Tablets were once seen as the death knell for the modern computer, but the best tablets sit comfortably alongside laptops and desktops these days.
Sure, some certainly want to be the only computer you want or need (we’re looking at you, iPad Pro), but as with phones there’s a tablet for everyone. Whether you want something to watch Netflix on, a device to read e-books with, or even somewhere to play the latest games at surprisingly high frame rates, tablets can do remarkable things while keeping to a small form-factor.
It’s not all fun and games, either; tablets have become ideal for work tasks like email or writing, photo edits, or even full design projects using a stylus like the Apple Pencil.
We’ve picked the best tablets around from top manufacturers including Apple, Samsung, and Amazon. Whether you’re looking for a huge screen, or a more portable device, our list of the best tablets has you covered.
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
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
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
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 M1 (12.9-inch) : Best Apple laptop replacement
The 2021 iPad Pro surprised many by borrowing the M1 chip straight out of Apple’s Mac lineup, meaning it now offers even more impressive performance in both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions – along with improved battery life thanks to increased power efficiency.
It’s the 12.9-inch version that we’ve selected in our best tablet list, though, because it swapped out the standard LED backlighting for mini-LED. Why is that a big deal? Because the iPad Pro 12.9-inch now offers a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio – increased brightness, deeper blacks and more vibrant colors combine to make it a great place to watch movies.
The iPad Pro also has ProMotion, which adjusts the display’s refresh rate based on the content you’re viewing up to a huge 120Hz. By dialling it down when you’re just flipping through emails, it’s able to prolong the battery life, too.
The sticking point, though, is the price. The non-cellular, base 128GB version will set you back $1099, and that doesn’t factor in the Apple Pencil or Magic Keyboard, while iPadOS has a lot of catching up to do with macOS. As a result, you may be better suited to a MacBook.
5. Microsoft Surface Pro 7: Best Premium Tablet
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. iPad Mini 2021: The best small iPad
Apple’s iPad Mini range had been languishing untouched for a while, but a 2021 refresh brings it more in line with its larger brothers.
Offering a gorgeous Liquid Retina display, the iPad Mini 2021 is just about small enough to put in your back pocket, while offering a much larger canvas than the iPhone 13 series it shares a processor with.
That means you get great performance, whether you’re flicking through everyday tasks or playing games, and can pull out an Apple Pencil (sold separately) and use the iPad Mini as a notepad in an instant.
Sadly, the smaller enclosure does mean you’ll need to charge it more than its big brothers, and it’s more expensive than the base iPad despite being smaller.
7. Kindle Oasis: Best e-Reader
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.
- Read our Kindle Oasis (2019 model) review
8. Amazon Fire HD 10: Best cheap Android tablet
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
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
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.