Android tablets rarely make the case for ditching Apple iPads, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any good options available. Here are our favorites.
With manybuyers opting for Apple iPads, (including the iPad Mini and iPad Air) the Android tablet market isn’t necessarily the first place people look when they’re in the market or a new tablet. Fewer and fewer manufacturers even make them now. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few good Android tablets available that try their best to rival the Apple iPad.
While some might question the sanity of a potential Android tablet buyer, a good one can fulfill a range of tasks for any professional or casual need and, in some cases, do things an iPad or iPad Air still can’t, such as work with a touchpad or mouse. Plus, if you’re already invested in the Android app ecosystem, you won’t have to buy them again for iOS. Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive device for media consumption or a possible laptop substitution, there are options worth exploring. We did the research, taking into consideration everything from screen size to battery life to ease of use — basically, all the factors that go into a great tablet. Here are our picks for the best Android tablet out there.
The Google Pixel Slate tries to match the iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface Pro by blending a tablet and Chromebook into a single device — a kind of tablet PC, if you will. Though it’s not a full-fledged Android tablet (and it certainly isn’t a cheap Android tablet), you do have access to the apps in the Google Play store and plenty of power here to use them. It comes with a stylus and has a 48Wh battery, front and rear camera and a touchscreen LCD display screen. It also has a full desktop browser and support for a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. It could even be used as a gaming tablet. The Pixel Slate also has the option for Google Assistant. Overall, just a great tablet. Read our Google Pixel Slate review.
Amazon has come a long way from the first Kindle Fire tablet. The Amazon Fire HD 10 is Amazon’s biggest tablet with a 10-inch screen size and powerful speakers. Just like its smaller 8-inch sibling, the Fire HD 8, the tablet is packed with benefits for Prime subscribers making it easy for members to stream and download movies, TV shows and games. The Fire tablets don’t use a pure version of Android, but instead Amazon’s Android-based Fire operating system and pulls apps from the Amazon App Store. You can still get apps from Google Play, but you’ll have to install the store yourself — meaning gaming enthusiasts have access to all of their favorite mobile games for an excellent gaming tablet experience. Also, this is probably the closest thing we have to budget tablet on this list. Read our Amazon Fire HD 10 review.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 tablet packs in a lot for an Android device. It has a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor and flexible expandable storage up to 1TB with a microSD card. The Galaxy Tab S6 also looks amazing, with a super AMOLED display with a 16:10 ratio screen size. Battery life clocks in at about 15 hours and the rear camera has a 13 MP resolution. And if you’ve ever operated a Samsung Android device, the operation of this particular tablet will feel very intuitive. The recent updates to Samsung’s DeX mode even makes the Tab S6 a possible laptop substitution letting you connect to a mouse and even an external display. Just grab a keyboard and you will be all set. Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 review.
Tyler Lizenby/CNETThe Lenovo Smart Tab P10 combines a tablet and a smart display into one 10-inch device. This Android tablet comes with Android Oreo, front and rear cameras, fingerprint scanner and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor. When you set it on the dock, the Lenovo Tab becomes a smart display a lot like the Amazon Echo Show. Read more about the Lenovo Smart Tab P10.
More about tablets
Google says it’s updating Android faster, trying to fix a longtime problem
The search giant says it rolled out its COVID-19 contact tracing tools to 2 billion devices over the span of a month.
Google has been dogged for years with a major problem when it comes to Android, its mobile operating system: Updates to the software can be hard to implement, leading to inconsistencies and outdated features for users. The search giant on Thursday, though, said it’s getting better at updating Android because of under-the-hood tweaks and policy changes it’s made with the software.
Google said that last year’s version of the software, Android 10, was running on 100 million devices five months after it launched, an adoption rate almost 30% faster than the version released a year before. The search giant also said it rolled out its COVID-19 contact tracing tools, part of a joint project with Apple, to 2 billion devices over the span of a month.
Android is the most dominant mobile operating system in the world, powering almost nine out of 10 smartphones shipped globally. But Google’s biggest challenge with new versions of Android is actually getting them on people’s phones — a problem the industry calls “fragmentation” — since wireless carriers and handset makers can slow down the process.
The problem highlights one of Google’s biggest obstacles when it comes to competing with Apple. In contrast to Android, 92% of Apple’s iPhones are on iOS 13, the previous version of its operating system. The company announced iOS 14 late last month.
One reason for the faster uptake of Android updates is Project Treble, an initiative announced three years ago that tries to clear away some of the roadblocks between consumers and new versions of Android.
Though Google develops Android, it’s up to device makers and wireless carriers to sign off on it before it gets to consumers. That’s because they usually add their own apps and flourishes, then have to test everything before putting it on phones and other gadgets. But even before the software gets to handset makers such as Samsung and LG, or carriers such as Verizon and AT&T, it makes a pit stop with chipmakers like Qualcomm.
With Project Treble, Google separated out the particular code that chipmakers care about to make it easier for them to find everything in one place. The goal is to cut the amount of time it takes for updates to flow down the pipeline from chipmakers to device makers.
Google also said Thursday it’s relied on a set of tools called Google Play Services to push faster updates. The tools let Android sidestep some fragmentation issues by pushing updates directly, without the approval of device and wireless partners. The company normally uses Google Play Services to update its own apps, like Gmail and Maps, and to push changes like a new app icon.
Google used Play Services in May to roll out the company’s tools for contact tracing. The software update was part of a joint project with Apple to use iPhones and Android phones to track the spread of COVID-19. Google said Thursday it pushed out the software to 2 billion devices in four weeks.
Dark mode is coming to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides for Android. How to turn it on
The new setting has started rolling out, so you might not see it on your Android phone right away.
Do you spend a lot of time using Google Docs, Sheets or Slides on your Android phone or tablet? I have good news for you — a new dark mode theme for all three apps is rolling out right now. Not only is using a dark mode or night theme on your Android device easier on your eyes, but it .
Google is rolling out the new dark mode, which can take some time to reach your Android phone or tablet. If you don’t see the setting quite yet, just keep checking. As with most software rollouts, it can take a few weeks before it shows up. It’s also a good idea to double-check that you’ve installed all pending app updates in the Play Store app.
We’ll walk you through where you can check for the new dark mode switch, as well as a way to preview a document using a light theme just to make sure it looks how you want.
Manually turn on Dark Mode
Once your account has access to the new feature, you’ll find a new Theme setting in each of the Sheets, Docs or Slides apps. Here’s where to look:
1. Open Sheets, Docs or Slides and then tap on the menu button in the top-left corner. It’s the icon with three lines.
2. Tap Settings from the list of options.
3. Select Choose Theme.
4. Finally, select Dark, Light or System default.
After the feature is added to your device, it should already be set to System default, which means dark mode in the app follows the dark mode setting of your phone or tablet. If you want the apps to go dark or light, independent of what your Android is doing, you’ll need to adjust the theme setting in each app.
Preview a document in light mode
There will surely be a time when you want to see how a document looks in the more traditional light mode, so Google added a toggle to do just that.
When viewing a file in Docs or Sheets, tap on the More button with three dots, then select View in light theme. The app will quickly change the preview theme, letting you verify everything looks as it should without forcing you to change the apps’ settings.
The search giant didn’t mention if the iOS version of the Google apps will be getting the feature, and didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
There are plenty of Android apps that have already added a dark mode, and we’ve rounded up. While we’re on the topic of Android, make sure to check out all of the gestures . And if you ever lose your phone, you’ll be glad you took the time to read .
Save $50 on the utterly incredible Pocketalk Classic mobile translator
It’s like something out of Star Trek, and it’s bundled with two free years of global data. Plus, get a neckband speaker for just $17.
A couple years back I was lucky enough to take a trip to Italy. It was breathtaking, but the language barrier did make things difficult at times. How I wish I’d had a Pocketalk in my pocket. This insanely convenient device allows for fast and easy translation of 74 different languages in over 120 countries.
It originally sold for $300, but for a limited time, and while supplies last, you can get the. That’s the lowest price to date. It’s available in your choice of black, white or gold. (If Amazon happens to sell out, that sale price is .)
Unlike some translators, the Pocketalk Classic doesn’t rely on your phone. It’s a standalone device with its own touchscreen, one that makes for easy setup and language selection. (The onscreen keyboard is pretty tiny, so it can be a hassle to input, say, a Wi-Fi network password, but you probably won’t need to use it very often.)
The Pocketalk does require a data connection. If there’s no Wi-Fi available, no problem: The unit comes with a global SIM card and two years of unlimited data. (After that, data will cost you a reasonable $50 per year.) It charges via USB-C and has a battery that can easily last a full day.
Once you’re connected, you simply choose your two languages. Then you hold down one button and start talking. Release the button and presto, instant spoken-aloud translation. (It also appears onscreen.) The other person holds down the other button, speaks, releases. Presto, you’ve got English (or whatever is your preferred language).
In my quick, informal tests of the device, I was thoroughly impressed at how well it turned my spoken words into French (and back again; I still remember a bit of what I learned in high school). CNET hasn’t reviewed it, so I’ll turn you over to ZDNet’s Pocketalk Classic review. Its rating: 9.2 out of 10.
Now for the key question: Why this instead of, say, Google Translate, which is free and available for both Android phones and iPhones? And what about the iOS 14? Those are great options, no question, though Apple’s translator is limited to only about a dozen languages, at least for now. But Google Translate is hard to beat, with support for over 100 languages and an offline mode that works with nearly 60 of them.in
One point in the Pocketalk’s favor: It has dual noise-canceling microphones, so it might do a better job in noisy environments. There’s also something to be said for a dedicated device, one that doesn’t put additional strain on your phone’s battery, use additional data and so on. It’s just really cool, too.
Get a Bluedio wireless neckband speaker for $17
When you want to listen to music, podcasts or whatever, sometimes a Bluetooth speaker is the right option. Sometimes headphones are better. But there may be times when you’d prefer a speaker you can wear around your neck.
Like this one: For a limited time, and while supplies last, thewhen you clip the on-page 5% off coupon and then apply promo code CXVWMLC5 at checkout. That’s only a $3 savings in all, but if you could use something like this, a deal’s a deal!
Though made of hard plastic, the speaker rests fairly comfortably around your neck. Sound gets directed up at your ears; it’s much louder while worn than it is to people nearby, kind of a personal sound bubble. It can play audio from your phone or tablet (via Bluetooth, natch), but also has a microSD (aka TF) card slot and an FM radio mode. (Choosing stations is, as you might expect, kind of a pain.)
Sound quality? Decent, based on my informal tests, but a far cry from headphones. Battery life? Bluedio doesn’t say, and I wasn’t able to test that. So here’s the upshot: If you want a speaker you can wear, rather than one you have to move around, this is a solid option at a pretty low price.
CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest promo codes from Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon and more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our.
Android 11 might launch on Sept. 8
The date appeared in a slide deck during the virtual “Hey Google” Smart Home Summit this week.
Android 11 may be launching on Sept. 8, according to a video published by Google for its virtual “Hey Google” Smart Home Summit this week. But this wasn’t an official announcement.
A slide in the video aimed at developers, which was spotted earlier by Android Police, says “September 8th Android 11 Launch.” It’s not entirely clear if Sept. 8 is the launch date for Android 11, or if the slide was referencing the release of those tools for developers.