Best tablet 2016: The 10 top tabs ranked

Top tablets compared: which is best for you?

Update: iOS 10 has landed for the Apple tablets - and with Nougat on the way for most of the Android slates, the list is chock-full of interesting choices.

When Apple revolutionised the tablet category with the iPad, it was criticised for being a device designed for consumption rather than creation, despite it clearly being the best tablet around.

From Apple's larger iPad Pro to Android's Google Nexus and Samsung tablets, there's a lot of choice out there. And it's more than just iOS 10 and Android Marshmallow devices (with Android Nougat updates coming soon too), unlike the best smartphones - Windows makes an appearance too.

And with the arrival of even more powerful devices like the iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface Pro 4, that trend towards creation is only going to grow.

But it creates a new problem. With so many quality devices to choose from, how do you select which device is best for your needs?

Well, we've tried to make it easy for you to do just that with our round up of the best tablets of the moment available in Australia.

iPad Air 2

10. iPad Air 2

The iPad Air 2 is still a good choice

Weight: 437g | Dimensions: 2240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 9.3 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: IA8X | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: 7340mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Sleek design
Incredible app selection
Lacks some iPad Pro features

Until the iPad Pro 9.7, this was the best tablet in the world. Even though it has been replaced by Apple, it's still a brilliant tablet that has further raised the bar for the rest of the competition in terms of build quality, features and performance.

The best part is this is now cheaper thanks to the release of the iPad Pro 9.7. Apple's range of tablet-optimised apps and a slick user interface makes the iPad Air 2 extremely versatile while also being incredibly easy, and enjoyable, to use.

Read the full review: iPad Air 2

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

9. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

The tablet that can replace your laptop

Weight: 766g/786g | Dimensions: 292.10 x 201.42 x 8.45mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size: 12.3-inch | Resolution: 2,736 x 1,824 | CPU: Various | RAM: 4GB/8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: up to 9 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Larger, sharper screen
Vastly improved Type Cover
Battery life hasn't improved much
Expensive

Smart iteration is exactly what the Surface Pro 4 needed to finally make good on Microsoft's mission that tablets can be laptops, and it's delivered just that in spades.

Though it suffered a rough start in 2016 due to faulty power management, a recent firmware update has apparently revolved that problem entirely, making it one of the finest 2-in-1s on the market.

It can work for creative professionals, students and everyday folks alike, but is this finally the tablet to replace your laptop? That's still debatable, though the Pro 4 has surmounted more of what's running against it than ever before.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Sony Xperia Tablet Z3 Compact

8. Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Small but perfectly formed

Weight: 270g | Dimensions: 213.4 x 123.6 x 6.4mm | OS: Android OS, v5.0.2 | Screen size: 8.0-inch | Resolution: 1200 x 1920 | CPU: Quad-core 2.5GHz | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 4500mAh | Rear camera: 8.1MP | Front camera: 2.2MP

Great battery life
Very thin and light
Screen sharpness beaten by others
Not incredible value

Sony's gone a bit crackers in the naming department, but the Z3 Tablet Compact is still a decent device despite the obvious attempts to shoehorn the word 'tablet' into the title to align it with the smartphone.

Let's get the main issue out of the way: the screen isn't as high res as the competition, and the price isn't as palatable as some of the other options here.

But that looks past the fact Sony is pretty darn good at making these here tablets. Using its Bravia technology it makes the screen still look sharp and colourful, and the thin design makes the Z3 Tablet Compact easier to hold than you'd expect. Oh, and it's also waterproof.

Read the full review: Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

best tablet 2016

7. Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

A great tablet option for the media-minded

Weight: 667g | Dimensions: 246 x 179 x 4.6mm | OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop | Screen size: 10.1 inches | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600 | CPU: Intel Atom x 5-Z8500, quad-core | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 10,200mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Hidden projector
Beautiful screen
Huge battery
Decent performance

Most tablets are very similar to one another, but not the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro. It sits in its own sub-category of Android tablets that try and succeed at being weird, yet awesome.

This tablet has all of the usual amenities that one desires in a 2016 tablet, such as 2,560 x 1600 display and a huge 10,200mAh battery. But this tablet also houses a hidden projector that can splash the screen onto a wall for night-time viewing. Cool, right? It's novel, but actually useful.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

iPad Pro

6. iPad Pro

Apple's biggest slate isn't its best, but it's not far off either

Weight: 713g | Dimensions: 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm | OS: iOS 9.1 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2048 x 2732 | CPU: Dual-core 2.26 GHz | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB | Battery: 10,307mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Expansive screen
Hugely powerful
Powerfully huge
Battery life could be longer

The iPad Pro is Apple's biggest and most powerful tablet yet, with a 12.9-inch screen, an A9X processor and 4GB of RAM.

That big screen combined with four great speakers make it a media powerhouse and if you splash out for the Apple Pencil or Smart Keyboard you can get serious work done on it too.

The size and weight won't be for everyone and the price certainly won't be, but the iPad Pro is an accomplished slate for everything from gaming and movies, to drawing and typing. It's not quite a laptop replacement, but it's the closest you'll to that this side of a Surface Pro.

Read the full review: iPad Pro

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

5. Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

Lighter, faster, waterproof… this is a real iPad Air 2 rival

Weight: 389g | Dimensions: 254 x 167 x 6.1 mm | OS: Android 5.0 | Screen size: 10.1-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: octa-core | RAM: 3GB of RAM | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 6000mAh | Rear camera: 8.1MP | Front camera: 5.1MP

Gorgeous display
New improved design
Problematic UI
High price tag

Sony's Xperia Z4 Tablet is one of the best Android tablets available on the market and it's one of the few capable of putting up a fight against the iPad Air 2.

It's got a lovely screen, lightweight design, all the Sony elements you'd look for and the right power combination to keep it on the front foot.

The waterproof design makes it a more attractive proposition over the less robust slates on the market, although the UI isn't the slickest and the price tag is one of the highest.

Read the full review: Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

iPad mini 4

4. iPad mini 4

The best small-screen tablet

Weight: 299g | Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 9.1 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Dual-core 1.5 GHz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: 5124mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Brilliant screen
Sleek design
Older processor
No 3D Touch

The iPad mini 3 might have been a disappointment but Apple more than made up for it with the iPad mini 4. With its sleek design, fairly powerful processor and stunning screen it's everything the mini 3 should have been.

It's still slightly less powerful than the iPad Air 2 and a lot less powerful than the iPad Pro, but it's also cheaper than them and it's one of the highest-spec compact slates around.

So if you want an Apple tablet in a smaller package than is offered by the Air 2 then this is the best in the business and with Touch ID and iOS 9 it's slick and feature-packed too.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

The best iPad rival around

Weight: 256g/389g | Dimensions: 198.6 x 134.8 x 5.6mm/237.3 x 169 x 5.6mm | OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 8.0-inch/9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Octa-core | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 4000mAh/5870mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2.1MP

Thinner, lighter design
MicroSD card slot
Small specs upgrade
Camera is mediocre

There are plenty of reasons to invest in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 - especially if you're after the best Android tablet on the market.

It's reading and web surfing-friendly, while the new 4:3 screen and general size and shape is better suited for most things. Videos work better on its predecessor thanks to the more elongated aspect ratio - but they don't exactly look bad here.

You can pick the Tab S2 up in 8-inch and 9.7-inch variants, to challenge Apple's iPad and iPad Mini ranges, with the smaller option being more portable and cheaper.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Google Pixel C

2. Google Pixel C

The best Android Tablet around

Weight: 517g | Dimensions: 242 x 179 x 7mm | OS: Android Marshmallow | Screen size: 10.2-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1800 | CPU: Tegra X1 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP

Fantastic Screen
Premium Design
Heavy
Keyboard is pricey option

Google's done it – it's made the best Android tablet around. The Pixel C has it all: a fantastic display, heaps of power and a premium design.

Okay, it's not quite got it all - it's a little on the heavy side and the pricey (yet rather clever) keyboard dock isn't fully utilised by the Android interface which is made very much for touch and not physical keys and productivity.

The Pixel C just misses out on top spot to the iPad Air 2, which has an even more desirable design and a fleet of tablet optimised applications for a more complete experience.

Read the full review: Google Pixel C

iPad Pro 9 7

1. iPad Pro 9.7

A brilliant tablet that brings power to portability

Weight: 437g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 9.3 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: A9X | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32/128/256GB | Battery: TBC | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

Great speakers
Pencil and keyboard support
Pricey with accessories
Not as much RAM as larger iPad Pro

The best tablet you can buy right now is the iPad Pro 9.7 - the smaller screen with powerful innards is the best combination on the market.

While there are plenty of brilliant Android tablets around at the moment, the new iPad offers a lot of the power of the larger iPad Pro, along with the Smart Keyboard and Pencil support, but brings it in a much more bag-and-palm friendly size. The price could be a real obstacle for many, but for anyone needing a touchscreen device that can do some pretty intense computing, this is hard to go past.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 9.7

Essential apps

Best apps

As with today's best phones, applications play a big role on tablets – once you've decided which of these tablets is right for you, check out our top app lists so you can get your fill of Temple Run, update your friends on Facebook and read the latest news, all on a bigger screen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Editor (Australia)

Nick (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Australian editor, covering all the latest news and reviews from the Great Southern Land. Having spent the past decade editing some of Australia's leading technology publications, Nick's passion for the latest gadgetry is matched only by his love of watching Australia beat England in the rugby.