What’s the best Android tablet to buy as of December 2013?

Earlier this week we talked about what the best Android phone to buy this month was, and now it’s time to go over the best Android tablets your hard-earned money can buy leading up to that glorious Christmas day. This space doesn’t move quite as fast as smartphones, but we’re about ready to head into what should be an interesting holiday season with a few new tablets leading the way.

5 – Nexus 10 by Samsung

The Nexus 10 is quite old, and is rumored to be supplanted by an updated offering at some point in the near future, but as it stands it’s still one of the better tablets to buy. A lot of that is on price and principal — who can say no to a Nexus device? And who can say no to a Nexus device with these specs for $400?

424093-nexus-10

The specs I’m referring to include a 10.055-inch 2560 x 1600 display, Exynos 5 Dual (which is an ARM Cortex-A15 dual-core chipset with Mali T604 graphics), 2GB of RAM, 16-32GB of internal storage, WiFi + MiMo, Bluetooth, NFC, and more. And the fact that it’s already on Android 4.4 KitKat should allow you to buy one of these bad boys with confidence.

4 – LG G Pad 8.3

lg-g-pad-8.3-3

LG’s G Pad 8.3 jumps to number four this month, and for good reason. Spending a bit more time with the tablet reveals LG really did get the whole “feels just right in your hands” thing just right. Ergonomics aside, the G Pad 8.3 is one fine tablet on all of its other merits, too, with a Snapdragon 600 processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8.3-inch 1920 x 1200 display, 16GB of internal storage, a 5 megapixel camera and more. It looks great, too, which isn’t something we would have said about LG’s offerings from a couple of years ago.

3 – Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition

In our Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition review, Rob Jackson noted some pitfalls of the entirety of the experience, the biggest of which being a laggy user interface when flipping through MyMagazines or trying to use popup apps.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014

That was enough to keep it out of our first spot, but not nearly enough to kick it out of our top 5. The Note 10.1 2014 edition reads like a fantastic device on paper, with specs being comprised of the following:

  • 1.9GHz Exynos 5420 quad-core processor
  • 3GB of RAM.
  • 16GB or 32GB options for internal storage
  • 8MP rear camera
  • 2MP front facing camera
  • MicroUSB 2.0
  • MicroSD slot
  • 8,220 mAh battery and more

Samsung still has yet to address these issues with any sort of software upgrade, so it has taken a backseat to a couple of other worthy devices this month. If you just have to have the S Pen experience and don’t mind parting ways with $550, though, you can’t go wrong here.

2 – Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

The HDX line of Kindle Fire tablets is the latest in Amazon’s series. This changes the game up quite a bit by Amazon’s standards, a company whose modest first step into the tablet arena has since been bested with better offerings each year to follow. The HDX comes in 7-inch and 8.9-inch flavors, giving users a decent balance between screen real estate and portability.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX includes 2560 x 1600 resolution, storage options of 16-64GB, 4G LTE, a quad-core 2.2GHz processor (likely a Snapdragon 800), and more. As we all know by now, though, it isn’t the specs Amazon is hoping will win your hearts.

It’s the deep integration with their various services, including Prime Instant Video, MP3, Cloud Storage, Kindle e-Books, the Amazon Appstore, and a whole lot more. Content is king in Amazon’s world, and it’s something they have been very good at for quite some time. This is definitely one of the better buys of the holiday season, especially for a starting price point of $229.

1 – Nexus 7 2013

This 7-inch ASUS-made wonder slides in at the number 1 spot thanks to that nice 1920 x 1200 resolution (323 ppi), quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset clocked at 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, 16-32GB of internal storage, 5 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front camera, dual-band WiFi N, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and more.

New Nexus 7 hand wm

Google really does make it a bit unfair with their willingness to throw profits aside and offer this device up for dirt cheap, but that doesn’t make us feel reluctant or guilty for awarding the Nexus 7 2013 the top spot anyway. Oh, and did we mention you can get KitKat on this thing?

Honorable Mentions

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

It’s not quite as powerful as the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 or 8.9, but the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD still holds its own where it counts. Amazon couldn’t care less about the profit from device sales here, though, which is why it’s so cheap at a starting price of just $140. As with the HDX, it’s all about apps and services for Amazon. Specs include 1280 x 800 resolution, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 8-16GB of internal storage, 10 hours of battery life and more.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Samsung’s Note series has become the go-to for performance and features in the tablet space, so the more weildy of the bunch — the Note 8.0 — deserves a bit of recognition in the top 5. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0′s HD resolution and quad-core chipset are quite nice, and that all-important S-Pen functionality pushes this as one of the better “small” tablets to consider at the point of sale.

ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T

This is the latest product from ASUS that will allow you to transform your tablet into a netbook. The Transformer Pad TF701 is a 10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 device with NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 processor on board. This powerhouse also includes a 5 megapixel rear camera, a 1.2 megapixel front camera, HDMI-out and more. And when you dock the tablet inside the dock, you’ll get a combined 17 hours of battery life (which is much more than any of today’s Netbooks can claim).

Tablets to look forward to

Here are just a few tablets to look forward to in the weeks and months to come. None of them are available for purchase yet, and some aren’t even official, but it’ll give you a good idea of what to expect once that ever-difficult purchasing decision arises this holiday seasons.

ASUS Padfone Infinity

This marvelous phone/tablet combo pack is set to launch sometime soon. ASUS was one of the first companies to make our “use a powerful phone as the guts of a tablet” dreams come true, and now they’ve gone and outdone themselves with the announcement of the Padfone Infinity.

the-new-padfone-infinity-hands-on

The phone bit includes a 5-inch 1080p HD Super IPS display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage with microSD, 13 megapixel rear camera with a 2 megapixel front camera, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi N, 2,400mAh battery and more.

Dock the phone into the rear of a device that has a 10.1-inch HD display and a huge battery, and you’ve got yourself one of the most powerful tablets, as well. Sounds pretty damned good to me, and worth keeping an eye out for once ASUS makes these available.

Motorola DROID tablets

Motorola has a tablet or two launching soon. We’re not sure what they are. We’re not sure how they’ll look. We’re not even sure when we’ll be seeing them. All we know is that they’ve confirmed some tablets are in the works, and that one of them will most certainly be headed straight for Verizon’s DROID lineup. With the great work they’ve done with the Moto X and the latest DROID phones, Motorola definitely gets a good deal of our attention.

What say you?

And that’ll do it for our list of the best Android tablets to buy. Things should be even more interesting by the time we put the next installment out, but take some time to go over the list for December, and think about where you stand on it. Feel free to disagree — we all have our own thoughts and opinions about these sorts of things, so you won’t be hurting our feelings! We want to hear all about it in the comments section below, so have at it!

PS: don’t forget that you can talk all about these tablets, and more, over at AndroidForums.com. Be sure to make an account and join the millions of folks currently driving some very healthy discussion over there.

Continue reading:




  • LightofHonor

    Nexus 10 2013. :(

    • rogue3

      I know! I was really hoping they’d have this out in time for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. I wonder what the holdup is.

    • anywherehome

      Nexus 7 2013 + flash light, Miracact, IR :(

      Google is trying to be average (like Apple, but Apple has a hype and great product placement), the reason:

      “Is Google under Larry Page on the decline? Here’s one editorial that makes an interesting argument”

      9to5google com

  • joejoe5709

    The Nexus 7 is easily the best tablet this year. Specs and capability alone let it hang with the best. Then you compare price tags and there’s no question what’s the best. Literally my only complaints are some minor quality issues (I’m having some pixel/screen sensitivity issues and will soon return mine) and the supersized bezels. Yes, bezels are nice but they could have shrunk them down a smidge and not lost any usability.

    I’m not a fan of anything Kindle does and I’m not ready for a large tablet so second on my list would be LG G Pad. Welcome back to game, LG. We’ve missed you.

  • harold

    I really like the Asus padfone ideal I also like my Nexus 7 2013 and Nexus 5

  • oldtaku

    I realize most people aren’t going to do this, so your rating is good as is, BUT if you take a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, root it, and rip all the Samsung crap off it you’ll have a much snappier machine. Of course that applies to Samsung Almost Anything.

    I’m quite happy with my Nexus 10, guess we’ll see what the refresh offers…

    • Gideon Waxfarb

      Thing is, I found this tab to be easier to root than Nexus devices. At least you don’t have to install any USB drivers:

    • Dan

      That’s true. It’s what I did with my Note 2, removing the bloat helps a lot.

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    I am waiting for ASUS Nexus 10 2013 as well

  • MyoCom

    Why not Dell Venue 8 ?

  • Gideon Waxfarb

    First of all, these aren’t really the best Android tablets on the market – they’re practically the only good ones.

    Second of all, the Kindle Fire should not be on this list, as it’s not an Android tablet. It’s an Amazon tablet, running a bastardized, Android hybrid. IMO, if it doesn’t have Google apps out of the box, it doesn’t count.

    • Dan

      same could be said for Samsung with TouchWiz

      • Matthew Merrick

        samsung still has Gapps, so, um, no.

      • bjc

        Do you even know what you are saying? Thats makes no sense.

      • CGS

        No it couldn’t.

    • CGS

      I agree, I dislike seeing the Kindle on this list. Not only does Amazon not include Google’s app…the thing SUCKS. Worst. UI. Ever. iOS is better than Amazon’s Kindle OS, even, and I really dislike the over-over-simplicity of Apple’s operating system, so that’s saying quite a bit.

  • th3h0ff

    Currently have a N7 that I like but actually use my Surface RT more… Thinking its just the form factor because I can’t complain about the N7 at all. I dream of one day owning a Surface form factor tablet running chrome!!!! The ultimate Chromebook!!!!

    • mcl630

      How about a Surface form factor, dual-booting ChromeOS and Android?

  • Modman

    Depends what you need it for, Galaxy Note 8.0 is number one for work because you can take freehand notes. Nexus 7 for Gaming. I also like the 2012 better than the 2013, because the 2013 has a stupid glitch that turns the tablet off if you put it in a case that has a magnet.
    My wife has it and cant keep it in the pretty pink case.
    Admittedly the 2013 has better resolution and a rear camera. But ive never cared that much about resolution and I take pictures with my phone anyway. If you already have 2012 n7 dont bother with 2013 in my opinion. Also the 2012 can be had for 139 on Groupon, a reak steal!

    • RaviShah

      the screen turning off is a feature… its supposed to do that with flip cases when the screen is covered. this feature is on the 2012 edition too

  • Sean

    The kindle really shouldn’t be on there. It bears no resemblance to android whatsoever. And with no Google play store access there’s just no way you should count it as an android tablet. And I can’t believe the Sony Xperia Tablet Z didn’t even make honorable mention. For real? Name one bad thing about that tablet besides price? Thinnest and lightest large tablet on the market, Snapdragon S4, 1920 X 1200, waterproof… and not even a mention. But Samsung, Nexus, and amazon are all mentioned twice each? Wow.

    • Dan

      Simmer down. The Kindle devices are very accomplished at what they do.

      If you’re a die-hard android fan, you may be turned off, but chances are your mom/wife/sister/brother/dad/uncle/aunt will prefer a Kindle over that Xperia for real world use.

      • Sean

        IPads are accomplished at what they do too, it doesn’t mean they should be counted in a list of android tablets. And I don’t know if you’re implying that my mom/wife/sister/brother/dad/uncle/aunt are dumb or what…because honestly you’d have to be to prefer a kindle over the Xperia Tablet Z it blows any amazon tablet out of the water and I was being nice before because truth is Quentyn must have been smoking crack to put that kindle in the list over the Xperia. Oh and my mom loves my tablet by the way she has a nexus 7 and was so jealous when she saw mine.

        • Robb Nunya

          You’re right. Apple tablets shouldn’t be considered Android tablets…

          BECAUSE THEY DON’T RUN ANDROID APPS!

          • Sean

            Neither does a kindle.

          • Robb Nunya

            Really? A Kindle Fire doesn’t run Android apps?

            Is it really cold on planet stupid? Or do you all just sit around bonking yourselves on the head with 2X4s?

            From PC Mag, since you don’t have the brains got gave a goat:
            “The Kindle Fire can install any app in the standard Android APK format”
            http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2396276,00.asp

            Wow! Sounds like it runs Android apps to me!

            There’s a large difference between having the Play Store running and not running Android apps. Check your facts before making an ass of yourself.

          • Sean

            What’s funny is you were stupid enough to think I was being literal about it and went off wasting your time finding articles to link that I’m not going to bother clicking on. Lol f ing moron. If it doesn’t have the play store it isn’t android to me. I’m not digging around the web for APKs like a tool, I’m just going to buy a REAL android tablet.

          • Robb Nunya

            Oh.. it isn’t Android… to YOU! Well! That makes it right.

            Fucking idiot. You’re definitely as dumb as they come. Guess what? Nobody really gives a damn what counts as Android to you. Your mom called, she doesn’t even care and she’s the only chance you had.

            What’s really funny is that you’re continuing to make a total ass of yourself here. You’ve been proven wrong, and you’re still trying to somehow salvage a little dignity. Sorry boy-o, not happening. You’ve been proven to not only be a stupid little prick, but also a willfully ignorant little prick. Go crawl back under your rock.

            And you don’t have to buy it. They’ll do just fine without you. You’re still a stupid little twat who can’t even get a basic definition of what is and isn’t an Android tablet right.

  • Matthew Merrick

    i’m suprised the tegra note didn’t at least get an honorable mention.

  • KOLIO

    I’d actually like to see MOTOROLA back in the tablet game.Luv’d the XYBOARD 10.1,best build quality of any ANDROID device I’ve owned to date.
    In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying my LG G-PAD 8.3

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    Bought a refurb Nexus 10 (32GB) for only $280 from woot.com on Blackfriday as a gift. Updated it from 4.1, to 4.3, and finally 4.4 (after the battery charged). It’s a very nice bang/buck tablet and feels noticeably snappier on 4.4.

    Personally, I’m still using the Nexus 7 (2012), but thanks to my Note 3 phablet’s 5.5″ size, I really want to upgrade to an 8″ tablet next for a more meaningful diff in size than only 1.5″.

    The LG 8.3 is my top pick if I were buying today, but I’m hoping a Nexus 8 is released next year.

    (Hey, I can hope! :))

  • Modman

    What ever happened to the tegra note 7? It flew off shelves because it was a steal. Can’t find it anywhere now. Was it discontinued?

    • Robb Nunya

      HP is making a version of it called the HP Slate Extreme, or something like that.

  • toomuchgame441

    Tablet offerings are a joke currently… even after all these years I still can’t consider or recommend an Android tablet, maybe outside of the N7 2013

  • Mitchel White

    The note 10.1 2014 edition laggy issues were INDEED FIXED with a software update, both of mine where I work have the update and run buttery smooth.

    • Anfronie

      I agree. I went through 3 ota updates and it’s much better now.

  • CGS

    I have zero, and I do mean zero interest in the Nexus 7. Why have a tablet only 2 inches bigger than your phone? Doesn’t make any sense. 9 or above, I say.

    I want the Nexus 10, but I think I’m going to wait and see if Google announces a follow-up. But the N10 is still the most attractive-looking tablet on this entire list. My second choice would be the 10.1 Galaxy Note.

    • Fel Pe

      Why only 2 inches bigger? For reading books!!

      • CGS

        I read my Google Play books on my phone and the size is perfect, actually. There’s only been one book that was formatted wrong and paid it a pain to read on the small screen. I guess for someone who mostly uses a tablet for ebooks it’s different, but I watch lots and LOTS of videos, and enjoy quite a few games, if I’m going to have a tablet I want a big screen. I won an iPad a couple of years ago, I ended up selling it for rent, but I really enjoyed the huge screen. I just don’t want any smaller than that in a tablet.

    • Robb Nunya

      Unless you carry a purse, the 7″ form factor is perfect for carrying with you.

      The 2″ is 2″ diagonal, which is a pretty big difference. 10″ is just too big to keep up with. Additionally, if you like to hold the tablet one handed, the weight gets burdensome after a little while. The smaller tablets are a lot more comfortable to hold.

  • Fel Pe

    This list is a joke.

  • Fel Pe

    2560×1600 resolution display
    1.9GHz Exynos 5420 quad-core processor
    3GB of RAM.
    16GB or 32GB options for internal storage
    8MP rear camera
    2MP front facing camera
    MicroUSB 2.0
    MicroSD slot
    8,220 mAh battery and more……

    How can any tablet beat this as of Dec 2013??

  • http://kcain.com/ KC

    I just picked up the ASUS MeMO Pad FHD 10 and, although it’s my first and only tablet, I’m absolutely loving it. Speedy response, great batt life so far, and an outstanding display. $249 and I couldn’t be happier.

    • zachmartin10k

      A new model worth considering is the 8.9″ Pipo M7 Pro ($239) – released in November with high end specs that compare to the new Nexus 7, plus an 8.9 inch screen, making for one of the best values on a tablet with the latest-in-tech this holiday season… a 3G HSPA+ edition is available for slightly more and is one of the first tablets with both Internet & Voice Calling capability and works with AT&T, T-Mobile and Straight Talk Wireless.

      • zachmartin10k

        Pipo models can be had in the U.S.through–T ab l et Sp r i nt– and also offers the new SmartQ Z-Watch ($149) to launch this week which compares to the Samsung Galaxy watch, but nearly half the price.

    • Robb Nunya

      Yeah, the Memo pad is a standout for battery life.

  • Hops

    I’ve owned most of these to try them out, so here’s some real world feedback.

    Kids have smaller hands and sharper eyes, and they love the Nexus 7 and HDX. If you are an adult and mainly play games or use a reader with adjustable font these are well suited for you too.

    If you are an adult and spend a lot of time consuming content from a variety of sources the LG is fantastic. If you have some real need for the stylus, which I found I really don’t, the Note 8.0 is great.

    If you haven’t browsed or used apps like Flipboard or Feedly (and the like) on an 8″ you don’t know what you’re missing. I find the LG is it. The side bezels are thinner than the Note and it just works. The Note is a little closer to iPad mini width, which is unwieldy for one hand (for most people anyway).

    If the LG had LTE in the US it would be my dream tablet. For now it is a perfect complement to my Note 2. I have no use for a 10″ tablet. A convertible or 2-in-1 Windows notebook is a superior device when you get to that size or bigger.

    • Guest

    • Robb Nunya

      My eyes aren’t that great, but after using my Nexus 7 (2013) for a while, it’s aggravating to use my wife’s 2012 model, or even my mom’s original gen Asus transformer. The screen is just that good.

  • blest

    I agree. Loving my Nexus 7

  • emjaysea

    None of these are particularly exciting with the possible exception of the Samsung Galaxy Note, and no Kindle tablet should make the list simply because of the crippled OS. Using one of those is an exercise in frustration.

  • Splaktar

    Why is the TF701T rated so lowly?

    The Nexus 7 isn’t fully supported by Square (CC swiping issues) and PayPal Here doesn’t work on tablets. It’s really a problem for people wanting to use Android tablets for business.

    • JonnyPo

      These guys write crappy, bias articles and have absolutely no type of business sense. Android tablets are still a joke for businesses. I own an HTC ONE but I use an Ipad mini when using Square or Pay Pal.To these fools anything Nexus is always number 1. I guess they don’t know what the word “Bias” means.

      • Mark Wheeler

        I think they award too many points for price. My nexus 7 was plagued with problems and the touch sensitivity is crap compared to my iPad 3. Yeah it’s got a pretty screen and some good hardware but I don’t think affordability makes something #1

    • Anfronie

      Asus needs to fix the tablet/dock connection issue on the 701 first

  • WhoaManWtF

    The freaking kindle doesnt even run actual Android or have access to the play store… wtf is up with this list?

    • xanok

      Actually yes, the Kindle Fire series does run Android.

      • WhoaManWtF

        It does not run google play services, it runs a gimped version of Android with amazon services atop it. It runs Android in the same way that a knock off Kodak tablet from walgreens runs Android. Without HEAVY modification it does not really run Android.

    • Steven Code

      This is were XDA comes into hand ;)

      • WhoaManWtF

        Last I looked though it was not very well unlocked, granted I have not looked in a while. Also I know with the older Kindle Fire it was a bit buggy in general compared to the Nexus offerings.

  • Bo3520

    You should really split these list between full-size tablets (10 inch) and small-size tablets (7, 8 inch). It is hard to compare the two because the uses are so different

  • Micha Ols

    I just upgraded my ASUS Padfone 2 to the “New Padfone Infinity”.
    This Device is absolutely stunning looking.

    After getting used to have all the data (game saves and stuff) always synced on phone and tablet, because they both are the same thing, I have a hard time thinking about buying a separate phone and tablet.
    Also there are some apps that will run on phones, but not on tablets (like whatsapp) and apps that will run on tablets but not on phones. Guess what, they all run on the Padfones, whether you use it as phone or as tablet.

  • http://www.geekchoice.com/washington-dc Dagmar Schneitz

    I prefer the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX! It seems to offer the most for the fairest price.

  • Ryan O’Neill

    I still don’t see enough reason to buy an Android tablet. When they make some decent tablet-designed apps, like a video editor, I’ll be more interested.
    But right now, there’s nothing a tablet can do that my phone can’t.

    • Robb Nunya

      Wait… you want to edit videos… on a tablet?

      That’s kind of a lousy format for that, dontcha think?

      • Ryan O’Neill

        That attitude is the reason no one has made a decent video editing app yet.

        • Robb Nunya

          So get to writing and stop whining.

  • Robert Q

    I love my 2013 nexus 7. It runs silky smooth with 4.4.
    The display is very nice and this device is the perfect size to be taken anywhere.

  • Anfronie

    My Note 2014 is awesome and feel it should be at least be number 2.

  • Modman

    Why use a 7 inch tablet for credit cards?

    I keep hearing ipad is so good for business.

    I disagree. It needs an add on pen.

    I advocate Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 coupled with Squaretrade.

    Galaxy notes natural writing signing ability puts ipad to Shame.

    To bad Squaretrade doesnt develop the tech better and get out of apples butthole.

  • morjoie

    I mostly agree with the list, with a couple of exceptions. Kindle is Android in name only, and the ultimate locked garden without even access to the Google Play Store. I really hate the way Amazon requires the end user to be signed in to use any downloaded apps. Makes it pretty difficult to play games without cellular or wi-fi access.

    Also a little surprised to see Asus Transformer on this list. The hardware is beautiful, no doubt, but Asus does such a janky job with its early but buggy software deployments, and with their recent lockdown against rooting, that would be enough to kick them out of contention, IMO.

    Bottom line, even with the many tablets sporting Android these days, there are still only a few quality standouts, with those few being from the usual suspects, mostly. Too bad there is no Nexus 10 refresh in the offing, with 64gb or even 128gb variants. Now THAT would be an Android tablet with shouting about!

  • Robb Nunya

    I lost my Nexus 7 (2013) a few days ago. Gone without a trace from my car. (Had to have been dropped by me, not stolen)

    I had $300 to blow on a replacement, and after serious consideration of all of the options, I went with the Nexus 7 again. I just can’t seem to find a better tablet that it. I almost said screw it to buy a Nook 7 HD, but it just doesn’t have the chops for the games I like to play. Other than that, there really was no competition in the $300 range. Of course, I’m a little angry at myself each time I pick it up, thinking that the $300 could have gone to something else, but I’m thoroughly addicted to my little porta-brain! :D