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

Included in this guide:

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

Grab the ultimate all-in-one device with the best tablets. Whether you need something for streaming movies, playing games, reading e-books, browsing the web or even working, there's an ideal tablet for you. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know which tablet is right for you though. We've run down the major considerations, and put together a list of the best tablets for every type of user.

Budget is often the first thing to consider when looking at the best tablets. The more powerful the device, the more expensive it will be, so you need to think about how much power you actually need? If you need a tablet for work then you might need to spend a bit extra, but if you're just using it to watch Netflix and browse the web then a cheap tablet will do fine. Even using a tablet as a movie streaming device can vary on budget though, depending on the size and quality of screen you may want.

Once you've got that part of the decision out of the way you may have a brand type you want. Are you team Apple, Microsoft or Android? Would a Samsung or Amazon Fire device be for you? Or, perhaps, you're simply after an e-reader - these aren't great as conventional tablets, but they make reading e-books feel so much more comfortable for your eyes.

If you just want a device to use for work, then you may also want to consider one of the best laptops, especially if you'll be typing a lot. Or if you don't need that large screen and want mobile data then perhaps one of the best smartphones could do the job better instead.

1. iPad Air 4: Best tablet overall

Best tablets: iPad Air 4

(Image credit: Apple)

iPad Air 4

The best iPad, and a tablet that does it all

CPU: Apple A14 Bionic | Memory: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/256GB | Display: 10.9-inch 2360 x 1640 pixel Liquid Retina screen | Dimensions: 9.7" × 7" × 0.2"

Stunning new large-screen design
Powerful A14 Bionic processor
Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard support
No headphone jack
No FaceID

The iPad Air 4 is simply the best iPad that Apple has out there right now. Yes the iPad Pro is slightly more powerful and yes the iPad 10.2 is more affordable. But this model takes the best of both worlds and merges them for near perfection. In fact this is the best tablet bar none.

You get that beautiful new form factor with full screen display and minimal bezel, selection of new color options and Touch ID side mounted power button. The Liquid Retina display, at 10.9-inches with 2360 x 1640 resolution is impressive with popping colors, high peak brightness and smooth video. What you record is also high quality thanks to that 12MP rear camera and web video-chat-friendly 7MP front-facing selfie snapper.

The A14 Bionic chip gives so much power you'll struggle to slow this down and battery life is kept to a solid 10 hours even with lots of use. USB-C charging is hasty, you get Apple Pencil (2nd gen) and Magic Keyboard compatibility and this comes with LTE connectivity should you want it.

In short this is the best tablet because it does it all, no compromise, but keeps the price lower than the top-end option.

2. iPad 10.2 (2019): Best budget tablet

Best tablets: iPad 10.2 2019

(Image credit: Apple)

iPad 10.2 (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 10.2 (2019) is a classic iPad, which means you still get lots of feature fun but with a now lower price tag. 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 has 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 its 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. 

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7: Best Android tablet

Best tablets: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

The king of the Android tablets

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor | Memory: 6GB/8GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB | Display: 12.4-inch, 120Hz, 2800 x 1752 pixel Super AMOLED screen | Dimensions: 10" x 6.5" x 0.2"

Stunning 120Hz OLED display
S-Pen included
Amazing battery life
Keyboard case is a little cramped
Low-res wide-angle rear camera

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 is the best Android tablet you can buy. To look at it you'd be forgiven for mistaking this for the new iPad with its metallic frame, edge-to-edge screen and powerful speaker setup. But this actually has some advantages, one being the 120Hz refresh rate on the screen, which only the iPad Pro offers. But this delivers far more colors – only without quite as good an anti-reflection covering.

Battery life is another feature worth talking about as this tablet can last over 13 hours on a charge, making it all day usable easily and giving you three hours more than most iPad options. This isn't down to a lack of processing power though as that Snapdragon 865+ CPU offers no lag even when running lots of open tabs, apps and video all at once. 

The inclusion of the S-Pen with the tablet is a great feature which adds value over the iOS competition that requires you to buy the Apple Pencil as an extra. If you're happy with Android apps over the iOS ones then this is a great tablet and the DeX feature and great selfie camera make it a genuine laptop replacement option.

4. iPad Pro: Best Apple laptop replacement

Best tablets: Apple iPad Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

iPad Pro

If you want an Apple tablet that doubles as a laptop, this is it

CPU: Apple A12Z 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

While previous models have struggled to find an identity, the iPad Pro has finally figured out what it is - one of the best tablets in the world when it comes to power and laptop-like features.

A combination of powerful hardware led by Apple’s A12Z 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 viewing 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 one of the best tablets you can buy.

5. Microsoft Surface Pro 7: Best Premium Tablet

Best tablets: Microsoft Surface Pro 7 tablet

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

If you want to swap your laptop for a tablet, this is a great option

CPU: Up to Intel Quad-core 10th Gen i7 | Memory: Up to 16GB | Storage: Up to 1TB | Display: 12.3-inch 2736 x 1824 PixelSense Display | Dimensions: 11.5" × 7.9" × 0.33"

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.

6. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6: Best well-priced Android tablet

Best tablets: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

If budget is a concern, and you don't want Apple, this is a great choice

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
Not the latest gen model

Nipping right at Apple's heels, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, now a generation old still packs plenty of punch just without the steep price. 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 8GB of RAM. With 128GB and 256GB 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, with around 14 hours of usage being quoted. Obviously, it depends what you're doing, but they're still good numbers.

If you can control the urge to go for the latest gen model and opt for this instead your wallet will thank you for the savings you stand to make.

7. Kindle Oasis: Best e-Reader

Best tablets: 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, then 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 – which you can do in a candlelit bath as this is waterproof and backlit. 

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.

8. Amazon Fire HD 10: Best cheap Android tablet

Best tablets: 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 the revolutionary Kindle lineup, Amazon also has a great range of budget tablets headed up by the Amazon Fire HD 10. The now older 2019 revision of this cheap-and-cheerful tablet still remains one of the best budget Android tablet options out there.

Considering the entry price starts at under $100, 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 2GB 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. 

9. Lenovo Tab P11 Pro: Best for immersion

Best tablets: Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

With great display and audio, this will have you enveloped

CPU: Snapdragon 730G | Memory: Up to 6GB | Storage: Up to 128GB | Display: 11.5" 1600 x 2500 OLED display | Dimensions: 10.4" x 6.7" x 0.22"

Great OLED HDR display
Powerful quad-speakers
Average camera
Could have more processing power

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is a tablet that offers some top end features at a reasonable price. That means a stunning 11.5-inch OLED and HDR10 capable display with 1600 x 2500 resolution for a very sharp and immersive screen experience that's great for movies. This is packed by powerful sound from the quad-core speakers, making this a veritable home entertainment hub.

But the price is still low and that's thanks to some drawbacks like a pretty average camera, although the megapixel count is high enough with a 13MP + 5MP setup and webcam does a decent job. Battery life is also impressive, which when combined with the support for keyboard and stylus makes this a powerful setup. Combine that with a premium metallic build and this could even give your laptop a nudge out off your shelf, if only it had a bit more grunt in the processing department.

10. Microsoft Surface Go 2: Best affordable Windows tablet

Best tablets: Microsoft Surface Go 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Surface Go 2

The best affordable Windows based tablet

CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core m3 | Memory: Up to 8GB | Storage: Up to 256GB | Display: 10.5" 1920 x 1280 display | Dimensions: 9.7" x 6.9" x 0.3"

Great battery life
Super display
Excellent webcam
Fiddly Type Cover
Could be faster

The Microsoft Surface Go 2 offers a relatively affordable way to get a full Windows 10 toting tablet that comes inside a premium quality build. You also get a long battery life, with Type Cover keyboard option to make this a viable laptop replacement. The processor might not be powerful enough for some though, so going for the top-end specs is recommended.

The 10.5-inch display is high-res, clear, colorful and yet perfectly portable. The 5MP, 1080p webcam is great for online video and with a front-facing sensor combined with that this will even let you unlock with your face using the Windows Hello biometric login. You get a lot for your buck here but we'd recommend paying a bit more for the 8GB model if you want to avoid any lag when in heavy use.

iOS vs Android tablets

One of the biggest splits in the tablet world comes between the two major operating systems of Apple's iOS and Google's Android. If you have a preference, perhaps to stay in-line with your smartphone, then that can help narrow down your choice right away. But if not, then which is the best?

Each has its merits. Apple is typically more expensive than the Android equivalent but then you can rely on a solid build quality and an operating system that's designed to work with that hardware, meaning a fast and simple experience that's going to get updated regularly to help better future-proof your device. The fact iOS also has some of the best apps out there is also a big draw here.

Android tablets are now super high quality too, especially when it comes to Samsung with their stunning screens. These can be more affordable while still offering the Android app store crammed full of useful apps. Battery life on Android tablets can be better than iPads which may be an important factor for many.

Ian Stokes

Ian Stokes is the Tech Editor here at Top Ten Reviews. He has extensive experience in tech and games journalism, with work published on IGN, Kotaku UK, Waypoint, GamesRadar, Trusted Reviews, and many more. You'll find him covering everything from smartphones and home computers to 3D printers and headphones. He's also our resident cocktail expert.