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Best 4G LTE-capable Android tablets available today stateside

If you’ve been following our website lately, chances are you’ve already purchased a tab… or ten. You’re only human after all, and probably couldn’t resist the temptation of a stellar bargain, the best 7 inch+ gamers around, the 2015 endurance champions or ultra-high-res media streamers.

4G LTE

But there’s one market segment we haven’t tackled in a while. And even back when we did, in October 2014, the budget was restricted, so technically, you never got a list of the top 4G LTE-enabled Android pads. Just the finest low-cost soldiers.

Now, it goes without saying not everyone can afford to cough up $600 or $700 for a high-speed, always connected laptop replacement. Nor does everybody want to pay that much with the large-screen Google “ecosystem” deeply flawed and app support lowly at best.

man-using-tablet

So, instead of narrowing our search to a predefined price range, we’ve decided to bring together the low-enders and high-enders, the budget contenders and no-nonsense flagships. Here they all are, with advanced connectivity options their sole feature in common:

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 – starting at $650 for Verizon

Going after Microsoft Surface Pros and Apple iPad Airs with comparable price tags never felt like Sammy’s smartest strategic move. And indeed, the Note Pro is a decidedly nichey product, which could never appeal to the masses.

Galaxy Note Pro

But boy, is it colossal, literally and figuratively, with a 2,560 x 1,600 pix res 12.2-inch screen in tow, S Pen functionality, Snapdragon 800 muscle, 3 GB RAM and 9,500 mAh battery juice. Just think of how sharp the high-def YouTube vids will play on the move.

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet – $500 and $650 respectively on and off-contract at Verizon

The name may send an old-fashioned vibe, yet the 10.1-inch Z2 is very much “contemporary”, what with its 1,920 x 1,200 display, S801 chip, Android 5.0 Lollipop software, 3 GB RAM and 8.1 MP rear camera.

Xperia Z2 Tablet

Plus, for a large 10 incher, it’s extremely easy to transport, thanks to a 6.4 mm waist and 439-gram “heft”, not to mention it’s dust and water-resistant, ergo ready for whatever nature throws at it.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 – $500 and up with Verizon

Oh, come on, another Verizon exclusive? Technically, no, but Big Red does cut you the best Tab S deal at the moment, and Amazon always endorses steals. Well, steal might be a bit of a stretch, at five full Benjamins.

Galaxy Tab S 10.5

Let’s call the bang for buck factor… adequate. Enticing. Almost unrefusable if you’re in the market for a super-slim 10 incher with fingerprint recognition, LTE speeds, Snapdragon 800 SoC, 3 GB RAM, 7,900 mAh cell capacity… and only 16 GB internal storage.

Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 – $529 and up for AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon

Fire HDX 8.9

Finally, something you can activate on your network of choice. As long as it’s not Sprint. Too bad the HDX is a little steep for what it offers – forked Android (an archaic iteration, no less), 2 gigs of RAM, bland design, somewhat awkward albeit ultra-sharp screen, and “sponsored screensavers” to begin with.

Luckily, $15 rids you of pesky ads, and $50 bumps up the storage from 32 to 64 GB. Remember, there’s no microSD card slot.

Google/HTC Nexus 9 – $469 unlocked with 32 GB storage

Nexus 9

Ah, a purist’s wet dream, now at an all-time low tariff. What can be sweeter than that? Perhaps a smidge of extra battery serum or CDMA carrier compatibility, but beggars tablet buyers on a tight budget can’t be choosers.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 – starting at $380 for AT&T; $350 GSM unlocked

How is this any different from the Tab S, you wonder? Well, actually, their specs couldn’t be further apart. The Tab 4 is almost ridiculously low-end, and ultimately, it’s not worth the $350 and up Amazon charges for it. With or without operator agreements.

Galaxy Tab 4 10.1

Yes, it’s compact, fairly handsome (in a non-standout way), and equipped with 1.5 GB RAM, which isn’t that bad. But the 1,280 x 800 panel is pretty crappy, and the same goes for the quad-core Snapdragon 400 CPU, 6,800 mAh ticker and especially 3.15/1.3 MP cams.

LG G Pad 10.1 – $150 with Verizon pacts; $380 sans obligations

LG G Pad 10.1

All in all not much better than the 10.1-inch Tab 4, the G Pad 10.1 is at least cheaper on-contract. And it’s upgradeable to Lollipop, slightly prettier, courtesy of narrower bezels, plus longer-lasting, with an 8,000 mAh pacemaker. And in case you’re one of those weirdos that takes photos with a big-ass slate, there’s a respectable 5 MP autofocus shooter around the back.

LG G Pad 8.3 – $130 on-contract at Verizon; $350 outright

LG G Pad 8.3

Sometimes, it pays to wait. And oftentimes, smaller and cheaper doesn’t equal weaker and lower-end. Case in point, the almost two year-old 8.3 incher under the microscope here, which features 1,920 x 1,200 screen resolution, Snapdragon 600 power and 2 GB memory in addition to LTE capabilities. At $130, that’s a positively dreamy inventory of hardware components.

Oh, and as far as software goes, Android 5.0 is reportedly nigh.

Verizon Ellipsis 8 – $49.99 on-contract, $299.99 off

We’ll give it to you straight, as usual. If you can do better, ignore the Ellipsis. Don’t buy it outright either, it’s a waste of money. The only wise ploy would be to score it at 50 clams, even if that means pledging a two-year allegiance to the Big Red flag.

verizon_ellipsis_8

Not quite a disaster, the inexpensive 8 incher is probably stuck on KitKat for good, and it provides a lousy gig of RAM. Translation – it’s slow as hell, and opening more than a couple of browser tabs while on 4G may freeze the system instantaneously.

LG G Pad 7.0 – $150 GSM unlocked; $100 with AT&T contracts

LG-G-Pad-7.0

It’s petite, it’s good-looking (all things considered), soon-to-run-Lollipop, quad-core, can work as a universal remote for TVs, sound systems, DVD or Blu-ray players, and “optimized” to last up to 10 hours between charges.

Of course, it’s not high-res (1,280 x 800 pixels), a multitasking beast (1 GB RAM), or photography champ (3.15 and 1.3 megapixels). But it’ll do if $100 is all you have lying around.

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