One of the secondary considerations is storage. Many, but not all, Android tablets have a microSD slot so you can add more storage when you need it. If you’re going for a tablet with no slot, make sure you buy the biggest capacity you can afford, as videos and some apps can use up an awful lot of storage. And don’t forget that the big number on the box – 16GB, say – is the total amount. The usable amount, i.e. the amount which is empty and available for you to use, can be quite a lot less than that headline figure.
If you’re planning to buy a microSD card for your tablet, first check if the tablet manufacturer has any minimum requirements, such as a particular minimum ‘Class’. It’s best to go for Class 10 or higher to ensure good performance; slower microSD cards might make your tablet feel slow when accessing apps or videos.
Also, check that the tablet allows you to install apps on the SD card, as not all do, but occasionally it’s the app itself which restricts you to internal storage only.
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Ideally, you should aim for 16GB of internal storage as a minimum, but more is obviously better.
Few tablets these days use poor-quality screens, but some do. Look for an IPS screen and avoid anything with a ‘TN’ screen as these have poor viewing angles.
In terms of resolution, the higher the better, but the more important number is pixel density. Aim for 250 pixels per inch or higher, as this will mean sharp-looking image that’s not jagged or blocky.
Most Android tablets have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and some have NFC as well. NFC may come in handy, but it’s by no means essential. What’s more useful for most people is a video output so you can connect your tablet to your TV (usually via HDMI). However, you can use an Android tablet with a Google Chromecast for watching catch-up TV, YouTube and other internet video services.
Some Android tablets and TVs support Miracast which lets you beam what’s on your tablet’s screen to your TV with no wires, but the Chromecast is a decent alternative for only £35 if your TV doesn’t have this support.
Some tablets have GPS, which makes them useful for navigation, but not all do, so check before you buy. Another thing to watch for is a SIM slot. This is useful if you want to get online when you’re travelling or out of Wi-Fi range. However, you’ll usually pay more for a 3G or 4G tablet, and you will need a dedicated SIM card with a data-only plan. It’s better to tether your tablet to your smartphone if your phone’s 3G or 4G provider allows this. For more see How to use an Android phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Also see: Best SIM-only deals: Best SIM-only and Data SIM deals for smartphone and tablet users
Performance, battery life and cameras
Don’t worry unduly about a tablet’s processor or RAM, but if you want to know if a particular model is great for gaming or too slow for web browsing, then read our reviews which include benchmark results: you can’t rely on specifications such as processor speed, or the number of cores to guarantee a good turn of speed.
We also test battery life, so you’ll find how long each tablet lasts between charges in our reviews. The best tablets last around 10 hours or more, while the worst only 4-5 hours. This can make a big difference when choosing between otherwise similar tablets, so it’s worth checking this out before buying.
The same applies to cameras, and as with performance, you shouldn’t judge by the number of megapixels. Instead, check out our test photos in each review to see whether you’re happy with the quality on offer. Few Android tablets have great cameras, and quite a few have awful ones, so if photos, videos and Skype are important, don’t buy before you’ve read the reviews.