Tablets come in all shapes and sizes, meaning the range of quality can really vary. Furthermore, unlike smartphones to some extent, the pricetag is often one of the most important points of consideration. For the purposes of this categorization, we’ve left off devices such as the Surface Pro 3 or the Xperia Z4 Tablet, which have price points and form factors beyond what we are considering here.
We’ve used a lot of tablets in the past couple of years and we’ve put together a ranking of the 10 best tablets you can buy right in mid-2015.
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10. Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact ($445): The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact has a lot going for it—a beautiful 8-inch display, huge, long-lasting battery, and great, thin design. It’s certainly the most premium-feeling Android tablet out there and for some people, that’s exactly what they’re looking for. The problem is that it’s a hard recommendation when it’s priced at 45 bucks more expensive than both the iPad mini 3 and Nexus 9, which are already on the higher range of this size tablet.
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9. Amazon Fire HDX 7 ($179): The small tablet from Amazon takes the runner-up spot for best cheap tablet. The HDX 7 is pretty much purely a media consumption device, which is great for what one-handed 7-inch tablets can do. I'm still not a fan of Fire OS or the rather bland design, but if you're an Amazon junkie, this is a decent, inexpensive option for a 7.0-inch tablet.
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8. Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 ($399): When this large tablet first came out, we were fairly impressed by the design of the tablet, though the $499 price tag still felt a bit hefty considering it was made of plastic and didn’t have the same premium performance that the iPad Air 2 or even the Nexus 9 had. The performance issues and bloated software still plague this one, but now that you can currently pick up the Tab S 10.5 for a reduced $399, it’s a pretty good option for a bigger Android tablet.
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7. iPad Air ($399): Though the iPad Air is over a year a half old, it still a decent buy. If you can shell out an extra hundred bucks, it’s probably worth jumping up to the Air 2 for the updated processor, Touch ID, and even thinner design. However, if the $399 price point fits better into your budget, know that you’d be getting a beautiful tablet that can still compete with the the best of Google or Samsung, even in 2015.
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6. Microsoft Surface 3 ($499): The first couple of iterations of the Surface (not to be confused with the high-powered Surface Pro) were duds. Thanks to the ARM-based chip they used, the original Surface and Surface 2 could never live up to the promise of being a true hybrid device. The Surface 3, however, includes an Intel chip that make it the best lower-priced Surface model you can buy. It’s still expensive once you add in a detachable keyboard, but with Windows 10 on the way, it just might be the perfect time to snatch one up.
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5. Nexus 9 ($399): Last year saw both the NVIDIA Shield Tablet and the Nexus 9 come out—both solid Android tablets. Although the Shield Tablet won out because it was $100 cheaper than the Google tablet, it is currently completely sold out. The Nexus 9, therefore, takes the cake for the runner-up premium Android tablet with its beautiful display and worthwhile guarantee for timely software updates.
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4. iPad mini 2 ($299): When the iPad mini 3 got announced last fall, we all had the same reaction: WTF? The iPad mini 3 was $399, came in some new colors, and had Touch ID—but was otherwise the exact same device as the mini 2. So here’s our advice for those of you who want a smaller iPad: get a mini 2 for a hundred bucks cheaper or just wait until the mini 4 is announced. It is quite simply one of the best values in the Apple lineup right now.
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3. Asus MeMo Pad 7 ($179): In 2013, Google shook up the mobile tech world with the Nexus 7, a tablet so cheap and so high quality that it seemed too good to be true. The follow up to that is the Asus MeMo Pad 7, a device that fills a specific part of the market for cheap tablets better than any since the Nexus 7. It doesn’t have the premium feel of Apple or Nexus tablets, but the MeMo Pad 7 is blazingly fast and durable for its price.
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2. Dell Venue 8 7000 ($349): This new tablet from Dell has an incredible design and is a great value for its price point. Not only does the Venue 8 7000 have the thinnest bezels on any tablet, it also has a front-facing speaker and a fantastic camera. Did I mention that the Venue 8 7000 also has great battery life, expandable storage, and an all-aluminum body? Yeah—the iPad mini’s got nothing on this thing.
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1. iPad Air 2 ($499): Though the sales for iPads have slowed down over the past year, I have a feeling that is going to change with the new iPad-only updates coming in iOS 9. With the added function of true multi-window multitasking, the iPad is finally a device that can be used to get some real work done on. Though we’ll no doubt see the iPad Air 3 this fall and possibly even a larger iPad Pro, if you’re in the market for a tablet right now, you can’t go wrong with the iPad Air 2.