There was a time when tablets were all the rage. At least in my life they were. There was nothing I wanted more than a tablet in college. And there were so many options back then, all at different prices. It was as if every Android maker had a tablet. Then something strange happened: Apple’s iPad got so good, so good, while Android tablets somehow fell off the radar.
Quick question: how many Android tablets can you name?
The default tablet that many people think of these days is an iPad. Apple has an iPad for everyone. There’s an iPad mini, there’s the “new iPad”, an iPad Air, an 11-inch iPad Pro, and a 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The company shipped more than 15 million tablets in the second quarter of 2021 and has a 35% market share globally.
The company’s latest iPad Pro has the best mini-LED display and is powered by the M1 chip. It’s so powerful that it not only beats a lot of Windows laptops, but sort of creates its own segment, where it is its own competitor.
In 2019, I wrote an article about Google’s decision to stop making tablets, wondering if that was the nail in the coffin of Android tablets. Their Pixel tablet had received terrible reviews. It was a horrible product. Google had tried to bring ChromeOS and Android together on a tablet and things didn’t turn out the way they had hoped. In the article, I said that Google is just lazy.
This year, it looks like the makers of Android have finally decided to wake up and re-enter the tablet segment. That’s not to say that there haven’t been Android tablets over the years, no. There have been. Companies like Samsung and Huawei have consistently released new tablets almost every two years. However, this year it feels like we are stepping back to the days when all Android makers had an Android tablet.
Over the past month, a lot has happened that makes me feel like we’re about to see some serious Android tablet competition come to the iPad side:
- Mediatek has announced that it will soon launch the Kompanio 1300T, a powerful chip targeting Android tablets.
- Huawei has released a 512GB model for its 12.6-inch Huawei MatePad Pro. Have you seen this MatePad Pro?
- TCL announced 4 new tablets, the most expensive being around $ 290.
- RealMe’s tablet renderings have been leaked, showing the company’s next premium tablet.
- Rumor has it that OnePlus is working on a “OnePlus Pad”. It could be a tablet, or even a wireless charger, who knows.
- It has become evident that Xiaomi will be launching a Mi Pad 5 which appears to be quite high-end and will bring iPad-like accessories. There could be three different models.
- Xiaomi’s sub-brand Redmi is also reportedly working on its own tablet.
- OPPO and VIVO would also work on three tablets. OPPO has an upcoming tablet, while VIVO could launch two tablets.
- Samsung topped, as expected, as the top Android tablet maker of 2021, with 8.2 million tablets shipped in the second quarter of 2021. Meanwhile, Lenovo shipped 4.7 million tablets during the year. same period.
From all of this, you can see that maybe all of these manufacturers know something that we don’t know (I’ll explain that later), or that suddenly there is a huge demand for tablets. The demand could result from more people working from home. Maybe a laptop is just too much for many, then a tablet becomes a good compromise.
The reason I’m saying all of these companies maybe know something we don’t know is: Android tablets have always failed because they didn’t have the support they needed. Apple won the tablet market because the iPad is not only powerful or well designed, but because it has its own applications. These are well-designed apps to take advantage of power, screen, and size. Meanwhile, Android tablet users have had to deal with enlarged versions of mobile apps giving quite boring experience.
This is not all, however. Android tablets rarely received software updates. This contrasts with the iPads which have been constantly updated. Apple guarantees more than 5 years of use.
So what has changed? Will Android 12 bring something different? Will apps now perform better on tablets? Are developers ready to build apps for Android tablets? Is this all thanks to the fact that Android is now designed for foldables? Will companies now send updates on time, to keep tablets up to date over a good period of time? Let’s wait and see.
Before getting the iPad Pro, I always wanted the Xiaomi Mi Pads. I felt bad when they stopped making them, and I’m so glad they’re back at a time when Xiaomi is now in Kenya. I’ll definitely be looking to get the Mi Pad 5. Fingers crossed, things are going well for Android tablets this time around.