I’m usually asked one of two questions: what upcoming smartphones should I wait for? Or, what upcoming tablets should I consider? We’ll be bringing you a list of our top Android smartphones soon, but we also wanted to address the latter question. While Samsung has pumped out some new Galaxy Note Pro and Galaxy Tab Pro products over the past few months, the tablet industry has been relatively quiet. It may continue to be so for a little bit, but several rumors have suggested there may be a few upcoming tablets on the horizon that you may want to hold out for. Let’s consider some of the upcoming tablets now.
iPad Air Refresh /iPad Mini Refresh
Apple may introduce new iPads later this year as it refreshes its already popular iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display products. A recent note from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that both will be refreshed during the third quarter of this year, probably around September when Apple introduces the iPhone 6. Keep in mind, though, the most recent iPad mini launch occurred in November of 2013, so it probably won’t hit the market until around that time this year. Rumored specs for the new iPad mini and new iPad Air include a newer and faster A8 processor, a possible fingerprint reader and an 8-megapixel camera on the back of both devices. Touch ID makes sense, but if Apple doesn’t make huge drastic changes to its upcoming tablets you may find it’s not necessary to upgrade from the 2013 models. Maybe Apple will even introduce new iPad Air and iPad mini color options? Who knows.
The 12.9-inch iPad
This is a tricky one. Rumors of a larger 12.9-inch iPad just wont die down, even though some of the most in-touch pundits in the industry think it will never happen. Then again, did we really expect Apple to ever build an iPad mini either? If it does launch, the larger iPad might be one of the upcoming tablets worth considering. Apparently Apple is pondering such a device, but rumors that it was going to begin production during the second quarter of this year seem to be off base so far. It’s possible Apple could toss in a full version of OS X and treat this as some sort of full-fledged computer, or maybe it will run iOS 8. It’s too early to tell what such a device might offer, if it even exists, but there have been enough rumors to suggest it might be worth taking seriously.
Samsung’s 10.5-inch AMOLED Tablet
Samsung hasn’t released an AMOLED tablet in years, but it uses the super colorful and bright screens on its smartphones. We’ve been waiting to see if the company ever decides to employ AMOLED displays in tablets for a while, and now we’re starting to hear rumors of a 10.5-inch device. The latest report surfaced earlier this month and identified the tablet as the SM-T800. It may pack some serious specs, too, including a possible Snapdragon 801 processor (or Exynos in some markets), a super sharp 2560 x 1600-pixel display, 2GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a nice large 7,900mAh battery. We don’t know when it will hit the market, but if you’re clamoring for Samsung’s sweet displays on a large form factor device, this could be worth waiting for.
Microsoft Surface Mini
On April 10 the Surface Mini rumors were reignited when a news outlet published details on the device. It will reportedly pack a 1080p screen measuring 8-inches in size, the ability for users to take notes, presumably with some sort of stylus, and gesture controls that take advantage of the camera. These rumors have been around since last year, during which Microsoft even admitted that it’s very possible the company could create such a device. Hopefully Microsoft loads it up with a full version of Windows, however, instead of RT which offers fewer applications in the Windows Store. If you want something to tide you over, however, the Lenovo ThinkPad 8 offers some really solid features. Either way, this is one of Microsoft’s upcoming tablets that’s probably worth waiting for.
Google Nexus 8
Google’s Nexus 7 (2013) is still one of our favorite tablets on the market, especially because we love its form factor, but Google may soon replace it with a slightly-larger 8-inch tablet. Rumors suggest HTC is building Google’s new device, in addition to a larger Nexus 10, and that it could hit the market as soon as this month. That’s probably great news for Android fans, since HTC has proven time and time again that it has a knack for building first-rate hardware. Imagine BoomSound speakers or an all-aluminum design? We’re drooling just thinking about the possibilities, but hope Google can continue to offer its devices at such a low upfront cost. April may be too soon, though, considering the month is almost half over. Also, so far there’s been no indication HTC is actually working on such a device.
Nexus 10 Refresh -Built By HTC?
Can you believe it’s been almost two years since the Nexus 10 was announced? It was first unveiled way back in October of 2012. The Nexus 10 was built by Samsung and was largely met with praise from reviewers, but it has otherwise been left to die. Several rumors have suggested that Google wants to release a new large-screen Nexus 10, and the latest suggests HTC may be the OEM that was tapped to build two of Google’s upcoming tablets powered by Android. Google is holding its annual I/O conference in June and, if it’s building a larger tablet, that seems like the best place to unveil such a product.
Wild Card: New Kindle Fires?
Amazon announced its latest Kindle Fire HDX tablet back in September of 2013, which means the company is probably on cycle to update its portfolio, or maybe even introduce an entire new model, sometime this fall. There haven’t been any rumors lately, but we do know that Amazon pushes its tablet aggressively, especially because they serve as gateways into its ecosystem of apps, games and more. Who knows, maybe the company will also launch its long-rumored family of Amazon smartphones, too?