How we test tablets
By Michael Passingham
Find out how we uncover the tablets with the clearest, brightest screens, the longest lasting batteries and the power to run the apps you want to use.
Watch the video above to find out what makes a tablet a Which? Best Buy, and why there is a big difference between a tablet we recommend, and one we don't.
We put every tablet through the same assessments, mixing technical tests and measurements with real-life ease-of-use testing. We get to the heart of how you actually use a tablet every day, so that every review answers the most common questions, including:
- How bright, clear and vibrant is the screen?
- How responsive is the touchscreen?
- How long will the battery last?
- Will the tablet handle all the latest apps?
- Is this tablet easy to use?
- Most importantly, should I buy it?
Find out which tablets make the grade in our tablet reviews.
How bright, clear and vibrant is the screen?
We use a panel of three experts to judge how good the screen is, to check that it’s sharp and bright across the surface, and that its colours are rich and vibrant.
We know that you’re not always going to be sitting on your sofa, so as well as testing the screen in a normally-lit room, we see how it looks in bright daylight and under direct sunlight. Can you still see your apps, or just the sunlight reflecting from the screen?
How responsive is the touchscreen?
Most tablets don’t come with a physical keyboard, so a responsive, accurate touchscreen absolutely crucial. We check how much force you need to use before the screen responds and assess how accurately it tracks your finger’s movement on the surface.
We also type on the on-screen keyboard to see whether you’ll be happy typing emails on it or frustrated by the number of mistakes.
How long will the battery last?
We run three sets of exhaustive tests. First we surf the web over a wi-fi connection until the tablet runs out of battery. After full recharge, we then play video continuously until the screen goes dead. Lastly, we also charge the device for 30 minutes from flat to see how much life you can squeeze from a last-minute charge.
Some tablets last around 14 hours from a full charge before they run dry; the equivalent of watching a whole season of House of Cards.
Will the tablet handle all the latest apps?
We don’t rely on subjective impressions of a tablet’s speed, but instead run technical benchmarks to see whether the tablet’s processor can cope with demanding apps – or with running several apps at the same time. That way, we can tell you whether your tablet will cope with new versions of Android or the latest games and apps, or whether it’s likely to crumble and sputter out when you give it something tough to chew on.
Is the tablet easy to use?
Three lab experts evaluate every tablet to determine how easy they are to use from the first moment they're taken out of the box for setup. We then replicate the same tasks that tablet users will be doing every day, whether that’s browsing the web, sending emails or making a Skype video call, to see how easy it is and whether the tablet can cope with everyday tasks.
Should I buy it?
All these assessments figure in to a total test score, so that we can identify the best tablets from the worst and make meaningful comparisons between rival models.
We concentrate on processor performance, ease of use, screen quality, battery life and features, and we don’t take price into account. The final score breaks down as follows:
Ease of use…..20%
If a tablet receives a total test score of 75% or above, we’ll award it Best Buy status, while anything under 45% will guarantee a Don’t Buy badge.