablet to your smartphone, if your mobile plan/carrier 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 for a more empirical comparison; you can’t rely on specifications such as processor speed or number of cores it possesses to guarantee good performance.
We also test battery life, to give you an accurate idea of how long each tablet should likely last between charges. The best tablets last around ten hours or more, while the worst only manage four to five hours on a charge.
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 video calls are important, don’t buy before you’ve read our reviews.
1. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+
The freshest-faced entry in this lineup also happens to be Samsung's best and brightest slate of 2020. The Galaxy Tab S7+ is so capable that it really highlights the disparity between the capability of the hardware and the underdeveloped nature of Android as a tablet OS.
Samsung has works hard to optimise Android on the Tab S7+ and it's also helped in no small about the the slate's raw power and excellent S Pen experience.
This also makes for a superb media slate, thanks to its stunning screen and excellent speakers.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ review
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019)
One of the best Galaxy Tab offerings for those on a budget, 2019's Tab A 10.1 boasts a surprisingly premium design, a nice screen and impressive battery life at an impressively competitive price point.
It lacks raw power when it comes to gaming but overall, there's nothing else we'd recommend that's as capable at this price point.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019) review
3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
If it weren't for the fresher hardware of the Tab S7+ we'd still posit that the more affordable Galaxy Tab S5e is the best Android tablet you can pick up. Samsung took the excellent screen and quad-speaker system from the Tab S4 and put them in a thinner and lighter design, complete with a more desirable metal build.
The Tab S5e is primarily limited a little by the Snapdragon 670 but it's designed and pitched as an entertainment tablet rather than a laptop replacement - despite the inclusion of DeX (Samsung's [D]esktop [eX]perience) - and it does this very well.
Many users will find the lack of a headphone jack disappointing but there's a dongle in the box and you also have the option to use USB-C or wireless headphones.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e review
4. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is definitely more of a basic productivity and entertainment slate, rather than a laptop replacement, but that means its talents lie in its featherweight design, its affordability and as a brilliant tool for note-taking.
That said, it’s not the only contender in the mid-range tablet space with Samsung's own Galaxy Tab S5e still trumping the S6 Lite in a few key areas, albeit at a greater cost overall.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite review
5. Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020)
Amazon refreshed its 8in Fire tablet for 2020, with more memory and wireless charging, which in turn enables Amazon Echo Show mode; so you can summon Alexa and check the weather with your voice.
While performance isn't markedly different from the previous Fire HD 8, this model will last longer and we'd say the addition of the wireless charging dock is wholly worthwhile if you're considering picking one of these slates up.
Read our full Amazon Fire HD 8 (10th gen) review
6. Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)
Amazon's latest 10in tab is still one of the best value slates at this screen size, provided you're comfortable with everything that Amazon's own app store has to offer, compared to the Google Play Store.
The updated white model - complete with white bezel - would be our pick and while we wouldn't describe performance as 'blisteringly' fast, it's an unquestionable step up from the previous 10in Fire.
There's also a Kids Edition that costs a little more but comes with a few extras including a hardy child-resistant case that, paired with this Fire's expansive display - makes for a smart buy if you're looking for a tablet that can entertain and educate little ones.
Read our full Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) review
7. Amazon Fire 7 (2019)
The Amazon Fire 7 may not offer much in the way of improvements over its predecessor - save for a few new colourways - but it's an undeniably bargain all the same.
Highlights include more storage space and a superior selfie camera, which might not seem like much, but considering the other sorts of tablets you can expect to pick up at this price point, there's little else out there that comes close to consideration.
Read our full Amazon Fire 7 (2019) review
8. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
While the Tab S4 is a few generations old now, it's still a well-equipped slate that delivers on what Samsung's Galaxy Tab range has come to be known for - productivity and entertainment.
It's got a superb 10.5in WQXGA Super AMOLED display, quad speakers, long battery life, a premium design that's just 7.1mm thick and, of course, S Pen stylus support; so you can practice your digital artistry on the fly.
It also packs in higher resolution 8Mp and 13Mp cameras, compared to most Android tablets, and its age means that you can snap one up nowadays at a considerable discount.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review