The Best Large Android Tablets (>10”) – October 2018
We won’t lie—the state of Android tablets in 2017 is a bit questionable. Not because they lack utility or polish, but because it seems manufacturers are slowly moving away from Android tablets, instead focusing on providing users with better, bigger phones. The app ecosystem for Android tablets never quite took off in the way some user might’ve hoped for, and it seems the overall market for tablets—Android, iOS, or otherwise—has been dwindling. Sure, tablets are still purchases, especially in the lower-end of the market, but the rise of larger phones have taken over and slowed the need for a secondary device. Samsung’s 2018 flagships, the Galaxy S9+ and Note 9, support 6.2″ and 6.4″ displays, respectively, basically rendering the 7″ or 8″ tablet on the show floor inside Best Buy unnecessary.
So if you’re going to buy a tablet in 2018, you’ll want it to feature a bright, big, and vivid display perfect for watching movies, TV shows, playing games, and doing anything else a big tablet can do. While smaller, more pocketable tablets might be falling out of style, there’s never been a better time to invest in a solid large tablet. These devices are big enough to feel like a different product from your phone, while also being smaller and more portable than your laptop. Whether you’re looking for something to browse the web, watch Netflix while lounging on the couch, or to read a magazine on the go, a tablet with a large display is the way to go.
But what should you look for in a large tablet? There are plenty of options all over the price range for 10″ tablets, but not all of them are worthy of your cash. Whether you’re looking for the best of the best, or something on the budget end of the market, we have suggestions for any user looking for a great large Android tablet.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S4 has been on the market for two months now, and despite some older specs, it’s still the best Android tablet money can buy today by far. The S4 features a bright, sharp display, incredible build quality, a mostly-modern processor, and some of the best speakers we’ve seen on a tablet today, making it a must-have for unparalleled media consumption. Of course, all this is going to cost you: at $647, the S4 is not only the most expensive tablet on this list, it’s also directly competing with Apple’s iPad Pro lineup, and specifically going against the $649 iPad Pro 10.5. Still, the S4 is a beast of a tablet, with dedicated keyboard support, an included S-Pen, and so much more. So long as you can afford the costly asking price for Samsung’s newest tablet, it’s absolutely the device you should consider.
At its core, the Tab S4 is incredibly similar to the 10.5″ iPad Pro Apple released in 2017. It’s got minimized bezels around the display, allowing the screen size to increase without changing much of the body. The screen measures in at that very same 10.5″, with an near-identical 1600 x 2560 pixel resolution that measures out to taller dimensions than that of the current iPad Pro That said, Samsung takes their display technology a step further with the Super AMOLED display technology found on their flagship phones, making the screen on the Tab S4 ideal for watching movies. It even supports HDR, or high-dynamic range video, making it an excellent choice for movies. Netflix even supports HDR on the tablet, though you’ll need to upgrade your plan to the four-screen option at $13.99 per month in order to receive both HDR and 4K streaming.
In terms of specs, the S4 isn’t as advanced as some users might be hoping for, despite still managing to be one of the most powerful Android tablets on the market. Samsung’s newest tablet is powered by the Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, and Android 8.1 Oreo. Despite being a tablet launched in 2018, these are decidedly 2017 specs. The 835 was the same processor that powered Samsung’s S8 and S8+ in the spring of 2017, and while they’re solid performers, they’ve been replaced by the Snapdragon 845. And while you might receive solid performance while using the tablet day to day, we have to mention that the iPad Pro’s A10X processor can run circles around the 835, especially when it comes to single core performance. If having the most powerful tablet on the market—of any operating system— is important to you, you’ll probably want to skip this device.
Outside of those core specs, you’ll also find a 7300mAh battery for up to sixteen hours of use, a USB-C port along the bottom of the device for charging, a 13MP camera on the back of the display for photos, a 8MP camera on the front for video chatting, and a full metal and glass build on the edges and sides of the device. One of the best parts of the tablet: the quad-speakers, two along the top and two along the bottom of the device, that make watching videos on this tablet sound fantastic.
There’s some “pro”-focused features here too, designed to compete against what we’ve seen from Apple. The S4 ships with a Note-style S-pen in the box, instead of being supported as an extra accessory like with the Apple Pencil. Samsung, for the most part, has long understood what makes a stylus great, and that’s no different with this device. Overall impressions of both the stylus and the supported features in the software were positive: you can doodle, draw, take screenshots, created animated GIFs from a portion of the display, and so much more just by using the stylus on the display. It’s all pretty impressive stuff, though unlike with other Note devices, the S-pen can’t be slotted into the body of the tablet. The S3 also includes support for a dedicated keyboard built by Samsung, which connects via POGO pins on the device, functioning as a stand when in use and a case when not. The keyboard, however, is a bit shallow and undersized, similar to the issues found on the iPad Pro 9.7″ keyboard (issues that were largely fixed with the move to a 10.5″ display). The keyboard is also missing a trackpad like the Surface Pro, and costs an additional $129.
If you’ve used a Samsung device before, you largely know what to expect when it comes to the software on their tablet. It’s unfortunate that Samsung hasn’t updated the Tab S4 beyond 8.1, especially when Android 9 Pie was released right around when this device came out, but regardless, Samsung’s own software means you aren’t missing out on any major experiences. The device supports split window multitasking, now a standard in Android but previously featured for years on similar Samsung devices. For the most part, split-window mode works well enough, though occasional lag or stutters might appear when running two intensive apps at once. Unlike a traditional laptop, only one window can be active at once, meaning apps might freeze temporarily while they’re unselected. Some apps don’t support multitasking yet, though that problem has largely been ironed out in the year since Nougat launched.
Overall, whether the Tab S4 is worth your cash really depends on your own personal budget and whether a high-end tablet is truly worth the cash. If you’re planning on watching a lot of Netflix or Hulu on your tablet, it could be worth the upgrade. The speakers and display on this device make it an excellent way to watch content, and the stylus support helps build in some great productivity features. But at $649 (sometimes cheaper through Amazon), you could buy a cheaper tablet with a slightly-lesser display on this list, and invest the additional cash in a solid Bluetooth speaker that will provide you with a similar media experience, while also giving your other devices some extra features. Make no mistake: the Tab S4 is the best Android tablet money can buy. Whether that’s worth dropping $650 on, however, is really up to you.
- Fantastic build and display
- Great speakers
- Stylus support
- Already behind in software updates
- Multitasking issues
The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 is a perfect middle ground between something like the Nvidia Shield Tablet and the Pixel C: for just under $300, the ZenPad gives you an iPad Air-like body, complete with thin bezels and an aluminum build, solid specs for the price, and a great screen. It’s not an amazing tablet by any means, but for a 10″ device, it has almost everything a tablet owner could want out of their device. The display is excellent, with a 9.7″ IPS 2048×1536 display that presents everything with vivid colors and high-resolution text. It’s great for both movies and watching television, and compares well to the display you’ll find on Apple’s iPad. The tablet’s nice and thin, with a solid-if-not-exceptional 5900mAh battery and 64GB of internal storage.
The ZenPad does have 4GB of RAM, making it an excellent choice for multitasking, but though the device did end up eventually getting Android 7.0 Nougat, it seems to have remained there for the time being. Android 8.0 Oreo has been around since 2017, and Android 9 Pie has been around since August of this year. Asus seems to be pretty terrible at supporting their phones, and frankly, their tablet devices only offer worse support. The other problematic part of this device: the speakers aren’t great, and neither is the camera. If you can make due with these shortcomings, the ZenPad 3S 10 is a great buy for the price, and will satisfy your need for a large display without having to drop $600 or more on a secondary device.
- Great price for the device
- Good specs
- Really good at media consumption
- Middling speakers
- Competing directly with the iPad
Our original review of the Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet told users, essentially, not to buy the device. At $229, it was the cheapest product on the list, but that price came at the loss of a full HD display, a weak quad-core tablet, and a middling 8 hours of battery life, far below its other 10-inch brethren on this list. We also claimed the line was seemingly being phased out in order to focus on the more popular line of Fire 8 tablets, which sell for $79 while having better specs than the old Fire HD 10. All that said, we’re proud that we can now recommend users buy the Fire HD 10 again. Amazon’s 10″ tablet has finally been upgraded to meet 2017 standards, with a full 1920×1200 display, a more powerful quad-core processor, and double the RAM and storage of the original model. Battery life on the new model has been increased up to 10 hours, but perhaps the more important feature is the updated price.
At only $149 for the 32GB of model (with Amazon’s ad-supported lock screen), it’s by far the cheapest 10″ tablet worth buying on the market, making it a great buy for anyone looking to pick up a new, larger display for watching media around your home. Amazon’s Fire tablets still run on FireOS, which means you won’t find the Play Store on this device, but for generic media consumption, this tablet is an excellent choice. It’s certainly a budget model, complete with a plastic build and low-resolution cameras on the front and back, but with dual-stereo speakers, you won’t be complaining while watching Netflix or Amazon Instant Video.
- Bright, new 1080p display
- Amazon's software features
- Brand new lower price
- Plastic build
- Budget price means budget performance
We’ve previously covered the Pixel C in our full round-up of the best overall Android tablets, where we rewarded the tablet runner-up overall. It’s still a quality tablet, but the age of the device—nearly two years old, as of writing—along with the high price of purchase makes it a difficult device to recommend over most devices on this list. There are some solid aspects of the Pixel C, including its software delivered straight from Google, though at this point in time, the lifespan of the Pixel C is starting to be called into question. The device was recently updated to Android 8.0 Oreo, but according to Google’s own standards for the Pixel devices, that will function as the final major software release for the device (instead only receiving security updates from here on out).
Of course, difficulty with software updates is a recurring theme with Android tablets, so perhaps it’s wrong to judge the Pixel C for being at the end of its life. In terms of hardware, the device has a bright, 10.2″ LCD display at 2560×1800, an NVidia Tegra X1 processor, 3GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The sides of the device contain stereo speakers, making the Pixel C a pretty great media consumption device, despite the lesser-quality display when compared to the S3. As with Samsung’s tablet, there’s an optional keyboard accessory, though you won’t find stylus support on Google’s newest tablet.
The build quality is solid, too, with anodized aluminum making up the body of the device. Overall, it’s difficult to recommend the Pixel C over the S3, a newer device with better performance, a higher-quality display, and louder speakers. Still, Google-junkies will probably prefer the stock software experience of the Pixel C, and until Google releases a new Pixel-branded tablet, this is the one to buy.
- Bright display
- Updates straight from Google
- Nearing end of support