Dear Lifehacker, I am looking at getting myself a tablet for Christmas, and was wondering what the major pros and cons of getting an iPad or Android tablet, and why I should choose one over the other. Any information would be great! Cheers, Aaron
Picture by Arjan Almekinders
As far as we're concerned, both the iPad and most of the Android tablets on the market are good choices (and well worth discussing in the context of Christmas). Both offer portable browsing and app access, making it possible to travel without a notebook PC but still giving you more functionality than you'll get simply from a smart phone. Which one you choose will depend on how you feel about a few key factors, and (potentially) how much money you have to spend. Here's our take on the pros and cons.
iPad: The Pros
- Highly regarded for its ease of use, streamlined design and excellent battery life.
- Available in both Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi/3G models depending on your needs.
- Huge range of free and paid apps available, and the Apple approval process means malware and super-buggy software are largely unknown.
- If you purchase a 3G model, there's some excellent value iPad data plans available.
iPad: The Cons
- The device is dependent on iTunes for initial setup and updating.
- On a non-jailbroken iPad, your options to customise can be limited, and Apple can make arbitrary changes you might not like (such as its recent controversial decision to change the orientation lock to a mute button).
- Despite being based on the iOS platform, you can't use the device to make calls.
- No direct ability to add any external storage (such as an SD card from your camera).
- Use of micro-SIM means you can't easily swap SIMs between most phones and the device for data access.
Android: The Pros
- There's a large and growing range of devices available on both contract plans and outright purchase deals, with prices ranging from sub-$300 to more than $1,000.
- You've got a choice of device sizes and built-in connectors on offer, and many models can be used as a phone as well as a tablet.
- Built-in Google integration means your tablet is quickly synced and usable without needing to connect to another device.
- Since Android is open source software, customisation and tweaking options are broad and you can easily install a custom Android ROM if you don't like the default options.
- Large range of apps in the Android market.
Android: The Cons
- Having a range of devices can make choosing more difficult.
- Resistive touchscreens on cheaper models don't offer the best experience (this isn't a problem on the higher-priced devices).
- Ease of upgrading devices to newer versions of Android varies hugely by manufacturer (presuming you don't root the device and take on that task yourself).
- Few restrictions on apps in the market mean a higher risk of bad software if you don't research apps first.
That's our take; we're sure readers will have extra thoughts to offer in the comments.