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Best tablet 2021: the top tablets you can buy right now

Best tablet 2021
(Image credit: Apple)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best tablets needs to be entertainment machines, productivity powerhouses and slates that works for great for creativity. They also needs to bridge the gap between a smartphone and a small laptop, and luckily there are a great array of top tablets for you to choose from.

We've tested and reviewed the top products on the market, and here we've collected a list of the 10 very best tablets you can buy right now. All these products have to do the above while remaining easy to carry around, offer a strong battery life and look good.

Luckily, we've been able to try all the products you'll find below and rank them in terms of their features, how fast they are, the price, the display quality and every other metric you can think of.

We saw big changes to this list in 2020 with the introduction of a variety of new products, including the iPad Air 4 (2020). In 2021, we’ve already added the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro, and we're expecting to see new iPad products including a new iPad Pro, plus the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series and other Android competition.

Below you'll find our ranking of the very best tablets, and hopefully, you'll be able to find a slate that’s suited to you.

iPad Pro 11 (2018)

(Image credit: Apple)

1. iPad Pro 11 / iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

The best tablet you can buy right now

Specifications
Weight: 468g/632g
Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm/280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm
OS: iPadOS
Screen size: 11-inch/12.9-inch
Resolution: 2388 x 1668/2048 x 2732
CPU: A12X Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
microSD slot: No
Battery: 7,812mAh/9,720mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Pencil clips on, finally+Insane amount of power for a tablet
Reasons to avoid
-Software limits laptop experience-Pencil and keyboard expensive extras

The iPad Pro (2018) models take joint top spot in this list. They’re expensive for sure, but they’re exceedingly powerful and further the 2-in-1 design ethos if you spring for the keyboard cover folio. 

They have a laptop-like experience in design and performance, and the newer Apple Pencil magnetically clips onto the frame of these iPad Pros. With superb speakers and a great screen-to-body ratio, it's hard not to fall in love with the finely crafted hardware design. 

However, there are setbacks for the iPad Pro range that you should be aware of. iPadOS is better than previous versions of Apple's tablet software when you're trying to multitask and perform laptop-like tasks, but it is far from perfect.

Another strictly mobile challenge: these slates don't have a headphone jack. If you want the standard 3.5mm jack in a computer-like device, you'll want to spring for an actual computer or some other tablets.

Everything about the iPad Pro 11 and iPad Pro 12.9 make them the best tablet experiences if you're looking for an Apple-made slate though - you'll just need to swallow the high price and keep in mind that they’re not a true laptop replacement.

Be aware also that the iPad Pro (2020) range has now launched – so don’t be surprised if that takes this spot once we’ve put it through a full review.    

Read the full review: iPad Pro 11 (2018) | iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

iPad Air 4 (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

2. iPad Air 4 (2020)

Why go Pro when the Air is this good?

Specifications
Weight: 458g
Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm
OS: iPadOS 14
Screen size: 10.9-inch
Resolution: 1640 x 2360 pixels
CPU: A14 Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: Up to 10 hours
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+All-screen design+Lots of power
Reasons to avoid
-64GB storage is limited-Higher price than last-gen

The iPad Air 4 (2020) is arguably the best tablet for anyone who can’t quite justify splashing out on the very best, as it has many of the things that make the iPad Pro range great, but it costs less.

In fact, the iPad Air 4 (2020) actually has a newer A14 Bionic chipset. That’s what you’ll find in the iPhone 12 range, and it’s exceptionally powerful.

The iPad Air 4 (2020) also supports both the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, so it’s almost as good as a laptop replacement or general productivity device as an iPad Pro.

With good all-round specs too and a wide range of colors that you can buy it in, the iPad Air 4 (2020) is a great choice for a lot of people – though the cheapest model only comes with 64GB of storage, which won’t go far.

Read the full review: iPad Air 4 (2020)

iPad 10.2 (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

3. iPad 10.2 (2020)

Probably the best choice for most

Specifications
Weight: 490g
Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm
OS: iPadOS 14
Screen size: 10.2-inch
Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels
CPU: A12 Bionic
RAM: 3GB
Storage: 32/128GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: Up to 10 hours
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 1.2MP
Reasons to buy
+Excellent value+Strong performance
Reasons to avoid
-Very little change-Only 1.2MP selfie camera

The iPad 10.2 (2020) isn’t the most thrilling of updates, as it’s really only a modest improvement on 2019’s iPad 10.2, but it’s still an improvement, and that makes it the best 10.2-inch iPad you can buy, and also arguably the best cheap iPad.

You'll find its predecessor down below in this list, but this tablet comes with an A12 Bionic chipset that makes it quite a bit faster than the older model. It also have a 20W charger packaged in the box, which means it's much faster at charging than previous models.

All the same great features you'd expect from an iPad of this price return here including access to iPadOS software, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support as well as strong battery life.

Why shouldn't you buy it? The selfie camera is feeling a touch tired on the iPad 10.2, plus you shouldn't opt for the 32GB model if you want a lot of storage on your tablet. If you're okay with both those things, this is the best tablet for a lot of people.

Read the full review: iPad 10.2 (2020)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

(Image credit: Samsung)

4. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

Samsung's finest tablet yet

Specifications
Weight: 575g
Dimensions: 285 x 185 x 5.7 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 12.4-inch
Resolution: 1752 x 2800 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus
Storage: 128GB/256GB
microSD slot: Yes
Battery: 10,090mAh
Rear camera: 13MP + 5MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous OLED screen+Premium design
Reasons to avoid
-Android lacks quality tablet apps-High price

The first Android tablet on our list is the best tablet that Samsung has ever made, and it's a serious rival to the iPad Pro range that you've read about above.

In fact, its screen arguably has those slates beat, as it’s a 12.4-inch Super AMOLED one with a 2800 x 1752 resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. The iPad Pro range can match much of that, but those slates have LCD screens that aren't as good.

Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset, which is the most powerful you can get inside an Android product and it comes with a premium metal build that is incredibly slim with it only being 5.7mm thick.

Want high speed internet? A version of the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus also comes with 5G connectivity, and you'll get the Samsung S Pen stylus in the box for free. Android isn't as good as iPadOS is on tablets, but if you want an Android alternative to an iPad this could be it.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

iPad Mini (2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

5. iPad Mini (2019)

The best (and only) small tablet on our best tablet list

Specifications
Weight: 304g
Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1 mm
OS: iPadOS
Screen size: 7.9-inch
Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels
CPU: A12 Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: 5,124mAh
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Perfect portable size+Surprisingly powerful specs
Reasons to avoid
-Bezel-heavy design-Uses the older Apple Pencil

Apple doesn't have a foldable phone, but if it did it might look something like the iPad mini 2019 when unfolded. It hasn't really changed since the last version almost four years ago, but it doesn't need to: we love the small size.

You can flip open the smart cover, scribble some notes, and toss it in a bag without too much worry. 

Yes, the design is a little dated and there are thick bezels outlining this screen, but the price is right for a portable tablet with a lot of power. You really shouldn't consider buying any other small tablet on the market (notice: it's the only one on our best tablet list).

Read the full review: iPad mini (2019)

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

(Image credit: Lenovo)

6. Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

An accomplished performer with a few key weaknesses

Specifications
Weight: 485g
Dimensions: 264.3 x 171.4 x 6.9mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 11.5-inch
Resolution: 1600 x 2560 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 730G
Storage: 128GB
microSD slot: Yes
Battery: 8,600mAh
Rear camera: 13MP + 5MP
Front camera: 8MP + 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Lovely OLED display+Loud quad-speakers
Reasons to avoid
-Weak camera-Middling power

It’s not often that we see a Lenovo tablet in this list, but the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is deserving, as it combines loads of premium features with a mid-range price.

The highlight is undoubtedly its screen, which is an 11.5-inch 1600 x 2560 OLED one with 263 pixels per inch and HDR10 support. So it’s big, sharp, and being OLED arguably gives it an edge over LCD rivals – including Apple’s entire iPad range.

That screen makes it great for visual media, but it’s great for audio too, thanks to four powerful speakers. And it’s also well built, with a metal shell that leaves it looking as expensive as any other tablet.

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro also supports both stylus and keyboard accessories, so it’s similarly versatile to the iPad Pro range and the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7.

On top of that it also has impressive battery life, with the only weak link really being the cameras (which are a weaker part of most tablets anyway). The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro doesn’t quite have flagship power either, but it’s comfortably mid-range, and priced accordingly.

Read the full review: Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

iPad Pro 10.5

(Image credit: Apple)

7. iPad Pro 10.5 (2017)

This former flagship tablet is still one of our favorites

Specifications
Weight: 469g
Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm
OS: iPadOS
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
Reasons to buy
+Great speakers+512GB version
Reasons to avoid
-Screen adds a lot of expense-iOS still isn't a good laptop replacement

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch is one of the best tablets for anyone who wants a serious upgrade, even though the cheaper iPad 10.2 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 iPadOS 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

iPad Air (2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

8. iPad Air (2019)

The middle iPad

Specifications
Weight: 456g
Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm
OS: iPadOS
Screen size: 10.5-inch
Resolution: 1668 x 2224 pixels
CPU: A12 Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB
microSD slot: No
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant-looking laminated screen+Cheapest Smart Keyboard iPad
Reasons to avoid
-Uses the 1st Gen Apple Pencil-Traditional design doesn't wow

If you're looking for a good compromise between Apple's new Pro tablets and the base iPad 10.2, this is it. It's compatible with Apple's excellent Smart Keyboard Cover and priced right for students looking to take notes on a powerful laptop.

It does have Apple Pencil compatibility like all of Apple's newer tablets, but it's not the best tablet for artists. 

The Pro versions support Apple Pencil Gen 2 with extra gesture features and magnetic charging. This iPad Pro 10.5 sticks with the older Gen 1 Pencil and has just two speakers instead of four. But everyone should be fine with the fast A12 chipset.

Read the full review: iPad Air (2019)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

(Image credit: Samsung)

9. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

Cheaper, and still quite great

Specifications
Weight: 476g
Dimensions: 244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 10.4-inch
Resolution: 1200 x 2000 pixels
CPU: Exynos 9610
Storage: 64GB/128GB
microSD slot: Yes
Battery: 7,040mAh
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 5MP
Reasons to buy
+Robust design+S Pen as standard
Reasons to avoid
-Can be a little sluggish-Some issues with S Pen

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a cheaper version of the Galaxy Tab S6, and rather than offering a smaller tablet it instead loses a couple of high-end specs to keep the price down.

Samsung hasn't included a top-end chipset or the greatest cameras here, but it's far more affordable than a lot of the other options you'll find on this list.

If you're sure an Android tablet will do what you need it to, Samsung products are some of the very best on the market and you'd be hard pressed to go wrong with opting for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

iPad 10.2 (2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

10. iPad 10.2 (2019)

Not as great as it was, but still pretty fantastic

Specifications
Weight: 483g
Dimensions: 251 x 174 x 7.5mm
OS: iPadOS
Screen size: 10.2-inch
Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels
CPU: A10 Fusion
RAM: 3GB
Storage: 32/128GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: Up to 10 hours
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 1.2MP
Reasons to buy
+Bigger screen than previous models+Works with Smart Keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Older iPads are cheaper-iPad Air better for sketching

The iPad 10.2 has been replaced in 2020 by a new affordable slate, but that doesn't mean the 2019 model is not the best placed one for some. We've kept this in the list as we're seeing the price drop, and the new model isn't that much better.

This isn't as high-tech as the iPad Pro models above, but it's still a remarkably useful tablet. It comes with iPadOS right out of the box giving you all the latest features you'd expect from a tablet, plus it works with Apple Pencil and there's a Smart Keyboard you can also use to make this a productivity device.

It also has the same luxurious metal unibody as the rest of Apple's iPad range, though notably it's ever-so-slightly thicker than the other models of the tablet range at 7.5mm.

Battery life on this iPad is strong, it doesn't cost as much as a lot of other products in this list and it comes with a capable chipset powering it too. It's hard to go wrong if you're looking for an everyday tablet that doesn't have to sport the very best power and features.

Read the full review: iPad 10.2 (2019)