Best tablet 2018: the top slates tested and ranked

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It’s November and the list of best tablets in 2018 is topped by devices from Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Asus and Huawei, which feature big screens in small packages and 2-in-1 versatility.

The best tablets available today are ready to be part-time laptop replacements for plenty of people. At the least, this means a nice keyboard and software features you’d find on desktops or a traditional laptop. They have to be portable and light, yet powerful enough for your workflow.

Apple's iPad Pro with iOS 12 takes the lead thanks to its strong app ecosystem, but there are some incredible Android tablets, too. The best Windows tablet also makes a showing on our top 10 tablets list.

Our tablet rankings are based on several geeked-out factors including performance, battery life and screen quality, though price plays an all-important role in the final verdict. This means some tablets that are better on paper, like Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 over the Tab S3, are dinged for offering less value. 

Here’s a list of the best tablets you can buy today, though new contenders can (and do) shift our rankings. Now that Apple has introduced the redesigned iPad Pro 11 and iPad Pro 12.9 slates, for example, we expect it to take a high spot after we’ve reviewed them. 

  • Best Android Tablet: US / UK | Best Cheap Tablet: US / UK

iPad Pro 10.5

iPad Pro 10.5

1. iPad Pro 10.5

Apple's latest flagship tablet is our favorite

Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 10.5-inch | Resolution: 1668 x 2224 | CPU: A10X Fusion | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 8,134mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Great speakers
512GB version
Screen adds a lot of expense
iOS still isn't a good laptop replacement

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch is best for anyone who wants a serious tablet upgrade, even though the cheaper iPad 9.7 remains good enough for most people.

Apple's iPad Pro 10.5 has standout features that give it a productivity boost, including Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard compatibility. With iOS 11 on board this tablet is even a suitable laptop replacement for certain consumers.

The new ProMotion screen adds an impressive layer of fluidity to daily use and the smaller bezels means you're getting far more display in a footprint not much bigger than the iPad Pro 9.7.

It's an iPad for the professionals - but also one that media munchers will adore using.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 10.5

New iPad (2018)

New iPad (2018)

2. New iPad (2018)

The best iPad for anyone looking for the basics

Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5 mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: A10 Fusion | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: TBC | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Good screen quality
Powerful for the price
Apple Pencil costs extra
No 256GB option

For most people on a budget, the best tablet you can buy right now is the new iPad (2018). Much like the 2017 edition, you'll get okay internals, a crisp 9.7-inch display and a lower price tag than all of the iPad Pro models.

Inside there's an A10 Fusion chipset, which won't blow away the iPad Pro models, but this one comes with Apple Pencil support, which brings it a touch closer to the top-end products in the iPad range.

You've got the choice of either 32GB or 128GB of storage, but there's no 256GB option, which is worth bearing in mind if you wanted to pack this tablet full of media to take away and watch or play with when you're on the go.

Everything about the new iPad (2018) adds up, and while it may not come with the top-end features of the iPad Pro it's so much cheaper that many people who just want to browse the internet and watch movies are going to be suitably happy with this.

Read the full review: New iPad (2018)

iPad Pro 12.9

iPad Pro 12.9

3. iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)

Apple’s super-sized tablet is ready for multitasking

Weight: 677g | Dimensions: 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9 mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2048 x 2732 | CPU: A10X Fusion | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 10,891mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Huge, bright 12.9-inch screen
iOS 11 is filled with tablet-focused perks
Expensive at any level
Dimensions make it cumbersome

This is the biggest and, to some, represents the best iPad that Apple makes. It's fast, powerful and a visual treat thanks to its fluid ProMotion screen with lots of feedback. That makes it ideal for multitasking and the Apple Pencil.

Of course, that Apple Pencil, the Smart Keyboard Cover and new 512GB size all cost more than most people want to pay. 

It also has the same specs as the 10.5-inch version. This makes the iPad Pro 12.9 ideal for media professionals who want to be productive and entertained by a giant iPad display.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

4. Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

A top Android tablet, now with a lower price

Weight: 429g | Dimensions: 237.3 x 169 x 6mm | OS: Android Oreo | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Snapdragon 820 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB | microSD slot: Yes, up to 400GB | Battery: 6,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Includes the S-Pen stylus for free
HDR-ready future-proofed screen
Keyboard is a costly extra
Tablet multitasking can't replace laptops

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 may have been super-ceded by the Galaxy Tab S4, but with its lower price and more stable, simple approach it still comes in on top of the newer model.

It has a HDR screen for the ultimate contrast ratio, four speakers that sound as good as those on all the iPad Pro models and there's an S Pen stylus that's included in the box. You won't get a free keyboard cover though, which if you buy on top of the tablet helps make it a good on-the-go productivity tool.

The HDR-enabled 9.7-inch screen is also pretty useful, given that there are a lot of services out there using the improved quality - you can now get Netflix in premium color and brightness quality, for instance.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

iPad mini 4

iPad mini 4

5. iPad mini 4

The best small-screen tablet

Weight: 299g | Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: A8 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB/64GB/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 5,124mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Brilliant screen
Sleek design
Older chipset
No 3D touch

The best 7-inch tablet at the moment is definitely the iPad mini 4. If you like the look of Apple's new iPad 9.7 (2018) and the iPad Pro range, but find them a) too big, b) too expensive or c) both, then you're in luck as the diminutive iPad mini 4 gives you the best of Apple's tablet world in a form factor that's not only beautiful, but highly portable.

It lacks the Pro features of a keyboard or Pencil support (the latter would be really nice to have on this smaller display), but overall it's got a decent screen upgrade and more than enough power to enjoy every day.

Read the full review: iPad mini 4

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

6. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

A promising 2-in-1 but it's not perfect... yet

Weight: 482g | Dimensions: 249.3 x 164.3 x 7.1mm | OS: Android 8.1 | Screen size: 10.5-inch | Resolution: 1600 x 2560 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/256GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 7,300mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

Comes with S Pen stylus in box
Large 10.5 inch screen is great
Destop DeX interface needs work
Keyboard design is unintuitive

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is an upgrade over the Galaxy Tab S3 with an expanded 10.5-inch screen size and longer battery life, but it comes at a higher price and with a lofty promise to do so much more. 

We really like the idea behind Samsung Dex for its desktop interface, but it's non-touch-friendly UI, performance issues, and questionable optional keyboard case prevent it from being a true desktop replacement.

If you're looking for a premium Android tablet the Galaxy Tab S4 tops the billing, but it promises more than that and just doesn't deliver on everything. Don't get us wrong, the Tab S4 is indeed better than the Tab S3, but the value just isn't there for the money.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Microsoft Surface Pro 

Microsoft Surface Pro 

7. Microsoft Surface Pro

The Windows tablet that can replace your Windows laptop

Weight: 768g/770g/784g | Dimensions: 292 x 201 x 8.5mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size: 12.3-inch | Resolution: 1824 x 2736 | CPU: Intel Core m3, i5 or i7 | RAM: 4GB/8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: up to 13.5 hours video playback | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Improved Surface Pen
Integrated kickstand
No Surface Pen in package
Not as powerful as some rivals until Core i7

Can a tablet really replace your laptop or home PC? That's still up for debate, but the best tablet trying to make that happen is the Microsoft Surface Pro. We’re surprised Microsoft has refrained from calling this the Surface Pro 5, as it's a big upgrade on the 4 - although it is rather expensive, like many tablets in this list.

It does a fine job with the full blown version of Windows 10, an integrated kickstand and optional keyboard attachment. 

Great for for creative professionals, students and everyday folks alike, this is a top choice and one of the best Windows laptops we've reviewed.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro

Asus ZenPad 3S 10

Asus ZenPad 3S 10

8. Asus ZenPad 3S 10

A cheaper Android tablet that's worth looking at

Weight: 430g | Dimensions: 240.5 x 163.7 x 7.2mm | OS: Android Nougat | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: MediaTek MT8176 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | microSD slot: Yes, up to 256GB | Battery: 5,900mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Strong, hi-res display
Swift response
Mediocre battery life
Not great build quality

With an iPad-like design, the Asus ZenPad 3S 10 is something of a direct rival to Apple's best tablets if you want something with an alternative operating system.

The screen is sharp and bright, and the power is decent - if not a well-known chipset running things. It's worth noting it's running Android Nougat software though, and Asus has yet to tell us if or when it'll get the latest Android Oreo upgrade.

The battery life and build quality aren't quite up to Apple's standards, but then again, neither is the price - a good option if you want a larger screen for less.

Read our full review: Asus ZenPad 3S 10

New iPad (2017)

New iPad (2017)

9. iPad (2017)

Another great iPad if you're after the basics

Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: A9 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 8,827mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Beautiful 9.7-inch screen
Cheaper than predecessor
Thicker than Air 2
No 256GB option

It may have now been replaced by the higher tech new iPad (2018), but the 2017 edition of Apple's iPad product is still a great buy and if you don't want to spend much it's a great choice for your next tablet.

You don't get to use an Apple Pencil with this slate, but it comes with a crisp 9.7-inch display and punchy A9 power. You can't buy it directly from Apple anymore, but we've still seen it on sale from third-party retailers in certain areas around the world.

There's no 16GB model, with this iPad kicking things off at a more reasonable 32GB, and if you need more space you can always opt for the 128GB variant.

Read the full review: iPad (2017)

Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4

Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4

10. Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4

A very good Android alternative to the iPad mini

Weight: 316g | Dimensions: 212.6 x 124.8 x 7.3 mm | OS: Android Oreo | Screen size: 8.4-inch | Resolution: 1600 x 2560 | CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 960 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB/128GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 5,100mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

Sharp screen and design
Super-loud stereo speakers
Poor gaming performance
Pedestrian rear camera

The Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4 has been one of our favorite Android tablets ever since its debut in early 2018, and it's an especially great slate if you're looking for a multimedia option that can be held in one hand.

It has a brilliant-looking 8.4-inch screen, a fashionable slim design and booming Hi-Fi stereo speakers. 

Plus the price for this one is low and makes it one of the more affordable options on this list. Take a look at this Huawei tablet if you're looking for an all-round impressive Android device.

Read the full review: Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4

Tablet apps

As with today's best smartphones, 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.