I’m an unashamed Android fan, I love the OS, what it stands for and the open-source base. Android has brought us lots of good things – a customisable user interface, lots of great apps, lots of great functionality, and it has borrowed a lot from iOS (just as, over time, iOS has borrowed a lot from Android).

However, it’s not all roses. The Android tablet experience is so disjointed, to the point that an Android tablet from one manufacturer could work completely differently to a tablet from another. There’s little to no consistency, and that’s something that makes the iPad so appealing.

The hardware is always good

Whether you like Apple or not, whether you like their “walled garden” or not, you have to admit that Apple does hardware very well. The hardware is always up to the job of the current OS version (at the time of the hardware release) as well as for a reasonably foreseeable future.

That’s not a promise of a never-ending update cycle for your iPad, but you’re pretty well assured of solid performance for a couple of years after your purchase.

One of the issues I see with the Android tablets is that – aside from those from big vendors – you just don’t know what you’re getting for your money. There are some very cheap tablets out there leveraging the open-source OS and doing little beyond damaging the Android brand through delivering a garbage product. This can and does happen right under the nose of Google.

A simple example that immediately comes to mind is the Nexus 9 tablet from 2014. It was developed in cooperation with HTC under the Google-owned Nexus brand, and yet just wasn’t good – even for the time. The performance dropped off dramatically and there were a number of failures that users endured. Put simply, it was rubbish at release and progressively got worse.

You can’t really say that about any of Apple’s iPads – they’re all pretty good at release, and their functionality continues and – in many cases – improves slightly with almost-certain OS updates.

With that history, and with Apple now finally having succumbed to the market pressure with USB C charging, that’s one of my main reasons for avoiding the iPad gone.

Screen and battery performance

In the last three years, one thing I have noticed when my friends show off their iPads is the screen. Not to say that Android tablets of comparable range and cost have poor screens, but the iPad screens are very good. The screens also increase in quality as you go up in models of the iPad. Even the lower end iPad models have a 60hz screen with really good colour reproduction, where the AMOLED screens used by Samsung can over-saturate colours somewhat.

The performance and the quality of a device’s screen means nothing if you’re always looking for a place to charge it. All of the iPad models from the base model, to the Mini, Air and iPad Pro all offer (on paper at least) all-day battery life. I have a number of friends who use them steadily through the day and get two to three days of use on a single charge. Up to 10 hours of use is what Apple markets all devices with, but if you dim the screen and aren’t streaming media constantly, you will likely see significantly more.

Across the range, Apple controls the hardware and each year there are only a few models to deal with. This means that they’re also in control of the update cycle for the iOS operating system.

OS, updates and integration

There are two very different tales to tell here from the Android and Apple world.

The core Android operating system is updated annually by Google (unless there’s a major point release, which happened more in the past than it does now). There are also monthly security updates released by Google, and of course Google’s proprietary software – Gmail, Calendar, Chrome, web services, and so on – are updated on a regular basis too.

Despite this, it is the manufacturer of your device that decides if they will invest in updating your device and getting it to work.

HMD Global, maker of Nokia smartphones, promises two years of OS updates, a promise you also get on Pixel phones. But that doesn’t stand for others, my Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is an OS version behind and running the February 2020 security patch.

In fact, with most Android tablets, seeing an operating system update is far from guaranteed; the less you spend, the fewer (if any) updates can you expect to see. Unlike Android smartphones – which mostly do receive some kind of updates post-release – tablets are wildly variable.

Switch camps to Apple, and you’re likely to see 4 years or more (based on devices still getting updates from Apple) of OS updates, pushed out at the same time as all other users with no carrier or manufacturer variables. Apple typically releases major updates yearly, though like Google’s Android, there are point releases for feature updates throughout the year.

That’s an amazing feat, and there’s nothing to do but commend Apple on its commitment to updates and – now they’re not throttling older devices – user experience.

System integration is an area that Apple has nailed. An Apple ID linked to multiple devices will just automatically link to each other. Messages, emails and even calls are integrated. Without an iPhone much of this is simply not present, but it is worth knowing it’s there if you really do want an interconnected Apple ecosystem.

To be fair, Samsung offers a similar level of integration between its brand of smartphones and tablets, but its far from as seamless as what Apple delivers.

iOS-based apps are generally better and offer more variety

Believe it or not, I have had an iPad in the past. I use a Macbook almost daily and am aware of the tight integration across the Apple hardware. But that’s just one of the bonuses or working in their ecosystem. With some exceptions, for tablet users, the apps are generally just better on iPad. Not because it’s on the iPad, but because the developers spend a lot more time refining them because iPad is the biggest and most popular tablet platform.

It’s because of the footprint of the iPad market that there are simply more apps to choose from on iPadOS. The iPad does get exclusives, and apps are usually released before Android, plus there is more effort put into the design of the apps and making use of the larger screen area.

This is a notable pain point for Android tablets, as apps are often designed for smartphones first, and when blown up on a tablet-sized screen, most Android apps pretty much suck.

One area I can’t quite put my finger on, but believe it’s likely due to a number of factors (hardware control, full control over hardware and development guidelines ensuring consistent performance of apps), is that apps just seem to run better which is particularly important if you’re using it as a communication or productivity tool.

Games, games, games…

If you’re into games and want a mobile gaming experience without needing to carry another device like a Nintendo Switch, then an iPad is probably the go-to device. There are a significant number of games on the iPad that many Android tablets just can’t handle or were never there.

It’s almost painful to admit but I’ve gone from looking for reasons not to move over to an iPad for my tablet solution, to now looking for reasons to stay on Android.

Honestly, I’m not convinced that the lack of deep integration into Google services – which I’m heavily invested in – is enough anymore. Yes, an iPad mightn’t integrate with Google services the way Android does, but considering you can get your Gmail, sync your contacts and calendars, access Google Drive and pretty much any other Google service, those reasons for keeping an Android tablet have all but disappeared.

The next round of tablets from Samsung is going to be make or break for whether my next tablet is an Android, or iPad … and I know which way I’m already leaning.

What do you think? Are you minded to bother with Android tablets anymore?

27 Comments
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Andrew Reilly
Andrew Reilly
2 months ago

I loved my Nexus 9. it was an ideal, chuckable device with an amazing screen and great performance. I’ve missed it since it suffered spontaneous sudden silicon failure, as many of these compact but powerful devices do. my pixel C replacement is also marvelous, but undeniably expensive and quite a bit heavier. and now there is nothing left. as a Firefox user I’m not sure about Chrome based gizmos. when my pixel C ever dies I’ll probably have to replace it with an iPad. sigh.

Andrew
Andrew
2 months ago

iPads are excellent devices. Android tablets are horrible.

I have an iPad Pro 13″ after owning MANY android tablets and this thing is a dream. 3 years old and still works perfectly. Immediate updates, great battery life, just a superb product.

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

It’s NOT that Android tablets are horrible. It’s simply how Android devices vary wildly with each manufacturer. There have been and there are still Android tablets which are utterly irredeemably horribad. There’s others which are absolutely first rate and should stomp iObjects. The latter category should have been heavily lionized before this. But it never happened. Why? Because Google never actually actively supports and promotes the ideas it chucks at the wall of public opinion. With tablets, there never was a requirement to make app devs code apps to work correctly in landscape. There never was a requirement to make… Read more »

Adrian
Adrian
2 months ago

My Sony z4 tablet still works pretty much flawlessly despite receiving no OS updates for over a year. Battery is starting to show it’s age but other than that, it still works perfectly as a media consumption device. Add the matching keyboard, and it’s a passable small-form notebook. Similarly, my partner still uses her Samsung Galaxy S Tab 10.5 daily and (apart from suffering similar battery life issues) it meets her (admittedly modest) needs without problem.

Adam
Adam
2 months ago

Fair result, Android tablets tried their best but it’s about time to call it for them :(. I’d love a good Android tablet supported by a range of native board game apps in particular, but alas the best option for me would be an iPad also. They’re too expensive, so I’m just going without either.

Bill Egan
Bill Egan
2 months ago

Just another add for APPLE ?
APPLE IS NOT USER FRIENDLY!
And is overpriced! And is only used by brainwashed nerds!
I’ll stick with android THANK you.

D
D
2 months ago

This is a long, gnorant rant. You have a picture of galaxy tab s4, which obviously means you haven’t bothered to do your research. Android represents logic and common sense, if you can analyse logically then you’re probably best to go play with the apple toys.

Khan Piesse
Khan Piesse
2 months ago

I understand where you’re coming from, but I recently smacked down a grand for a Galaxy Tab S6 and honestly I have had absolutely 0 problems with it. Drawing and sketching? Amazing. Performance? Mind blowing. Screen? Better than the iPad Pro even without 120hz. It is stunning. App support? Asides Facebook having a clunky tablet app and maybe 2 games that had low resolution because they didn’t scale were made for phones – I haven’t had any issues with apps. They all work fast, they all work perfectly for tablets. And popping my Tab into DEX mode and using desktop… Read more »

FestivusOz
FestivusOz
2 months ago

With the premium pricing on both tablets and phones I am seriously thinking about an iPhone. For a phone that is $2000 or tablet over $1000 Google should compel the vendors to more than 2 full OS updates. As should consumers

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
2 months ago

For me, unless Apple does an iPad which can be used as a regular phone, or the last remaining majors cease doing Android tablets which can, I will not be moving to iPad.
It’s not blind loyalty which keeps me on Android tablets. It’s hardware capability. But run out of that hardware capability, and I’d have no reason to stay with Android tablets.

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
2 months ago

Google _NEVER_ attempted to care for, or about tablets.
Google chucked the idea of Android tablets against the wall, like so many other ideas of theirs, and simply hoped it would stick, without Google needing to do any more work. And what happened, it didn’t stick.
Chromebooks didn’t exist when Android tablets and Google’s Nexus tablets were launched.

kefir
kefir
2 months ago

I have had a number of Android tablets I really enjoyed: Nexus 7(2013), Tab S2, and most recently Xperia Tab Z4, a fantastic Android tablet that server me admirably for years, only recently slowing down. Thinking that iOS grass is greener, I spent the last few weeks using IPad Pro (10.5). While I appreciated the speed, audio and 120Hz refresh rate there were a surprising number of drawbacks in comparison to the current android top tablets: Tab S6 and Tab S5e. -LCD display, even with the ProMotion is just was not as nice as Samsung’s OLED -4×3 display ratio, I… Read more »

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
Reply to  kefir
2 months ago

Odd that you whinge about 469g.
My old Aldi Bauhn WL-101GQC from 2013 was 500g.
My current Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 A (2016) 4G/LTE with S Pen, is heavier at 558g.
I have no issues with the weight of either.

edit: correct weight for the Samsung.

Mathew
Mathew
2 months ago

My favourite Android tablet was the Pixel C with magnetic keyboard. I’ve had reasonable experiences with the Lenovo Yoga 3+ and Yoga 4. The fold out stand is really useful when you want to view content.

A lack of updates is a problem. An Android One program for tablets would be nice.

Ricky
Ricky
2 months ago

I find your opinion valid, could I also suggest a chomebook?

Full Chrome web browser
Fast OS, constant updates
Touch screens, pens, convertables
Run Android apps

Will
Will
Reply to  Phil Tann
2 months ago

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook comes out tomorrow. Or wait another month until the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet comes out?

Ricky
Ricky
Reply to  Phil Tann
2 months ago

Fair call Phil, I accidentally took my hp chromebook x360 14 to work instead of my galaxy tab s4 yesterday, didn’t seem like a big jump in weight once it was in my backpack. PWA’s for me are becoming a go to more and more over apps, and with constant chrome os updates the laptop gets faster over time.

Xorro
Xorro
2 months ago

Ipad rules! Price drop makes them comparable. Consistent app performance, thanks to apples tight coding control. Brilliant screen/hardware quality with genius bar support.
Tried android tablets for years (top of the range samsungs). They had hardware benefits which were let down by Samsungs android support and apps which were crippling the system rather than enhancing it! So over android and its splintered software/hardware support!

Paul Walker
Paul Walker
2 months ago

I switched from Android tablets after the awful Nexus 9! I switched to an iPad Pro and couldn’t be happier. I still love Android and only use Android phones (OnePlus) but I really do love my iPad. It always just works, is fast, almost never lags (not like my Nexus!) and has fabulous battery life. It’s also nice as a computer person to have a foot in both camps.

hellboy
hellboy
2 months ago

I’ve only ever played with an iPad a handful of times, so I really have no valid comparison to make. That said, I have zero complaints about my tablet, but I don’t consider myself to be a power user at all. For social media, checking email and watching media – my Asus Android tablet does the job quite happily.

For the more powerful stuff – gaming and such, well I just use my PC…

Grolt
Grolt
2 months ago

Why do you need a tablet at all ?
Make do with a large screen phone.
I have no interest in any tablet, especially at laptop prices.
Even a 2 in 1 laptop is better than a tablet.

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
Reply to  Grolt
2 months ago

What’s funny, Grolt, is that my first tablet was the Telstra T-Touch Tab. A 7 inch tablet with a screen slightly larger physical size, than the monster phones out now. I used the T-Touch as a regular phone.

GregE
GregE
2 months ago

I bought what I consider to be a fantastic Android Tablet. A Xiaomi MiPad 4. An 8″ tablet with all I want including 4G. Good hardware and nicely built. Except Xiamoi clearly could not sell them as just as they make a great tablet they stopped again. I get the feeling they were never intended to be sold outside of China. For a start you had to jump through hoops just to get English and Google. But they also open sourced all the bits and you can buy them with an unlocked bootloader. Woo Hoo. Straight to XDA Developers and… Read more »

Kb
Kb
Reply to  GregE
2 months ago

Is it a stable release? I just ordered one a few days ago and wanted to see what ROMs are available.

GregE
GregE
Reply to  Kb
2 months ago

The ROM with the most activity seems to be Carbon, and also Bliss is popular. I chose Pixel Experience because of its simplicity and pure Android set up. Have a good look around on XDA before doing anything. Mine is currently sitting next to me sending music from my Google Play Music to an AptX HD Bluetooth receiver. You cannot do that with the stock ROM.