The first time a friend showed me his iPad and told me how much it cost him, I thought to myself, geez, are people really spending hard-earned money for gadgets that they can buy at a more reasonable price? There had to be tablets just like iPad that didn’t cost an arm, a leg, and a kidney!

The Apple iPad’s cost is its own crutch, given how a few Android tablets are almost at par with the iPad. If the trend in Android tablets is anything like that of its smartphone counterparts, it’s just a matter of time before Android steals iPad’s throne.

In the meantime, tech and gadget geeks who know better than to fall head over heels for elite branding are looking for tablets just like iPad. Even as iPad continues to bask in the limelight as arguably the best 10.1 inch tablet this year, more affordable Android alternatives are also getting a fair share of attention.

Tablets Like iPad 4

If you’re too lazy to look for an Android tablet that works the same magic as iPad 4, go ahead and find an Apple store. But even if you have money to burn, you can always look for more affordable – and arguably better – alternatives.

iPad 4

Here are Android tablets that can hold their own, in no particular order.

1. ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700

If you’re looking for a tablet with superior media capabilities, ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 won’t disappoint. It has an 8 MP back camera and a brighter screen, ideal for outdoor use when the sun’s glare makes tablet screens dim by comparison. Its front camera is at 2MP, making it superior to iPad and Nexus. This gives the user a better experience during video conferences and calls.

Its name comes from the keyboard dock that transforms the tablet into something of a netbook. Unlike other tablets that can also be fitted with a keyboard, the Transformer Infinity actually looks and feels like a netbook when on its keyboard dock.

It uses a 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 1GB ram. Admittedly, there are many other Android tablets faster than Infinity, such as Nexus 10. (If you don’t want lags during games, Nexus 10 or Samsung Galaxy 10.1 are better options.)

ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700

It has a 32 GB memory, giving it more internal storage than, say, a 16GB iPad or a Nexus 10. It also has a microSD slot, giving it an even bigger edge as it has expandable memory, something you can’t find in an iPad or a Nexus 10. Again, this makes the Transformer Infinity perfect for memory-heavy photos and videos.

It uses Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich), making it one of the first tablets to do so. Android 4.0.3 allows users to take photos even when the screen is locked, making it possible to capture precious moments as soon as they unfold.

There are also more options when it comes to photo editing, thanks to the new Android OS. Already, it is proving its worth as a tablet meant for superior multimedia experience.

Priced at $450 to $700, expect to save about $200 bucks on the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity compared to the iPad.

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1

The Galaxy Tab 3 (10.1 inch) is available in 16 GB internal memory, with a 32GB counterpart in the making. Although rather limited in storage, the tab makes up for it by its microSD slot.

The 1.6GHz dual core processor is almost at par with iPad’s 1.4 Ghz dual core CPU. Both have the same RAM at 1GB. But with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 having a microSD slot, expect performance to be a little slower as it accesses both external and internal memory.

Not exactly a tablet for multimedia use, it has a 3MP camera at the back and 1.3MP in front. Nexus 10 and Transformer Infinity have better camera profiles.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1

The Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is also much lighter at just 510 grams, compared to iPad weighing 650+ grams.

Samsung is a great bet if you want a tablet that won’t die a premature death. However, don’t expect the Galaxy tab to have the same sharp resolution as iPad’s retina display. It has a pixel density of 149 pixels per inch, compared to iPad’s 264. But with a price tag of $400, you’re getting a tablet with mid-range performance and durability while saving at about $200.

3. Samsung Google Nexus 10

This is the second Samsung tablet in the roster. It has the best screen of all Android tablets (at least in my opinion). If you were to expose only the screen of both the Nexus 10 and the iPad 4, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. If anything, some users claim the words look sharper on the Nexus 10 screen.

It uses Android 4.2.2 (Jellybean), the first Android tablet to do so, making it one of the coolest iPad contenders on my list. Android 4.2 allows different users to create accounts and log on, just like a laptop would.

There’s also Photo Sphere, which, in an understatement, is an improved version of the panoramic shot. You get the chance to take a picture of everything around you, including what’s above and below your shot angle. This is definitely a cool feature of Android 4.2, especially with more users flocking to photo-based social networks like Pinterest and Instagram.

However, when it comes to photos, ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity is still superior with its 8 megapixel camera (Nexus 10 only has a 5 MP camera).

It uses a 1.7GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM, outdoing iPad 4’s 1.4GHz CPU and 1GB RAM. Of the other Android tablets, it also has the best speed profile. It can download apps faster than, say, ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity.

Samsung Google Nexus 10

Its speed is similar to the iPad’s – perhaps this is also partly due to the fact that it doesn’t have a microSD card. Unfortunately, this can be a liability for people who love to download apps or work on lots of files. Another of its biggest limitations is its 16GB internal memory.
Its charger is also a liability – my grandmother walks faster than this tablet charges! But if you’re the type to charge at night instead of charging only when you’re about to run late for a meeting (like me), by all means, go for the Nexus 10.

Priced at $399, it makes for a great alternative!

Android Tablets Versus Apple’s iPad: The Verdict

Admittedly, Apple is a winner. It probably has the best 10.1 inch tablet in the market. (However, it doesn’t in terms of 7 inch tablets. Already, Android tablets are winning the race in the 7 inch tablet category – but let’s save that for the next blog post.)

With Android being an open-source network, there are many apps to make the Android tablet experience a superior one. And with more companies developing new 10.1inch tablets to compete with the iPad, I won’t be surprised if Android slates soon overtake Apple.

But then again, I’m just a girl amazed at why her friend spent half a month’s hard-earned salary on a gadget he didn’t need. For all it’s worth, I may be wrong.

Stef dela Cruz, MD is a doctor, columnist, and a polarizing Android techie. She would rather sell an iPhone to buy an Android phone and donate the remaining amount to charity. Whether you agree with her or not, you can always stalk or pester her on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – she swears she won’t sue. Follow Stef dela Cruz at Google+

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