The Reality of Android Tablets

These are some of my informal notes on budget focused Android tablets. This post might need some extra polish for better quality and readability.

There were only a few Android tablet models with both a 7-inch display and a 720p resolution including the 2012 Amazon Fire HD 7, HP Slate 7 Voicetab, Verizon Ellipsis 7, Dell Venue 7, and the 2013 Google Nexus 7.

As of 2020 mostly all 7-inch Android tablets today have similar specs.

– 1024 x 600 SD resolution

– 1.3 GHz Quad Core Mediatek CPU

– 1 or 2 GB of DDR3 RAM

– 16 or 32 GB Internal Storage

The display on all of these tablets has mostly been the same since these tablets were introduced going all the way back to the original Samsung Galaxy Tab in 2010.

While the quad-core processor is an improvement over previous generations’ single and dual core processors, it still still far behind more modern octo-core chipsets found in current generation 10-inch tablets.

While one or two gigabytes of RAM are sufficient to run modern Android apps, it may lead to issues when multitasking on recent versions of Android. Background apps often fail to stay in memory.

16 or 32 gigabytes of internal storage may still be sufficient for basic functionality, however with system apps sometimes occupying a large fraction of that storage it still limits the capacity of larger apps, videos, music, and offline storage for streaming apps. Thankfully Android 6 and later supports utilizing an SD card to expand the internal storage at the cost of speed.

Combine these specs with a sub-$100 price point, lackluster build quality, and an overall lack of demand for improving existing products. Depending on one’s use case it may never be worth it to buy a 7-inch tablet, despite the smaller form factor potentially being more appealing than a larger tablet.

The 2013 Google Nexus 7 marked the end of an era for high quality 7-inch tablets.

The last Nexus 7 released in 2013 had a full HD display and a flagship CPU, and frequently updated stock Android at a fraction of the price of full sized 10-inch tablets at the time. While its $250 price tag is significantly higher than today’s 7-inch tablets, it provided a premium tablet in that size class. With many brands removed from the smaller tablet space, a new premium small tablet is no longer an option.

See my Recommended Tablets post for an in depth list of good tablets worth buying in 2020.