Picking the right Android tablet is not an easy job these days. It’s especially difficult if you are buying it for someone else. And, it’s even trickier again if that someone happens to be a kid! With over 11,000 devices now running the worlds most popular mobile operating system, it can be a mammoth task to review, understand and compare them all.
So, to try and make the decision a little bit easier we have narrowed the decision down to six of the most popular Android tablets for kids. By focusing on three distinct age groups: Young Kids (4-7), Older Kids (8-11) and Young Teens (12-15), we hope the choice can be a little clearer and you can put your kids on track to some happy tapping!
6 Android Tablets for Kids
Kid Specific Tablets (ages 4-7)
Although many kids are very at home and comfortable using technology and tablet devices, there can be a number of challenges in the design, use and safety for younger children. Whether it be durability, app lockdown, device time limitations or usage analytics there are some great options for parents looking at Android tablets.
1. Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids Edition – $189
The brand new ‘Kids Edition‘ of the extremely popular Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 offers a fantastic balance between modern tech, child-friendly design and price. Taking the solid foundation that is Android, Samsung have created a fun and friendly child specific skin for the OS. This gives younger a children a simplified and engaging experience as well as providing parents with the option to block certain apps and put time limits on the device’s use.
On the outside, the 7-inch tablet comes ready to go, wrapped in a bright but durable case to protect from those inevitable drops and spills. On the inside, the tablet comes pre-loaded with a number of children’s apps including games, camera, paint tools and more. And, as a real parent bonus, the ‘kids edition’ transforms from ‘kid mode’ to ‘standard mode’ so you can enjoy the exact same features as a regular Galaxy Tab 3.
Android Version: Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
Tech Spec: 7-inch HD display, 8 GB Flash Memory, 1 GB RAM Memory, Dual-Core 1.2 GHz Processor
Physical Specs: 10.7 ounces (303gm) – 7.4″ X 4.4″ X 0.4″ (188 X 112 X 10.2 mm)
Average Battery Life: 7 hours
2. Apad 7-inch Dual-Core Kids Tablet – $139
Slightly lower spec, the Apad 7-inch Kids Tablet is a cheaper alternative to the Galaxy Tab. With a similar approach to adapting the tablet for a younger audience, the device is equipped with screen protector and ‘sports car’ red bumper case, as well as a suite of apps custom made for kids.
Although the Apad may be lighter on the hardware and suffer from shorter battery life, it does excel greatly in the area of parental control. The 7-inch tablet allows parents to remotely view usage and control the device as needed. This means parents can shut down, reboot and modify settings on the tablet as well as access usage reports, all from their own mobile device.
Android Version: Android 4.2
Tech Spec: 7-inch HD display, 8 GB Flash Memory, 512 MB RAM Memory, Dual-Core 1 GHz Processor
Physical Specs: 8.8 ounces (250gm) – 8.07″ X 5.47″ X 0.47″ (205 X 139 X 11.9 mm)
Average Battery Life: 2.5 hours
Great Value Tablets (ages 8-11)
As children get older and become more familiar with technology and tablets (more familiar than adults in a lot of cases) the tightly restricted ‘kids’ interface can start to frustrate and limit experimentation. This is why for the older age groups I would recommend focusing on tablets that are not specifically designed for kids.
Children are starting to use the device for more than simple tap and touch, and will want to start playing more involved games, explore apps themselves and choose their own media to watch, read and listen to. With all this in mind it can be easy to spend big dollars, so it’s important too keep things in perspective and remember that this is still a tablet for kids and there are plenty of good value options out there.
3. Kindle Fire 7″ HD Tablet – $139
The hugely popular Kindle Fire is Amazon’s very successful tablet spin off from the original Kindle eBook reader. The device runs a customized version of Android called Fire OS and tailors the experience specifically for the device. This customization brings a number of very useful features for kids such as Kindle FreeTime, where parents can create profiles for each of their children and choose what books, apps, games, and videos they want to give access to.
Packing 10 hours of battery life, 1 GB RAM and a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, the hardware specs on the Fire are also among the best bang for buck around on any tablet going. On value for money the Kindle Fire is very hard to go past.
Android Version: Android 4.2.2 (Fire OS 3)
Tech Spec: 7-inch HD display, 8/16 GB Flash Memory, 1 GB RAM Memory, Dual-Core 1.5 GHz Processor
Physical Specs: 12.2 oz (345 grams) – 7.5″ X 5.0″ X 0.42″ (191 X 128 X 10.6 mm)
Average Battery Life: 10 hours
4. FastTouch White Android Tablet – $99
Of the Android tablets for kids I have featured this is the only model that sells for under $100. The FastTouch may not be a household name, but is a reasonable option if you are looking to save a few dollars. The hardware specs are understandably not quite as impressive as some of the other tablets, but for most kids, it will run and perform at the required level.
Android Version: Android 4.1.1
Tech Spec: 7-inch display, 4 GB Flash Memory, 512 MB RAM Memory, 1.2 GHz Processor
Physical Specs: 12.2 oz (275 grams) – 7.0″ X 4.75″ X 0.25″ (178 X 120 X 6.4 mm)
Average Battery Life: 3-4 hours
Higher End Tablets (ages 12-15)
In technology terms, teenagers use tablet devices in much the same capacity as any adult. With that in mind the below two options are really at the higher end of tablet devices and the focus is on broad use rather than customization for kids.
By early teens, device needs have broadened greatly and social media, gaming, research and potentially content creation (be it for school or for fun) is the main focus. At this level, a larger financial investment may be a more reasonable option as the device can be seen as a cheap laptop replacement or a school or work based device.
5. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1-Inch Tablet – $299
Arguably the most popular Android tablet on the market, the Samsung Galaxy Tab offers high end hardware specs as well as solid battery life. Weighing in at just over 1 pound the 10.1-inch display offers a good deal more screen real estate that a 7-inch while remaining light enough to carry around all day.
The additional power and screen size makes this tablet a much better candidate for kids looking to use the device for school or work, as well as making it even more ideal for becoming the media centre of any teenage bedroom.
Android Version: Android 4.2
Tech Spec: 10.1-inch display, 16 GB Flash Memory, 1 GB SDRAM Memory, Intel Atom 1.6 GHz Processor
Physical Specs: 1.12 pounds (508 grams) – 9.6″ X 6.9″ X 0.3″ (244 X 175 X 7.6 mm)
Average Battery Life: 8 hours
6. Google Nexus 7 Tablet – $234
It would be unfair not to include the flagship tablet from the very people who created Android. The Nexus 7 is Google’s branded device running the latest version of Android and built by Asus. The device is at the top end of 7-inch tablets with a solid 2GB of DDR3 memory and a zippy little Snapdragon S4 1.5 GHz processor.
A very nicely made device the Nexus is regarded as one of the best 7-inch tablets available. Better suited to kids and teenagers that need a very portable tablet, the device can be slid, slotted and thrown into just about any bag, case or pocket.
Android Version: Android 4.3
Tech Spec: 7-inch display, 16 GB Flash Memory, 2 GB DDR3 Memory, Snapdragon S4 1.5 GHz Processor
Physical Specs: 10.2 oz (289 grams) – 7.9″ X 4.5″ X 0.3″ (200 X 114 X 7.6 mm)
Average Battery Life: 8 hours
Conclusion: As you would expect my recommendation is to explore the right tablet for the right child… There are so many options and so many specific use cases. Having said that, no-one likes fence sitter. So, for me the Kindle Fire offers the best value for money. If your child is still a little careless with expensive electronics it is better to have sacrificed $139, rather that $300. The Fire can be setup and tailored for very young children as well as be a safe environment for older kids to explore. Not only that, the tablet has more than enough grunt for teenagers and parents to use in nearly every case imaginable.
What Android tablets for kids have you seen becoming most popular? And what are the specifics you are looking for in each? Let us know in the comments below.
Feature image edited from image courtesy of Flickr, laihiu.