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iPad vs. Android : Which Tablet Should You Buy? 2021

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When it comes to iPad vs. Android, deciding which tablet you should buy is not a decision that you could make lightly. There are many pros and cons between the two companies, let alone the different device models they produce. 

For example, a positive of Apple is that you can connect to more than wireless keyboards and accessories of that nature. Guitars and more are able to hook up to an iPad. While Android's top strength is that there are a vast amount of products and brands to choose between within the community.

If you decide on an Apple product, a list of iPad models and generations will help you pick your perfect match (our top pick is the iPad Pro at Apple), but keep reading to see which tablet type you should trust and purchase in the fight of the century: iPad vs. Android. 

iPad: Strengths

The iPhone/iPad ecosystem is a huge strength for the iPad. This includes the App Store, which has over a million apps, many of which are designed with the iPad's larger display in mind. This ecosystem also includes accessories, which go beyond just tablet cases, wireless keyboards and external speakers. You can do everything from hook your guitar into an iPad to converting your iPad into a miniature coin-operated arcade game (minus the need for quarters).

The iPad also tends to be more stable and easier to use than Android tablets. Apple approves each app individually, ensuring that it (mostly) does what it claims it will do and the worst of the bugs are eliminated. Because Apple and app developers only need to support a limited number of devices, it is easier to stamp out bugs. And while Android has made great strides in becoming easier to use, Apple's device tends to be more simple and less overwhelming.

The iPad is also a market leader, with each iPad release continually pushing the industry forward with one of the fastest tablets on the market. In fact, the iPad Pro exceeds the performance of many laptops.

iPad: Weaknesses

The trade-off in being more stable and easier to use is having less customization and ability to expand. While it is great that each app is checked by Apple before being released into the app store, and iPad users can rest a little easier knowing that it is harder for malware to get onto their device, this approval process does lock out some apps that would be useful.

The iPad also lacks the ability to expand its storage through microSD cards. There are other options, such as Dropbox, and you can use some external drives with the iPad, but the lack of support for microSD and Flash drives is a definite negative.

Android: Strengths

The biggest strength of Android is the vast array of devices from which to choose and the amount you can customize your tablet once you make your purchase. And there are some great premier Android tablets from makers like Samsung to go along with hundreds of other lesser-known name brands. Android has also matured quite a bit over the last few years, supporting some features like widgets (small apps that run on your home screen so you don't have to open them) that Apple has stayed away from.

Android's Google Play marketplace has also come a long way in the past few years. While the lack of supervision means more of those apps will be throwaways without much use, the boost in numbers does provide a lot more variety than Android experienced when the tablet wars began.

Switching from iOS

Android: Weaknesses

The lack of supervision over Google Play is one of the big downsides to Android. You might know exactly what you are getting when you download name-brand apps like Netflix or Hulu Plus, but when you see some little-known app, you don't quite know what you are going to get. Amazon fixes this by providing their own App Store for the Kindle Fire tablets, but that means the Kindle Fire has a more limited app selection.

Rampant piracy has also done some damage to the Android platform. While it is possible to pirate apps for the iPad, it's much easier on Android. The greater amount of piracy has led some app developers to stick with the iPhone and iPad rather than risk the money it would take to create an Android version of their apps. This is especially an issue for top tier games, which can take more time and resources to build.

The variety of devices can be a good point when shopping for what you want, it has its downside in support. Android operating system updates are not always compatible with all devices, and it can be difficult for app developers to stamp out bugs on all supported devices. This can lead to stability problems in some apps.

iPad: Who Should Buy?

 Courtesy of Apple

The iPad is a great tablet for those who want to take the experience beyond just media consumption. While the iPad is great for watching movies, listening to music and reading books, it can also be used to make movies, create music and write books. Apple's suite of office applications and apps like iMovie and Garage Band make much of this possible, and a growing number of third-party apps are providing more substance to the app store.

The iPad is also the perfect tablet for those who are a little intimidated by technology. Apple has decided to go with a more simple design, which may mean less customization, but it also means easier to use. This means you can get to the fun of owning a tablet with less time spent learning to use it.

The iPad also shines the area of gaming, especially those who want to take the experience beyond just Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. Apple has challenged the entire portable gaming market with some of the cool games available on the iPad.

Last, the iPad makes a great companion to those who already own Apple products. iPhone users will enjoy iCloud Photo Library, which lets you share photos between devices, and Apple TV owners will love the ability to wirelessly send the iPad's display to their big-screen TV.

Android: Who Should Buy?

 Courtesy of Walmart

If you're looking to buy an Android tablet, you're probably in one of two main categories: (1) those who want to use the device for watching movies, reading books, listening to music and playing casual games and (2) those who want to customize their experience or love to tweak their device to get the most out of it.

Android tablets will appeal to those who want to consume entertainment because the initial price tag can be significantly cheaper. This means more money for the good stuff, and the cheaper 7-inch tablets like the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire are more than capable of running Netflix, Hulu Plus, playing music and reading books.

Android also provides a more customizable experience. So if the first thing you do when you get a new smartphone or gadget is to hit the settings to get it just right, you might be the perfect Android user. Home screen widgets might intimidate some people, but they can be both useful and pretty cool.

And just as the iPad can interact with other Apple devices, Android tablets can be a great companion to those who already own an Android smartphone.

Best Android Tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+/S7

 AmazonBuy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on SamsungWhat We Like

Beautiful 12.4-inch AMOLED screen

Tons of processing power and some software tricks

Premium build quality and design

S-Pen comes included

What We Don't Like

Suffers from non-tablet apps

Slightly odd aspect ratio

Fairly expensive

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ Review

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ and its slightly pared-down sibling, the S7, are the best Android tablets to buy if you want a premium experience for multimedia and productivity. The slate has a thin, lightweight design that makes it quite portable, and comes with a big, crisp 12.4-inch Super AMOLED display. The screen resolution is 2800x1752 pixels with a 266ppi density. The screen supports HDR10+ content, giving it great dynamic range and color contrast, and it has a 120Hz refresh rate allowing for smooth animations, transitions, and games. If you're in the market for a tablet for streaming and playing games, this is one of the best you can get.

For those geared toward productivity, the Tab S7+ is no slouch. It boasts a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor, and various configurations including 128GB storage and 6GB of RAM, 256GB storage and 8GB RAM, and 512GB storage and 8GB RAM. The slate supports the Samsung Book Cover, giving you a full keyboard typing experience when working on Google docs or entering spreadsheets. It also comes with the S Pen, allowing for note-taking, drawing, and sketching with its advanced handwriting recognition. The powerful hardaware and the premium features make both the Tab S7+ and Tab S7 potent rivals to the iPad Pro. If you're an Android user and price is no object, these are the tablets to get.

"When paired with the additional keyboard cover, operating in DeX mode looks and feels almost like a hybrid of a Chromebook and a Windows laptop experience."— Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Best Budget Android Tablet: Amazon Fire 7

Fire 7 Tablet.de AmazonBuy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on Kohls.comWhat We Like

Highly affordable

Decent screen quality

Great choice for kids and families

What We Don't Like

Weak processor

Locked down OS

A budget of $100 won't buy even the most basic of iPads, but it can get you a perfectly serviceable entry-level Android tablet. Amazon's Fire 7 Tablet has everything you need for surfing the Web and watching movies.

The seven-inch tablet has a screen resolution of 1024x600 pixels with on-cell IPS, meaning it can reproduce 90 percent of Adobe RGB for sharp contrast and bright colors, and has an advanced polarizing filter as well to help mitigate glare and reduce reflections.

Performance is geared for a budget price but delivers the specs you need to perform most tasks. The Fire 7 is built around a quad-core 1.3 GHz processor with 1GB of RAM, and packs either 16 or 32GB of storage depending on which model you opt for. It also packs solid 2 MP front and rear-facing cameras capable of 720p HD video recording.

The 7 Best Kindles of 2021

Best iPad: iPad Pro

Best Buy

Buy on Best BuyBuy on AppleBuy on B&H Photo VideoWhat We Like

Stunning design

Fast, powerful performance

Improved AR through LiDAR

What We Don't Like

Expensive, even before accessories

No headphone jack

The newest iPad Pro is an upgrade in every way — and Apple's most powerful tablet ever. They've eliminated the home button in favor of an all-screen design that is undeniably eye-catching. Available in both 11- or 12.9-inch sizing, the tablet has laptop-like power thanks to Apple's A12X processor. It can handle everything from video to photo editing without stuttering, freezing, or making you miss your laptop. The addition of an optional attachable Smart Keyboard makes it easier to type emails or documents.

The iPad Pro's new design is as welcome as its outstanding performance. Gone are the squared-off corners. Instead, Apple has opted for a more rounded design that allows for a true edge-to-edge display. And, at 2388 x 1668 pixels, it's worth every penny. If there's one side effect of the new display, it's the loss of a headphone jack. But with so many Bluetooth headphones available, it's hardly missed. Fortunately, the new design didn't reduce the battery life, as a 7,812mAh battery ensures 10 hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi.

Best Budget iPad: iPad 10.2-Inch (8th Generation)

 Walmart

Buy on Best BuyBuy on WalmartBuy on AppleWhat We Like

Remains a good value for the price

Works with the Apple Pencil (1st gen)

Snappy performance from the A12 chip

Works with old cases and the Smart Keyboard

Headphone jack

What We Don't Like

Still no USB-C despite other models making the jump

Limited storage, with only two storage options

FaceTime camera only 720p

Similar in most ways to the 7th gen model

Overall design remains unchanged

Apple iPad 10.2-inch (8th Generation) Review

Apple's release of the iPad represented an opportunity for Apple to integrate a less expensive option into its lineup appealing to budget-conscious iPad shoppers. With 32GB of internal storage (128GB also available), the 2048 x 1536 9.7-inch Retina display is paired with Apple's A9 chip for excellent performance along with 10 hours of battery life for nearly all-day use.

Weighing 1.03 pounds, the iPad has replaced the iPad Air 2 in the company's lineup performance-wise, while the body still feels very similar to the original iPad Air. Even so, the A9 processor runs slightly faster than the iPad Air 2 and that's noticeable across the hundreds of thousands of available iPad apps. Notably, Apple was only able to get two speakers on this iPad, although they sound great across apps, video, and music.

At the end of the day, this is the best price-to-performance ratio iPad Apple has ever offered without compromising too much to get there.

"Combined with iPadOS 14, which makes it easier and faster to flip between apps, I found the combination of the 8th gen iPad and a Smart Keyboard to be a reasonable replacement for my laptop in a lot of situations."— , Product Tester

If you're in the market for the best Apple tablet, you won't do better than the 11-inch or 12.9-inch iPad Pro (view on Best Buy) with its powerful A12X processor. It's great for both productivity and multimedia. On the Android end, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ (view on Amazon) s a strong rival with its gorgeous high refresh AMOLED display, powerful Snapdragon 865+ processor, and useful productivity-focused accessories.

About Our Trusted Experts

Gabe Carey is an experience Commerce Tech Editor at Ach5. He's previously been published in PCMag, TechRadar, PC Gamer, GamesRadar, and Digital Trends.

Jason Schneider is Ach5's consumer tech and audio expert. He's been writing for Ach5 since 2019 and has reviewed hundreds of products including tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices.

is Ach5's tech generalist. He's reviewed everything ranging from laptops and tablets to routers and generators.

What To Look For To Pick Between Android and iPad Tablets

Display

With both Android and Apple tablets, you're looking at a high-resolution display for flagship devices. With the iPad Pro, you'll get an attractive 2388x1668 Retina display that comes loaded with features like TruTone, giving you warmer color temperature depending on the setting. Samsung tablets like the Tab S7+ are known for their rich, saturated AMOLED displays and they come with a HDR10+ capable 2800x1752 panel. Even better, they offer a 120Hz refresh rate, giving them smoother animations and transitions, something Apple hasn't gotten onboard with yet. More budget Android and iPad models won't have some of these bells and whistles, though you can still rely on getting a solid screen.

Performance and Productivity

Performance and productivity for iPads and Android tablets depend on processor and RAM. A flagship iPad Pro boasts a powerful A12X processor that's capable of multitasking, high-end gaming, and productivity. The Tab S7+ is similarly specced out, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor and various configurations ranging from 6GB to 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage. This kind of hardware allows it to handle 3D games, multitasking, and use as a laptop replacement. Lower-end tablets like the Amazon Fire series tend to be much more low-end, with just 1GB of RAM and a basic 1.3GHz processor, but despite their relative slowness, they're a good choice for families and kids.

Accessories and Software

Tablets have increasingly taken on 2-in-1 capabilities and that's true for both Android and Apple slates. With the iPad Pro models and even the more affordable 10.2-inch iPad, you're able to pick up accessories like the Apple Pencil for drawing, note-taking, and handwriting recognition. You can also add a Magic Keyboard or Smart Keyboard for a full typing experience that lets you do word processing, work on spreadsheets, and other uses. Samsung offers similar features with the option of using an S Pen and Keyboard Cover to turn the tablet into a fully functional 2-in-1. It also has the DeX platform to launch apps in desktop mode with resizable windows.