What's the Difference Between an Android Tablet and a Learning Tablet?

Mattel nabiSE kids tablet

If you are considering purchasing a tablet toy for your kids, the choices can be overwhelming. Depending upon a child's age, technology interests and skill sets, many parents have a hard time deciding between an android tablet and other kids learning tablets.

So what is the difference between an android tablet and other kids learning tablets like the LeapFrog Platinum tablet?

Generally, popular toys for younger children in the 3-9 year-old age range include learning tablets from companies like LeapFrog and VTech.

These learning tablets include educational games that are influenced by curriculum academic content. The games and activities often feature a child's favorite animated television and movie characters, while they are provided exposure to phonics, math, science and reading challenges in a fun video game format.

Learning tablets or educational tablets like the LeapFrog Platinum tablet tend to be perfect for kids ages at the younger end of the suggested age range, mainly from 3-7. These tablets include the ability to take pictures and video, as well as provide wifi compatibility. Over a secure connection kids can download safe content to the tablet, access pre-approved websites and YouTube videos. Many also have apps for safe texting between pre-approved friends and family members. These tablets are generally in the price range between $70-$100, are able to withstand being dropped. They allow kids to partake in an experience reminiscent of their parents iPad, but the content on the device is really to help them learn while having fun.


Android tablets like the nabi SE and the VTech InnoTAB Max are often a better choice for kids in their tween ages, 8-10. These kids desire a more adult-like technology experience such as playing popular apps and listening to popular music. These tablets have larger screens, can play feature length movies, include much faster processors and cameras with more mega pixels.

 These tablets are often a more economical choice for parents purchasing gifts for their kids because they are less expensive than a learning tablet, and are much cheaper than an iPad. The nabi SE even has a parent mode where Google apps to check email and movie apps such a Netflix and HULU will work on the device. Many include parental controls that shut the device off during certain times of the day, or only allow apps to be used for a period of time. Kids are kids. Parents can be fearful to spend a lot of money on device that could get lost or covered in a spilled drink. 

Here are some additional considerations when trying to decide between an educational learning tablet versus an Android tablet:

  • Knowing your child's skills and interests is an important part of identifying the type of tablet that is appropriate for them. What's generally good for one 5-year-old, may be different for your child whether their skills are advanced for their age or if they may be having academic challenges. Finding a device that allows the child to have fun and be successful, is better than buying one with all sorts of features that will frustrate them if they are not able to operate them.
  • If you have multiple children, keep in mind that there is a possibility of these tablets being passed on from one sibling to the next. With each generation of learning tablets from LeapFrog, game cartridges are often compatible with future and prior tablets. Downloaded content is also able to be shared across several devices at the same time. If you have twins or kids close in age, download the content and you will only buy it once and they can play simultaneously. If you buy the cartridges in retail stores, they will need to share the games which could lead to unnecessary arguments.
  • Have a budget. Whether you choose an Android tablet or a learning tablet, you will have to set aside a dedicated amount of money for cartridges, app downloads, movies, music and subscription costs for apps like Netflix. Many come with content pre-loaded out of the box, but you will need to make an additional investment for kids to sustain interest long-term and as their skills advance.
  • Each year often brings new tablets with additional features, generally within the same price range as earlier tablets. So while you won't need a new tablet every year, plan an upgrade to a different device that can give your child the features they crave at an age where they are ready to manage it. 
  • Beware of discounts and doorbuster deals on days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it is likely they do not include the newest model tablets. So while they may fit within your price range, knowing the devices will help you search for the one that's best for your child, especially since initial generations of learning tablets did not include rechargeable batteries, so beware of older devices that still only operate on "AA" batteries.
  • The VTech InnoTab MAX is a cross-over tablet. It includes the features of a learning tablet, but has an Android processor, larger screen and multiple touch points on the screen. Purchase of the device includes one free educator-supported Android app from Toca Boca. It also has HDMI compatibility for playing movies and music on a television.
  • No matter which tablet is purchased, invest in a decent pair of headphones. Tablet toys are perfect for airline travel, as well as when kids use the devices on-the-go for errands, but as a parent myself while you are sitting next to your child who is enjoying a tablet, headphones will help keep your sanity!