No Android tablets made the cut for TabletPCReview’s gift guide for one simple reason: no company launched a high-profile Android tablet in 2016. But companies still launched good Android tablets in 2016, and 2015’s flagships still hold up.
For those not interested in iPad Pros, impossibly thin Windows 2-in-1s, and Amazon Fires, here are the best Android tablets still worth gifting and getting.
Huawei MediaPad M3
We called the Huawei MediaPad M3 an “8-inch Android flagship,” and while it doesn’t push the limits of tablet power, it shares much of the same spec sheet with the Honor 8 smartphone, also by Huawei. We praised that smartphone’s price-to-performance ratio, and we had good things to say about the M3’s sound output during a hands-on session at IFA earlier this year.
We’ve seen it available for between $250 and $300. Even at the high price, it’s a great pick for a secondary device.
Those looking for something larger, though less powerful, can snag the 10.1-inch MediaPad M2 for about the same price.
Lenovo Yoga Book (Android)
The Lenovo Yoga Book is the closest a notebook can ever get to being a tablet. It’s unique, innovative, and advanced. Old-school tablet fans with a predilection for active pen input will love Lenovo’s new Real Pen and Write Pad tech.
The Android Yoga Book is $500, and there’s no better piece of hardware on this list. In fact, it rivals the Surface Studio as the best piece of hardware released in 2016. We recommend trying before buying, however. Android isn’t particularly well-suited for the form factor.
Asus ZenPad Z8
We normally recommend avoiding LTE-enabled tablets – the monthly data cost is hardly ever worth it, especially considering the ubiquity of Wi-Fi and smartphone tethering. But the Asus ZenPad Z8 is a decent option, even for non-Verizon customers, especially in a year with so few new Android tablets.
$250 off contract, or $100 with a two-year agreement, this 8-inch Android tablet’s slim build, pixel-dense display, and USB-C support help make up for its low specs; specifically, its Snapdragon 650 processor, 2GB RAM, and 16GB capacity.
Google Pixel C
This was the best Android tablet available last Christmas, and it still holds up. Its Nvidia Tegra X1 chipset and Maxwell GPU form a potent combo, capable of running the most demanding apps of 2016, as well as whatever 2017 brings. As a Google Pixel device, it runs the latest Android version, and is first in line for updates. Its 64GB capacity is also a nice touch.
At $499, it’s not cheap. But that’s still a reasonable price for the best Android tablet of 2015 and 2016.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7
Before the Pixel C, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 was the best Android tablet. Now, it’s one of the best Android tablets because it still has the best display, with a gorgeous AMOLED panel and 264 pixels per inch.
At $499, it costs the same as the Pixel C, but ships with 32GB capacity at that price. It’s slightly less powerful, too. It can still handle day-to-day tasks however, and function as a laptop replacement when paired with its Bluetooth keyboard cover. True, the Pixel C has a $99 keyboard, but we prefer Samsung’s with its touchpad and $75 price tag.
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet
This was another contender as one of the best Android tablets of 2015, until the Pixel C arrived. With a Snapdragon 810 processor and 3GB RAM, it had top-of-the-line specs that still hold up today. It’s also waterproof.
Unfortunately, it’s tough to find the Sony Xperia Z4, and it’s and pricey. The cheapest unit we saw online ran $560.
Nvidia Shield K1 Tablet
This is an odd one. The original Nvidia Shield launched in 2014, but was recalled for battery issues. Nvidia relaunched it in late 2015 as the Nvidia Shield K1 with similar hardware, but minor tweaks (they ditched the stylus and shipped it without a charger). At $199, it’s a great bargain, as this 8-inch Android tablet has some neat tricks for gamers. Specifically, it supports Nvidia’s GeForce Now PC game streaming service.