The best tablet for your needs can be tricky to find, whether you’re looking to stock the kids with cheap, durable tablets for school, or you just want a nice second screen next to your couch.
To help you decide which tablet is right for you, we test all the best devices in our lab and in the real world. Overall, Amazon tablets are great for kids and anyone on a budget. The iPad is best suited for students and creative professionals, especially with the M1 chip and improved displays in Apple’s 2021 iPad Pro.
Without further ado, here are the best tablets you can buy right now based on our hands-on testing and reviews. Now that November is here, we’ve rounded up the best Black Friday deals! With the addition of the M1, the iPad Air 2022 is nearly as good as the iPad Pro. That doesn’t mean the Air is now a replacement for the Pro, but the power gap is much smaller. That, along with its relatively affordable starting price, could make the new iPad Air more attractive than the iPad Pro for budget shoppers who still want the best iPad their money can buy.
All in all, the latest iPad Air is a nearly perfect tablet. While there’s still room for improvement, it’s hard to put down this sleek and powerful tablet. This is arguably the best tablet for most people. The iPad 2022 is a tablet that looks and feels like new, and it’s a welcome change over the past few iterations. We appreciate the sleeker design and larger display, although some may miss the headphone jack on the 9th generation iPad. We also like the Touch ID-enabled power button, repositioned front camera and USB-C charging, as well as the upgraded A14 Bionic chip and 5G connectivity.
However, $449 is a lot of money to spend on this tablet. Yes, Apple is holding onto the $329 9th-gen iPad, but it’s still frustrating to see the $120 jump from one generation to the next. Our big problem is with the Apple Pencil situation; it’s just too inconvenient to charge this thing, and there’s nowhere to store the stylus when not in use.
Do we think the 2022 iPad is worth spending money over last year’s model? Mainly because it is a more promising tablet. Overall, the 10th generation iPad is one of the best tablets out there, but we can’t unequivocally say it’s the best tablet for most people due to the higher price and the Apple Pencil bug. The Galaxy Tab S8 is good at many things, but it’s best as a premium Android tablet. You can use it to get work done in a pinch, but in my experience it’s best used as a fast all-rounder to make work and play more enjoyable. On the couch, it’s great for gaming or reading comics, and at work, it’s a delight to use as a note-taking device or secondary display, especially if you take the trouble to invest in the Galaxy ecosystem and make your workspace DeX-friendly.
For many customers, price is a big deal, so Amazon could do without the $50 Fire 7 tablet. Luckily, the latest version of the company’s cheapest tablet has a fast 1.3GHz quad-core processor that helps you navigate apps and surf the web faster than you’d expect from such a cheap tablet. And while previous Fire tablets made you tap to activate Alexa – which didn’t make sense, it had to be called by your voice – the Fire 7 finally added voice triggers for the digital assistant.
Just don’t expect any of the frills that come with more expensive tablets. The Fire 7’s sub-HD screen isn’t sharp enough for those used to iPads, and its lock screen is filled with ads unless you pay extra. However, it’s a great choice for kids looking for a media viewing device. Sometimes it takes a second try to get things right. Surface Go 2 takes aim at all the shortcomings of its predecessor and fixes them all. First, thinner bezels are giving way to a larger screen, arguably the most important part of a tablet. Surface Go 2 has a 10.5-inch display compared to the previous model’s 10-inch screen.
The biggest upgrade is 11 hours and 39 minutes of Surface Go 2 battery life, over 5 hours more than the original Surface Go. Microsoft has also answered my prayers for a laptop with a great webcam. The 5-megapixel 1080p camera on the top bezel is great for the age of online video calls, while a second front camera sensor adds biometric Windows Hello login. Finally, get the Surface Go 2 with the 8th gen Intel Core m3 upgrade, it’s a little pricey at $629, but it’s definitely a multitasking model.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra ($1,099) is the first tablet that casts a literal shadow over the iPad Pro. With its ginormous 14.6-inch OLED display, this Android slate makes the 12.9-inch iPad Pro seem cute by comparison. And with the optional keyboard attachment and improved multi-window mode, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra could potentially replace a laptop.
Samsung is clearly targeting hybrid and at-home workers with the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, as it packs dual front cameras with support to up to 4K resolution for video calls as well as auto framing for keeping you in the frame as you move around. Plus, there’s advanced noise reduction to make sure you come through loud and clear.
Other highlights of the Tab S8 Ultra include a fast Snapdragon 8 Gen-1 chip, a low-latency S Pen experience, 45W fast charging and improved integration with Galaxy S series phones.
At $1,099, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra commands a heck of a premium. But it delivers an intoxicating blend of size, speed and versatility that makes it one of the best Android tablets on the market.Take almost everything we know and love about the iPad Air, but shrink it down to a size and weight that’s super-easy to use with just one hand and you have the iPad mini 6 (2021), which may be the iPad you’ve been waiting for. It has the Apple Pencil 2 support with the flat-edged design, the much-smaller bezels and nearly everything else we love about an iPad. Currently, Amazon has the market cornered on sub-10-inch tablets with the pricing of its Fire slates, but the new iPad mini gives quality-focused folks an alternative worth investing in.
On top of that, you’ve got the super-fast A15 Bionic system-on-chip, which outpaces the iPad Air and every non-Pro iPad out there. Its display is also super bright (over 500 nits of brightness), plus surprisingly good sound for a device this small. Oh, and speaking of outperforming its size, the iPad mini 6 has terrific battery life. The only thing that isn’t small about the iPad mini 6? Its $499 price tag is a bit higher than the normal iPad, but it’s another case of “you get what you pay for.”The 12.9-inch iPad Pro may have the better screen, but the 11-inch iPad Pro is arguably better for more people. Not only is its battery life fantastic — over 13 hours on the Tom’s Guide Battery Test — but it’s lighter and fits better with last year’s Magic Keyboard. Plus, it’s $300 less expensive. On top of that, you get the astonishing speed of the Apple M1 chip, which is maybe too powerful for most tablet apps, but they call it the iPad Pro for a reason — this is made for the folks using demanding video and image editing apps.
Of course, the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 still thrives at the little things. Its bright and colorful display is sharp, its four speakers provide much larger sound than you might expect from such a thin device and. And if you’re willing to pony up the cash its amazing (optional) Magic Keyboard offers the simplest and smoothest tablet typing experience there is. The best got better this year, as Apple dropped its super-powerful M1 chip inside the already mighty iPad Pro 2021. That chip sets new tablet records in Geekbench and Adobe Premiere Rush — continuing Apple’s tradition of putting tons of brawn in its sleek tablets. And this 12.9-inch model benefits from Apple’s Liquid Retina XDR display, which offers much higher brightness — up to 1588 nits! Also, Apple’s got a new video conferencing trick called Center Stage, where the camera tracks and follows you as you move during calls.
Oh, and the basics are still stellar. Its quad-speaker setup booms, its optional Magic Keyboard offers a comfortable typing experience — and its battery life is better than last year’s (lasting hours longer than the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus). That said, the super-bright XDR display needs HDR content to thrive, and that’s not always available — as the likes of Hulu and HBO Max have yet to adopt it. Also, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 is more expensive than the MacBook Air (and heavier when docked with its Magic Keyboard). But, still, the iPad Pro 2021 is worth it for creative pros who want the best tablet for their next masterpiece. The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is the latest in the company’s line of 2-in-1 Surface Pro tablets. This iteration includes an 11th generation Intel CPU, a 13-inch 120Hz display, two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a removable SSD. Just as important, you’ll get Windows 11 right out of the box with this 2-in-1. While you’ll probably want to pay extra for the detachable keyboard and Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus accessories, even if you don’t this is the best Windows 11 tablet you can buy right now.
Its small size and lightweight design make the Surface Pro 8 ideal to use at home or on the road. The front-facing and rear cameras are also fantastic, providing clean detailed images. Unfortunately, the Surface Pro 8 disappoints as a gaming device and didn’t live up to the promised 16 hours of battery life in our testing. Despite some
The Lenovo Yoga Tab 13 is an entertainment-focused Android tablet with an impressive 13-inch display and quality speakers that can make you feel like you’re watching movies and shows on a proper TV, instead of a bulky tablet. Playing games is a delight too, thanks to the speedy Snapdragon 870 processor and 8GB of memory. The slate can even act as a secondary monitor for your laptop or tablet, giving its 2K screen a bit of extra versatility.
Though great at what it does, it’s not the most portable device out there. It’s also all but impossible to find a protective cover due to its unusual design. The lack of 5G support is also a letdown, as is the lack of a headphone jack. Still, if you’re looking for an entertainment-focused tablet that you don’t plan to cart around much, the Yoga Tab 13 is a good choice.
If you’re a writer who loves pen and paper, you know that the iPad and its Apple Pencil don’t really feel right. That’s where the reMarkable tablets have jumped into the fray, offering a real-feeling writing experience, with a unique screen technology that uses digital paper and the Marker stylus, which feels more authentic when you press its nib against the screen. The reMarkable 2, however, is a much more seductive device, now measuring a sleek 0.2 inches and ditching its plastic frame for a sleeker metallic chassis.
Oh, and it’s not just a notebook. Your documents sync to the cloud so you can read them on iPhones, iPads, PCs, Macs and Android. The reMarkable 2 also translates your handwriting to editable text, so you can share your notes with your whole team, or turn your draft ideas into a manuscript. And its two weeks of battery life means you can just leave it on your coffee table, for when inspiration strikes, rather than keep it plugged in all the time.
Android tablets don’t have the strongest track record, but on hardware, Samsung’s caught up with the iPad with the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. This excellent tablet has a ton of battery life — lasting over 12 hours on a single charge — and offers a sleek design with a bright screen and solid sound. This all ties together for a tablet that’s great for consuming content on. The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite’s thin bezels help it stand out from the mid-range tablet crowd even further, making it look more like the iPad Pro than the iPad. Oh, and the S-Pen stylus, which offers low-latency drawing, is included by default, and it snaps to the top of the Tab S6 Lite, so you’re less likely to lose it.
Performance-wise, though, the Tab S6 Lite won’t be blowing people away if they try to multitask. There’s also the matter of Android tablet apps, which still could use more love and care from their developers.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021) takes an already-good tablet and applies incremental upgrades, such as a slightly brighter screen, 1GB more RAM and a smaller, lighter design. While it probably isn’t a must-have for anyone who bought the 2019 model, it’s a good demonstration of Amazon’s ability to put out a value-driven slate that’s good enough for many.
If you think you’ll be irritated by slight lags in performance, you should consider spending an extra $30 to get the $179 Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus, arguably the best Amazon tablet ever. That said, the Fire HD 10 (2021) is still going to be great for the folks who are looking for a device to casually peruse the internet, read e-books, and watch video. This keeps the Fire HD 10’s spot among the best Android tablets out there, and one of the best tablets you can buy — especially if you’re on a budget. Its biggest flaws, though, are nothing new. Most notably, Amazon’s Fire OS is still app-challenged, missing the Google Play app store — which means you can’t get the full YouTube experience, for example, and you’ll miss out on a lot of great apps not available on Amazon’s app store.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 is a great tablet for certain needs. Its bright screen and epic 13+ hours of battery life make it great for consuming content, and its reversible USB-C port is a feature we wish was in the cheaper Fire 7 tablet. On top of that, this $90 tablet is good enough at everything else — decent audio, OK performance — for its price that I can’t deny how many will find it a great value. I also found its front camera surprisingly crisp when I snapped some selfies while writing the review, as more expensive laptops have much worse webcams.
That being said, anyone who wants the completeness of the Google Play Android app store or the iPad’s iOS app store might feel a little ticked off at Amazon. The lack of Google’s own apps, which you need to sideload to use, is frustrating to folks who don’t like to use inferior web-based versions of those apps.
How to choose the best tablet for you
Start by thinking about the operating system you live in, which means opening your pocket and thinking about how much you rely on your smartphone. iPhone owners may jump straight to the 7th Gen iPad or iPad Pro, and they’d be right to do so — iMessage integration and the shared app ecosystems across iOS and iPadOS are an ideal combination. But if the iPad Pro is too expensive and the 7th Gen iPad isn’t powerful enough, the iPad Air’s faster CPU makes it the iPad to definitely consider, though I can’t blame budget-conscious shoppers for going with the regular iPad.
Android folks have a wider set of options, but since Android apps aren’t thriving on tablets as much as anyone would hope, this is a good time to consider all of your options. Yes the Galaxy Tab S6 has a fantastic screen and Android apps, but isn’t Windows 10 a more capable platform? If you’re nodding your head “yes,” then the Surface Go 2 is the best tablet for you. That all being said, if you’ve got a big enough family, and you’re all living in the Amazon Prime ecosystem, go for the Fire 7 if you’re trying to fit to a budget, and the Fire HD 10 if you are tired of devices that don’t have USB-C.
How we test tablets
First, we run as many benchmarks as that tablet will allow, to see how fast they are in ways that can be compared directly against competitors. We say “will allow” as some tablets, like Amazon’s Fire slates, have trouble with side-loaded Android apps. We then use colorimeters and light meters to measure how colorful and bright these tablets’ screens can get. After that, we put them through our in-house battery test, which times how long it takes — while surfing the web with brightness at 150 nits — to drain a tablet of a charge.
After that, we do the same things you do — browse the web, watch YouTube, play games, compose emails — and then a lot more. We try and write some (or all) of our tablet reviews on the tablets we’re testing, if there’s a keyboard for it that is. Nobody wants to write a magnum opus on a glass screen, trust me.
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