Tablets: How we test tablets
Inside the Which? tablet test lab
Which? tests tablets so you can find the best one for you, whether you're looking for an Apple iPad, an Android or a Windows tablet we cover everything.
The best tablets have sharp screens that respond instantly to your touch, speedy processors and batteries that go the distance.
We put each tablet through the same gruelling set of tests to see how well they stack up. Our tests are made up of a mixture of technical measurements and real-life ease of use testing. We get to the heart of how a tablet will perform in day-to-day use so you know exactly what to expect before you part with your money.
Our reviews answer common tablet questions like:
- How long will the battery last?
- What's the screen quality like?
- How responsive is the touchscreen?
- How fast is it?
- What's it like to use?
- And most importantly, should I buy it?
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How long does the tablet battery last?
There's nothing more annoying that your tablet shutting down midway through a film. That's why we test the battery life so you know how long you can expect the device to last for between charges. We run three battery tests for each tablet. And if it comes with a keyboard that provides extra power - we run the tests again to see whether adding the keyboard makes a difference.
- The quick charge test We charge the device for 30 minutes from flat to see how much battery life it'll gain
- The video test We play video continuously and time how long the battery lasts before going flat
- The wi-fi test We browse the internet using wifi to see how many hours of internet surfing you get before it shuts down
What's the tablet screen quality like and how good is the touchscreen?
- Screen quality We use a panel of three experts to judge how good the screen is. They rate the screen under different conditions including direct light, bright light as well as normal indoor conditions. We assess how reflective the screen is, the purity of the colour and whether there is any noise (static) distorting the image. They also check to see how good the viewing angles are as well as measuring the maximum brightness.
- Quality of touchscreen Most tablets don't come with a physical keyboard - so the only way to make selections, input text and navigate apps is by using the touchscreen. That's why we assess the screen based on how much force you need to exert for it to respond, how accurate it is, how long it takes to react and the feel of the surface. If it comes with a stylus we assess how easy it is to use. We also test the onscreen keyboard, rating it on layout and how comfortable it is to use.
How fast is a tablet?
We use a combination of speed tests and real-life scenarios to test how fast the tablet is to use.
- Benchmark tests We run a series of speed tests using programs such as Geekbench. This puts the tablet through its paces by analysing how fast data is shuffled round the system, how fast the screen can present the pixels being products and how quickly it retrieves and presents information from its memory. All of these factors are scored and then the scores combined to produce an average.
- Playing video Also known as the You-Tube test. We play a video from You-Tube to determine how quickly it loads and whether it plays smoothly without buffering or stuttering
- Skype We make a video call using Skype to see whether it can keep up
- Browsing the internet Our assessors surf the net navigating round a number of websites to test how speedily the tablet handles web-browsing
What's the tablet like to use day-to-day?
We run a wealth of additional tests which reveal how it performs on a daily basis. These include:
- Set up From taking it out the box, setting up any necessary accounts to browsing the net we rate how simple the process is
- Sound quality Three assessors evaluate the quality of the sound by listening to music and speech using the in-built speakers and then using a pair of Apple headphones (which represent average headphones)
- Camera quality We take pictures using the front and rear cameras on the tablet. We also analyse the quality of the video recording
- GPS We take the tablet for a walk with the GPS function switched on to see whether it can accurately place us on a pre-loaded map
- Wireless connectivity We test the strength and speed of the wifi connection to see whether it works well when running apps, surfing the web and downloading files
Should I buy this tablet?
We give the tablets a total test score, so you can easily compare which are the best and worst. In each review we summarise what we thought of the product so that you can quickly get the information you need to decide what tablet is best for you.
The score for each tablet is made up of a combination of the elements in our tests. We don't take price into account when calculating the score but do indicate when we think a tablet offers great value. The score is broken down as follows:
- Performance - 40%
- Ease of use - 20%
- Screen quality - 20%
- Battery - 10%
- Features - 10%