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Best tablets 2021: iPad, Android, and Kindle e-readers

Best tablets 2021: iPad, Android, and Kindle e-readers.
(Image credit: Getty)

Pick up one of the best tablets of 2021 with our handy guide. Tablets provide a great middle ground between the portability of smartphones and the larger screen and capabilities of a laptop, which makes them ideal for using around the house or on the go. 

But what should you be looking out for in the best tablets? That all depends on what you want to use it for, and who is going to be using it. There are some fantastic tablets out there with powerful specs and high resolution screens if you need something for watching movies or playing games on. These high-end tablets can cost a pretty penny though, so they’re not always the best choice. If you need a robust tablet to keep the kids entertained, there are several great choices out there. These kid-friendly tablets are built tough, so they can take a beating. They’re also cheaper, so you’re not losing big money when the kids decide to use it as a Frisbee either.

It’s hard to talk about the best tablets without acknowledging the stranglehold that Apple has over the market. iPad has become synonymous with tablets in the same way that Nintendo has with video games consoles. It’s not all branding either - Apple makes some of the best and most powerful tablets on the market, but there are also some great options from other companies including Samsung, Microsoft, and Amazon.

Book lovers should also consider a dedicated e-reader like the Amazon Kindle over a conventional tablet too. These use special screens that are designed to mimic the look of book pages, reducing strain on your eyes. Perfect for people who love to read.

1. iPad Pro: Best tablet overall

Apple iPad Pro 2018

(Image credit: Apple)

iPad Pro

The best iPad ever made, and the best tablet out there

CPU: Apple A12X Bionic | Memory: 4GB/6GB | Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 12.9-inch 2048 x 2732 pixel Liquid Retina screen | Dimensions: 9.74" × 7.02" × 0.23"/ 11.04" × 8.46" × 0.23"

Gorgeous design
Excellent speakers
Very expensive

It was almost inevitable that an iPad would top our best tablets list when you consider how synonymous with tablets the Apple tablet range has become, but we’re as surprised as you to see the iPad Pro beat out it’s smaller cousin. While previous models have struggled to find an identity, this iPad Pro 2018 has finally figured out what it is - the best tablet in the world.

A combination of powerful hardware led by Apple’s A12X Bionic chip and the usual stunning design and build quality of the iPad Pro put it ahead of the crowd. Available with either an 11” or 12.9” screen, both offer excellent visual quality. Combine that with the iPad Pro’s best-in-class speakers and you have the perfect little Netflix or Disney Plus watching machine.

As with all Apple products, it’s still mighty expensive though. A top-end iPad Pro will set you back $999, which will buy you a decent mid-range laptop or even a 2-in-1. Still, if you can afford the entry cost, this is the best tablet in 2020.

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6: Best Android tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is the best Android tablet on the market

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor | Memory: 6GB/8GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB | Display: 10.5-inch 2560 x 1600 pixel Super AMOLED screen | Dimensions: 9.63" x 6.28" x 0.22"

Excellent performance
Thin and light
Great battery life

Nipping right at Apple's heels, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 takes our second place spot. It's not quite as good as the iPad Pro is our humble opinion, but this is easily the best Android tablet available now.

Unsurprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 has a lot in common with its main rival. It has excellent performance thanks to its Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor and generous 6 to 8 GB of RAM. With 128 GB and 256 GB storage options available, it has plenty of room for storing photos, movies, and games too.

The screen is a thing of beauty too, with an impressive 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution which makes it ideal for watching movies on.  The battery life is excellent too, with around 14 hours of usage being quoted. Obviously, it depends what you're doing, but that's still good numbers.

But while it isn't quite iPad pro levels of expensive, it's not cheap either with price starting at $549. Is it worth it? We think so.

3. iPad 2019: Best budget tablet

iPad 10.2 2019

(Image credit: Apple)

iPad 2019

An entry-level iPad, this is one of the best budget tablets

CPU: Apple A10 Fusion | Memory: 3GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB | Display: 10.2-inch 2160 x 1620 pixel LED-backlit Multi-Touch display | Dimensions: 9.87" x 6.85" x 0.30"

Great performance
Good multitasker
Excellent value for money
Design starting to feel dated

The iPad 2019 is the latest revision of the classic iPad, which was undoubtedly the device that kicked off the trend and sent tablet popularity into the stratosphere. But how does it stack up against the new kids on the block? Very well, we're happy to report.

This is the seventh-generation of the iPad, and Apple have become exceedingly good at making them by now. Powered by the A10 Fusion chip and 3 GB of RAM, the iPad 2019 offers excellent performance for it's price range and can easily handle multiple tabs or programs running at once without freezing up. The 10.2-inch Retina display screen looks great too, so it's perfect for watching a bit of TV or a movie on Netflix.

It also comes with an impressive 10-hour battery life, so it should last you all day without needing to be charged unless you're really pushing it. The camera is a bit average, but that's to be expected on a budget model. And with prices starting at just $329, this really is a budget model that offers exceptional value for money.

4. Microsoft Surface Pro 7: Best Premium Tablet

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 tablet

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

The best premium windows tablet there is.

Powerful hardware
Premium build quality
Great display
Weak battery life

Microsoft’s Surface brand has been known for its innovation, so it’s a shame to say that the Surface Pro 7 is nothing more than an incremental upgrade on the previous model. Fortunately though, it’s still a great tablet in its own right, even if it isn’t the groundbreaking step forward that we were hoping for.

With price starting at $799 and climbing up to over $2000, the Surface Pro 7 isn’t cheap but you get a lot of bang for your buck with powerful hardware configurations and impressive build quality. The screen sits in limbo somewhere between QHD and full 4K resolution, but that’s more than good enough for a tablet of this size.

The battery life is the only real disappointment, as tests from numerous outlets and user reviews have shown that it just doesn’t live up to the 10.5 hours of use Microsoft claims it can manage. That and the conspicuous lack of a Thunderbolt port mean stop this otherwise excellent, if somewhat safe, tablet from climbing higher in our rankings.

5. Kindle Oasis: Best e-Reader

Kindle Oasis

(Image credit: Amazon)

Kindle Oasis

One for the book lovers, the Kindle Oasis is the best dedicated e-reader

CPU: Freescale/NXP IMX7 dual core 1 GHZ processor | Memory: 512MB | Storage: 8Gb/32GB | Display: 7-inch 25 LED 300 ppi flush-front Paperwhite | Dimensions: 6.3" × 5.6" × 0.13-0.33"

High resolution E Ink display
Epic battery life
$250 model has lockscreen ads

The Kindle Oasis is one for the bibliophiles out there, the book lovers who don't care about watching Amazon Prime Video or listening to Spotify. They want to read books all day, every day. If that sounds like you, the you're in for a treat.

Unlike most tablets which use a standard LCD or OLED screen, the Kindle Oasis uses Amazon's patented E Ink display to simulate the appearance of words written on paper. This means less glare and eye-strain for you when you're reading your favorite books. The Kindle Oasis also has another unique design feature - a bump on the rear of the tablet that makes it easier to grip and hold for long periods of time. This is a bit of a "love it or hate it" addition though, so we'd recommend trying one out before buying if you're unsure.

Considering that it's just an e-reader and doesn't offer the same flexibility as a regular tablet, the Kindle Oasis is mighty expensive though, with price staring at $250. As a result, this is a specialist product, but it's excellent at what it does.

6. Amazon Fire HD 10: Best cheap Android tablet

Amazon Fire HD 10

(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon Fire HD 10

A great budget Android tablet

CPU: 2.0 GHz octa-core processor | Memory: 2GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Display: 10.1" 1080p full HD touch display | Dimensions: 7.5" x 4.7" x 0.45"

Good screen resolution
Great battery life
Dated design
Not bright enough for outdoors

Alongside their revolutionary Kindle lineup, Amazon also has a great range of budget tablets headed up by the Amazon Fire HD 10. The 2019 revision of this cheap-and-cheerful tablet didn’t bring any sweeping changes to the formula, but it still remains the best budget Android tablet option out there.

Considering the entry price starts at only $150, you get a surprisingly decent bit of kit with the Amazon Fire HD 10. The screen is a 10" full HD panel which is great for watching movies or playing games on and while the 2GHz octa-core processor and 2 GB of RAM aren’t going to shatter your mind, they’re good enough for basic browsing, video streaming and a bit of light gaming.

As part of Amazon’s ecosystem though, the Amazon Fire HD 10 is constantly pestering you to sign up to its services with lockscreen ads unless you pay extra. It’s a decent budget option though and we think it’s a perfect tablet for entertaining the kids without breaking the bank.