Jun 30 AT 10:02 AM Nick Sarafolean 33 Comments

Large Android tablets are nearing extinction

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ (2) (JPG, Resized)

Over the past few years, we’ve seen tablets take off in a way that nobody expected. The invention that used to be known as “the giant smartphone” has evolved into a breed of devices that millions of people use everyday. Perhaps, though, the size of tablets is something that’s changing. While they used to cover a range of sizes, tablets seem to finally be settling on the sweet spot for what people want.

When Android tablets first began to gain traction, a slew of models hit the market. There were a few small tablets in the mix, but the vast majority were 10-inch monsters that worked to set a standard for what a tablet was. The tablets were big and heavy – believe me, I owned one for a while – but they excelled at productivity and were great for watching media.

As time went on, smaller tablets began to enter the scene in a more prominent way. A mixture of sizes was available on the market, but many consumers began to opt for the smaller versions that offered more portability while retaining almost all of the features of their larger counterparts. These smaller tablets allowed for more ease of use and an on-the-go factor that the larger tablets struggled with.

Several years since the inception of Android tablets, we’ve seen the market shift dramatically away from larger tablets. The most common devices on the market are 7-inch tablets such as the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire. Larger 10-inch tablets have struggled to keep up due simply to their size. Of course, portability isn’t the only hindrance to a 10-inch tablet.

If you’ve ever owned a 10-inch tablet, then you know the hassle of finding apps that look proper on the display. Most apps simply aren’t configured for that large screen. Sure, they work, but they don’t look nice. Tablet-optimized apps have become more common, but they’re still a rare breed. Apps well-suited to the 10-inch form factor are even more rare, with most apps simply scaling up to account for the additional size.

10-inch tablets remain on the market, but not in the prevalence that they used to. And in most cases, 10-inch tablets have a smaller counterpart to accompany them. The fact of the matter is, 10-inch tablets just don’t have the popularity that they used to. The market has moved towards smaller, more portable tablets that feel more like what a tablet should be. Indeed, when talking about a 10-inch tablet to the everyday folks, many ask, “Why not just use a laptop if it’s going to be that big?”

That’s the truth of it. The additional screen size is fantastic for watching movies and TV shows, there’s no denying that. But 10-inch tablets have few tasks that they can perform better than their smaller counterparts, and yet can’t complete many of the tasks that a laptop of similar size can. The point I’m getting at is that a laptop can do much more than a 10-inch tablet while maintaining a similar size. With the continued recession of 10-inch tablets on the market, it appears that many are thinking that way and that large Android tablets could be nearing extinction.

Perhaps I’m wrong. The market for large tablets could be bigger and more demanding than I know. What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you also think that large tablets are on their way out? Or are they here to stay? Drop a comment down below!

A nerd at heart, Nick is an average person who has a passion for all things electronic. When not spending his time writing about the latest gadgets, Nick enjoys reading, dabbling in photography, and experimenting with anything and everything coffee. Should you wish to know more about him, you can follow him on Twitter @nsarafolean.

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  • surethom

    I love my 10″ Samsung tablet & parents love there 10″ nexus, 7″ or 8″ tablets are just too small for home use. I agree for traveling & taking your tablet outdoors 7″ or 8″ is much more useful but as a semi laptop replacement 10″ is way more user friendly. The lack of choice in the 10″ tablet market is a shame for me there are only 2 manufacturers I would choose Samsung & Nexus.

    Most apps are not landscape tablet friendly, but that is the fault of the app developers & really really irritates me, like Lovefilms is portrait only i.e. just a zoomed in version.

  • Scott Hassel

    I, personally, love my 10″ tablet and my wife hasn’t turned her laptop on in almost 2 years since getting hers. I can’t believe that larger tablets are on their way out. Particularly for those of us with aging eyes, the 10″ size is almost a necessity. :)

    • Squint

      Ditto to that. I’m in almost the same boat. My Galaxy Note 10.1 is a lifesaver. My eyes are shot and I need the extra size to get anything out of computing. I don’t like the size of a laptop, and neither does my spouse. She has a laptop and a Kindle. She prefers the kindle. Remember when you were hunting for your first computer, and the technology expert you ask about it asked you “What are you going to use it for??” I think that question still applies.

      • Floorman63

        I’m right there with you! I have a LG G PAD 8.3 and a Nexus 10. I carry the 8.3 out on the road and use the Nexus 10 for around the house. My eyes just aren’t that good any more. Looking to buy a new 10 inch tablet to replace the aging Nexus!

  • Caniswolfie

    I have to say that I like the ten inch form factor much better than the seven inch. I find that the seven inch feels too close to my phone in display size and I would just use that instead. I tend to watch media or play some games on my tablet that use the screen size. I’m retiring my xoom tablet and picking up a new samsung galaxy tab s 10.5 inch to replace it since Google doesn’t seem interested in releasing a Nexus 10 successor.

    I’m not sure why you consider them nearing extinction where Samsung has released a good number of tablets at or over ten inches (Note 10.1 2014, Tab S 10.5, Galaxy Pro 12), Asus has one out, and Sony just released one.

    It possible most of the advertising and releases by smaller companies is due to the cost of the tablets. The less expensive tablets will sell better to a larger market.

  • Odie

    While I won’t argue against the practicality of 7″ tablets (I myself own a 2013 N7), I think a huge factor that you overlooked is price. In many cases, jumping from 7″ to 10″ comes with a $100 or more premium. Apple’s own iPad Mini runs for $400, who would pay an extra $100 for 2 more inches, especially when the internals are identical and the pixel density is actually higher on the Mini?

  • Kevin

    I love the idea of a 10 inch tablet but truthfully until the IPad air they have all been to heavy to comfortably use. I also think that Google’s tablet apps are too lacking in the tablet space. I’ve owned a Toshiba Excite 7.7, HTC Evo View and now a Galaxy Tab PRO 8.4 and have bought my kids 1 Ipad 4 and 2 of the new minis and there’s no comparison in tablet app offerings. With a smaller Android tablet using a smartphone app is ok but not on a larger 10 inch screen.

  • Jake R

    I love my 10″ Xoom even though it’s seriously heavy. I’ve been looking at new tablets lately because my Xoom is now 3 years old and even though it’s still going like a champ with a very strong battery and rooted/ROM’d for KitKat, the lack of a microUSB charging option is leaving me heartbroken. It’s time now to move on up to new, lighter, hardware, but I just can’t pull the 7″ trigger. While I would prefer another 10″ Nexus device, I would be more than happy for the 9″ rumored Nexus tablet that HTC is working on. I’m tired of skinned devices so they will all be Nexus from here on out.

    • Bill de Haan

      I’m in a similar boat. My 2011 era Asus TF101 works almost as well as it ever did. Other than the fact that Asus screwed the pooch when upgrading from Honeycomb to ICS cut battery life by 50% and you can’t go back.

      With my aging eye (I’ve only got one, unfortunately), it’s not just pixel density that matters, but surface area. The TF101 was fine for its’ day, but 1280×800 doesn’t really cut it these days. Add to that the fact that got considerable bulk (not immediately noticeable, but try holding it for 2+ hours and it becomes very evident), and I’ve decided I’m looking for a new tablet.

      My use case is that I like to use it as an e-book reader. I’ve got a Kobo, but it’s too damned small. I got an iPad Mini as a gift a while back. It’s bigger than the Kobo; it’s cute, light, and I keep it by the TV to look up IMDB and Wikipedia, but it’s still too small for to use to a few consecutive hours, motoring through books/comments/web sites.

      Unfortunately, as the author points out, 10″ tablets are inside outgunned these days by 7″ and 8″ tablets. Of course, I only need one. My criteria have been: high resolution, light, and microSD. As usual, most tablets had two out of the three. The Sony XPeria looked like a contender, but now that the Samsung S tablet is out, and I’ve played with it, I think I’ve found my next tablet. Four times the resolution of the TF101, about a third lighter, and it takes microSD cards up to 128GB. And at 10.5″, it’s even bigger than the TF101, which to me is a win.

      I don’t mind if 7″ ‘wins’ the tablet size war, as long as larger tablet options stick around. Different strokes for different folks, and as long as they’re profitable, the vendors will keep making them.

  • srheug

    I have had several android tablets right from the beginning with the Motorola Zoom (10″), Asus TF100 (10″), Asus TF700 (10″) Nexus 7 2012 (7″) , Nexus 7 2013 LTE (7″). I’m not really sure where all my 10″ tablets are but my Nexus 7 is almost always within reach. I agree with this article and have been saying for a year that 10″ tablets are dying. I think the industry has hit the sweet spot of 7″-8.4″ Tablets.

  • sere83

    I’ve owned both nexus 7′s and to be honest i rarely use them. My 2013 Neuxs 7 basically sits around unused. Occasionally it comes out when i’m on holiday or a long trip but thats about it. Around the house its just too small and to provide an enjoyable browsing experience on the web, id take a laptop anyday. I think something about ipad air size with thin bezels is close to perfect for home/web use. Sad thing is Googles insistence to never make a proper tablet section on goole play, played a key role in killing the sales of bigger tablets as people struggled to find tablet compatible apps. What’s incredible is that that there is still no facebook app for android tablets. When someone as big as facebook is not even supporting android tablets properly you have to wonder what is going on.

  • tojen

    While the 10″ form factor might not be as popular, they all have their place. I have the 10″ memopad fhd and like that the battery will outlast my i3 powered laptop for when I’m web browsing on the couch. Also my favorite for wathcing netflix. When I’m out and about my n7 2013 lte is by my side due to the portability of it.

  • Keith Campbell

    I have an LG G2 and a Nexus 7 and to me the next step up is my Chromebook, which was far cheaper than a 10/11″ tablet and easier to use with both keyboard and touch screen.

  • Wesley

    I wouldn’t want a tablet any smaller than my Nexus 10. I like the big screen for all the content I consume. I never game on my phone with a 5 inch screen. I have a great little stand for my Nexus 10 that I can set at any angle I want in either the landscape or portrait position. It sits right on a small table in my livingroom, and I use it daily whenever I don’t feel like hiding out in the room where my computer is.

  • Nigel

    Totally agree. I have 10 Nexus 10 and its great for watching media on a bigger screen but it does everything else worse than my Nexus 7. Might as well have a laptop which does more for similar size.

    So small phone and 7-8″ tablet and laptop.

  • Mikemick

    Small laptops usually start around 13 inches. That’s a big difference from a 10 inch tablet. Also, I’d assume that the most popular tablet model is the 10 inch iPad. Not sure why a plethora of Android manufacturers wouldn’t try to complete with the most popular tablet model/size in the world. My guess is they still will.

    We are currently seeing bigger tablets being made for both Windows 8 and Android. It doesn’t seem the trend is skewing smaller to me.

    Also, I have a Note 3. It’s almost not worth carrying around a 7 inch tablet. Now a 10 inch tablet feels like its different enough from my Note to be worth having.

    • zee

      iPad is 8.9 inches

      • c

        ipad is actually 9.7 inches

  • Scott Andrew

    I’ve always used Android devices, never Apple. I’m sure iPads are great, and if you say that Android apps aren’t optimized for larger screens as well as they are on the iPad, I will take your word for it. I’ve heard it plenty and I haven’t tried both, so for the sake of discussion I’ll assume that it’s true.
    But I think the problem is overstated. I’ve used 7 and 8 inch tablets. They’re all good. 7 is a little too small. I could be happy with an 8.3. But for my greatest functional needs – typing notes, reading on the web, reading and sending emails – the larger screen just means I can see more at once. I suppose the apps could be somehow optimized for the screen, but mostly the screen is optimized for the use of my apps by being larger.
    If some apps don’t use the larger screen as well as they could, I don’t see how that makes having a smaller screen better.
    If 10-inch tablets went away, that wouldn’t be the reason. It’s not as if non-large-tablet-optimized Android apps are an impossible problem and the only answer is to make smaller tablets.
    I don’t doubt that your point is valid, but my preference for 10 inch Android tablets tells me that it’s overstated.
    Only when I put it into words do I realize how obvious it is. What’s all the fuss about?

  • Scott

    I have had both Nexus 7s and a whole heck of iPads and even the original Kindle Fire, including now owning the iPad Air. I love both but for different reasons and purposes.

    To be honest, I use my Nexus 7 much more. It’s the perfect size for reading in bed, whether it be books or web pages. It’s not too big or too small. The iPad is way too big and even though the Air is lighter, it’s still too heavy to comfortably hold while lying down. It’s great for taking notes at meetings or watching media, but I love my Nexus 7 and look forward to getting the next version. I was hoping it would have been announced at Google I/O. :(

  • Android Fan

    Couldn’t disagree with you more. There’s a market for large-screened Android devices, its just not as big as 7/8-inch tablets.
    I own a 22-inch all-in-one and am about to purchase a 12.2 to replace my 10.1-inch tablet. Looks to me like a 12-13-incher can successfully replace traditional (i.e. Windoze) laptops while being more mobile.

  • debra

    Have had my samsung tab 2 10.1 for over 2 yrs, works as well now as when i bought it. Have galaxy note 3 for portability, at home always use larger screen. Am looking to upgrade soon will probably go for the note 12.2 as i really like the larger screen for home use.

  • Leighton Williams

    Magazines and A4 format books are rubbish on anything less than 10″. The lack of optimised apps isn’t something that I find bothers me in any serious way. If a Nexus 10 is too heavy for you, you needs to eats your spinach. I’ll stick with 10″ thanks.

  • Lars

    I strongly disagree. I love my nexus 10, and it’s my second 10.1″ tablet (shout out to all the OG Transformer TF101-ers out there!). I have no use whatsoever for a 7″ tablet, as it’s only slightly bigger than my phone. I could possibly see a 8+ inch tablet, but nothing smaller.

    When Samsung dropped their 12″ tablet onto the market, I got a little giddy, not gonna lie! But for that price, I’ll wait a bit for it to come down some and get onto Woot. But, yeah, I like em big, what can I say?

  • hp420

    Nearing extinction???? Is that why Samsung has a 12″ tablet now?? This article is ridiculous!!

  • Lee

    Good news! You can finally make the switch to Windows. Plenty of options available.

  • Chris

    It looks like Steve Jobs was wrong about 10″ tablets after all.

    But yeah, I just don’t see the point in having a 10″ tablet.

    - You usually don’t get a radically more powerful processor
    - The screen is not usually much better (resolution wise)
    - You don’t get much more battery life on a 7″ screen
    - 7″ versions are often a lot cheaper than the 10″ versions

    As noted in the article
    - Apps are not well optimized
    - It’s bigger and heavier (thus less mobile), but doesn’t have a laptop’s power
    - There isn’t much in the way of good stuff to do on a 10″ that could not be better done on a laptop

    So yeah it’s not a surprise.

  • Dan

    I went from a 2017 Nexus 7 (first tablet I owned) to a Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Had the N7 for about a year and a half and the 7″ form factor increasingly felt too small for anything more intensive than checking social media. With the Note 10.1 I can browse the web without feeling claustrophobic, single pages of comics in Comixology feel like they fit perfectly and can be read without having to zoom, there’s enough workspace to actually comfortably take notes with the stylus at work… I miss the ergonomics of holding the N7, but part of that is just the frankly poor design of where the buttons on the Note 10.1 are positioned, and that’s just about my only beef with making the switch. Would be very hard for me to go back to a 7″ device now. Especially in an era where many people (including me) have phones with screens 5″ or larger, a 7″ tablet is really not giving you such a huge bump in screen real estate that it makes a big difference compared to just doing stuff on your phone.

    • ALee101

      I am not interested in your tablets.. I want to talk about your time machine… haha.

      Personally, I have a 7″ N7 2013 and an Asus Transformer TF300T w/dock. I use both quite often, but I think the 8.4″-9″ tablet is the sweet spot.

  • Frank Bales

    I owned a Asus Transformer TF101 for a couple of years. Love it. “Upgraded” to a Tegra Note 7 for the fast processor and stylus. I almost hate the 7″ screen size. I much prefer the larger screens, and now I’m thinking I’d even go for a 12″ one, certainly nothing under 10″.. So much easier to work and study on. I don’t play very much on my tablet, but I use it for everything else. I would love to have a 12″ tablet with Nvidia’s new K1–WOW!

  • Dwayne

    I think the price may be a factor. Smaller tablets are usually more affordable.

  • Moriarty The Mundane

    I work in a Secondary school, I’m and ICT manager and we use laptops/desktops/i pads/ipods daily!
    My son has a nexus 7 I have a nexus 5 and they are admirable things but generally they are used in portrait mode. 10″ tablets are normally used in landscape from what I have seen. But what about using them in portrait mode? Most people don’t think about this as films do not suit this format and familiarity breeds content! But what about reading books, or in my case, song sheets written in word saved as a pdf? I play Ukulele and Guitar, I don’t learn my music and commit to memory, I just pull up the music sheet and start playing. I currently use my 15″ laptop which is landscape, of course, and the music is portrait and appears in a size similar to a 7″ tablet. Many members of my local Ukulele club use 10″ tablets and two have 12″. They are a superb device! Granted, as you rightly say they do not do what a laptop can do, granted if you buy an I-pad you could buy a laptop of similar price and do more with it. But, don’t knock the large tablet format just yet… it will be here for sometime yet I suspect. I will be buying a cheap large tablet soon just for my music…android, but of course! (its cheap and cheerful and does the job!)

  • Robert Burnham

    Since I read a lot of magazines and comic books, large screen tablets (11-13 inches) appeal to me quite a bit. I have used tablets from 7 inches to 13 inches, and those larger screens are great for large publications. I love not having to zoom. The Surface Pro 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 are both good example of quality large-screen tablets. Sure, I can get by with a 10 inch tablet, as I am doing right now due to budget constraints, but as soon as I can afford to do so, I will be going back to a tablet with a larger screen.

    The only problems with the large tablets are cost and aspect ratio. Too many tablets have a 16:9 ratio, which is too thin for optimal magazine reading. The iPad’s 4:3 aspect ration is a much better choice, and if Apple made larger iPads, I would consider getting one. The Surface Pro 3 has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is excellent for magazines, but that tablet suffers from being a little on the heavy side and it lacks the app choices of the other two platforms.

    I hope tablet manufacturers do not abandon the larger screen sizes because I love them.