The GSMArena Tablet Buyer's Guide: February 2015: Mid-sized Tablets

By 05:00 Sun, 15 Aug 2021 Comments


Mid-sized tablets

We come to the broadest chapter in our Tablet buyer's guide. While compact tablets are 7" exclusively, larger slates are anything above 9" but mostly hover around 10.1", the mid-sized tablet category runs through 8" all the way up to 9" with plenty of devices in the middle.

This is also the hottest slate category this year with the most desired tablets, like Apple's iPad mini and Google's Nexus 9. It's also where we'll have more offerings due to the large scope of the mid-sized tablet market.

Starting from the lowest prices we have the Lenovo A8-50 A5500 which has an 8" 800 x 1280px display, quad-core Cortex-A7 processor, 5MP capturing camera and optional 3G model with stereo speakers. It's the cheapest 8-incher around at the moment and while it doesn't shine with immaculate specs or design it will do couch duty with ease and won't affect your financial stability too much.

In addition it has either 8GB or 16GB of on-board storage with the higher 16GB model not adding much to the price and you acquire a microSD card slot to expand that storage even more.

What comes as a possible catch is the firmware update support the Lenovo A8-50 will acquire - we don't reckon it will see Lollipop any time soon if at all.

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Lenovo A8-50 A5500

Pros Cons

  • IPS display

  • 5MP camera

  • 3G model

  • Stereo speakers (on 3G model)

  • Low price (close to cheapest 7" tablets)

  • Questionable update support above Android Jelly Bean

  • No LTE support


The Huawei Honor T1 is next on the list. Unlike its MediaPad X1 sibling it isn't as spectacular on the specs sheet but like it the Honor Tablet comes with 3G connectivity and the ability to create and receive calls as standard.

In addition to the cellular abilities the Huawei Honor T1 has an 8" IPS 800 x 1280px display, 5MP camera, 16GB of storage, expandable through a microSD card slot and a front-facing capturing camera for calls. The only weak spot here is the Snapdragon 200 chipset that doesn't really match the more powerful offerings on the other devices in the group, even if it will acquire the job done for most tasks. Heavy gamers and general power users will need to spdiscontinue more as usual, though.



Huawei Honor T1

Pros Cons

  • IPS display

  • 5MP camera

  • 3G-only

  • Very cheap for 3G slate

  • No LTE support

  • No stereo speakers


Next is the Asus Memo Pad 8 ME181C. It's very similar to the 7" Memo Pad 7 we mentioned in the previous page but has a bigger 8" IPS display on tap of the same 800 x 1280 resolution. The chipset is the same - an Intel Atom Z3745 - although its processor is clocked lower at 1.33GHz.

The Asus Memo Pad 8 ME181C lacks a cellular option, though but the Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) model is well worth a look.



Asus Memo Pad 8 ME181C

Pros Cons

  • IPS display

  • 5MP camera

  • Good Intel Atom chipset, quad-core processor

  • 16GB of storage

  • No 3G/LTE support


Next up we have one of the best bargains you can find on the mid-sized market. This is also the cheapest 8" 1200 x 1920px tablet - the Acer Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD. It uses the Intel Atom Z3745 with the higher-clocked 1.86Giga Hertz (GHz) quad-core CPU. The display is IPS, there's a 5MP capturing camera on board to cover imaging on the back, while on the front there's a 2MP one.

The Acer Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD has a lot of connectivity options but lacks an Frequency Modulation (FM) Radio and Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) ac. There's also no cellular variant on the tablet to be found. But if you're looking for a tablet to utilize indoors where you'll acquire fine wireless connection the Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD is a remarkable option to have, especially for the remarkable price that's just 40% higher than the cheapest 8-incher in this guide.



Acer Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD

Pros Cons

  • 8" 1200p display

  • 5MP camera

  • Quad-core Intel Atom chipset

  • GPS

  • Cheapest 8" FullHD tablet

  • No 3G/LTE variant

  • Questionable firmware updates


For a bit more money you could acquire a stylish Lenovo Tab S8. It's very light at a hair below 300g and also thin at 7.9mm. The Lenovo Tab S8 uses the same, capable Intel Atom Z3745 chipset with the higher-clocked Central Processing Units (CPU) (1.86GHz), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage that can be expanded via a microSD card and an 8MP capturing camera on the back, complimented by a 1.6MP front-facing one.

The Tab S8 is not the cheapest one here at €200, or around 40% more expensive than the Acer Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD (€149) but has a sleeker design and also an LTE option (although that one costs even more).

The Lenovo Tab S8 is among the better mid-sized slates in this guide and we'd wholeheartedly recommdiscontinue it to buyers. Keep in mind that it's not as widespread as the Iconia Tab 8 and its price hasn't changed at all in the last three months.



Lenovo Tab S8

Pros Cons

  • FullHD IPS display

  • 8MP camera

  • Quad-core Intel Atom chipset

  • GPS

  • LTE

  • Thin and light

  • Frequency Modulation (FM) Radio

  • Stereo speakers on the front

  • Well-priced

  • Price hasn't changed since November


Moving up we find a familiar tablet awaiting us. The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is among the best tablets on the market ever since Samsung unveiled it back in January of 2014. It packs an 8.4" Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) of an insane 1600 x 2560px resolution and is jam-packed with all the features you'd need - an 8MP camera, Snapdragon 800 chipset, 2GB of RAM, 2MP front-facing camera, stereo speakers and a svelte body of just 7.2mm thickness.

The price of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 has gone up lately but it's still a better buy compared to the newer Super AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) Galaxy Tab S 8.4. If you're in need of LTE on the go the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 easily obliges but don't expect to create any calls on it.

Finally Samsung's TouchWiz software allows for remarkable productivity on the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 thanks to Multi Window - it allows you to utilize more than one app on classy screen - or two instances of the same app (only supported apps.



Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

Pros Cons

  • Extremely high resolution (1600 x 2560px)

  • 8MP camera

  • Great Snapdragon 800 chipset

  • GPS

  • MicroSD card slot

  • LTE

  • Thin and light

  • Stereo speakers

  • No NFC

  • No Frequency Modulation (FM) Radio

  • Relatively poor audio and video codec support (no DivX and AC3 audio)

  • Price for the Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) variant has increased 30% in Europe

Review


You can't create a reputable tablet shopping guide without mentioning an Apple iPad. In this particular case we're going with the Apple iPad mini 2. It's not the latest mid-sized slab to come out of Cupertino but it is the best one to buy. The iPad mini 2 has come down in price slightly and is now close to €100 cheaper at retailers than its successor iPad mini 3. Our thought of the latter is known - it brings a finger-sensing TouchID home button and golden paintjob for €100 more and that just doesn't create sense to recommend.

The Apple iPad mini 2 has the same, lovely 7.9" 1536 x 2048px display (Apple calls it Retina) as its successor, the same excellent 64-bit A7 chipset with remarkable Central Processing Units (CPU) and GPU performance, the same streamlined body of 331g weight and 7.5mm thickness, same remarkable battery life and the same superb Apple iOS 8 with loads of tablet-optimized apps that are purely gorgeous.

The Apple iPad mini 2 isn't the best tablet for the power user, demanding remarkable connectivity and utilize with other gadgets but has a character of its own which has helped Apple carve its tablet market dominance from day one.

Keep in mind that the UI of iOS cannot be customized, storage is fixed and can only be upgraded for a hefty price increase but if you don't care about leaving Apple's ecosystem, the iPad mini 2 is remarkable and it comes with an LTE option too.



Apple iPad mini 2

Pros Cons

  • High resolution display

  • Great 64-bit chipset

  • 128GB option (if you can find it at retailers)

  • LTE variant

  • Stereo speakers

  • Unsurpassed app ecosystem

  • Thin and light

  • Great battery performance

  • Price has gone slightly down since November

  • No microSD card slot, costly storage upgrade

  • Software customizations are limited

  • Low-res front-facing camera

Review


Sony has a remarkable mid-sized tablet in the face of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. It's packed with "the best from Sony" with an 8" 1200 x 1920px display, 6.4mm featherweight body (270g), elegant Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset, 3GB of RAM, 8.1MP camera, microSD card slot and classic Sony battery life that's excellent.

To add more to what is already a superb package the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is waterproof so you can hold it into the tub (or pool) without worrying over it and like stereo sound through front-facing speakers.

Price hasn't changed at all for the Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) only version which is a bit steep but you can find the LTE model for less now. Finally we're still waiting to see Android Lollipop on the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact but Sony has promised to upgrade it sooner rather than later.



Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Pros Cons

  • FullHD display

  • Great chipset, 3GB of RAM

  • MicroSD card slot

  • LTE and Frequency Modulation (FM) Radio

  • 8MP camera

  • Stereo speakers on the front

  • Waterproof

  • Extremely thin, very light

  • Superb battery performance

  • LTE model has gotten cheaper

  • Price for Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) model hasn't changed, is a small high

  • Lower-res display compared to some of its competitors

  • No Android 5.0 Lollipop update yet, but it's coming

Review


Finally it's time to see at Google's finest in the HTC Nexus 9. This is the accurate powerhoutilize with a 64-bit Tegra K1 chipset, 8.9" 1536 x 2048px IPS display, front-facing stereo speakers and the best of Android on a tablet with Lollipop on board and the promise of timely updates for the foreseeable future.

The Nexus 9 has everything covered from high-discontinue gaming to connectivity with an LTE Cat4-ready platform. We loved the speakers on the front and also the display and found Android Lollipop a step up from KitKat for tablet functionality.

The HTC-made Nexus 9 is the best tablet you can buy if you want Android as your operating system. It's also arguably the best tablet you can buy, period. Its price hasn't changed at all and is the highest in the mid-sized section but Google's own justifies it with impeccable performance.



HTC Nexus 9

Pros Cons

  • High resolution display (1536 x 2048px)

  • Large classy screen diagonal

  • Great 64-bit chipset

  • Great graphics performance

  • LTE variant

  • 8MP camera

  • Stereo speakers on the front

  • Latest Android 5.0 Lollipop

  • Futureproof

  • LTE model has reduced in price

  • Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) model hasn't changed in price

Review



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