The elitist idea that gaming is something you can only do on a flashing, multicolored PC or on the box under your TV is dead. Mobile gaming is here to stay, and it has lured millions of people in with a wide range of challenges that go all the way from matching three fruits to slaughtering 99 strangers. The best Android and iPhone games are varied, but sometimes the lack of screen real estate can really cramp your gaming style. If portability is still a prime consideration, then the best gaming tablets are ready to satisfy your needs.
While the emerging category of dedicated gaming phones is starting to heat up, the idea of a specialized gaming tablet seems to have died with the Nvidia Shield. The best gaming tablets today are not exactly distinct from the best tablets, and we’ve put together a list for you anyway.
Best gaming tablets at a glance
- Best overall: Apple iPad Pro (11-inch)
- Best Android gaming tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
- Best small gaming tablet: Apple iPad Mini 5
- Best gaming tablet for kids: Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
Best overall: Apple iPad Pro (11-inch)
Two things that set the iPad Pro head and shoulders above the crowd when it comes to gaming are the enormous, sharp and smooth 120Hz display and the completely unrivaled raw processing power. We’ve highlighted the 11-inch model as the best pick because it’s a little more affordable and manageable, but if you want to get lost in something like Civilization VI, then the 12.9-inch model is even better. Pairing this tablet with some of the best iPad Pro games will be enough to keep the most demanding of gamers happy. Apple’s tablets stand apart from the Android crowd because of the level of polish and the optimization of many apps, and nowhere is this difference starker than with games. This is also a great-looking tablet with convenient Face ID built-in and a host of fun augmented reality apps and games. Battery life is good enough to keep you gaming on the go for hours. The obvious downside is the high cost.
Read our full iPad Pro review
Best Android gaming tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
If you’d prefer an Android device to an iPad, then you won’t do better than the Galaxy Tab S6 from Samsung. It boasts a lightning-fast Snapdragon 855 processor backed by 6GB or 8GB of RAM. There’s a stunning 10.5-inch Super AMOLED screen that you’ll never tire of looking at. It also has quad speakers, good battery life, and a stylish design. Samsung’s special Game Booster promises a lag-free gaming experience and a partnership with Discord brings live chat features to the Game Launcher. You’ll also find a dual-lens main camera, combining a 13-megapixel lens with a 5-megapixel wide-angle lens, and there’s a decent 8-megapixel front-facing camera. The Tab S6 has S Pen support, too, which is great if you like to write notes by hand or sketch, but also doubles as a remote control.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 review
Best small gaming tablet: Apple iPad Mini 5
Apple’s iPad Mini was long overdue for an update when the fifth version arrived in April, and it’s the best option if you want something truly portable. The 7.9-inch display lacks the smoothness of the Pro and the shine of Samsung’s AMOLED, but it’s sharp and bright enough. The performance is excellent, so running the latest games without stutter is not going to be a problem. You can also have some augmented reality fun with things like Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs, and there’s support for the Apple Pencil if you like the idea of sketching. Battery life is less than stellar, especially if you’re gaming a lot, and the price is typical Apple (i.e., on the high side), but there’s no strong competition at this size.
Read our iPad Mini review
Best gaming tablet for kids: Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
Easily the most underpowered tablet on our list, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is also by far the affordable and it deserves a place here. Your teen isn’t going to be firing up Fortnite on this, but it is still well worth recommending for younger kids up to 9 years old. The beauty of the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is in the curated, age-appropriate content and the excellent parental controls. If you want a device that you can set up and forget, without worry that your wee one is playing too long or accessing anything unsuitable, then this is the perfect buy. Amazon does lock you into a smaller subset of games and apps than you’d be able to access with a full Android tablet, but our kids loved the constantly updated menu of casual games, and the screen and battery life are decent. It also comes with a bumper case and a generous warranty.
Read our Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition review
The cheapest iPad in the range is also worth a look if the Pro or Mini prove too pricey. You might also consider the Amazon Fire HD 10 if your budget is stretched. But the truth is that your choice of gaming tablets is limited. With a bit of luck, the success of gaming phones will persuade Asus or Razer to dip a toe in the tablet market, but until then, this list represents your best options.