Chrome OS or Android tablet – which one should you buy?

Are you considering buying a new tablet but cannot decide whether to choose either an Android or Chrome OS tablet? The two offer a different experience and the one you decide to buy will depend on what is most important to you.

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about Chrome OS and Android tablets. I own both, so I’m fully aware of what is great and not so great about both of these tablet types.

The fact is, I use both and the one I choose to work with depends on what I want to do. It’s not as easy as saying one is better than the other. There is a lot more to it than that.

The difference between Android and Chrome OS tablets

The main difference between an Android tablet and a Chrome OS tablet is the operating system. All computers, tablets and smartphones need an operating system to run correctly. An Android tablet runs on Android OS and a Chrome OS tablet runs on Chrome OS.

Lenovo Ideapad Chromebook
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet Chrome OS tablet

Android OS has been specifically designed to work with Android phones and tablets. Therefore, you’ll tend to find using an Android tablet offers a great experience. This will of course depend on the tablet you choose, however, tablets running on Android offer a very smooth experience thanks to a well established OS.

Chrome OS was created to work with the Chromebook when originally launched. It continues to be developed with the Chromebook in mind. However, you also get other computers such as the Chromebox, Hybrid Chromebook and Chrome OS tablets.

Chrome OS is a work in progress for tablets

Although Chrome OS works much better with tablets today that wasn’t always the case. A few years ago tablets using Chrome OS were let down because it was more targeted to Chromebooks. This is one of the reasons why the fantastic Pixel Slate failed to take off.

It had nothing to do with the tablet itself. The Pixel Slate was a great Chrome OS tablet, and I own one myself. The reason why it failed was that Chrome OS was simply not up to the job of offering a decent tablet only experience.

This has improved dramatically over the years and it’s fair to say Chrome OS now offers a pretty decent tablet experience. However, it’s also the case that Chrome OS simply cannot compete with Android OS for a tablet-only experience.

Android OS offers a better tablet experience

If you’re looking for a tablet for tablet use only. Then I would definitely recommend choosing an Android tablet. Even though Chrome OS has improved in tablet mode significantly. It still cannot compete with the smooth running experience you get with an Android tablet.

Android tablet
Android OS offers a better tablet experience than Chrome OS

If I wanted to quickly take a look at my social media or watch a YouTube movie. I would be able to do this much quicker and with a much better experience with my Android tablet rather than my Pixel slate. I’ll go into more detail about why Android OS is better for tablet use in more detail a little later. First, we need to look at why you might want to choose a Chrome OS tablet instead.

Why a Chrome OS tablet might be more suitable

So I’ve briefly explained that if you’re looking to buy a tablet for tablet use only then Android OS is a much better option. This brings up the question of why you would even consider Chrome OS when looking for a tablet?

Well, this is where it can get difficult to choose because it depends on what you want now and in the future. An Android tablet simply cannot be beaten when used as a tablet. However, the advantage of Chrome OS tablets is they are more versatile.

Pixel Slate
The Pixel Slate is a great Chrome OS tablet

Android has been specifically designed to work with phones and tablets. This is why the tablet experience cannot be beaten. However, this also means it’s not as capable as a Chrome OS tablet for other uses.

The advantages of a Chrome OS tablet

Because these tablets run on Chrome OS, which was originally designed for the Chromebook. This means you can use a Chrome OS tablet for more than just tablet use. It’s true this is also the case with Android, as you can attach a keyboard to an Android tablet to do some typing.

However, an Android tablet with a keyboard attached simply cannot compete against a Chrome OS tablet for that type of use. Although Chrome OS was originally designed to work with the Chromebook. The Chrome OS Team have spent a lot of time making it work seamlessly with Chrome OS tablets.

Chrome OS 2-in-1 tablet
Chrome OS tablets can be used as a fully-fledged Chromebook

A Chrome OS tablet can be used as both a tablet and a fully-fledged Chromebook. This is a major advantage if you need a device for more than just tablet use. Chrome OS is fantastic in laptop mode and is without question one of the safest, quickest and easy to use computers on the market.

Chrome OS is better if you need a tablet and a laptop

If you think you’ll want to use your tablet as a laptop on a regular basis. Then you’ll most likely be better off buying a Chrome OS tablet. Although the experience in tablet mode isn’t as slick as Android OS. The fact you can simply attach a keyboard and use it as a Chromebook cannot be overlooked.

This means you’ll be able to do everything Chrome OS is capable of as a laptop. Today, that means almost anything. You can play PC games on a Chromebook, video edit on a Chromebook, and all the other things you might want to do on a laptop.

It’s all about compromise

Whether you buy a Chrome OS or Android tablet is all about the compromises you’re prepared to make. If you’ll be spending most of your time using the device as a tablet, then you’ll get a much better experience if you buy an Android tablet.

However, this means you’ll not be able to take advantage of what Chrome OS tablets can offer, which is the ability to use your tablet as a Chromebook. The compromise if you buy a Chrome OS tablet is that the experience in tablet mode will not match what you’ll get from an Android tablet.

Chrome OS and Android apps
Both Android OS and Chrome OS supports Android Apps

If you need both and are happy to accept the tablet experience isn’t going to be great. Then I’d definitely suggest Chrome OS. Also, the tablet experience is still good and continues to improve with each update. It just isn’t a match for Android OS, which has been made for tablets.

If you’re looking for a tablet and not too bothered about using it as a laptop. Then the obvious choice is to buy an Android tablet. Android OS is a far superior experience in tablet mode, and I don’t think that will change any time soon. If you want to know more about what Chrome OS can offer. You might want to watch my Chromebook buying guide video.

Why Android OS is better for a tablet only device

Both tablets offer a great experience, however, Android OS is a far better choice for anyone looking for a tablet only. So why is this?

Why is Android OS better for a tablet-only device?

Although Chrome OS offers the extra functionality of using a tablet as a Chromebook. This extra functionality means using Chrome OS rather than Android OS. It’s fair to say about most things in life. Something that has been specifically created for one purpose is going to offer a better experience than something that has been created for multiple purposes.

Because Android OS has been specifically made for phones and tablets. Allows the developers to ensure Android OS offers the very best experience for what it was designed for. Chrome OS was originally designed for Chromebooks, and it’s true the OS works better for Chromebooks rather than tablets.

Is an Android tablet quicker to boot up?

Both OS are incredibly quick to boot up. However, it’s much easier to access an Android tablet because it’s very similar to how you access your phone. Although some Chrome OS tablets have a fingerprint sensor. From my experience, none of them has worked as well as you get with an Android tablet.

Also, if the tablet does not have a fingerprint sensor. You’ll find it’s much easier to access an Android tablet. For example, you can access a tablet without having to enter any security information, which makes it easier and much quicker, but is also less secure.

You can of course set up a pin on your Android tablet to make it more secure. This is also true for Chrome OS. However, It’s still much quicker to enter a pin on an Android tablet.

Can you attach a keyboard to an Android tablet?

Some Android tablets have been designed to be used with a keyboard. You can also use a Bluetooth keyboard with most tablets. However, the experience of using a keyboard with Android OS is not as good as Chrome OS. This is because Chrome OS has been designed for laptop use and Android OS has been designed to work better as a tablet.

Are Android tablets cheaper than Chrome OS tablets?

You can find expensive Android tablets just like you can find expensive Chrome OS tablets. That being said, you have a much wider selection of Android tablets and you can pick one up at a much cheaper price.

Should I choose an Android tablet if I want to use Android apps?

You should find that most Android Apps work with an Android tablet extremely well. This is because Android apps were specifically created to work with phones or tablets running Android OS.

However, you can use Android Apps on a Chrome OS tablet and a Chromebook. Although not all Android apps work great with the Chromebook. There is still a huge number of Android Apps that work with Chrome OS. Therefore, you can buy either type of tablet and still take advantage of Android Apps.

Are Android tablets better for using the onscreen keyboard?

You will get a much better experience typing on the onscreen keyboard with Android OS. Although Chrome OS includes an onscreen keyboard. It’s a much clunkier experience and can sometimes be frustrating to use.

This is totally different to Android OS where the onscreen keyboard works much better and is much more responsive.

Summary

If you’re looking for a tablet-only device then you’ll definitely get a better experience choosing an Android OS tablet. It’s true that Chrome OS has improved dramatically in tablet mode, but it still has some way to go before it can compete with Android OS.

A Chrome OS tablet is a better choice if you also need a laptop. It’s the best option if you want the best of both worlds. It’s also much cheaper than buying a separate tablet and laptop. However, buying a separate Android tablet and Chromebook is possibly going to offer the best overall experience.

You can pick up Android tablets at a much cheaper price and you also have a much wider choice to choose from. You simply cannot beat an Android tablet for quickly accessing your social media or listening to your favourite music.

1 thought on “Chrome OS or Android tablet – which one should you buy?”

  1. Also the end of life to consider. Modern Chromebooks come with 8 years from the date of manufacture – in this period they get version updates and monthly security updates. Android tablets? Much more of an unknown and security updates much less timely. My phone is a google pixel 4a, chosen because the security updates appear every month within the first week of the month. My previous Android phone perhaps every 2 or 3 months and that was for only 2 years – a bin job after that if you value security. Exactly the same with android tablets and if you pay enough you might be lucky and get 3 or 4 years of updates.

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