The best tablet for you needs to be an entertainment machine, a productivity powerhouse and a slate that works for great for creativity. It also needs to bridge the gap between a smartphone and a small laptop, and luckily there are a great array of tablets for you to choose from.
We've tested and reviewed all the top products on the market, and here we've collected a list of the 10 very best tablets you can buy. All these products have to do the above while remaining easy to carry around, look good and offer a strong battery life.
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 much more.
This list is changing a lot too, as the iPad Air 4 (2020) has recently been added and we have a review of the iPad Pro 2020 in the works. Below you'll find our ranking of the very best tablets, and hopefully, you'll be able to find a slate that is suited to you.
Best tablets of 2021 at a glance:
- iPad Pro 11 / iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)
- iPad Air 4 (2020)
- iPad 10.2 (2020)
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus
- iPad Mini (2019)
- iPad Pro 10.5 (2017)
- iPad Air (2019)
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
- iPad 10.2 (2019)
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
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.
The iPad Air 4 (2020) is a top 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)
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)
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
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)
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
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)
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
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)
Previously our favorite Android tablet, the Galaxy Tab S6 is still a worthwhile purchase if you can find it for the right price. It has been overtaken by the newer and more exciting Tab S7 Plus, but there's still a lot to love about this slate.
There are two rear cameras, which is impressive for a tablet, as well as a high-end processor and best-in-class AMOLED display, so it's a useful piece of kit. It also comes with an S Pen stylus for notes, doodles or sketches, and you can buy a smart keyboard for a laptop-like experience.
There are a few issues with the Galaxy Tab S6, like the lack of a headphone jack and an iffy user interface, but if you're looking for a slightly cheaper alternative to a lot of other products on this list it may be for you.
Read our full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
- Looking for the best Android tablet?
- Or maybe you'd prefer the best cheap tablets?
- Need a work device? Why not try best 2-in-1 laptops
- Prefer Apple? Check out the best iPads available now
What apps should you download to your tablet?
As with today's best phones, 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 Genshion Impact, update your friends on Facebook and read the latest news, all on a bigger screen.