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Mid-size tablets compared: iOS vs. Android vs. Fire

Offering larger screens than 7-inchers, 8- to 9-inch tablets bring a little more to the table, while remaining ultra-portable.

The category of 8- to 9-inch tablets is seeing a robust revival. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

The latest tablet trend favors the 8- to 9-inch form-factor, with manufacturers slowly but surely hopping onto the bandwagon. In the middle of 7-inchers and models 10-inches and up, tablets in the 8- to 9-inch range hit a size sweet spot between small and large -- medium size, if you will.

These mid-size slates successfully satisfy the desire for a bigger screen, without sacrificing portability. For this blog, we picked the best 8 to 9-inch models across multiple operating systems to compare and contrast their pros and cons. Check out all of our top small picks here, or, if you think bigger is better, here are our best big tablets.

The iPad Mini Retina is Apple's smallest tablet. CNET


iPad Mini with Retina Display

The Apple iPad Mini is one of the most popular tablets, thanks to Apple's current cool factor. The Mini rocks an expectedly sleek aesthetic and zippy performance, however, if your apps and content aren't tied to the Apple ecosystem, there are a variety of other options that cost less.

Pros: The iPad Mini's performance is smooth and fast like a G6, and iPhone users will transition seamlessly to it.

Cons: It's expensive, especially when choosing a model with more internal storage. It also lacks an expandable storage option and the 4:3 aspect ratio is better for browsing and reading, than movie watching.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9
The KIndle Fire HDX also comes in a 7-inch model. CNET

Fire OS

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9

The 8.9-inch version of the Kindle Fire HDX rocks a super-HD screen and a cool -- yet comfortable -- angular design. Amazon Prime members get a few perks, like streaming Amazon video, but less tech-savvy individuals will love the simple user interface and Mayday button, which connects you to tech support almost instantaneously.

Pros: Starting at $379, it's a great deal, especially since it's on the larger end of the "medium tablet" spectrum.

Cons: There is no access to the Google Play store, so app availability is limited. The simple OS also curbs how much you can customize and modify your menu screens.

LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition
The G Pad 8.3 is one of the few pure Android 8-inch slates. Josh Miller/CNET


LG G Pad 8.3 (Google Play Edition)

The Google Play Edition of the LG G Pad 8.3 runs a pure version of Android and offers a tad more screen space than Google's flagship small slate, the Nexus 7. The 8.3-inch slate features a super-sharp screen and consistently performs silky smooth.

Pros: As a Google-branded slate, it receives the latest OS upgrades, and it offers a microSD card expansion slot.

Cons: Despite its aluminum back, it lacks a high-end feel.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro (8.4-inch)
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 packs more pixels-per-inch than any slate. Josh Miller/CNET

Honorable Mention: TouchWiz

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

Though its built on Android, Samsung's TouchWiz is in a galaxy of its own. The heavily modified OS packs plenty of software features -- or bloatware, depending on your perspective -- and it simplifies most tasks, without removing the customizable appeal of Android.

Pros: The TouchWiz interface is user friendly and it offers more customization options than iOS and Fire OS. There is a microSD card slot for expanding your internal storage.

Cons: It's one of the more expensive mid-size tablets. The included software eats up a lot of internal storage, and the capacitive buttons on the bottom bezel are easy to unintentionally trigger.