Memorial Day isn’t here yet but we’re already seeing countless aggressively low prices on several online retail sites. We’ve compiled three of the best tablets that you can get — the iPad 10.2, Microsoft Surface Go, and Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 — and they’re all on sale at Amazon and Best Buy for as much as $100 off.
— $250, was $329
The standard iPad’s bezels are still obscenely large (slimming them down would have made it look a tad more contemporary), but this tablet now boasts a bigger 10.2-inch screen compared to the previous model’s 9.7-inch display. In comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6’s trimmed bezels look fetchingly modern, and so do those of the iPad Pro. None of this means that the iPad feels cheap, though. It has a nice substantial weight to it, plus it sports a 100% recycled aluminum enclosure which is good for the environment. Instead of Face ID, which remains exclusive to the iPad Pro and the latest iPhones, you get Touch ID, although that’s not exactly a deal-breaker for most users. What sets this apart from the older iPad 9.7 is support for the Smart Connector so you can use it with Apple’s Smart Keyboard (sold separately).
As mentioned earlier, this device offers a slight increase in screen size. The LCD panel’s pixel density is the same at 264 pixels per inch, although it looks sharp, colorful, and very bright. Thankfully the headphone jack has not been removed, unlike the iPad Pro. You don’t have to go hunting for a 3.5mm-to-Lightning jack once your Bluetooth headphones lose power.
Strangely, the iPad 10.2 didn’t get a processor upgrade, unlike the rest of the iPad lineup, which now boasts the A12 Bionic chipset. However, this tablet’s A10 Fusion processor still packs plenty of power. Multitasking with several apps open won’t be an issue, and navigating the new iPadOS is buttery smooth. The previous iPads ran with just a slightly altered version of the iOS, but the iPadOS is an entirely different beast. You have the ability to use multiple apps in the Slide Over menu, a revamped home screen layout that includes the Today View widgets, desktop-grade Safari, and multi-window apps. You can now even use Split View on the same app, like having two Google Docs open side by side.
The first-generation Apple Pencil is compatible with this iPad, and it remains an excellent and responsive tool. There’s still no way of storing it, though, unlike the second-gen Apple Pencil which magnetically attaches to the iPad Pro, and it’s still in danger of snapping in half every time you charge it through the Lightning port. Finally, the battery life was pretty good. You’ll be able to use the iPad for a maximum of three days with intermittent use, or a full workday if you’re going to use it as your primary device.
Despite its shortcomings, the iPad 10.2 is the best tablet that you can buy on a limited budget. It is powerful, has a fantastic operating system, and serves up solid battery life. You can get it with 32GB of memory at Amazon for just $279 instead of $329, a cool $50 worth of savings.
— $485, was $549
The Microsoft Surface Go is the smallest and most affordable among the Microsoft Surface brethren. It may be tiny, but it’s definitely a force to be reckoned with. Combining ultra-portability, remarkable sturdiness, and the impressive Type Cover keyboard, it’s the ideal travel buddy if you don’t want to dive into the Surface Pro’s larger screen (and slightly higher price tag). Basically a 10-inch tablet/laptop hybrid, it runs with a full version of Windows 10 and has an Intel Pentium Gold processor in its heart. Since this is a relatively new device, it comes with a single USB-C port, something lacking in the older Surface Pro.
It sports an aluminum unibody that’s reminiscent of the original iPad, with rounded corners but minus the ultra-slim bezels. Despite this outdated design choice, it looks positively regal, especially since its 10-inch display is gorgeous. With a resolution of 1,800 x 1,200 pixels, everything looks sharp (although not as sharp as the Surface Pro, of course). The Surface Go’s display is bright, maxing out at 420 nits in our tests. That’s better than most laptops, especially at this price point, and is important since the Surface Go is likely to be used in brightly lit spaces, or even outdoors.
Although sold separately, we recommend that you purchase the Signature Type Cover. This detachable keyboard doubles as a kickstand and offers a very comfortable typing experience, far better than that of the MacBook Pro, which is more expensive. However, the keyboard layout looks a little cramped, a clear compromise of its ultra-portability, so mistyping is bound to happen. But as with most keyboards, you’ll eventually get the hang of it. The touchpad also works smoothly and precisely.
Now a couple of drawbacks: Performance and battery life. The Surface Go’s Pentium 4415Y chip can handle most conventional applications like Microsoft Word or Photoshop Express just fine, but opening multiple browser tabs simultaneously made the device noticeably stutter. It also doesn’t have a lengthy battery life. During our video loop test, it was able to last just eight hours and an even shorter three hours in our more strenuous web browsing test. The Surface Pro 7 and Surface Book 2 fared far better.
The Microsoft Surface Go is currently on sale at Amazon for $485 instead of $549 — a huge $64 off.
— $550, was $650
So far, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is the closest an Android tablet has come to replicating the iPad Pro experience. While it’s hard to compete with Apple’s iOS ecosystem in tablet form, the Galaxy Tab S6’s custom One interface paired with Android 9 Pie works like a charm. Plus, the Dex interface, which kicks in when you attach a keyboard dock to give you a desktop feel, is also worthy of high praise. Another highlight is the Galaxy Tab S6’s 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display, which we think no other tablet out there can rival (well, except the S5e). All things considered, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is our choice for the best Android tablet for 2020, and it’s even powerful enough to replace your laptop thanks to its Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor.
The Galaxy Tab S6 has uniformly sized slim bezels surrounding its 10.5-inch screen. They are thin enough to be aesthetically pleasing, but not so thin that you will accidentally activate the screen around the edges. Samsung’s decision to ditch glass in favor of aluminum ensures that this tablet won’t shatter when dropped. The new S Pen attaches via magnets on an oblong indent on the back. It’s not just for storage, as this is where the S Pen recharges, and it does need recharging now that it has Bluetooth. The kickstand on the back remains simple to use, something Apple’s iPad Pro and the Smart Keyboard can’t claim. Speaking of the keyboard (sold separately), Samsung’s Keyboard case remains a mandatory purchase, as it not only offers a pleasurable typing experience but also triggers the Dex interface. This interface replicates the desktop experience and allows you to do an assortment of functions not possible on tablet mode, like having 20 windowed apps open at once.
As mentioned, the Galaxy Tab S6’s super AMOLED screen is gorgeous. It’s perfectly readable outdoors even on a bright, sunny day, and everything on it looks crisp thanks to its 2,560 x 1,600 resolution. Further, it supports HDR content for glorious high-definition consumption of Netflix, YouTube, and more.
This tablet won’t make you worry about lags, glitches, or screen freezes as its Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor is more than sufficient for handling heavy work. Even with multiple tabs open in Samsung’s internet browser and several app windows open on top of each other, the Tab S6 never slowed down. Apps launched swiftly, resizing them was a snappy affair, and games like Alto’s Odyssey, PAKO Forever, and Grand Mountain Adventure ran without any stuttering. Finally, the Galaxy Tab S6’s 7,040mAh battery will easily get you through a busy day and beyond, and it can be charged up in less than two hours.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is undeniably the best Android tablet that you can buy, ideal for people who need a workhorse of a device to replace their laptop. Get it for $550 on Best Buy, a huge $100 off its normal retail price of $650.
Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.
- Best cheap Apple iPhone deals for May 2021
- Best cheap iPad deals and sales for May 2021
- How much RAM do you need?
- The best iPad keyboards for 2021
- Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (15-inch) review: OLED disappointment?