- Nov 30, 2015
There aren't a ton of great Android tablets out there, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 offers the best overall Android tablet experience of the bunch. It has a big screen, high-end specs, tons of features, a stylus, and support for a full keyboard. It's expensive, and not the right pick for anyone who wants a smaller and more portable tablet, but as an all-around device, it can't be beaten. For those who have different needs (or budgets), there are a few other picks that work well as media consumption devices and won't break the bank.
Best Overall — Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
The most important things to have in a full-size Android tablet are a great screen, loud speakers, robust build quality, and software that makes use of the extra screen size. That's what makes the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 the best Android tablet — it has a combination of everything.
Its spec sheet leaves little to be desired, with a super-fast Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, plenty of storage and well-optimized software. And because it's a Samsung product, you're getting a best-in-class display — coming in at 10.5 inches — and a fantastic metal build. You also now get an in-display fingerprint sensor, which was missing on prior models.
Beyond the specs, you get extras like great quad speakers, a microSD card slot and a stylus included in the box that attaches to the back of the tablet when not in use. And despite being thin and light, it gets great battery life. You can add a tremendous first-party keyboard cover to get some work done, and then jump into the DeX desktop-style interface for a more laptop-like experience.
If you want a do-everything Android tablet and you're willing to spend the money, there's nowhere else to go but the Galaxy Tab S6.
- Best screen available on an Android tablet
- S Pen stylus included in the box
- Robust and beautiful hardware
- Long battery life
- First-party detachable keyboard support
- High-quality quad speakers
- Expensive if you're only a casual tablet user
- Not suited for portrait or handheld use for long
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
$650 at Amazon
The best all-around Android tablet for most people.
This is Samsung's best-ever tablet, and it's a single device that can do it all. Solid specs, a great display, and long battery life are all selling points.
Productivity for Less — Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
The Galaxy Tab S6's capabilities — and price — are a bit overkill for most people. That's why Samsung makes the Galaxy Tab S5e. It's built on the same tenets as the Tab S6, but takes strategic cuts back to be more affordable — and that makes it extremely enticing.
You get the same 10.5-inch AMOLED display, which is a huge plus, as well as 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and high-quality quad speakers. The battery is a little smaller, and the Snapdragon 670 processor isn't going to blow you away with performance, but those are fine trade-offs for a $250 price drop.
The entire body is a sleek metal rather than glass. It may not feel quite as high-end but helps the Tab S5e be extremely light for its size at just 399 g (0.88 lb). That makes it great for media consumption and handheld use in ways the Tab S6 isn't. But you can still attach a hardware keyboard and jump into DeX desktop mode to get some serious work done just as well.
- Super light for its size
- Large high-quality screen
- Quad speakers
- Optional hardware keyboard cover
- Productivity features including DeX Desktop
- Not as powerful as Galaxy Tab S6
- No stylus support
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
$400 at Amazon
Get a high-quality tablet with productivity features for less.
If the Tab S6 looks appealing but is too expensive, the Tab S5e is for you. It gets everything done, and trims in the right places to still be a great tablet.
Powerful and Affordable — Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4
The MediaPad M5 8.4 isn't going to blow you away with amazing speakers or a class-leading display like the Galaxy Tab S6, nor does it have a companion stylus or a keyboard. But it has excellent build quality and exceptional performance — plus, a Quad HD display.
Though Huawei makes a larger model (and even a Pro model that does support a pressure-sensitive stylus), the MediaPad M5 8.4 is the perfect size for comfortable, casual browsing and play. And the price is right for what it offers.
- Great performance
- Solid build quality
- Good size for one-handed use
- Good value considering its capabilities
- Display doesn't match Samsung's quality
- Software is lacking tablet optimizations
Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4
$320 at Amazon
Powerful, yet affordable
This series of tablets leans more towards the midrange. But that's all you need for the majority of what most people do on their tablets.
Big on a Small Budget — Amazon Fire HD 10
The Amazon Fire HD 10 is one of those deals that's almost too good to pass up if you're after a device with a large screen but a small price tag. It's simply the best big Android tablet for doing the basics, from watching movies and TV shows to browsing and playing some casual games.
The big caveat to keep in mind with an Amazon Fire tablet is that you don't get the Google Play Store or Google's great apps and services. Instead, you'll rely on the Amazon App Store, which has a dramatically limited app selection. But for this price and what you're likely to do with it, that's an okay trade-off for most.
- Exceptional value for this size
- Solid display
- Amazon's apps get the basics done
- Fun color options available
- No access to Google Play apps
- Cheap-feeling plastic body
Amazon Fire HD 10
$150 at Amazon
Solid, budget-friendly tablet that gets the job done
The Fire HD 10 is all about giving you the essential tablet experience without the extra complication (and cost) of productivity features.
Cheap as it Gets — Amazon Fire HD 8
Amazon also makes the best super-inexpensive Android tablet available, the Fire HD 8. At $80 with 16GB of storage, it's a fantastic deal. The smaller size makes it easy to toss in a bag and carry around or give to a child. And it's also light and easy to hold in one hand, making it suitable for reading.
Like the Fire HD 10, it doesn't have the Google Play Store or Google apps. But you're even more likely to look past that when you're spending under $100 on a tablet. This is an excellent choice for media consumption, browsing, or handing to your kids.
- Small enough for kids to use
- Fun color choices
- Gets all of the basics done
- Almost unbelievable price
- Low-quality screen
- Cheap-feeling plastic build
- No access to Google Play apps
Amazon Fire HD 8
$80 at Amazon
Solid, budget-friendly tablet that gets the job done
A light and portable tablet well under $100 — there isn't much you can complain about in that equation.
The number of great Android tablet options is limited, but there are a few that are worthy of recommending. The best possible Android tablet experience comes from Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 with its high-end materials, great screen, capable software, and hardware keyboard support.
The Tab S6 is too expensive for many tablet buyers, but Samsung also makes a great alternative in the Galaxy Tab S5e. For $250 less, you're getting the same core experience and productivity features, in a lighter overall package, but with a few shortcomings in specs and frills.
For those who don't need every bell and whistle under the sun, the Amazon Fire HD 10 and Fire HD 8 offer a excellent media experience without costing you an arm and a leg — so long as you can live without Google Play services. If you need a bit more from your tablet but still want it in a handheld package, the MediaPad M5 8.4 won't leave you disappointed either.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.
Jerry Hildenbrand is Mobile Nation's Senior Editor and works from a Chromebook full time. Currently, he is using Google's Pixelbook but is always looking at new products and may have any Chromebook in his hands at any time. You'll find him across the Mobile Nations network and you can hit him up on Twitter if you want to say hey.
Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he's writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there's a correlation.