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Best school tablets of 2020

Best school tablets
(Image credit: Apple)

Tablets may not be the first thing you think of in terms of helping with the school work, but they can actually make for a great and practical alternative to school laptops or even Chromebooks for school.

An immediate selling point is their portability, as tablets are generally smaller, more lightweight, and easier to carry than laptops/notebooks/Chromebooks, especially the smaller 7 and 8 inch models that we’ll look at here.

Additionally, a lot of educational software now runs as Software as a Service, such as Google Classroom and BBC Bitesize, meaning you only need to a browser to access the learning resources. Other essential software for school will also probably be the same, such as an Office 365 subscription provided by the school, college, or university.

The result is that you don’t really need a computing device with much of a hard drive because most work will be saved to an online storage service in the cloud anyway.

Here then are the tablets we think will be best suited for school use.

Best tablets for school - at a glance

  1. Amazon Fire 7
  2. Dragon Touch
  3. Huawei Mediapad T3 8"
  4. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0”
  5. Apple iPad

Amazon Fire 7

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Amazon Fire 7

The little big tablet for school work

Incredibly cheap
Very versatile
Amazon services
Limited apps

The Amazon Fire is a very affordable range of tablets that are always worth considering buying into. While some people might prefer the larger or HD versions, here we’ll simply recommend the simplest Fire 7 tablet as it’s just so cheap it’s hard to pass it by. Even better is that it’s reliable and will easily be able to cope with online course work.

Although it only comes with 1 GB of RAM, the quadcore processor makes short work of any tasks it needs to handle, so you’re unlikely to see much in the way of lag with even this cheapest of models. And while it also only comes with limited storage as standard, with 16 GB and 32 GB versions, there is an SD card slot to expand this as required.

Of course, a great selling point of the Fire tablets is the way they are fully integrated into the Amazon ecosystem, so whether it’s the Alexa assistant or the Kindle ebooks - many available for free or at discount - this tablet can offer cheap and easy access to so many useful services.  And the 7 inch screen makes it easy to use everywhere.

While the Fire tablets are great in almost every way, they do come with a limited range of apps, even though the FireOS is based on Android. This may not be so much of an issue for school use, though. What is disappointing is that parents with an Amazon Prime membership can only share this with their children on the parent’s own tab, meaning children can’t easily access free books on their own Fire that would otherwise be available with Prime.

Overall, the Fire 7 is a great all round tablet, and at this price it’s hard to ignore, especially for use in schools.

Read our full review here: Amazon Fire 7

Dragon Touch

(Image credit: Dragon)

2. Dragon Touch

Another budget tablet for school

Google Play Store
No Bluetooth

The Dragon Touch is another budget tab 7 inch tab, this time running on Android. Another big difference between it and the Fire tablet is that the Dragon Touch has a more powerful processor and twice as much RAM, making it potentially a faster and more useful machine.

The fact that it is running on Android means users can access the Google Store, which while contains games also contains a wider range of apps that could prove useful, especially for organizing documents and images. Whether students will use them is another matter, but the option is there if required.

The Dragon Touch doesn’t have Bluetooth or GPS built in, which makes wider use options a little limited, but it’s cheap price means that if you’d prefer to have access to Android apps then the Dragon Touch makes for a potentially suitable alternative to Amazon’s Fire tablets.

Huawei Mediapad T3 8"

(Image credit: Huawei)

3. Huawei Mediapad T3 8"

A more powerful tablet option for school

Decent tech specs
8 inch screen

The Huawei Mediapad T3 is an 8” tab that allows for a little more working screen room, without too much of a price hike over the Dragon Touch, making it another accessible and cheap Android tablet for use with school work.

Although it only comes with a standard 16GB of internal memory, like most of the other tablets listed here this can be extended via an SD memory card. And if you’re concerned about what your children can access, there are smart parental controls for accessing apps and other content.

Overall, in terms of functionality and technical specs, the Huawei Mediapad T3 is similar to the Dragon Touch is most ways, with the exception of having a larger screen and therefore a larger price tag to go with it. Otherwise it’s affordable and competent device.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0”

(Image credit: Samsung)

4. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0”

A solid tablet for all uses

Solid and reliable
Relatively cheap
Decent tech specs

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 inch is, as the product title suggests, another 8” android tablet, and a step up from the Huawei Mediatab. While this Samsung Galaxy Tab has slightly improved technical specifications, not least with a faster processor, it also comes with Samsung’s reputation for solid builds. Although this is an older model, it’s still a robust and reliable tablet that should be great for all kinds of school work.

As with other Android tablets there is access to the Google Play Store and the apps there, some of which may prove additionally useful on top of any existing web apps provided by the school.

What’s especially good about the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 inch is that the size still keeps it manageably portable for children, but the price is also very reasonable, making this a great choice as a useful tablet for use not just in school but also for general usage.

iPad Mini

(Image credit: Apple)

5. iPad Mini

The most powerful tablet for school

Very powerful
Apple Appstore
Works with Apple pencil

The iPad Mini is probably the most expensive of the tablets listed here, but it’s also the best overall. And while it has larger and more famous cousins, we think the iPad Mini is probably going to be the most practical for school use, with its small size making it easy to carry around while still containing a powerhouse of a machine inside.

Aside from its powerful processor and strong RAM that will handle most anything you can use it for, it also has an excellent camera and recording facilities which could make it easily useful for recording lessons/lectures as well as snapping up notes from the whiteboard or projector display.

There’s also its very high resolution True Tone screen so that all images are crisp and sharp, plus various storage options from 64 GB to 256 GB, as well as online storage options using iCloud, which is free for the first 5 GB.

Of course, there are also a ton of apps available, including a range of education and graphics apps which could also be useful, and of course its compatible with the Apple Pencil for drawing.

Overall, a very powerful tablet whose hardware is well complemented by its range of software options.

Read our review here: iPad Mini