The Best Android Tablets of 2021 Ranked

Ewdison Then - Dec 10, 2021, 2:48pm CST
The Best Android Tablets of 2021 Ranked

December isn’t just a time for reflecting and reminiscing on the past 11 months. For many, it’s also a time to make well-planned and long-delayed purchases, especially with discounts that will be trying to entice consumers away from their hard-earned cash. With so many products to choose from, it can be an overwhelming process instead of an enjoyable one. While different people will naturally have different needs and budgets, there is almost an Android tablet that perfectly meets their requirements. Here are some of our top choices for those, highlighting the best Android tablets in 2021 for different folks.

Image Credit: Samsung

5. Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus – Budget Entertainment

Going in the completely opposite direction of some of the higher-end tablets on our list, you have here one of the cheapest Android tablets in the market. “Cheap,” however, doesn’t equate to terrible, especially when Amazon is able to profit from its Fire tablets in some other ways beyond retail price. And it might not look like it, but the Amazon Fire HD tablets are definitely running Android, just Amazon’s flavor.

Image Credit: Amazon

The 2021 model of the Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus does take things up a notch compared to Amazon’s other tablets, mostly in terms of memory and wireless charging capabilities. At $180, you might suspect there are some hidden catches, and you’d be correct. You’re going to miss out on Google Play Store and Google apps, but Amazon has its own ecosystem of Android apps (some of which will soon also be available on Windows 11.)

Amazon Fire tablets have always been gateways to the e-commerce giant’s other services and content, so it’s primed (pun intended) to benefit Amazon Prime members the most. That said, Amazon also makes a big deal about the kid-friendly version of its tablets, and the Fire HD 10 and 10 Plus, in particular, are now also being groomed for more serious adult use. Amazon even has a “productivity bundle” that includes a Bluetooth keyboard case that will turn them into makeshift laptops. Just mind the MediaTek Helio P60T processor and 4GB of RAM.

Image Credit: Amazon

More advanced Android users might also take note that Fire OS is still based on a very old version of Android, specifically Android 9.0 Pie. Amazon basically lives in an Android world of its own making, it doesn’t seem to be making the same level of commitment to software updates for Fire tablets as it did for Fire TV devices.

4. Galaxy Tab S7 FE – Best All-rounder

It might be surprising to see the Galaxy Tab S7 FE right at the top since it isn’t really Samsung’s best this year. As a Fan Edition device, it is meant to distill the Galaxy Tab S7 down to its most essential features and experiences, wrapped in a more affordable package. The result is that the Galaxy Tab S7 FE offers an almost perfect balance of features and price in a tablet that can meet almost every need without going overboard.

Image Credit: Samsung

The Snapdragon 750G or 778G, while not Qualcomm’s top performers, are up to most tasks, even mobile gaming. The bright and crisp 12.4-inch screen isn’t just great for 2K content, it also supports the S Pen stylus that thankfully comes with each purchase. That’s no mere pointy stick, either. This device works with the famed Wacom technology that will endear the slate to digital artists and note-takers alike. And despite being a mid-range tablet, it still has the best of what Samsung has to offer in terms of software experience, including DeX Mode that turns it into an Android laptop at the tap of a button.

Image Credit: Samsung

Of course, there were compromises that needed to be made, like the amount of RAM in some configurations. The 8MP main and 5MP front cameras are definitely nothing worth writing home about, especially the latter for video calls. Some users may be disappointed to find that the LCD screen in this device only has an image refresh rate of 60Hz, while others haven’t yet owned a device with a more advanced display. A refresh rate of 60Hz means the user gets a maximum of 60 frames per second – that’s half as much as the refresh rate of the next tablet on our list.

Samsung sadly also doesn’t ship the keyboard cover with the tablet, making it an additional expense. But at $530, which can go down to $280 these days for the base model, it’s still a great deal for an all-purpose tablet you can use not only for entertainment but also for productivity.

3. Xiaomi Pad 5 – Surprising Upstart

This is hardly the company’s first tablet, but the Xiaomi Pad 5 is notable for two reasons. It is, for one, the first tablet to ditch the “Mi” name in line with the company’s rebranding efforts. It is also perhaps Xiaomi’s best tablet so far, even being hailed as a worthy rival to both the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S. It’s definitely near perfect, presuming you can actually buy it.

Image Credit: Xiaomi

It almost has the best specs for tablets this year, especially with the Pro model that gets a Snapdragon 870 5G and up to 8GB of RAM. That also gets either a 13MP main camera or a 50MP sensor, depending on Wi-Fi or 5G model, respectively. One of the most notable features of Xiaomi’s slate, however, is its 11-inch 2560×1600 TFT LCD display. Not only does it deliver bright and vibrant colors, it even supports 120Hz refresh rates, a big boon to mobile gaming on a large screen (with a paired controller, of course).

The Xiaomi Pad 5 isn’t just for content consumption, however. It is also compatible with an active Xiaomi Smart Pen stylus and a keyboard, just like an iPad. And like an iPad, neither can be found inside the box and have to be purchased separately. The stylus technology isn’t based on Wacom’s, which might turn off some professional artists, but it’s not a bad substitute either.

Image Credit: Xiaomi

The biggest drawback, unfortunately, is the tablet’s absence in markets like the US. For those that can get their hands on a Xiaomi Pad 5, however, that equivalent $450 price might be to die for. Just be sure to save up for the accessories.

2. Galaxy Tab S7+ – Full Monty

OK, technically, the Galaxy Tab S7+ is last year’s model. But with no flagship tablet from Samsung this year, it’s still at the top of the company’s list. The fact that it is still one of if not the best Android tablets this year is both impressive and also depressing if you think about the state of the Android tablet market. Regardless, if you have the money to spare to go all out, this is the entertainment and productivity screen to grab.

Image Credit: SlashGear

You get Samsung’s best-of-class hardware, at least as far as the year 2020 is concerned. The Snapdragon 865 5G+ and up to 8GB of RAM will definitely hold on their own even today. The 12.4-inch Super AMOLED screen is definitely top-notch, especially when you consider the 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support. The cameras aren’t exactly newsworthy, but they rarely are for tablets anyway. The 8MP front-facing shooter, however, should do nicely for video conferencing.

Image Credit: SlashGear

The Galaxy Tab S7+ is poised almost as a laptop replacement, and that comes via Samsung DeX. You’ll need to spend more for the matching keyboard cover, but the S Pen is at least included. That makes the tablet a great digital canvas, too, presuming you’ve already settled on your favorite Android creativity apps. As Samsung’s top-of-the-line tablet so far, it isn’t exactly cheap, but you can actually get the highest 512GB configuration now for just $650, depending on where you look.

1. Lenovo Tab P12 Pro – Future-Proof

Next to Samsung and Amazon, Lenovo is probably one of the more prolific Android tablet makers in the market. It has so many models that it is almost too difficult to keep track of them all. There are some that do become memorable, like last year’s Lenovo Smart Tab M10 that can become an ad hoc smart display at home. The Lenovo Tab P12 Pro is definitely another one, and not just because of the features it is packing.

Image Credit: Lenovo

Although a 2021 tablet, the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro almost matches last year’s Galaxy Tab S7+ in key areas and takes them a step further. The larger 12.6-inch QHD 120Hz AMOLED screen, for example, is advertised to be the perfect window to your videos and photos, especially with support for both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. The Snapdragon 870 5G and 8GB of RAM also make short work of any task, from video encoding for streaming services, gaming, and productivity. The latter is actually a big marketing point for the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro, though it’s ironic that it doesn’t ship with the keyboard. Fortunately, the Lenovo Precision Pen 3 is included in the box.

Image Credit: Lenovo

Among the many Android tablets in the market, this seems to be a bit special for both Google and Lenovo. It is, so far, the first and only tablet to officially support the Android 12L beta program, making it the reference device for developers. Despite its attractive $610 price, the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro is still nowhere to be found in the US, not to mention in other markets outside the UK. It could dethrone the Galaxy Tab S7+ when it does launch globally, but Lenovo still has some work to do in making its Android experience on large screens just as usable as Samsung’s One UI.

Alternatives

Although drastically fewer in number, Android tablets are just as diverse as their smartphone cousins. There is a slate or even a convertible for every need, taste, and price, and it can be a confusing and tiring process to go through all of them for your next purchase. And it doesn’t even stop at straightforward Android tablets because Android is now also available in other tablet-like devices and platforms, some of which you might not have considered.

The $700 Acer Chromebook Spin 713, for example, is a 13.5-inch Chrome OS convertible that can easily support Android apps, especially with its 11th-gen Intel Core i7 processor. An e-reader like the 7-inch Onyx Book Leaf might not even sound like an Android device, but it is actually just the latest in a new breed of e-readers that run Android. It even runs a semi-recent Android 10!

Image Credit: Acer

These two might not be the best Android tablets, but they do showcase the power of the Android platform and its ability to almost run on any device conceivable. But if you are indeed in search of the perfect holiday tablet to gift to others or to yourself, take a gander at our top choices for this year, and you might just find the Android tablet that perfectly fits your needs.


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