Shopping for a new tablet? Here's why 2021 could be the best time to buy

(Image credit: Farknot Architect / Shutterstock)

Global demand for tablets surged last year as employees and students around the world made the transition to working from home and studying online during the pandemic. 

However, buying a new iPad or tablet this year will likely become increasingly difficult according to new data from AksjeBloggen.

Before the pandemic, tablets were losing ground to smartphones for multiple years in row. For instance, the entire tablet market generated $44.6bn in revenue in 2016 based on data from Statista but over the next three years, this figure fell to $39.91bn.

Statista's data also shows that global tablet revenues are expected to drop by 5.9 percent year-over-year and hit $37.5bn in 2021. This trend is expected to continue for the next few years as well with revenues falling by additional $3.2bn by 2025.

The US is currently the world's largest tablet market and it is expected to generate $9.5bn in revenue this year, down from $10bn in 2020. At the same time, Chinese revenues are forecast to drop by three percent year-over-year to $5.4bn in 2021. However, Japan is set to witness the largest drop among the top three tablet markets with revenues falling by 9.5 percent year-over-year to $2.5bn in 2021.

Top tablet vendors

According to data from IDC, Apple remained the leading vendor in the global tablet market with 53.2m shipments in 2020 which is up from 49.9m in 2019. However, statistics show that Apple's market share dropped from 34.6 percent in 2019 to 32.5 percent last year.

Samsung retained its spot as the number two global tablet maker and the Korean tech giant recorded 44 percent shipment growth last year. During 2019, the company shipped 21.7m tablets worldwide but this figure surged to 31.3m during the pandemic. At the same time though, Samsung also introduced the Galaxy Tab S6 5G last year, making it the first vendor to bring 5G connectivity to tablets.

When it came to the most impressive sales growth during the pandemic, the fourth-largest global notebook vendor Lenovo saw sales of its tablets increase significantly and the company shipped 14.1m tablets in 2020 representing a 66 percent increase in a single year.

While tablet sales surged during the pandemic, they will likely begin to fall now that more employees are returning to the office and students are going back to in-person learning. This means that if you're a tablet user looking for an upgrade, now would be the time to do so as global tablet stock likely won't be replenished soon.

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.