Best pure Android tablets

If you prefer a pure OS experience, here are the best tablets running the raw, clean power of stock Android.

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The advantages of a tablet running pure Android are simple; no manufacturer bloatware or custom interfaces, and more control over what you can do with your slate. Android customization options are so great, manufacturers often offer a unique overlay on their Android devices (like Samsung's TouchWiz), but those can constrain your options as well.

If you know which apps, widgets, and themes you'd like -- or if you'd like freedom to choose-- a pure Android OS gives you a fresh slate (pun intended) to start with. The Google Play store is still catching up to Apple's robust App Store in terms of available and tablet-optimized apps, but second place isn't that bad, especially if you're uninterested in a restrictive operating system.

We've gathered the best tablets running vanilla Android and, though not all offer the latest version, they offer the stock option that puts most of the control in your hands (literally).


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Despite the size difference, the Venue 7 and 8 sport matching bezel widths. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Dell Venue 7 & 8

A smooth-performing budget tablet with a comfy and cool design seems too good to be true, but you better believe it. The 7- and 8-inch Dell Venue slates smoothly run pure Android and start at affordable prices. There's no bloatware, but the two tablets do ship with some popular apps -- like Evernote and Dropbox -- to help get you started. Read the full review of the Dell Venue 7 and 8.


LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition
The G Pad rocks an 8.3-inch HD display with a 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution and 273ppi. Josh Miller/CNET

LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition

LG took a short break from tablets, but they seem to have kissed and made up in a fabulous way. The LG G Pad 8.3 comes in a Google Play Edition that runs a vanilla version of Android 4.3 and, though there's also a version of the LG G Pad 8.3 with LG's overlay, the supersleek build matched with the no-frills stock Android OS make a brute combination. Read the full review of the LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition.


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The Nexus 7 is one of the most popular -- and affordable -- 7-inch slates. Josh Miller/CNET

Google Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 is one of the best small tablets, thanks to speedy specs and competitive pricing, and it also offers a pure version of Android. Since it's a Google-branded tablet, it gets the latest OS updates as soon as they're ready to roll out and it currently runs the KitKat 4.4 OS. Read the full review of the Google Nexus 7.


Photo Sphere is a cool feature only available on vanilla Android devices. CNET

Google Nexus 10

The Nexus 10 was so precocious, it's still relevant today despite being two years old. The 10-incher set a precedent for large tablets and newer slates are still trying to catch up to the its 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution. Google hasn't announced a replacement for 2012's model, but the current one is doing just fine -- still. Read the full review of the Google Nexus 10.


The Nexus 9 doesn't fall too far from the tree. CNET

Google Nexus 9

Google's latest slate triumphantly perfects its tablet trifecta. The 9-inch Nexus follows the tradition set by its 7- and 10-inch brethren (featured above) with simple but solid hardware design and top-of-the-line specs that result in impressively fast performance. It smoothly runs the freshly released Android Lollipop 5.0 software, and houses the latest system-on-a-chip from Nvidia, so expect to see it on the best tablets list for a long time to come.

 

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