Best Android tablet of 2013

by: Simon HillDecember 13, 2013

The tablet market is still growing fast and it’s being driven by Android. According to IDC shipments were up 36.7% last quarter compared to the same period last year. We are starting to see a much wider range of Android tablets, and the overall experience for Android tablet owners is improving fast, thanks to developments like the Play Store highlighting tablet optimized apps.

You can divide the Android tablet line up neatly into two sections: big and small.

Best small Android tablet

We’ll start with the small tablets, ideal for people seeking a portable solution when they’re out and about. We’re not going to look at forked Android tablets, like the Kindle Fire range or the Nook because we simply don’t recommend them.

1 – Nexus 7 (2013)

Nexus 7

When Google partnered with Asus to create the original Nexus 7 it was a smash hit. Consumers and critics alike loved the tablet, and it offered unbeatable value for money. It was perhaps inevitable that a sequel would follow and sure enough we got one in the summer. Google stuck with Asus to produce another understated, but solid design that’s slimmer and lighter than its predecessor, with several important improvements.

The first thing that strikes you about the Nexus 7 is that stunning 1920 x 1200 pixel display. With 323 pixels per inch, books and movies look fantastic on it. Throw genuine stereo speakers into the mix and it’s the ideal portable package for content consumption. Inside, the 1.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, with 2GB of RAM, proves itself capable of running the latest games. Stock Android is super slick, Jelly Bean brought another raft of subtle improvements, and the Nexus 7 was quick to get KitKat, as it will be to get future updates.

Google had to increase the price slightly, to $229 for the 16GB version, but this is still the best value small tablet on the market. Check out our Nexus 7 review to learn more.

Buy the new Nexus 7 (2013) at Amazon

2 – LG G Pad 8.3

lg g pad aa (14)

LG decided that 7 inches wasn’t enough and so its best small Android tablet offering is the G Pad, which has an 8.3-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. That’s the same resolution as the Nexus 7, but because the screen is bigger the ppi is 273. The specs are very good with a 1.7GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage backed up by a microSD card slot.

The G Pad has a pretty premium feel and you’ll find LG’s suite of features, from QSlide apps to Slide Aside, are actually quite useful, even if the interface doesn’t look great. The downside here is the much higher price tag ($350) and the average battery life. Even with a 4600mAh battery, this tablet will need charged every night, and it dies fast if you watch movies or play games.

We think this is an underrated option and if you want something a little bigger than 7 inches it’s a good choice. Read the LG G Pad 8.3 review for more.

You can buy two versions of the LG G Pad – one with stock Android 4.4 KitKat from Google Play ($349) and also one with LG’s UI and Android 4.2.2 from Best Buy ($299)

3 – Asus MemoPad 7 HD

asus memopad hd 7 aa design in hand

As the manufacturer behind the Nexus 7, you can rest assured that Asus knows how to put a good tablet together. The budget end of the Android tablet space is seriously competitive and you have to be careful to avoid being stung by a poor quality release. If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. For tight budgets the MemoPad 7 HD is something we can recommend. The display manages 216 ppi thanks to a 1280 x 800 resolution, and you’ll find a 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex A7 inside with just 1GB of RAM. Nothing earth-shattering going on there, but it does have one thing that the Nexus 7 lacks – a microSD card slot.

There isn’t a great deal of difference between this and the original Nexus 7. This tablet was released at $150, but we’ve seen it as low as $99 and that makes it a compelling bargain. Get a closer look in our Asus MemoPad 7 HD review.

Buy the ASUS MemoPad 7 HD from Amazon.

Best big Android tablet

If you want to kick back on the couch, or surf the web in bed, then you want a nice big tablet to do it on. These are our top picks in the 10-inch space for 2013.

1 – Nexus 10

xperia tablet z vs nexus 10 aa 10 jelly bean

It really says something about the larger tablet category on Android that a device released in 2012 is still the best big Android tablet in 2013. The Samsung manufactured Nexus 10 wowed everyone with its 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution, providing an amazing 300ppi on a 10-inch display. Google understands that people primarily want tablets for content consumption and so, despite fighting to keep costs down, it never scrimps on the display.

The rest of the hardware is aging. We all expected an update before the end of the year, but it looks like the Nexus 10 refresh won’t land until 2014. As a stock Android device the Nexus 10 has already got the KitKat update and that 1.7 GHz dual-core A15 processor still performs really well. It’s also backed by 2GB of RAM, so it can handle multitasking. The lack of a microSD card slot is a downside, but the Nexus 10 is almost as good value as its smaller brother.

At $399 this tablet is still a pretty attractive proposition, but with a refresh around the corner, patience is a virtue. Have a look at our Nexus 10 review to find out more.

You can buy the Nexus 10 on Amazon here.

2 –Sony Xperia Tablet Z

sony xperia tablet z aa front

If Sony had done a refresh, like it did with the Z1 then this tablet could have claimed the top spot, but there are a couple of weaknesses that we can’t overlook. The 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro is dated, even if it is backed by the Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. The display is also 1920 x 1200 pixels with a 224 ppi. It still looks great, and Sony’s Bravia technology is not to be sniffed at, but it’s not at the same level as the Nexus 10.

In terms of build quality the Xperia Tablet Z is a real winner. It looks and feels beautiful, it’s impossibly svelte, and you can take it into the shower or bath with you, so you never need to be parted. Seriously, the waterproof feature is more than just a gimmick and it’s awesome to be able to watch a movie in the bath without fear. The battery life is also excellent and there’s a microSD card slot for expanding that storage.

Sony also has a nice UI and some decent apps, and the tablet works well as a universal remote, thanks to an IR blaster. You can find out more about it in our Sony Xperia Tablet Z review.

Buy the Sony Xperia Tablet Z on Amazon.

3 – Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)

samsung galaxy note 10.1 2014 edition aa  (9)

Samsung’s new Note 10.1 is a beast. The 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution translates to 299 ppi. The powerful specs extend to a 1.9GHz Exynos 5420 quad-core processor with 3GB of RAM. It has 16GB or 32GB of storage with a microSD card slot. The dual speakers offer good quality sound. The battery is rated at a whopping 8220mAh. Despite all that, it’s definitely not as silky-smooth in operation as the Note 3.

Samsung is being criticized a lot lately for overloading its products with features and there’s a suspicion that TouchWiz is to blame for less than stellar performance and battery life. What we definitely can say about it is that it works better visually on a big tablet than on the S4. The S Pen is there, along with all the features of the Note 3, and that helps to make the Note 10.1 an obvious choice for anyone seeking a productivity tool, as well as an entertainment tablet.

What keeps the Note 10.1 from creeping higher in the list? It starts at $599, and if you don’t intend to use the stylus and all those extra features, it’s never going to be worth the extra money for you. Our Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review lays out the full picture.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) edition on Amazon.

[poll id=”430″]

  • satsmine2k4

    Best 10 inch is definately Samsung Galaxy note 10.1 2014…

  • Christopher Nee

    Definitely Note 10.1 2014… btw starting price is only $549, not $599

    • Anthony Evans

      “only 549” how about someone do a thing on the best cheap tablets.

  • jirokanz

    Nexus 7 is the best tablet.

  • Marcellus1

    No love for Amazon here? Technically it’s a Kindle Fire OS rather than Android, but it’s really an Android tablet at heart. Most reviews have said it’s the best hardware of the year with the best media ecosystem, but it’s just the app ecosystem holding it back.

    • Earth Republic

      Well, to be honest, they did say at the beginning that they weren’t including forked Android devices, though I would argue with the Nook HD and HD+ being forked. With the update that gives them the Play Store, they’re a much better choice, though you admittedly only get Ice Cream Sandwich on them. Still, if you’re a media consumption junkie, but want the Play Store, the Nook HD/HD+ are a better choice than the Kindle Fires.

    • The HW is fantastic, but the OS is gimped and the lack of Google Play is a huge thumbs down for me.

      • Tuấn Ankh

        I would definitely get a Fire HDX if it had Play Store.

  • MasterMuffin

    I wonder where the new Nexus 10 is hiding. No wild rumors or anything. Weird…

    • ashleyhope10k

      Two new Android tablets with premium features are the Pipo M7 Pro for ($255) – an 8.9 inch tablet and the Pipo M9 Pro ($284) full size 10.1″ tablet and both offer 1900×1200 screen resolution (Samsung PLS display), Quad core performance (1.6 GHz) – 2GB, built-in GPS navigation, Dual Band WiFi (2.4/5.0 GHz), MicroSD slot, two MicroUSB ports, HDMI, Android 4.2.2 (Android 4.4 Kit Kat upgrade available), and an option to run standard Android O/S or a multimedia User Interface that makes the Android experience much more intuitive and easier to use.

      One U.S.source for the Pipo Pro series is – Tab l e t Sp r i nt — which also adds in $25 in Bonus Apps with each tablet, plus features a promotion for free monthly 4G access, with 500MB of data every month at no charge.

      • beckywilliams

        Both Pipo M7 and M9 models also offer 3G HSPA+ editions for roughly $30 more – a great deal with a built-in SIM slot that can be easily added to any wireless plan through most GSM carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile and Straight Talk Wireless (with provides service through AT&T)

        Plus the Pipo M9 Pro -3G edition offers Voice Calling capability and works well with Bluetooth headsets for phone calls — All other major brand devices with 3G/4G, including iPad and Nexus products, only feature Data Internet and none offer Voice calling capability.

        • MasterMuffin

          You do know that that’s just a spambot?

          • beckywilliams

            No – quite real here — Merry Christmas

          • MasterMuffin

            Not you, I ment Ashley. And merry Christmas :)

          • MasterMuffin is the AA Gatekeeper. Thanks bud :)

          • MasterMuffin

            Spambots shall go extinct! :)

    • Androidway


  • Vector

    I find it interesting that the S4 Pro which makes the Nexus 7 a top pick is “dated” when packed into the Xperia Tablet.

    • jirokanz

      because it is in fact a Snapdragon 600 chipset but advertised as S4 Pro in the new Nexus 7.

  • Data

    The new Galaxy Note 10 has all the hallmarks to be the best Android tablet – great specs and actual features to take advantage of large screens but I am really dissapointed by it’s performance and price. Until they fix these aspects, I think the Nexus 7 is the best overall Android tablet.

    • I haven’t had a single performance issue with my Note 10.1, but I was running Nova Launcher as soon as I turned it on. The consensus is that the lag issues go away with the three updates and Nova Launcher. Even if lag wasn’t a factor, I’d still use Nova because Touchwiz lacks the deep customization Nova has.

      I would rank the Note 10.1 over the Xperia because of the better screen and smaller bezels and over the Nexus 10 because it’s much smaller and lighter.

      I had the Note 2 and barely used the SPen, so I didn’t factor that into my decision to get the Note 10.1. But I actually use it all the time.

  • Garry DeWitt

    Cool beans forgetting the tegra note.

  • Androidway

    Google Nexus 7 is the best Android tablet at the moment period.

    • Jayfeather787


  • Amit V

    Does some body know about the sensors that are available in LG G Pad 8.3?
    I heard it does not have a Gyroscope and a Compass. Is it true. I am looking for true gaming experience.

  • Valtheus

    Not easy to come up with the best tablet of the year considering so many different factors between them, like screen size, portability, specs, price, etc. but i would favor Nexus 7… its got pretty much everything.

  • dfq

    xperia z tablet batt life is excellent? it’s the first time for me to know someone saying that.

    • My assistant has one, and he is always complaining about the battery.

  • steinba1

    Considering getting the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, anyone have any thoughts on that device? Thank you.

    • The Galaxy Note 8 doesn’t have a very good display. None of the tablets from Samsung do – except for the Galaxy Note 10.1, and the Nexus 10 they made fro Google.

      That being said, if the ‘S-pen’ is your thing, then you would be wise to look at the Note 10.1. Of course, 7-8 inches is the sweet spot for most, with 10 inchers being a bit too large. The Nexus 7 is the best overall, in terms of value and technology.

    • Jayfeather787

      Get Nexus 7. Faster and cheaper, as well as fast updates.

  • Jarl

    how about the Asus TF701T?

  • Nick Jennings

    Nexus is no good. You’re biased, and I suppose that’s ok. I have noticed that you like to put nexus at the top or near the top of alot of things and I must say…very dissappointed with it. You are the writer and it is your opinion. I just wish you were more open minded. I went through 7 of the nexus tablets and had several issues including very poor battery, screen not very responsive, lag, and even app force closures that made no sense on why…..Android Operating System Not Responding……wow, Nexus tablet was number 1? It’s not just me with the bad luck, so to speak. Other people have had some of the same issues as well. So, I dumped the shoddy Nexus and went with the lesser known Kindle Fire HD. Guess what, not a single problem at all! Still on the original one I bought. In fact, getting another one.

  • DAT pace though

    I have to say lenovo 8 inch is the ideal choice from 300-400. I also own a nexus 7 but I like my lenovo more because of the different position’s.

  • rated86d5

    Nexus 7 rules