The best Android tablets for back-to-school season: Expert tested and reviewed

The best Android tablets for back-to-school season: Expert tested and reviewed

For an affordable and functional tablet you can use all throughout the school year, there are plenty of options outside Apple’s iPad lineup. Tablets from Samsung, Amazon, and Lenovo can provide what you need for studying and school projects at just a fraction of the price.

Samsung’s tablet lineup consists of several different models with a wide range of features and price points, and are ideal for students thanks to dedicated keyboard accessories, high-quality performance, and display size. 

Similarly, Amazon’s tablets which technically run a forked version of Android called Fire OS, are designed and sold at budget prices. The company’s online stores and services are integrated into Amazon tablets, too. And, if you want to stick to the ChromeOS ecosystem, Google’s latest Pixel Tablet is a new contender for Android tablets built for streaming and entertainment. 

Also: The best cheap tablets

I chose tablets that offer a reliable experience and a variety of features at a reasonable price point. Not all Android tablets are created equal, so I employed research and my personal experience with the products to make suggestions for the best Android tablets below. I found that the best Android tablet overall was the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra for its giant display, stellar battery life, and accompanying S Pen. 

Pros

  • Giant display
  • Comes with S Pen
  • Fantastic battery life

Cons

  • Keyboard isn’t included
  • Very expensive

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra specs: Display size: 14.6-inch | Display type: OLED | Resolution: 2960 x 1848 | Refresh rate: 120Hz | RAM:  8GB, 12GB | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, microSD up to 1TB  

The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the biggest and best tablet in Samsung’s lineup. Samsung announced the new tablet in February 2022. It features a 14.6-inch Super AMOLED display, runs Android 12, and comes with Samsung’s S Pen stylus included in the box. 

The base model comes with 8GB of memory, 128GB of storage, and a microSD card for adding up to an extra 1TB of storage to the tablet. You can also fully kit out the Tab S8 Ultra with 512GB of storage and 16GB of memory. 

ZDNET Contributor Matthew Miller went hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and called it a “nice demonstration of Samsung’s technical innovation.”

“The hardware itself is stunning, and it was a joy to use the monstrous Super AMOLED display with minimal bezels,” he added. “I love that Samsung also includes the S Pen in the box.”

With a tablet this large, you’re most likely considering it as a laptop replacement. That means you’ll want to pick up the $349 book cover keyboard. Once connected, you can use Samsung DeX on the S8 Ultra, effectively turning the tablet into an Android 2-in-1 device with plenty of space for multitasking and using more than one app at a time. 

Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

Pros

  • Stellar display
  • Comes with an S Pen
  • Exceptional battery life
  • 5G option

Cons

  • Doesn’t include keyboard accessory

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus tech specs: Display size: 12.4-inch | Display type: OLED | Resolution: 2,800 x 1,752 | Refresh rate: 120Hz | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, microSD up to 1TB 

The Galaxy Tab S8 Plus was intended to be a second-level tablet in the Galaxy S8 line of tablets. The specs are similar to that of the S8 Ultra, but the Tab S8 Plus costs $200 less. This tablet features a screen that is 2.2 inches smaller than the S8 Ultra, but both models have the same Super AMOLED display and refresh rate. 

Included with the purchase of this tablet is Samsung’s S Pen that provides a realistic paper-on-pen experience. In addition, you can add the $229 keyboard accessory to the tablet, turning it into a DeX-powered 2-in-1 that you can use to hammer out emails, crush work reports, or watch your favorite YouTube channel. 

ZDNET Editor June Wan labels this Samsung tablet as the “best Android tablet on the market.” 

“The Plus size, which is armed with similar hardware and software features as the Ultra, currently starts at $829 on Samsung’s website,” he said. “Save for the extra front-facing camera and larger display and battery size, you’re getting a near-identical, flagship tablet experience for hundreds of dollars less.”

Though photography on a tablet isn’t incredibly popular, Samsung has included a 13MP standard camera along with a 6MP ultra-wide camera so you can capture all the content your creative heart desires. Additionally, when playing back videos, you can listen through the tablet’s 4 AKG Stereo Speakers with Dolby Atmos technology for high-quality entertainment.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus

Pros

  • Stunning display
  • 5G option
  • S Pen in box

Cons

  • Keyboard costs extra

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 tech specs: DisplayDisplay size: 11-inch | Display type: LCD | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600 | Refresh rate: 120Hz | RAM: 8GB, 12GB | Storage: 128GB, 256GB 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is the third new Samsung tablet. The Tab S8 comes with 8GB or 12GB of memory and starts at 128GB of storage which can be expanded by up to 1TB thanks to microSD card support. Inside the Tab S8 is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. 

The 11-inch LCD display is compact enough to make the tablet portable. The tablet’s high resolution also ensures display clarity, so you’ll be happy watching your favorite shows or gaming on it. 

If you purchase the optional $199 keyboard cover, you can take advantage of Samsung’s DeX platform that essentially turns the S8 into an Android-powered laptop, with apps showing up as small windows instead of full-screen. 

Miller also tested this base Tab S8 model, saying it was an enjoyable experience. 

“I enjoy using Samsung DeX with the tablet, especially now with the full second screen support for VMware,” he added. “Samsung has put a lot of work into optimizing the tablet experience and it is not as bad as some make it out to be. All Samsung apps work very well on the tablet and many are also optimized to show split-screen views for improved productivity.”

Included in the box with the S8 is an S Pen that you can use to write or draw in your favorite apps, just like you can with the Samsung Galaxy Note lineup. 

Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

Pros

  • Dolby Atmos supported speakers
  • Solid camera quality for the price
  • Bluetooth 5.1

Cons

  • No headphone jack
  • No fingerprint sensor

Lenovo Tab P11 Plus tech specs: Display size: 11-inch | Display type: LED | Resolution: 2,000 x 1,200 | Refresh rate: 60Hz  | RAM: 4GB, 6GB | Storage: 128GB 

Though Lenovo isn’t a major name in the tablet industry, the company’s newest tablets are excellent alternatives to expensive Apple and Samsung units. The Lenovo Tab P11 Plus has an impressive 2K resolution, 400 nits of brightness, and four stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos, so you can view your favorite shows and movies just about anywhere. 

Streaming content requires a long-lasting battery life. Fortunately, this Lenovo tablet contains a 7700mAh battery that can hold up to 15 hours of charge. That being said, you can work, stream, or play all day without worrying about battery life depletion.

With access to the Google Play Store, you can gain access to work applications, games, streaming services, and so much more. Though you’d likely want a higher-end tablet for work, Lenovo offers a keyboard attachment and the Lenovo Precision Pen 2.

Wan said that the Lenovo Tab P11 rivals more premium competitors at a much cheaper price. 

“I’m a big fan of how sharp and accurate the colors are on the Tab P11 Plus, especially for a tablet that costs $259,” he said. “For an IPS panel, viewing angles were consistent to look at, and there wasn’t the color-shifting issue that I’d normally find on cheaper displays.”

Review: Lenovo Tab P11 Plus

Pros

  • Display looks good
  • Solid performance
  • Battery life

Cons

  • Android apps still need tablet improvements
  • Not a tablet for productivity
  • It looks and acts a lot like an iPad

OnePlus Pad tech specs: DisplayDisplay size: 11.61-inch | Display type: LCD | Resolution: 2,800 x 2,000 | Refresh rate: 144Hz | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB  

OnePlus is better known for its smartphone lineup where the company has led the way with producing phones that include a ton of features and performance while undercutting the competition when it comes to cost. And for the most part, that’s exactly what’s happened with the OnePlus Pad. 

This Android-powered tablet has month-long battery standby (I tested it), along with impressive daily battery life. It is quick and snappy for daily tasks like checking your email, playing games or browsing the web, all on a display that looks fantastic. 

And you get that experience for $480. Not too shabby. 

OnePlus also sells a keyboard case and a stylus for the OnePlus Pad, which more or less turns the OnePlus Pad into an iPad Pro dupe. And that’s where the stellar Pad experience starts to struggle. 

Trackpad gestures and navigation are finicky, and a lot of the same interface features — such as the mouse pointer — on the OnePlus Pad come straight from Apple’s iPadOS interface for the same feature. If you’re looking for an Android tablet that’s better suited for productivity, Lenovo or Samsung are where you want to focus your efforts. 

That said, if you’re looking for a tablet that’s great for keeping you entertained with very light work, then the OnePlus Pad and its 11.61-inch 2.8K display are worth a long look.

Review: OnePlus Pad: A tablet for Android fans who secretly want an iPad

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Expandable storage
  • Excellent battery life

Cons

  • Sluggish performance

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 tech specs: Display size: 8-inch | Display type: TFT LCD | Resolution: 1200 x 800  | Refresh rate: 60Hz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB or 64GB  

Samsung’s entry-level Galaxy Tab A8 is a compact tablet that can hold its own against higher-end models. It’s not going to blow you away with overall performance, but it is more than capable of running your favorite apps, handling some light gaming, and streaming your favorite shows.

It has a 5,100mAh battery, 32GB of included storage, microSD support up to 512GB, and a quad-core processor. Color options include black and silver. 

Again, you’re not going to be overly impressed with this particular model, but it’s more than capable of keeping your kids entertained. It’s also great if you want to use it as a Kindle, check your email, or stream your favorite Netflix series. 

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • MicroSD card expandable storage
  • Battery life

Cons

  • Not the fastest tablet
  • No access to Google apps or services

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus tech specs: Display size: 8-inch | Display type: IPS LCD | Resolution: 1,280 x 800  | Refresh rate: 60Hz | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB or 64GB 

Gone are the boxy and square tablets from Amazon. The company completely redesigned the Fire HD 8 lineup with a more rounded look and feel. There are actually two new tablets: the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 8 Plus. 

I am including only the HD 8 Plus in this list because it’s worth the extra $20 for added memory and support for wireless charging. 

The Fire HD 8 runs Amazon’s Fire OS. It runs Android apps, but you’re limited to apps that are available in Amazon’s own Appstore. Like with most tablets in this price range, performance can be sluggish at times, but you’ll have no issues shopping, browsing Facebook, or checking your email on the Fire HD 8 Plus. 

Review: Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

Wan called the Amazon Fire HD Plus a “no-brainer” buy if you’re in the market for a cheap Android tablet. 

“If you’re eyeing a tablet that can play your child’s favorite YouTube videos or control your home’s Alexa-supported devices or even serve as a digital cookbook, then Amazon’s Fire HD 8 Plus is a no-brainer at a fraction of the cost of the cheapest iPad,” he wrote. 

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet tech specs: Display size: 10.1-inch| Resolution: 1,920 x 1,200 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB (expandable up to 1TB)

Looking for a tablet geared toward kids? Amazon’s Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet is perfect for kids ages six through 12 years old. Thanks to the 10.1-inch display, you’ll get a larger screen without adding much to the overall cost. The Kids Edition version comes with the same perks as the Fire 8 Kids Edition, including a protective case, a two-year worry-free guarantee, and a year subscription to Amazon Kids+. 

Review: Amazon Fire HD 10

Either way, you get Amazon’s largest tablet with a 1080p display. It has a USB-C port for faster charging, and up to 12 hours of battery life. Performance isn’t on par with an iPad, but in my experience testing, it’s better than the Fire 7 or 8. 

I have three children of my own and found that the standard Fire HD 10 model can serve as a solid entertainment device for little ones if you want a tablet that everyone in the household can use. 

Pros

  • Speaker and charging dock included
  • Good battery life
  • Multiple user support

Cons

  • No compatibility to add a keyboard/trackpad

Pixel tablet tech specs: Display size: 10.95-inch | Display type: LCD | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB or 256GB 

Google hasn’t had an Android tablet since the death of the Google Pixel Slate in 2018, but the company announced a new iteration in May 2023. Built specifically for entertainment and casual at-home use, the Pixel Tablet has a 10.95-inch LCD display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. It’s powered by the Google Tensor G2 chip that’s found in the Pixel 7 line and the Pixel Fold. 

What’s interesting about this tablet is that the included charging dock also converts it to a Nest Hub, meaning that when you’re not using the tablet to watch YouTube, it has a second purpose as a smart home display. 

The battery life can last for up to 12 hours of video streaming, and it supports third-party stylus pens. 

While this tablet won’t replace a laptop for school or work, it could be handy if your home is a Google smart home and you’re looking for a tablet that can double as a smart display (that is, if you don’t already have a smart display in your smart home).

Review: Google Pixel Tablet: What Android tablets should have been all along

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the best Android tablet on the market, in my opinion, and according to expert reviews. However, if you’re looking for a less expensive Android tablet for your kids or a more compact size for life on the go, you may want to consider another option.

Below I’ve broken down the best Android tablets based on price, display size, and storage capacity.

Android tablet

Price

Display size

Storage

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

$1,000

14.6 inches

Up to 1TB

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

$772

12.4 inches

Up to 1TB

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

$600

11 inches

Up to 256GB

Lenovo Tab P11+

$216

11 inches

Up to 256GB

OnePlus Pad

$480

11.6 inches

126GB

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8

$165

8 inches

Up to 64GB

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

$120

8 inches

Up to 64GB

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro

$200

10.1 inches

32GB

Google Pixel Tablet

$500

10.95 inches

128GB or 256GB

The first question you should ask yourself is how you want to use the tablet. If the answer is lightweight web browsing, email checking, watching videos, and the occasional game, then a low-end tablet like the Fire HD 10 or Google’s Pixel Tablet is more than capable for you. 

However, if you want to use an Android tablet as a laptop replacement with a dedicated keyboard and high-quality display, then Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8 lineup is where you’ll want to focus. 

If you want a tablet for a mix of work and entertainment, then the Lenovo Tab P11+ is a solid choice. It mixes work, play, and affordability. 

As long as you know what you want out of an Android tablet, it’s easy to figure out which Android tablet is right for you.

Choose this Android tablet…

If you want…

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

The best Android tablet on the market. The 14.6-inch display also makes it the largest tablet on this list. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

Screen quality that matches the flagship model. It also comes with a Samsung S Pen.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

A well-rounded Android tablet with a 4K display. This tablet lets you take advantage of Samsung’s DeX platform.

Lenovo Tab P11+

The perfect tablet for streaming your favorite shows at a low price. It even features Dolby Atmos support in the speakers.

OnePlus Pad

An excellent mid-level Android tablet. The battery life is by far the best on this list. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8

An affordable, basic Android tablet. It’s the perfect tablet to keep kids entertained with videos. 

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

An Android tablet with a smaller 8-inch display and a solid battery life of up to 12 hours. 

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro

An Android tablet built with kids in mind. You’ll also get a free one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+. 

Google Pixel Tablet

A Google-made tablet to go with your Google smart home ecosystem. It is built for entertainment. 

When browsing the best Android tablets, it quickly becomes clear you don’t have many options. I evaluated what each Android tablet has to offer while comparing prices. I’ve been testing tablets and smartphones for over a decade and have used numerous tablets over those years. 

In fact, nearly every tablet on this list is currently sitting on my desk or a nearby shelf. There are also specific use cases for each tablet, and with that comes a specific kind of customer. With these factors in mind, I created this list of the best Android tablets on the market.

Yes! Both the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus and HD 10 Plus use the Android operating system. Not only will you be able to use Amazon streaming services and apps, but you’ll also get access to programs and services on the Google Play store.

It depends on how you want to use your tablet or laptop. Digital artists tend to prefer tablets since they’re easier to draw with using a stylus. Tablets are also great for photo editing and streaming movies if you choose one with a large enough screen size. But if you want to do things like create spreadsheets, type in a word processing program, or do intensive 3D animation or modeling, you’re better off with a laptop.

That’s a subjective question, and each type of tablet has pros and cons. 

Apple iPads are favored by creative professionals and content creators for their compatible art programs, larger displays, and accessories. Android tablets are better suited for everyday use and tasks like browsing the web, streaming video and music, and mobile gaming. 

Android tablets often allow you to expand the internal storage with microSD cards, so they can adapt to your needs, whereas iPads have integrated hard drives that can’t be removed if you need more space.

Tablets that have Android software come from brands like Samsung, Amazon, and Lenovo. Here are a few other options for tablets within the Android ecosystem.

Side view of a Lenovo Yoga Tab 11 tablet

HIGH RESOLUTION

Lenovo Yoga Tab 11

The Lenovo Yoga Tab 11 has a large-screen 2K display and Dolby Atmos sound built right in. 

Lenovo Tab M8 with a person riding an ATV in mud on its screen

BEST BATTERY LIFE

Lenovo Tab M8

The Lenovo Tab M8 is smaller with an 8-inch screen and up to 15 hours of battery life.

Amazon Fire HD 10

MOST STORAGE

Amazon Fire HD 10

Amazon’s largest tablet has hands-free Amazon Alexa and expandable storage of up to 1TB.

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