Recommend a 7" phone-tablet?
April 30, 2018 7:56 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a phone-tablet (ugh, I cannot call it a 'phablet').

I use my phone almost entirely for the Internet, some texting, and less than a phone call a week.

My eyes are getting old and I need a bigger screen; however, I can't just get a tablet, because I live in the sticks and we do not have regular Internet access. Therefore I am stuck with using a phone to get online.

I'm thinking 7". Any OS is fine, refurbished or a generation or two old is fine. Under $200. I'm in the US.
posted by Archipelago to Technology (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are articles such as Best Budget Phablets but this is a niche product. Good luck.
posted by blob at 9:14 PM on April 30, 2018

Use the phone finder on GSM Arena to narrow your choice down, there are actually a lot of options, though it's worth noting if you don't need the phone part, there are seven inch tablets that will take a sim out there too.
posted by smoke at 11:43 PM on April 30, 2018

It's also worth considering whether a small phone that's capable of serving as a hotspot along with a tablet is the best solution for you. If you want to carry it around with you, 7" is pretty damn clunky. If your cell provider allows hotspoting without an extra fee, something like one of the cheapie Motorolas along with a cheap Amazon Fire tablet would fit your budget and might give a better all around experience.
posted by Candleman at 2:01 AM on May 1, 2018

Quick comment re the Amazon Fire tablet: i bought one about 18 months ago and use it virtually every day, in fact, there's a movie playing as I type this. That said, I will do a little happy dance the day it stops working and I am forced to replace it with an actual Android tablet simply because the Amazon tablet does not play nicely with Google, e.g., I can't import/use my Chrome bookmarks, so now I have 2 sets of bookmarks.

Your tolerance for this quirk may be higher than mine, of course.

(I ask myself on an almost daily basis why I don't simply buy an Android tablet now, rather than waiting for this one to fail. I don't have a defensible rational answer.)
posted by she's not there at 5:41 AM on May 1, 2018

My android phone can also serve a hotspot, that is, sending data to a non-cellular device. This has come in extremely handy when working outside of home with a laptop or - as was the case for many years - I had a phone with too little processing power to render webpages, but still enough to serve the wifi to my (cellular less) iPod, which I then used like everyone else used a smartphone.

I'm just saying this in case you find the perfect tablet but it's not cellular-enabled: you may be able to serve a hotspot to it from your current phone, while still benefiting from the larger screen.
posted by jb at 6:01 AM on May 1, 2018

sorry: what Candleman just said.

I can testify that my old Motorola which was too dumb to access the web still could pass cellular data to my iPod fast enough to be seamless.
posted by jb at 6:03 AM on May 1, 2018

I will do a little happy dance the day it stops working and I am forced to replace it with an actual Android tablet simply because the Amazon tablet does not play nicely with Google

Have you tried installing Google Services and Google Play on it? That should let you install Chrome, after which

I can't import/use my Chrome bookmarks

should no longer be an issue.
posted by flabdablet at 6:39 AM on May 1, 2018

Check I've bought a few things from them and always been happy.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 9:41 AM on May 1, 2018

Lest the Amazon tablet thing become too much of a derail, there's plenty of other options in the reasonably priced tablet category, it just happens to be really cheap and halfway decent if you're not too picky about the software.

To return to the actual question, if absolutely pressed to recommend something 7", I'd grudgingly say the Blu A7. They don't make great phones but they're OK, and the OS might be supported for another year or so, while many of the other options are running Android 6, which is getting dangerously old.

I will give my usual caution on older Android devices that are no longer getting security updates - it's going to get increasingly risky to be browsing on out of date mobile devices.

I'd also suggest carrying something the size of a 7" tablet for a couple days to see if it's practical or not. I'm a big guy with large pockets and the only place I can carry a 7" tablet is my back pocket, and it's not comfortable. Even a 6" device is pretty bulky for me. But dropping down to that size will give you a lot more reasonable options - you can find the refurbed Pixel XL for around $250 if you're willing to stretch a little, which will give you a nice device with some support left in its lifecycle. There's various models of the Samsung Note that you can find used in your price range but I'm less familiar with them. You might also consider the ZTE Axon 7.
posted by Candleman at 1:15 PM on May 1, 2018

If it's got enough oomph for your needs, a Nexus 6 is (to me) the best possible compromise between a big screen and still being small enough to carry comfortably. The downside is that they are old enough at this point that their battery life is abysmal unless it has been replaced. Given that you can get one for less than $100 on eBay and Motorola will replace the battery for about $100, it's still a reasonably inexpensive option that will run almost anything as fast as you would like.

I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for something I like better to come along, but still carry this damn thing every day.

I say this because I've owned a few 7" tablets and precisely none of them are reasonably pocketable, even with cargo shorts. The closest was an old Archos my FIL had around the time ICS was the new hotness.
posted by wierdo at 1:34 PM on May 1, 2018

Seconding the hotspot phone or a tablet with 3G/4G service.
posted by typecloud at 2:30 PM on May 3, 2018

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