Best tablet for 2015: our top 10 ranking

List of tablets to buy from Apple and Google

10 best tablets in the US today

The best tablets of 2015 have maximized the mobile experience, from Apple's dominating iPad to Google's Nexus series of slates.

And it's more than just iOS 8 and Android devices, unlike the best smartphones. Windows often plays a limited role with its larger laptop-replacements if that's what you need, often from Lenovo and Asus.

All of our top picks posses even more versatility. Tablets for work by day have to be able to turn into tablets for kids by night, whether they're 7 or 9.7 or 12.2 inches.

Just as important, they feature wider price ranges, more efficient processors, longer battery life and thinner and lighter designs for 2015 than years past.

iPad Air 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab S, and Google Nexus 9 get that right more than ever, especially as iOS 8 and Android 5.0 Lollipop make the best tablets even better.

10. iPad Air

best tablet 2014 in the US

Apple's pencil-thin tablet was spectacular a year ago and it's still one of the top tablets to own even though it's been usurped by the newer iPad Air 2.

It's no slouch in performance thanks to the one-step-behind A7 processor and its 9.7-inch screen boasts the same 2048 x 1536-pixel resolution at 264 ppi. It's just not laminated.

That may be an okay compromise for a price that's $100 cheaper compared to the iPad Air's Touch ID-enabled and sub-pencil-thin successor.

In fact, you can find it iPad Air on sale for even cheaper at major retailers like Walmart. With the iOS 8 upgrade in place, there's no shame in going the "cheaper" $400 route.

Quick verdict

"It's not just Apple's best tablet, it's the only tablet you should be considering if you're keen on a larger screen." That's what we said in the verdict of our in-depth iPad Air review. While the Galaxy Tab S is a brilliant tablet, the Air just took things to the next level.

It may not quite be a match for the iPad Air 2, but the original iPad Air is still one of the very best tablets around and it's not even among the most expensive any more.

best tablet 2014 in the US

9. Google Nexus 7

The smallest tablet worth buying right now is the 7-inch Nexus 7 that came out in 2013. It's a small tablet that made big improvements over the Nexus 7 2012.

Even at just 0.57 lbs. (260g), it packs reasonable specs like a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and either 16GB or our suggested 32GB of internal storage.

The ASUS-made Nexus 7 barely fits into our American-made non-skinny jeans pocket, unlike its successor, the larger and Nexus 9 that has a boxier 4:3 aspect ratio.

Nexus 7 is 16:9, making its widescreen 1920 x 1200 display with 323 ppi ideal for everything from movies to games while on the go.

Update: It's not being sold by Google anymore, but you can buy Amazon's Nexus 7 deal for under $200 makes it compact in more ways than one.

Quick verdict

If you're considering a tablet now and are already dabbling in the Android ecosystem, we see no reason why shouldn't take the plunge with a Nexus 7, especially if you don't like the size (or price) of the Nexus 9.

If you haven't invested at all with Android, you're still in a good place to start. You could check out the iPad mini 2, which is advisable for those who have racked up a lot of App Store purchases, but it's still not as affordable as the Nexus 7.

8. Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2

best tablet 2014 in the US

From small to really, really big, the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 maximizes the display size spectrum among tablets, and too big for some people is just right for others.

The specs don't compromise either. A 2.3GHz quadcore processor, 3GB of RAM and S Pen make it productive for business as well as digital artists who values bright screens.

As the biggest tablet we've reviewed, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 comes up short on build quality due to the larger chassis. But that's offset by the expanse of screen to play with.

Quick verdict

Its big screen and S Pen support make the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 an extremely useful productivity tool - if you're a fan of the Note range, there's very little better on the market and Samsung seems to be successfully convincing the world that the stylu... sorry, S Pen is still relevant to today's gadget fans.

7. iPad mini 2

best tablet 2014 in the US

There's hardly a gap between the iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3 features, and that's reflected in our best tablets of 2015 list, as both Apple two smaller slates are right next to each other.

What's the difference? Aside from the Touch ID, gold color and the lack of a 32GB model, the iPad mini 2 with a Retina display is identical, all the way down to iOS 8.

There's actually one other major "feature" increase: mini 2 is $100 cheaper than the mini 3. Most people can live without Apple's handy, but luxury fingerprint sensor on a tablet for that price.

Plus, you're more likely to find an iPad mini 2 $20 discount below the new $400 price. That's not going to happen for the iPad mini 3 until the iPad mini 4.

Quick verdict

The iPad mini 2 is almost flawless in so many ways. The rich App catalog mean it's a device that will grow with you, and the 64-bit A7 chip and Retina display are certainly future-proofing users from an outdated device.

Yes, it's older, but it's still a very usable device and offers access to a brilliant ecosystem for a lot less cash than before.