Post updated August 13th, 2016 at 08:32 pm
When you’re in the market for a tablet, the Apple iPads are easily the most popular tablets in the market. But there are of course reasons why you may not decide to own one. Cost is one prohibitive factor, but another major factor is the ecosystem – most of us may already be heavily invested on Android to use an iOS product.
Hence, what are the best Android tablets should you consider for a seamless experience from a smartphone to a bigger screen?
The best thing about Android tablets is in the diversity of functions, design and price points. If you plan to get an Android tablet soon, here are some tablets that are the best alternatives to the iPad.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
The latest high-end tablet from Samsung, designed both for work and play. Announced in June, the Galaxy Tab S2 quickly made its way to the Malaysian market with a retail price of RM1,699 for the 8” variant, and RM1,999 for the 9.7”.
The display’s 4:3 aspect ratio makes the tablet a perfect companion for productivity, offering more screen real estate to browse the web, or work on documents and spreadsheets without having to scroll as much as before. A Bluetooth keyboard cover is also available for both protection and practicality.
And, Samsung’s recent partnership with Microsoft means that the Tab S2 comes bundled with Microsoft Office solutions (including Word, Excel and PowerPoint), as well as two years free 100GB cloud storage on OneDrive.
On the other hand, the Tab S2 is versatile enough for leisure as well. The brilliant Super AMOLED screen is a hallmark of Samsung, offering excellent colour reproduction. Furthermore, Samsung is bundling the Tab S2 with one year’s subscription to iflix, offering a wealth of TV series and movies ready to stream, and also Samsung’s new Milk Music streaming service, which has a large selection of local songs.
Not to forget, the Galaxy Tab S2’s slim 5.6mm metal chassis also contains a microSD card slot and a SIM card slot by default, offering LTE connectivity for when you’re on the move. And, with two screen sizes to choose from, Samsung has definitely crafted not one, but two no-compromise tablets that may very well be the best Android tablets to date.
Display: 8” / 9.7” 2048 x 1536 Super AMOLED
Processor: Samsung Exynos 5433 octa-core processor
RAM + ROM: 3GB + 32GB (microSD up to 128GB)
Cameras: 8MP Rear + 2.1MP Front
Battery: 4,000mAh / 5,870mAh
Price: RM1,699 / RM1,999
HTC Nexus 9
There are those who prefer a pure Android experience. Without extra features from manufacturers, the Nexus 9‘s system should be lighter, and hence have snappier performance. On top of that, Google is committed to rolling out monthly security patches to keep its Nexus devices safe.
Google’s Nexus 9, a tablet developed with HTC back in 2014, runs on Android Lollipop, and is powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra K1 chipset that’s known for its graphical prowess. Like the Galaxy Tab S2, the Nexus 9 also features a 2,048 x 1536 display, and it’s also got a nano-SIM card slot with LTE connectivity.
On the other hand, the Nexus 9’s 32GB of internal storage is non-expandable. The biggest downside, however, is that it is almost a year old now, which is why it’s probably better to look at the other tablets in this list.
Display: 8.9” 2048 x 1536 IPS
Processor: 2.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra K1
RAM + ROM: 2GB + 16GB/32GB (non-expandable)
Cameras: 8MP Rear + 1.6MP Front
Xiaomi Mi Pad
If budget is your main concern, the Xiaomi Mi Pad is definitely the best option out there. It retails at only RM699 for a Wi-Fi only version – that’s a whole lot cheaper than the price of a Wi-Fi only iPad mini 3 (16GB) that retails at RM1,356. The 16GB iPad mini 2 costs RM1,027.
That’s not to say the Mi Pad is simply a budget-friendly tablet, either. The Mi Pad runs on a faster, quad-core version of the NVIDIA Tegra K1 chip – the Nexus 9 uses a dual-core variant. There’s also 2GB of RAM, a 2,048 x 1,536 IPS display and a 6,700mAh battery…but there’s one big omission: a SIM card slot. The glossy plastic back is also a fingerprint magnet, but hey, what do you expect from
an RM800 a RM700 tablet?
Display: 7.9” 2048 x 1536 IPS
Processor: 2.2GHz NVIDIA Tegra K1
RAM + ROM: 2GB + 16GB (128GB microSD)
Cameras: 8MP Rear + 5MP Front
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is a powerful tablet from the Japanese company. Retailing at a surprisingly high RM2,699, the Xperia Z4 Tablet features a 10.1” 2K (2,560 x 1,600) display and is powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM. There’s also a SIM card slot for LTE connectivity.
What sets the Z4 Tablet apart from the other tablets in this list is that this is the world’s thinnest and lightest 10” tablet. More importantly, like the rest of Sony Xperia Z series of devices, the Z4 Tablet is water and dust resistant, which means that you can take it into the shower, for a swim, or give it a good rinse under the tap, you know, just in case it heats up.
In all seriousness though, having a water resistant device is a big plus – you never know when misfortune strikes. In the case of the Z4 Tablet though, you’ll have to pay quite a bit for this protection: the Z4 Tablet costs RM2,699, while the Bluetooth keyboard adds an extra RM500 for a whopping RM3,199.
Display: 10.1” QHD
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
RAM + ROM: 3GB + 32GB (microSD up to 128GB)
Cameras: 8.1MP Rear + 5.1MP Front
Want something a little more unique? The Teclast TPad X98 Air 3G is a dual-booting tablet that comes pre-installed with two operating systems – Android and Windows 8.1. With an affordable retail price of only RM899, it is just slightly more expensive than the Xiaomi Mi Pad, but with the benefits of two tablets rolled into one.
Specifications wise, the TPad X98 Air 3G isn’t too shabby either: it is powered by an Intel Atom processor with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage. As its name suggests, it has 3G connectivity, and has telephony capability too.
That said, not much is known about Teclast, and while dual-booting is a nice feature to have, the Android portion of things will leave some question marks about timely updates…if there will be any.
Display: 9.7” 2048 x 1536 Retina IPS
Processor: 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3736F
RAM + ROM: 2GB + 32GB (microSD)
Cameras: 5MP Rear + 2MP Front
For power users who do presentations frequently, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is another unique tablet you can consider. It features a built-in pico projector that can expand your work from the 13.3” display, to a much bigger space so you can easily do that presentation for work, or even enjoy a movie or two at home.
The multi-mode Yoga Tablet 2 Pro’s unique design features one cylindrical side that houses the battery, which results in a more natural grip so you can comfortably hold on to the tablet with one hand – but with a huge 13.3-inch screen, that’s quite a stretch. This design is theoretically perfect for reading, as your fingers do not obstruct the screen, while the centre of gravity is closer to your hand. This cylindrical side also houses an integrated kickstand that also has a square hole that lets you literally hang the tablet on a wall.
That said, the 13.3-inch 2,560 x 1,440 display is the largest of the lot on this list, and is aimed at being a very powerful entertainment tablet – rounding up the specs list are “notebook grade” 1.5W JBL speakers with 5W subwoofer and bundled JBL earphones. This is unlikely to be a tablet you’d want to carry around in your backpack or handbag.
Display: 13.3” QHD IPS
Processor: Intel Atom Z3645
RAM + ROM: 2GB + 32GB (microSD up to 64GB)
Cameras: 8MP Rear + 1.6MP Front
Dell Venue 10 7000
The Dell Venue 10 7000 is another premium Android tablet that was announced back in April. Designed for enterprise users, the 10.5” slate comes bundled with features such as Android for Work, Microsoft Office for Android, and Dell enterprise apps – Dell Mobile Workspace and Dell Mobile Management.
Design wise, the Dell Venue 10 7000 looks very handsome too, with a “barrel edge” that like the Lenovo Yoga tablet, makes it comfortable enough to hold using one hand. The tablet can also be used in five different configurations – tablet, slate, stand, tent or clamshell modes, but of course, you would have to purchase the optional keyboard.
This is also the only tablet here with an Intel RealSense camera onboard. Dell complemented the hardware with a selection of custom Camera and Gallery functions, letting you do cool stuff like taking a picture and letting the RealSense camera show you the distance between two objects in the picture.
Unfortunately, this tablet is not available in Malaysia.
Display: 10.5” 2,560 x 1,600 IPS
Processor: Intel Atom Z3580
RAM + ROM: 2GB + 32GB (microSD up to 512GB)
Cameras: 8MP Intel RealSense Rear + 2MP Front
Price: US$549 (RM2,252) / US$679 with keyboard dock (RM2,785)
When buying an Android tablet, one should consider several factors – specs isn’t the only thing you should be looking at. Instead, think about what you prefer in terms of screen size (large or small), usage type (content consumption or productivity), connectivity options (WiFi-only or WiFi+LTE) and of course, budget.
From this list alone, you can find anything from a dual-booting tablet to an all-rounded premium device that is surprisingly well-priced. Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect tablet, but there is definitely one Android tablet that suits you perfectly.
Disclaimer: This article was sponsored by Samsung Mobile Malaysia.