Best Android tablets (July 2013 edition)

Best Android tablets (July 2013 edition)

Summary: Don't want to get locked into Apple's ecosystem by buying an iPad or iPad mini? No problem! Here are my top 7 Android tablets for July 2013. And if you're looking for budget Android tablets, there are two here you might be interested in.

TOPICS: Mobility, Tablets

 |  Image 3 of 8

  • Thumbnail 1
  • Thumbnail 2
  • Thumbnail 3
  • Thumbnail 4
  • Thumbnail 5
  • Thumbnail 6
  • Thumbnail 7
  • Thumbnail 8
  • Google Nexus 7

    My favorite tablet — and one that is rapidly replacing my full-size iPad as my go-to tablet.

    The Google Nexus 7 was the first Nexus-branded tablet to be released by Google. The hardware, manufactured by Asus, consists of a 7-inch display with a 1280x800 resolution screen, an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, a choice of 16GB or 32GB of storage, and a – somewhat limited – 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera.

    The main downside of the Nexus is that it does not feature a card slot to allow you to expand the storage.

    The hardware runs the very latest – and highly capable – Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean" operating system, and features an improved, very efficient software keyboard. Being a Google tablet, you're also guaranteed software updates, rather than having to rely on the goodwill of the hardware maker.

    The tablet also features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and optional cellular, and all this is powered by a battery that can give 10 hours of usage under normal conditions.

    A powerful tablet in a small, easy-to-carry form factor.

    The more I use this tablet, the more I like it. It's big enough to do real work, and yet small enough to carry around in a jacket pocket.

    At a glance:

    • 7-inch, 1280x800 display
    • Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor
    • Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean"
    • 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera
    • Choice of 16GB or 32GB
    • Battery life of 10 hours

    Price: from $199.

    Link/image source: Google.

  • Google Nexus 10

    The #2 spot goes to the Nexus 7's bigger brother — the Nexus 10. 

    The Nexus 10 sports a 10-inch screen with a 2560x1600 resolution display, a dual core ARM Cortex A15 processor, and a quad core Mali T604 graphics processor.

    The Samsung-made tablet also comes with a choice of 16GB or 32GB of storage, a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera, a 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera – which is far superior to the 1.2 megapixel camera that the Nexus 7 has – and a power pack capable of delivering 11 hours of usage.

    The Nexus is designed by Google, and so it offers the best, purest Android experience possible – and it also means that you will get operating system updates direct from Google, rather than have to wait for the hardware makers to the update.

    Overall, a powerful, very well made tablet, and if you have space in your life for a 10-inch tablet, you should take a look at this one. The main downside of the Nexus is that it does not feature a card slot to allow you to expand the storage.

    At a glance:

    • 10-inch, 2560x1600 display
    • Dual core ARM Cortex A15 processor
    • Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean"
    • 5 megapixel rear-facing camera, a 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera
    • Choice of 16GB and 32GB.
    • Battery life of 11 hours

    Price: from $399.

    Link/image source: Google.

  • Ainol Novo 7 Venus

    The second cheap and cheerful tablet from Ainol. This one is the 7-inch Novo 7 Venus, and is certainly worth a look.

    Again, not a big-name brand, but a look at the spec will tell you that this is quite a well put together tablet, especially when you take a look at the price.

    At a glance:

    • 7-inch 1280x800 IPS display
    • ATM7029 quad-core CPU with GC1000+ GPU
    • Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" compatible with 4.2
    • 2 megapixel rear camera, and a 0.3 megapixel front camera
    • 16GB storage
    • Battery life of 5 to 9 hours

    Price: from $129.

    Link/image source: Aniol.

Topics: Mobility, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Can't believe you left off the Ainol Novo 9 SparK

    Ultra high resolution 2048x1536 screen, beautiful and bright - easy to read in sunlight, screen that is 10" in size, great battery life, unadulterated Android 4.1, quad core CPU with 8 core GPU. And all of this goodness can be had for about $325 through Internet sources. Downsides include no bluetooth and no GPS receiver. Sill a heck of a tablet IMHO
    • No bluetooth?

      No bluetooth is a dealbreaker for me. That means no keyboards, no mice, no gamepads.

      And the lack of GPS makes Google Maps less rather useful.
      • This isn't an Apple product

        As long as it has a USB port wouldn't it have access to wireless keyboards, mice and gamepads?
      • Deal Breaker

        I agree - deal breaker
        Clemson Nosnep
    • nexus 10 bluetooth

      I use a bluetooth keyboard with my Nexus 10.
    • Looks like Adrian meant to include this one...

      ... since the photo is of the Ainol Novo 9 Spark, not the Google Nexus 10.

      That said, I'd be a little leery of purchasing either one (or any) of the Ainol tablets. Just be sure you buy from a reputable seller and check reviews. There are horror stories out there.

      For my money, I'd lean more toward the Hisense Sero 7 Pro if I'm talking about an inexpensive alternative. A buddy who previously had a Nexus 7 (but broke the screen) bought one of these and loves it.

      I have both a Nexus 7 and a Transformer Infinity myself (and an iPad 3 that replaced a dropped-on-the-highway iPad 2) and I'd highly recommend either one. My personal favorite was the Nexus 7 before I broke the screen (pattern here?), but all three get their respective jobs done, even if the iPad does end up in my kids hands more often than not (thank you Otterbox).
      • Nothing against Apple

        " iPad 3 that replaced a dropped-on-the-highway iPad 2..."

        I've got nothing against, Apple, per se... but I would loved to have seen that... and admit it, so would you.
      • Hisense Sero Pro 7

        I got the Hisense Sero Pro 7 rooted it changed ROM installed gl to sd (root ) app to move app data to 32 GB external sd its a great tablet
      • Screen

        If you still have your nexus 7 you can buy a replacement screen on ebay for anywhere from $40 to $60 they are not to hard to replace just get a special tool to open it it should be to screws and cord. That is if it only broke that touch screen if it broke the lcd too then it is more work and money but still fixable and definitely worth it to fix such a nice device.
      • Nexus 7 ?

        No hdmi out.

        Not having access to Hdtv big miss factor for tablet entertainment value. Or is that possible another way ?

        Was impressed otherwise.
    • More New Models Worth Considering

      One new Android tablet that packs in the latest technology that became available a few weeks ago is the Pipo M6 ($279)... a 9.7-inch, full-size tablet with a Retina display along with Android 4.2.2 and the latest Rockchip Quad Core processor. Its 2048X1536 IPS screen is comparable to the iPad display; and the Pipo M6 also features Bluetooth 4.0, WIFI with a 5G module , HDMI, Quality Dual Cameras, a 7000 mAh battery, along with premium front Speakers; and Google Play preinstalled. It's also one of the first tablets to work with Miracast TV - HD Wireless (like Apple Airplay).

      Also launching this week is the new X10 Mini Pro by Ramos Electronics ($229) -- the X10 Mini Pro features 3G HSPA+ for voice calling and internet... along with Bluetooth connection that with a wireless headset makes it easy to make phone calls. The X10 Mini Pro offers the same 7.85" size as the Mini iPad and features a built-in 3G SIM slot, a Quad Core processor, WiFi, and Bluetooth connection; along with built-in GPS, HDMI, a 2 Megapixel Front and 5 Megapixel Rear Camera, 16GB Memory, MicroSD, Android 4.2.2, Miracast HD Wireless, and Google Play store preinstalled.

      Both of these models and a few others are available at T ab l e t S p r i n t -- which also offers a $25 Bonus Apps package that includes a Microsoft Office suite and several popular 3D Games.
    • Coodination prob. Left off Ainol Novo 9 and put Nexus 10 in twice

      As many have mentioned, these galleries are problematic... even for the writers/editors
  • On the cusp...

    This list remains largey unchanged from several months ago. Still, we're on the cusp of some exciting new tablet releases, including a Tegra 4 Transformer and the first Samsung Android tablet running on Intel processors. Eagerly awaiting reviews on those when they're out.
    • 8, 16 & 32

      Don't knock it, at least he's updated the entry for the Nexus 7 from 8 &16 GB models to 16 & 32. That took a while.
  • no bluetooth

    that is a huge dealbreaker. I can live without slots and even GPS but not that. Also such an obscure device will not have many accessories. Also these sorts of "no-name" tablets are more of a quality control crap-shoot. If I wanted a 10", would pay $399 for the nexus 10. There you are guaranteed the latest software and well supported by the modding community.
    • I meant to reply to lkarnis

  • Nexus 10...?

    Why's it on here twice?
  • Unfinished list

    Nexus 7
    Nexus 10
    Novo 7 Venus
    Galaxy Note 10.1
    Transformer TF700
    Galaxy Tab 2 7"
    Nexus 10 again?

    You only list 6 tablets and at least 2 arguably shouldn't be there. The Sero Pro 7 takes the Nexus 7's specs and adds expandable memory (something people have been slamming it for not having since it debuted). The 7" Tab 2 is outdated and offers no real benefit to new buyers. The Galaxy Note 8 would have been a much better choice since it actually offers something unique. The Sero would be another better choice (or even throw the Nook HD in there if you're looking for a bargain tablet to list).
    • Good observation

      Now that Nooks have access to the Play store, they're worth a second look. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Nook HD is the only 7" Android tablet available with a retina-class screen.
      • Nook

        Trouble is that the nooks are being discontinued as tablets, going to ereaders only for now. B&N may at some future time explore having someone else make a tablet for them.