Why Android tablets aren’t good (and what to buy instead)

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Thinking of buying an Android tablet? Here are reasons to consider alternative tablets, along with some tablet recommendations.

While the tablets have generally fallen out of favor since their initial peak in popularity, they are still around today. The iPad dominates the market, but if you’re an Android fan, you probably won’t fall for one of them.

This will naturally lead you to orient yourself towards a tablet running Android. But we do not recommend that you buy Android tablets. Here’s why.

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1. Wrong selection of tablets

One of the great things about Android phones is that it’s easy to find a device that meets your needs. Whether you like a small or large screen, prefer standard Android or tons of extra features, or want a headphone jack, you can find a phone for you.

The Android tablet market is not like that, however. The official page Android phones and tablets from Google lists three tablets:

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7, which is the latest offering. It was released in August 2020.
  • Lenovo Tab M10 FHD Plus, arrived in March 2020.
  • Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab, released in October 2019.

Of course, these aren’t the only Android tablets available. But it’s quite pathetic that this is Google’s best performance – most of the other Android tablets you’ll find on Amazon are cheap, nameless devices.

Even Google itself has abandoned the tablet market. The company killed off the high-end Pixel Slate in 2019 and announced that it has no plans to continue the tablet line in the future. This does not bode well for the Android tablet market as a whole, as Google is releasing Android.

2. Terrible Android update support

Android’s fragmentation problem is one of its biggest drawbacks. Unless you buy a Pixel device, you probably won’t receive the latest Android update until months after its release. And in some cases, you will only get one major update, if at all. This issue also affects Android tablets.

Of the previously mentioned devices, the Lenovo Tab M10 and the Yoga Tab both shipped with Android 9, released in August 2018. Checking out the page Lenovo Android Update, we can see that both devices were subsequently updated to Android 10 (the M10 in October 2020 and the Yoga in January 2021). On this page, both devices are marked as finished , which means there are no more upgrades planned.

So if you bought a Yoga Smart Tab in October 2019 when it was released, it was already running a year old operating system. You then had to wait a year and three months for an Android update, and when you got Android 10 it had been out for over a year already. And the device will not receive any more updates afterwards.

The Galaxy Tab S7 shipped with Android 10. Samsung released the tablet a few weeks before Android 11 launched, but Android 11 didn’t arrive at the Tab until January 2021. It’s not terrible, but it still have to wait for an update to a premium device.

In the meantime, you can completely forget about Android updates if you buy a cheap device. These will likely come with an older version of Android and rarely, if ever, see upgrades after what ships.

3. iPad is better for gaming

Assuming you already own an Android phone, you’re probably looking to get a tablet for secondary use. A common goal for a tablet is to play mobile games. But if that’s the reason you want a tablet, you better buy an iPad.

We’ve already looked at why the iPhone and iPad are better for mobile gaming. Games often launch first (or exclusively) on iOS, sometimes months before seeing an Android version. Since Apple only makes a few phones and tablets, out of the thousands of Android devices available, game developers tend to focus on iOS due to easier development.

Often the game performance is better on iPad as well. This is especially true when you compare a modern iPad to most of the cheap or outdated Android tablets available today. The Play Store is also home to bogus / unwanted games, which makes it slightly more dangerous for kids.

Another great advantage of an iPad is that you can enjoy Apple Arcade. For $ 5 / month, the service gives you access to over 100 games with no ads or in-app purchases. You can download them for offline play and even share your membership with your family.

Google Play Pass is a similar service on Android, if you end up with an Android tablet. Which service is best for you depends on the games you want to play.

The Cost Isn’t Worth It: Alternatives To Android Tablets

Now that we’ve seen why Android tablets really aren’t worth the price, what should you get instead? Think about what you want to buy a tablet for, and you’re likely to find a device that does it better for the same cost (or less).

Let’s take a look at some common categories.

Cheap tablet: Tablet Amazon Fire 7

If you want to get the cheapest tablet possible for your kids or as a disposable device, the Fire 7 tablet is a great choice. It integrates with your Amazon Prime account for all kinds of goodies, offers expandable storage, and often goes on sale for a big discount.

The Fire tablet runs Amazon’s Fire operating system, which means it’s technically still an Android tablet. But for the price, you won’t find better value for money.

Premium tablet: iPad 2020 or iPad Pro 2020

Let’s say you decide to buy an Android tablet. You want to get the most recent one available to enjoy the best features and the latest operating system, so you go for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 mentioned earlier.

At the time of writing, the sticker price for the device is $ 650 for a 128GB model or $ 730 for 256GB of storage. In comparison, the 2020 iPad costs $ 329 for 32GB or $ 429 for the 128GB model.

While you get less storage with the iPad, that’s still a significant price difference for a casual tablet user. And given the points discussed above, it doesn’t make much sense to pay more for the Android device. If you want a tablet just for occasional browsing, playing certain games, and watching videos, the basic iPad does it all for less.

What if you are interested in a tablet for professional use? For a little more money, you can upgrade to the 11-inch iPad Pro. It starts at $ 799 for 128GB of storage. Sure, it’s not cheap, but if you want the best tablet experience, it’s probably worth the extra cost.

With an iPad, you know you’ll receive operating system updates for years to come, and get them when they are released. Additionally, Apple has split iPadOS into its own operating system with iPad-specific functionality. Android hasn’t received tablet-specific upgrades for many years.

To play games: Nintendo Switch

It doesn’t make much sense to spend hundreds of dollars on any tablet if you’re just looking to play games on it. The majority of mobile games are nothing special and are filled with in-app purchases that interrupt the game. You can still play most of them on your phone.

If you want to play better games, why not buy a Nintendo Switch? For the cost of a tablet (or less), you get access to the Switch’s vast library of great Nintendo games and indie titles. The system is both portable and home console, so you can take it anywhere like a tablet.

For general productivity: Chromebook

It’s hard to do real work on a tablet, especially if you don’t buy a keyboard and other extra accessories for it. If you want a secondary device that you can take with you on trips or use on the couch, consider a Chromebook. These have a physical keyboard compared to the virtual keyboard on a tablet, and they come in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Some Chromebooks even offer 2-in-1 features, so you can fold them up like a tablet. Getting two devices for the price of one is better value than an Android tablet. And modern Chromebooks can run Android apps too, thanks to Google Play Store support.

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Tablets aren’t that great anyway

We took a look at the reasons why Android tablets really aren’t worth buying. The market is mostly stagnant, with older devices and outdated versions of Android dominating it. The best modern Android tablet is way more expensive than an iPad, which makes it a waste for casual users. Either way, another device beats the Android tablet’s offer.

But in general, tablets are pretty niche these days anyway. Bigger phone screens mean small tablets are unnecessary, and e-readers like the Kindle are much better for reading books. Unless you have a specific reason for getting a tablet, don’t worry.

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