The idea that gaming is something you can only do on a souped-up, multicolored PC — or on the box under your TV — is dead. Mobile gaming has arrived, luring millions of people with a wide range of challenges from matching three fruits in a row to colonizing planets. The best Android and iPhone games vary widely, but sometimes the lack of smartphone screen real estate can cramp your style. If portability is still a prime factor, then split the difference with the best gaming tablets.
While the emerging category of dedicated gaming phones may be starting to heat up, the idea of specialized gaming tablets seems to have died with the Nvidia Shield. The best gaming tablets today are somewhat though not entirely distinct from our best tablets, but they have a few standout features that make them optimal for gamers as well as overall tablet users.
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 (5th Generation)
- Best gaming tablet for kids: Fire HD 10 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 13MP lens with a 5MP wide-angle lens, and there’s a decent 8MP 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 is a optimal 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 still sharp and bright. The performance is excellent, so running the latest games smoothly 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 playing a lot, and the price is typical Apple — 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 10 Kids Edition
Easily the most underpowered tablet on our list, the Fire HD 10 Kids Edition is also by far the most affordable. Your teen isn’t going to be firing up Fortnite on this, but it is still well worth recommending for younger kids up to nine 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.
Apple iPad 10.2 (2019)
If you can’t afford or have no need for the extra horsepower of the iPad Pro, the iPad 10.2 is a fantastic mid-range iPad that can play mostly any game you want. It’s got plenty of screen to move around on with a completely respectable resolution of 1620 x 2160 pixels for enticing visuals. It runs on an A10 Fusion chip, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. The rear camera is 8MP while the front-facing camera is 1.2MP. It’s compatible with the Apple Pencil for sketching and doodling, as well.
Read our iPad 10.2 review
Asus ZenPad 3S 10
The moderately priced, Android-based Asus ZenPad 3S 10 will not disappoint resident gamers. It’s got plenty of play room at 9.7 inches and features a high-resolution, QXGA 2,048 x 1,536-pixel screen that includes a wraparound 5.3mm bezel. It boasts a MediaTek processor, 4GB RAM, and IMG GX6250 graphics, which can handle the latest games with ease. Its unibody is built with sandblasted aluminum, curved edges, a matte texture, and diamond-cut chamfered sides for a very nice aesthetic package, complete with Z Stylus support.
Read more about the Asus ZenPad 3S 10
- The best tablets for 2020
- The best tablets for kids in 2020
- Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab on sale for as cheap as $110 at Best Buy
- Kids Tablets: Apple iPad Mini, Samsung Galaxy Tab on sale starting at just $80
- iPad Mini, iPad Pro, Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 on sale at Best Buy