Keeping Tabs on Tablets from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Samsung

Top Tablets Report

The Fixya 2015 Tablet Report covers common issues and their solutions from popular tablet manufacturers Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Samsung, delivering users a unique look into the state of the industry and the common problems associated with the most highly sought-after tablets on the market today. Overall, our report discovered consistent problems across all smartphones with their digital keyboards, battery performance, WiFi connectivity, and devices rebooting themselves at inopportune times. However, we also found that each individual brand had unique and specific problems with their products that could not be found with their competitors.

Tablets are a growing industry, and now come in various shapes and sizes with varying price points and specs. In addition, the mobile ecosystem these devices are now apart of can vary greatly depending on which manufacturer you are purchasing from, tablets are often being used for both personal and business use, and features can vary widely from tablet to tablet.

In other words, choosing the right tablet for your needs can be an overwhelming process.

Which is where we come in.

Drawing from our unique and proprietary data found on Fixya, as well as the Fixya Fixboard which provides unique actionable insight on today's top brands, we will cover some of the most common issues and solutions that each company has with its tablets products and give you the tools to find a solution.

We're keeping tabs on tablets so you don't have to. Let's get started.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Top Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Issues

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Synopsis:

Microsoft's third iteration of its popular Surface Pro tablet makes some marked improvements over its previous editions, notably in its improvement in app support, speaker quality, and overall form factor. The Surface 3's ability to successfully implement the full range of Microsoft Office features into a smaller and more lightweight device still should appeal to business professionals on the go, especially when carrying around a laptop is out of the question or too cumbersome to pull off. The Surface 3 is great for work productivity in this regard but still retains enough fun and polish to make it a reasonable purchase for users who want to explore entertainment options more befitting of a tablet.

However, despite some significant improvements, the Surface 3 still has some issues with its ability to pull off a flawless laptop/tablet experience. The touch cover keyboard, which was an issue with the Surface 2, has been improved but still comes up short in many use cases. In addition, device freezing, overheating, and issues with the Surface pen also plague the device.

Let's break down everything you need to know about the Microsoft Surface 3.

Common Problems & Solutions for Microsoft Pro 3:

Device Freezing - Despite being a largely well-run machine, the Surface Pro 3 has a tendency to randomly freeze and require a restart during the course of use, even when the battery is full. Although this can occur at any moment during the course of using the device, it commonly happens when the Pro 3 is doing multiple functions at one time—typing while browsing the internet, switching amongst apps, playing games, or having a multitude of programs open at the same time. While this issue can be quite frustrating, there are some workarounds for it that can be found below.

The Fix:

  • Close down programs and apps after you are done using them.
  • Restart the device when it freezes.
  • Upgrade your device's software and firmware to ensure it is completely up to date and not running on a previous version.
  • Restore your device to its factory settings if you are constantly resetting the device. Before you do this, ensure that you have backed up all files you wish to carry over.

Standard Keyboard - This is an issue that was bound to crop up when Microsoft was attempting to balance a laptop and tablet into one device, and one that was prevalent on previous iterations of the device as well. The standard keyboard is difficult to type on and doesn't lend itself to the sturdiness and response of a normal laptop keyboard. This is an issue that hampers the performance of the Surface 3 as a true business option, especially for people who will be typing a lot on the device - the standard keyboard just isn't good enough to keep you happy for an extended period of time.

  • If you're having issues with the standard keyboard, upgrading to the Type cover option is going to be the only way to improve your experience.
  • The Type Cover will run you $129.99 for the upgrade as of this posting, but the increased reliability you receive when typing as well as the comfort that comes with the Type Cover could be appealing to users.

Surface Pen - The Surface's stylus pen, which allows users to easily write and make notes on documents and other materials like a normal pen on a piece of paper, is a solid addition to the Surface 3's functionalities. Along with underscoring the business functionality Microsoft was aiming for with their Surface line, the pen allows users to engage with their device in a unique way that other tablets don't quite have a bead on yet.

Despite this unique feature however, the Surface Pen has problems with delivering a seamless experience. The pen will sometimes not register a stroke, turn off unexpectedly, and randomly register inputs inconsistently. Here's how to get those problems fixed and get your stylus pen working again.

The Fix:

  • Check batteries to ensure they are working properly. Replace or readjust as needed.
  • Ensure your Bluetooth is connected and turned on, as this is what the pen uses to connect and “talk” with the Surface Pro 3.
  • Like the freezing problems, ensure your firmware and software is completely up to date.
  • Make sure your pen didn't automatically turn off due to inactivity.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S

Top Samsung Galaxy Tab S Issues

Samsung Galaxy Tab Synopsis:

As with most companies in the mobile space right now, Samsung is attempting to bridge the gap between all of their mobile devices (tablets, smartphones) and deliver a quality UI that allows different devices to have a similar user experiences that makes transitioning between the ecosystem seamless and simple. Samsung has accomplished that with the Galaxy Tab S, its most recent tablet, and done a good deal to appeal to the tablet market with a high-end offering that competes admirably with Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon.

One thing the device does really well, especially in relation to its counterparts, is battery life. It doesn't appear to sacrifice much in the way of specs in that pursuit either, as the display and design are all on par with offerings from other companies in the space. Samsung has a tendency to churn out tablets with what seems like reckless aplomb, giving users options to pick between low, mid, and high end tablets (all with various screen sizes), so picking between all the options can seem like an arduous task. But it's hard for a user to go wrong with their high-end option (the subject of this review).

But despite the praise, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S does have its fair share of issues, and isn't a perfect device by any stretch of the imagination. Here's a rundown of those problems and how to fix them.

Common Problems & Solutions for Samsung Galaxy Tab S:

Device Freezing - Stop us if you've heard this one before in this report. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S will sometimes freeze or shut down randomly, leaving users in the lurch when it comes to using the device. Here's some ways to get your Galaxy Tab S back on track.

The Fix:

  • Boot the Tab S in Safe Mode. From here, you'll know whether or not the freezing and shut down issues are due to the device itself, or an app you have installed.
  • If the device boots up properly, it's an issue with an app. Try and locate the one giving you the most issues when you use it, and either delete or reinstall.
  • If the device doesn't boot up properly in Safe Mode, keep moving down this list.
  • Restart the device when it freezes.
  • Upgrade your device's software and firmware to ensure it is completely up to date and not running on a previous version.
  • Restore your device to its factory settings if you are constantly resetting the device. Before you do this, ensure that you have backed up all files you wish to carry over.

WiFi Issues - Issues with WiFi always seem to crop up amongst tablet users, and unfortunately for Tab S owners, their tablet is no different. This kind of issue can definitely be chalked up to issues with owners' individual internet service provider (or ISP) at certain times, but due to the volume of issues reported with WiFi, it's likely some tablets have a predisposition to have problems connecting via WiFi in certain use cases.

The most common use case amongst Galaxy Tab S users is that the WiFi button is grayed out, which leaves users unable to even attempt to connect to the internet (as their WiFi is not enabled). Other common issues include slow connections, WiFi popping in and out of use at certain times, and an inability to connect even when the WiFi button is shown to be active.

Here's how to fix your Samsung Galaxy Tab S WiFi issues.

The Fix:

  • As with the device freezing issues, boot up the Galaxy Tab S in Safe Mode. If the WiFi icon is still grayed out, the issue is with your software and/or firmware.
  • Upgrade your device's software and firmware to ensure it is completely up to date and not running on a previous version.
  • If available, check to see if you can connect to WiFi with another device. If you can't, the issue is likely with your ISP.
  • Turn the WiFi off and on again.
  • Reset the Galaxy Tab S.
  • If you're at home on your private WiFi, reset your network settings and go through the process of entering information in again.
  • If those don't work, enter the Galaxy Tab S' Recovery Booting Mode.
  • From Recovery Booting Mode, wipe your cache partition and reboot the system.

Storage - Samsung has historically had some issues with their storage on all mobile devices, and at this price point and overall excellent specs and performance, it's almost expected that something would have to take a hit on the tablet. That downside shows up in the storage, which is lacking compared to other tablets and can be quickly eaten up by apps, games, shows, movies, and any other things you add on to your tablet.

Thankfully however, Samsung seemed to recognize this need for extra storage for power users, and provided a MicroSD slot. It's something that its primary competitors (namely Apple) don't have, and gives it a nice extra pop for people who want to house more than the provided on-board storage the tablet provides.

The fix list may be short on this one, but it is extremely simple and easy to implement.

The Fix:

  • Utilize the microSD slot on the device by purchasing a microSD card. These cards vary in size and will depend on the user to determine how much space they need, but the options are nearly limitless.
  • If one microSD card isn't enough, or you need more storage than you initially expected down the line, the tablet has no issues with accepting and interpreting multiple different cards.
  • If you're looking for more of a digital solution to this issue, cloud storage is also an option.

Apple iPad Air 2

Top Apple iPad Air 2 Issues

Apple iPad Air 2 Synopsis:

Like much of what Apple puts out on the market, the iPad Air 2 is a cohesive device that pays a lot of attention to the user experience. It makes small but significant improvements over its previous iteration the iPad Air, and adds enough new features to warrant the consideration of an upgrade for power users who utilize their tablet more than a laptop or desktop computer. Apple always does its best to ensure everything is tightly packaged together for optimal usage right out of the box, and the iPad Air 2 is no different. Reviews for the device have been extremely positive and sales figures have also been strong.

In other words, the iPad Air 2 is a vintage Apple product.

However, there are some issues that have cropped up with the device and caused issues for users. Despite all of its praise, users should be aware of the common problems with the product. Here are the three most common problems with the iPad Air 2 and how to fix them.

Common Problems & Solutions for Apple iPad Air 2:

Screen Issues - Apple has a long history of making beautiful products, and the iPad Air 2 is no exception. With an updated screen that boasts immense clarity and a wonderful aesthetic experience, using the iPad Air 2 looks gorgeous - when it works.

Although the Air 2's screen is a seamless experience the majority of the time, some users have reported issues with the implementation. These issues include “ghosting”, which occurs when a user inputs a command via the touchscreen that causes the screen to lag and display a gray mark where the command was inputted for a short period of time, a goldish tint to the screen in certain areas, and tiny gray lines that run either horizontally or vertically across the screen. These issues are purely aesthetic—they don't interfere with the inputs being registered on the device - but do cause problems for users when attempting to type, select programs, and play games on their iPad Air 2.

The Fix:

  • Turn screen brightness on full to reduce appearance of ghosting, gold tint, and gray lines.
  • Restart your device.
  • Allow your device to turn off due to battery drain, recharge up to 100%, and turn it on again.
  • Reset to factory defaults after backing up the programs and assets you want to keep.
  • Ensure your software and firmware are completely up to date.

Keyboard Responsiveness - The iPad Air 2's keyboard has given some users issues, as the digital keyboard sometimes will be slow to respond (or not respond at all) to certain keystrokes. This can happen all over the keyboard if users are quickly entering text, but is most prominent on the outer edges of the screen. It is on these outer edges where users experience the most issues, as the response of the tablet face in the corners and edges is likely purposefully turned down by Apple in order to reduce accidental inputs by fingers holding the device. However, this (potential) design choice hurts users ability to type effectively and efficiently, and sometimes results in text not being entered at all.

Here's how to fix these issues.

The Fix:

  • Reduce keyboard motion via the accessibility option in the settings menu.
  • Ensure you are typing slowly and deliberately.
  • Push any particularly troublesome keys (primarily near the edges) harder than you would for keys in the center of the tablet face.

WiFi Issues - Issues with WiFi always seem to crop up amongst tablet users, and unfortunately for iPad Air 2 owners, their tablet is no different. This kind of issue can definitely be chalked up to issues with owners' individual internet service provider (or ISP) at certain times, but due to the volume of issues reported with WiFi, it's likely some tablets have a predisposition to have problems connecting via WiFi in certain use cases.

Common use cases include connections that are intermittently dropped only to come on again (and unfortunately repeat the process), as well as slow speeds when browsing the internet. Rarer types include being unable to connect to WiFi at all for extended periods of times, which are the most serious WiFi issues and require a more intense looking into.

There's a wide variety of troubleshooting solutions users can look into when trying to solve iPad Air 2 WiFi issues. Let's take a look.

The Fix:

  • If available, check to see if you can connect to WiFi with another device. If you can't, the issue is likely with your ISP.
  • Turn your iPad Air 2's WiFi off and then on again via the settings panel. This will help reset your connection and hopefully get you up and running.
  • If that doesn't work, reset the iPad Air 2.
  • If you're at home on your private WiFi, reset your network settings and go through the process of entering information in again.
  • Change the DNS servers, which will essentially reset how your tablet communicates with your WiFi router. If that doesn't work, reset your WiFi router as a whole and see if that works.

Amazon Fire

Top Amazon Fire Issues

Amazon Fire Tablet Synopsis:

Previously known as the Kindle Fire before Amazon dropped the “Kindle” moniker, the Amazon Fire tablet is a growing part of Amazon's concise ecosystem of mobile products. With the addition of Amazon's first phone, also named the Fire, earlier this year, it's clear that the company is taking a great interest in developing their mobile ecosystem and attempting to integrate all of their services underneath it.

And for the most part, it works. The UI is vastly improved over earlier versions, the experience is tight, and the tech and specs in the device rival that of any other tablet on the market today.

However, depending on what kind of user you are, there are some potential downsides. The Fire is a tablet made for users who utilize Amazon's online store frequently to purchase goods. If you're an Amazon addict, this tablet is made for your needs with seamless integration with the store and convenient one-click purchasing. Amazon Prime members have the added bonus of being able to stream their entertainment content quickly and efficiently onto the tablet, making the experience of watching your favorite TV show or movie a fun and easy one. E-book aficionados also need not fret, as Amazon's digital library is an excellent one for you to utilize with great integration in the device as well. Furthermore, with customer support provided almost instantaneously via a video chat program called Mayday, Amazon has upped the ante with their tech support and really provided consumers with a great way to ensure they're getting the most bang for their buck from the device.

If you're not plugged into the Amazon ecosystem however, the vast wealth of content here may not be as much of a selling point for you compared to Amazon addicts. In addition, poor app support, a struggling battery life, device freezing issues, and some keyboard problems affect even the most ardent of Amazon addicts, and can bring down a user experience that is otherwise very good.

Let's break down these issues and get you a fix.

Common Problems & Solutions for Amazon Fire Tablet:

App Support - As we saw with the early versions of mobile devices running the Windows operating system, any new device entering the market today and attempting to break into the space is going to have issues with app selection at the outset of its beginnings. And while the Fire, is one of the latter iterations of Amazon's tablet offerings, it still has these types of issues.

The fact remains that iOS and Android is where the vast majority of power users are, and enticing developers to create apps for the device is going to take time and an increased user base. As we mentioned before, although the tablet is heavily integrated with Amazon Prime and will be appealing for users who rely heavily on that service for their entertainment and shopping needs, services such as Google Play are not available in the store. This can be a big drawback for some users, and essentially is a competitive decision by Amazon - if you're a Google Play user and pick up the Amazon Fire, it's highly unlikely to expect Google Play integration to come to the device anytime soon.

The Fix:

  • Unfortunately for users, this issue cannot be resolved with anything other than time. Amazon Prime users will enjoy the service's full integration with this device (which is expected considering the tablets is coming from Amazon), but until more time has passed and companies begin to put more and more resources into developing Amazon-based apps, this issue will remain. Full Google Play integration is likely off the table for a long time as well.

Battery Issues - Considering the mobile device industry as a whole has issues with battery life, and nearly every player in the space still has a segment of their user base that are dealing with issues of battery complaints, we tend to give the Fire a bit of a pass on its issues with battery life. Having said that, as a user, dealing with issues of battery life can be a significantly frustrating experience especially since it gets directly in the way of what you're attempting to do with your tablet—use it without it turning off on you.

Here's some ways to get a fix.

The Fix:

  • Enable SmartSuspend, a feature that comes along built in to your Amazon Fire tablet which will shut down battery draining functions when the device is in standby.
  • Turn off your Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and location services when you are not using them. These types of features will pose a relatively significant slow drain on your tablet if left on, that is unnecessary if you are not in the process of using them. SmartSuspend can take care of this as well if you choose to enable it.
  • Ensure that your Amazon Fire is up to date with the most recent version of software.
  • Close any apps that you are not currently using and may be running in the background, slowly draining your battery
  • Turn down the brightness level of your Fire
  • Turn off different types of gesture settings (like Dynamic Perspective), which can put a drain on your battery life.

Device Freezing - Similar to the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, the Amazon Fire has a tendency to randomly freeze and require a restart during the course of use, even when the battery is full. Although this can occur at any moment during the course of using the device, it commonly happens when the Fire is doing multiple functions at one time—typing while browsing the internet, switching amongst apps, playing games, or having a multitude of programs open at the same time.

While this issue can be quite frustrating, there are some workarounds. In addition, there appears to be more ways to solve this issue for the Amazon Fire than the Surface Pro 3, which is a positive.

The Fix:

  • Turn on SmartSuspend. While primarily a battery saving program, this can also help users with their device freezing issues.
  • Close down programs and apps after you are done using them.
  • If a specific app is giving you trouble, clear the data on that app via your settings menu.
  • Restart the device when it freezes.
  • Upgrade your device's software and firmware to ensure it is completely up to date and not running on a previous version.
  • Deregister your Amazon Fire and then register it again to see if that solves the issue.
  • Restore your device to its factory settings if you are constantly resetting the device. Before you do this, ensure that you have backed up all files you wish to carry over.

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