May proved to be a slow month for tablet releases, and as such, there hasn’t been much change at the top in our latest roundup of best Android slates. Still, the extra time to reflect and releases on the horizon have provided reason to reconsider our overall rankings. Read on to see our picks for the top Android tablets as of June 2014.
5. Nexus 7
The original Nexus 7 laid the groundwork for the many sub-$250 Android tablets, and its 2013 edition held pace and hangs on to a spot on our list this month despite starting to show its age. The big upgrade with the second iteration of the Nexus 7 was the addition of a high resolution display, and the modestly specced tablet remains a go-to for those looking for a stock Android experience with quick updates from Google. It isn’t out of the question to think this might the last month the N7 will appear as one of our best tablets — the Google I/O conference at the end of the month could introduce the next generation of Nexus devices.
4. Kindle Fire HDX
Equally affordable in comparison to the Nexus 7, the Android experience here couldn’t be more different. Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX eschews a traditional Android skin in favor of easy access to the vast library of digital content offered by the online retailer. A gorgeous HD display for consuming said digital content is the highlight, but the HDX is powerful enough to act as a gaming device and, to a lesser extent, productivity tool.
3. Samsung Galaxy Tab 4
With a month to consider Samsung’s latest budget-minded lineup of Android slates, we’ve bumped the Galaxy Tab 4 up two spots. These mid-tier outfits offer 720p HD displays and and otherwise modest spec sheet, but they do so with Samsung’s ever-improving take on the tablet. Starting at $199 for the 7-inch version (8 and 10.1-inch models are also available), the Galaxy Tab 4 series features a portable, compact design and makes for a great option for the casual tablet user.
2. Samsung Galaxy NotePro
We’ve praised the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro as the best Android tablet for the past few months, but we are beginning to see its steep price tag and large display as a hindrance rather than a preference. While there is certainly a space for 12-inch tablets in the current market, few manufacturers seem willing to get behind the form factor. A trend towards cheaper slates also puts the NotePro in a precarious position. Still, the powerful tablet with included stylus input gives a best-of-both-worlds option that is equally equipped for work and play.
The Sont Xperia Z2 slides into the top spot on the strength of its design, but don’t blink at the powerful hardware encased within its sleek outlines. A beautiful display, Snapdragon 801 processor, and 8.1MP camera could stand toe-to-toe with any other tablet on the market. You’d be hard-pressed, however, to find another that packages it in a frame that is only 6.1mm thick (and waterproof).
OK, you want a few more options? The above are what we consider the best available, but here are other Android tablets to consider that barely missed our list.
- LG G Pad 8.3 — LG is on the verge of updating their G Pad line. Be on the lookout for closeout deals on this mighty tablet in a compact frame.
- Samsung Galaxy TabPro — Equivalent to the NotePro in Samsung’s lineup, the TabPro line highlights top-tier specs in several size options.
- Amazon Kindle Fire HD — Not quite on the same level as the HDX, the Kindle Fire HD remains an affordable media device for the user seeking a simple entertainment device.
- ASUS Padfone X — A twofer for our list, the Padfone X isn’t the newest device out there, but it will finally be available from AT&T this month. It’s actually a phone that slips into a tablet dock, offering a unique possibility for tablet shoppers.
- Lenovo Yoga 10 HD+ — A powerful productivity device with built in kickstand for when you want to kick back.
Tablets to look forward to
This month’s Computex show brought us a handful of new tablet options, and other manufacturers have kept busy as well. Here are just a couple recently announced tablets to look forward to in the coming months.
ASUS Transformer Book V
A true 5-in-1, the recently announced ASUS Transformer Book V features a 5-inch Android smartphone that can dock into a hybrid Windows 8.1/Android tablet, which in turn can be docked with a keyboard as a hybrid Windows 8.1/Android laptop. We think they covered everything. The Transformer Book V features a 12.5-inch HD display, Intel chipset, and sports 1TB of storage in laptop mode. Expect ASUS’ latest transforming Android device sometime in the second half of the year.
LG G Pad 2014 lineup
Announced earlier this month, LG will be updating its G Pad, introducing two new sizes and revamped hardware. The G Pad 8.3 will be replaced by the G Pad 8.0 along with a G Pad 7.0 and G Pad 10.1. LG hasn’t revealed the full details on what to expect when the tablets launch in Q2 of this year, but we hope it includes the revamped UI found in the recently announced LG G3.
The following tablets haven’t been announced yet, but that hasn’t kept them out of the headlines. Surprise, surprise, we can expect yet another slate from Samsung.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S
Still a rumor by definition but no secret by any means, Samsung is expected to reveal the Galaxy Tab S at an event scheduled for July 12th. What we know so far? Specs include a 10.5-inch Quad HD display, Exynos 5420 octa-core chipset, and Galaxy S5 inspired design. As the name implies, the Tab S is expected to be positioned as Samsung’s flagship tablet for 2014. Don’t expect this thing to come cheap.
We continue to see mentions of long-rumored the Nexus 8 alongside the Nexus 6, and it seems logical that Google’s next tablet could be revealed later this month at Google I/O. Regardless, not much is known about this mysterious tablet but it could be an HTC-produced slate currently being developed under the code name Flounder. An updated Nexus 7 is also a possibility with a second device code named Molly also found floating around the Android code database.
What say you?
We get the feeling Samsung’s tablet announcement this month and Google I/O could see our list looking very different next month, but here’s where we are as of June 2014. Agree? Disagree? Agree to disagree? Let us know what you see as the best Android tablet in the comments below!