As much as we love having the best smartphones in our pockets, there are times when those small screens don't cut it, and we just need a larger display. That's when you turn to a tablet, which is great for being productive on the go and can be a great way to unwind and relax too. While the tablet market really took off after the iPad, it has grown to be quite diverse with a huge variety of products — from great budget options to powerhouses for professionals.
We've tried out a lot of tablets here at Digital Trends, from the workhorses for pros to tablets that are made for kids and even seniors, there's a tablet for every person and every budget. For most people, though, we think Apple's iPad Air is the best overall tablet — especially if you're already invested in the Apple ecosystem. But if you're not an Apple user, that's fine too; there are plenty of other great options that you'll find in this roundup.
Looking for some sweet tablet deals? Check out our list of the best iPad deals, and our best tablet deals.
Apple iPad Air (2022)
Best tablet overall
- High-performance M1 processor
- Slim and light
- Software suitable for work or play
- Large, colorful, and sharp screen
- Wide array of quality accessories
- Center Stage works well
- 64GB storage isn't enough
- Battery life disappoints
Why should you buy this? The iPad Air (2022) offers almost everything you'll get from the iPad Pro, but at a lower price.
Who's it for? Anyone who wants a great tablet at a good price.
Why we picked the iPad Air (2022):
While it's far from the cheapest tablet on the market (check out the basic iPad for our best value pick), at $600, the iPad Air still gives you excellent value for money — especially if you're looking to go a bit beyond the basics. It features a much more attractive design than most of its competitors and offers many features that are close to or even identical to those found in the much more expensive iPad Pro lineup. The iPad Air (2022) is our pick as the best tablet you can buy right now.
Performance is a particular draw on this tablet. Apple has slung in the laptop-level M1 chip, the same processor from the 2021 iPad Pro series and the MacBook Air (2020). It's a monster of a chip, and you're unlikely to encounter anything that'll slow it down, including video editing. Performance-wise, this is a tablet with enough power to take on a laptop, and it shows.
Combined with the powerful iPadOS software, this means the iPad Air can do well at being a laptop replacement. The Magic Keyboard is an expensive addition, but it turns your iPad Air into a laptop-like device — and a pretty good one at that. There's also support for the second-generation Apple Pencil, making this a good choice for drawers, typers, and tappers alike.
The design is similarly high level. The slim bezels aren't too small to grab properly, and the weight and comparatively compact 10.9-inch display mean it's still comfortable to hold. Sure, it's the same design as the previous iPad Air, but that's because there's nothing wrong with the look of that tablet. Unfortunately, it does lack the faster 120Hz ProMotion display from the iPad Pro, which you might notice if you're used to using a screen with a higher refresh rate. However, that's not going to bother you if you're accustomed to the much more standard 60Hz found on most tablets and laptops.
The cameras are really quite good for a tablet, and the 12-megapixel front-facing camera particularly stands out. Center Stage keeps you in the middle of the frame, even if you move around, and expands the view when friends and family join you. While you're unlikely to be taking a lot of pictures with the rear camera, it's still got the goods when you need it.
It's certainly not cheap, but if you can stretch to $600, then this is our overall recommendation for a strong tablet that can handle a wide range of tasks and needs. Want an Android-based equivalent, something a bit cheaper, or something even more powerful? Keep reading for more options.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus
Best Android tablet
- Beautiful hardware
- Gorgeous display
- Great speakers
- Productivity powerhouse
- Keyboard case not included
- Some software trouble
Why should you buy this? It's the best Android tablets have to offer.
Who’s it for? Anyone who needs a large-screened tablet with creative, professional, and casual options.
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus:
Looking for the best Android tablet out there? Put aside the smaller and larger of its brethren, as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus is the tablet to grab. The 12.4-inch AMOLED display is big and useful, without being as potentially unwieldy as the Tab S8 Ultra's 14.6-inch display, the frame is made from Armor Aluminum and feels great, and it's thin and relatively lightweight as well. It's a premium package, and it certainly won't disappoint every time you pull it out of a bag or case.
But good looks are only part of what makes this tablet so great — let's talk accessories. The tablet comes with the Samsung S Pen included, which is stored and charged on the tablet's rear magnetic strip. It's a neat little accessory, good for drawing and writing, but for many, the keyboard case will be more useful. Unlike the S Pen, the keyboard case isn't included, which is a real shame. It's a good keyboard that avoids the usual trap of mushy keys and a cramped layout, though it's not the best if you're wanting to work from your lap, as the plastic is flexible and doesn't provide a solid base.
Performance-wise, it's great. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor is powerful and its performance is zippy, especially when paired with the display's 120Hz refresh rate. Storage options are good too. Options start from 128GB and go up to 256GB. That's enough storage for most, whether you're using this tablet for work or play.
Software is probably this tablet's largest handicap. Unlike iPads and iPadOS, Android tablets haven't yet had their renaissance moment, and as such, Android just still isn't built to take advantage of larger screens. Samsung's desktop PC-like Dex Mode helps a lot, but there are shortcomings Samsung simply can't build around. Many apps launch into a smartphone-designed interface and simply aren't designed to work with larger tablet screens.
Apple iPad (2021)
Best value tablet
- Great battery life
- Powerful internals
- Big upgrade to the front-facing camera
- Amazing software support
- Base storage more acceptable at 64GB
- Display doesn't get bright enough
- Lightning port in 2021
- Slow Touch ID sensor
Why should you buy this? It's simply the best value tablet you can buy.
Who’s it for? Anybody who wants a tablet that can handle all the basics, without spending too much money.
Why we picked the Apple iPad (2021):
The iPad (2021) is no longer the latest iPad, thanks to the release of the more expensive iPad (2022), but there's a reason Apple left this older model on the market. At $329, it still offers the best value for folks who need a tablet that can handle all the basics and more at a very affordable price.
It's the tablet world's "ol' reliable" — if you want a tablet without the frills at a great price, you want the basic iPad. Don't take the word "basic" to be an insult, either. The iPad (2021) is an excellent performer, has a 10.2-inch display, long-lasting battery life, and probably the best tablet software you can get. Yes, the design is quite dated, but don't let that fool you — there's a lot of power packed in under the hood.
We'll start with the internal specs. The iPad is, admittedly, equipped with an older processor, but it's an old flagship processor, and that makes a difference. Specifically, the A13 Bionic chip was the silicon that powered the iPhone 11 lineup, and it remains a powerful piece of kit despite its age. This processor should be able to easily handle any games you throw at it and should be purring along nicely for years to come. The other improvement is the installation of 64GB of internal storage as standard, giving you a lot more room to play with.
The iPad has also seen a significant improvement in front-facing camera tech. Goodbye paltry 1.2MP lens, hello 12MP lens. Removing a single period has made all the difference, and now the iPad actually has a selfie camera worth doing video calls with, and the auto-framing tech is pretty cool as well. Battery life is also excellent, though that's less of a worry when most people's tablets tend to live near outlets anyway.
Best of all, this iPad starts at just $329. That's an incredible bargain, and there's nothing on the Android side of the fence that comes close to approaching this tablet in terms of pure value. If you want something capable, but don't need something with more power than your average desktop computer, then the iPad (2021) is easily the best choice around.
Lenovo Tab P11 Pro
Best value Android tablet
- Slim and lightweight aluminum
- Sleek dual-tone design
- Beautiful 11.2-inch 2.5K OLED display
- Quad speaker system with support for Dolby Atmos
- Great battery life
- Front camera is terrible
- Uses Android 12, Android 12L coming later
- Only up to 6GB of RAM
Why should you buy this? It's an affordable Android tablet that will give you the best bang for your buck.
Who’s it for? Folks looking for an affordable Android tablet that handles all the basics well.
Why we picked the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2:
With so many Android tablets on the market, picking the right one can be a challenge, and this is even more true if you're looking for something that will go easy on your wallet but still get the job done. Thankfully, Lenovo has hit that sweet spot with the Tab P11 Pro Gen 2, a midrange tablet that makes a good companion for traveling or even just using around the home.
The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2's biggest strength is media consumption, thanks to its quality 11.2-inch 2.5K OLED display that supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+. Add in the quad-speaker system with Dolby Atmos with 14-hour battery life, and it's a great tablet for media consumption on the go.
It also offers a 120Hz refresh rate, which is a huge bonus at this price. This means the screen feels smooth and responsive, whether you're just scrolling through Facebook or playing the latest fast-paced games. You can also pick up Lenovo's $70 Precision Pen 3 stylus separately, which lets you scribble handwritten notes or turn the tablet into a digital canvas to suit your more artistic tastes.
Beyond that, you'll likely want to consider a keyboard if you plan to do any serious work on this tablet. However, that's not really where its strengths lie, especially considering it still ships with only Android 12 (although it should get the more tablet-friendly Android 12L sometime this year). Lenovo offers its own optional keyboard case, or you can pair it with any Bluetooth keyboard, but where the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 shines is for entertainment consumption, casual gaming, and everyday surfing and social media.
Apple iPad Mini 6
Best small tablet
- Big enough to perform most tasks
- Compact enough to travel easily
- Powerful performance
- Loud speakers
- Screen is not bright enough
- Too small for content creation
- No headphone jack
Why should you buy this? You want a great tablet with a smaller footprint.
Who’s it for? Anyone who wants a smaller tablet.
Why we picked the iPad Mini (2021):
It took a while for Apple to update the iPad Mini the last time it got refreshed, and it's taken a similarly long time to update the iPad Mini's appearance as well. Thankfully, the wait is at an end, and the new iPad Mini (also known as the iPad Mini 6) has arrived. The new design is now in line with the other premium iPads, meaning the iPad Mini is now finally just a smaller version of the iPad Air and iPad Pro.
It doesn't match the new iPad Air (2022) where specs are concerned, but it comes pretty close. The iPad Mini packs in the A15 Bionic processor — the same chip that's still used in the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus — and while that's not a match for the new Apple M1 and M2 chips found in the more expensive iPads, it doesn't need to be. The A15 will devour any games you'll want to play, and you're unlikely to need the oomph the M1/M2 provide for content creation apps, because, well, the iPad Mini is too small to work well as a content processing machine anyway.
Does that make it a bad choice? Absolutely not. In fact, the smaller size and the A15 chip are the only differences that set the iPad mini (2021) apart from the iPad Air (2022). In every other way, it's really just a smaller version of that best overall tablet. You get the laminated display with an anti-reflective coating, 5G support, a 12MP front camera with Center Stage, a Touch ID sensor in the side button, and much more.
It's supremely portable, stupidly powerful, and an excellent choice if you need something that leverages these strengths. The battery also lasts around a day and a half of use — the same as the iPad Air (2022) — so it's a great choice for taking out and about, and it also pairs up with the second-generation Apple Pencil as well.
While the pint-sized iPad isn't likely to be everyone's cup of tea, the iPad Mini is an excellent choice if you're looking for a smaller tablet to carry around. While the smaller size means it won't work with Apple's Magic Keyboard, you can pair it with any Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to turn it into an ultra-portable workstation or just use it for watching videos, reading books, or whatever else you need on the move.
Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch)
Best big tablet
- Sleek and modern design
- Bright, vivid, gorgeous display
- Wild performance from the M2 chip
- Apple Pencil hover feature
- iPadOS 16 is super robust
- Stage Manager needs more work
- Lackluster, awkward front camera
- Prohibitively expensive
Why should you buy this? The iPad Pro is extremely powerful and offers a huge screen.
Who’s it for? Gamers, creatives, and power users.
Why we picked the iPad Pro (12.9-inch):
There's a new iPad Pro in town, but the game hasn't changed. This is still the biggest and most powerful tablet around and it's perfect for all kinds of uses. Not only is the iPad Pro (12.9-inch) the best tablet for multimedia and gaming, but it's also the best tablet for drawing. The device offers a nice big edge-to-edge display that's perfect for watching movies, studying, gaming, and so on. The bezels are slim and the home button has been replaced by Face ID. Apple has also adopted USB-C, which gives you far more to choose from in terms of accessories and peripherals.
The iPad Pro sports one of the biggest and best screens around, with a 2732 x 2048-pixel resolution and Apple's Liquid Retina XDR display tech, the tablet offers an incredible display experience all around. The Liquid Retina XDR display means that the iPad leverages Mini LED for super deep black levels and tons of brightness, plus there's a 120Hz refresh rate — making the tablet perfect for games.
This year's iPad Pro comes with an M2 chip, which the iPad Pro performs about as well as the newest Mac devices. Power users shouldn't run into the device's limits, whether you're commanding armies in Civilization VI or editing an image in Photoshop. The iPad Pro can cope with any game or drawing app you throw at it.
Storage options aren't as good, though, as it starts at 128GB. It does go up to 2TB, but you have to pay a lot for a large capacity. There's no microSD card support, too, so unless you're big into iCloud, the amount of storage you buy is what you'll get.
Apple claims you'll get 10 hours of mixed-use from a full charge, which didn't stack up in our tests. An intense day with over five hours of screen time saw the iPad Pro sink to 16% by the end of the day. A less intense day meant the iPad Pro could probably last a second day, but if you're using this device for work, expect to reach for the charging cable.
It's expensive, especially if you need a lot of storage, and there's no headphone jack, but the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is still your best bet if you're a power-user that wants the best you can get.
Lenovo Tab M10 Plus (Gen 3)
Best affordable tablet
- Solid battery life
- Good horizontal-focused design
- Low price
- Camera is often hit-or-miss
- Overall lack of processing power
Why should you buy this?: For the price point, the Lenovo Tab M10 Plus (Gen 3) has a simple and clean design, long-lasting battery life, and it can handle most basic tasks that you may need to do on the go.
Who's it for?: If you're on a tight budget but want the most bang for your buck, then this is a great option.
Why we picked the Lenovo Tab M10 Plus (Gen 3):
The Lenovo Tab M10 Plus (Gen 3) features a simple and clean design that leans towards landscape orientation use. You'll find the camera is located along the longer edge, and the buttons are in the upper left when you hold it horizontally. Even if you typically don't use tablets in landscape orientation, you'll find this to be comfortable to hold.
You'll get a sharp 2000 x 1200 2K resolution display, which is higher than other tablets that you'll typically find in this price range. The 10.6-inch IPS display is especially great for reading, note-taking, streaming video, and showing off high-resolution photos.
The MediaTek Helio G80 octa-core processor isn't the most high-end chipset out there, but it has enough power to handle the most basic tasks that you may need to do on the go. So if you just want a tablet for streaming video, note-taking, email, and social media, then this is a fantastic choice. But keep in mind that if you need more resource-intensive apps, like Photoshop, then that's where the performance may stutter a bit with the lower-end processor.
Lenovo put 8MP cameras on the front and rear of the tablet, and they aren't anything to write home about. However, if you do need to take some photos in a pinch, or do video conference calls, then they should work fine. The Lenovo Tab M10 Plus (Gen 3) comes with Android 12 equipped, and though no date is given, Android 13 will be coming as an upgrade later.
You'll find an impressive 7,700mAh battery on the Tab M10 Plus, which should last at least 12 hours on typical use. But if you lower the brightness and aren't putting it to its limit, then you should get a few days of use on a single charge, which is nice. But keep in mind that because of the large battery, charging it up from zero to 100% can take a while.
For the price, the Lenovo Tab M10 Plus (Gen 3) is a great value. You get a sleek design, good performance, and long battery life for around $200.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
Best tablet for kids
- Curated age-appropriate content
- Generous 2-year warranty
- Easy parental controls
- Rugged case
- Decent battery life
- Locked into Amazon ecosystem
- Some content requires internet access
Why should you buy this? When it comes to parental controls, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is second to none.
Who’s it for? Young kids who need supervision.
Why we picked the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition:
Amazon's refreshed Fire 8 HD Kids Edition (2020) makes its long-running line of kid-friendly tablets even better, though there's a disappointing lack of strong competition in this category.
An 8-inch screen with a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution delivers bright and vibrant colors and a thick rubber case around the tablet's frame cushions against accidental drops. The tablet's 32GB of internal storage offers enough space for lots of books, games, and other media, and there's a microSD card slot for expansion if you run out.
When it comes to parental controls, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is second to none. The Fire OS software, a customized version of Android, allows you to manage usage limits, set educational goals, and restrict access to age-inappropriate content. The Parent Dashboard also offers insight into what your kids are doing on their tablets and encourages interaction with discussion questions related to the books your kids are reading.
The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition also includes one year of fee-free access to Amazon's FreeTime Unlimited, a library of more than 15,000 kid-appropriate games, apps, educational content, books, and videos from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and others. Every purchase is backed by Amazon's two-year, no-questions-asked replacement policy: If the Fire HD 8 breaks, Amazon will replace it.
Simply put, there is no better tablet at this price for young kids who still need parental supervision.
If you want something larger than the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, there's also a 2021 Fire HD 10 Kids Edition.
Microsoft Surface Pro 9
Best Windows tablet
- New colors look great
- Design and build quality are top notch
- SQ3 is a solid alternative
- Type Cover keyboard is excellent
- High resolution webcam
- No headphone jack
- Upgrades still too expensive
- Limited performance improvements
Why should you buy this? It's a strong iPad Pro competitor that runs Windows 11.
Who’s it for? Someone who wants a strong tablet, but with all the conveniences of Windows.
Why we picked the Surface Pro 9:
Apple's tablets are starting to straddle the line between tablets and laptops, but Microsoft's Surface line has been doing that for years. The latest model, the Surface Pro 9, is only a small upgrade over previous models, but it's still amongst the best 2-in-1 tablet/laptop hybrids you can buy.
It's sleek and modern looking, with the thin bezels introduced with the Surface Pro 8. Unlike last year's model, the Pro 9 comes in a range of colorways, including the gorgeous Sapphire, and interesting Forest Green. Unfortunately, this iteration has seen the removal of the headphone jack, without much apparent reason why. The Pro 9 isn't thinner or lighter than previous versions, and neither has the extra internal room given with the removal of the jack seemingly been used anywhere else, which is a big disappointment.
There are a few processor cores available here, and all of them are up to the task of keeping your life running. The SQ3 ARM options offer stronger battery life, while the Intel chips give stronger performance, so it's down to your personal needs which one is going to be better for you. Battery life lasts around eight and a half hours with the Intel chip, and Microsoft claims the SQ3 will last for around four hours longer — a significant bump, if accurate.
It's a solid 2-in-1 that works well as an everyday workhorse, but there's a fairly high barrier to entry. Just the Surface Pro 9 with 128GB of storage will set you back $1,000, and upgrades really push that price up. Still, if you have the money and want a Windows-powered tablet/laptop hybrid, then you can't get much better than the Microsoft Surface Pro 9.
Frequently Asked Questions
If your top consideration is entertainment, and you’re likely to use a lot of apps and games, then we recommend Apple’s iPadOS over Android. There are a lot of polished apps made specifically for the iPad and you have access to all the top subscription services and an extensive content store. It’s also slick and accessible, so anyone can come to grips with it quickly.
Android has a larger selection of free apps and games, though they’re generally less polished, which might be a trade-off you’ll accept. Things are a little complicated by manufacturer UIs, or in the case of Amazon, forked versions of the platform. They can delay Android updates and make the user experience quite different. Amazon’s tablets, for example, run a version of Android called Fire OS and they initially only have access to the limited subset of apps and games that are available in the Amazon Appstore, not the full list that you’ll find in Google’s Play Store.
If you like the idea of accessing the same apps you have on your Windows PC, and you want a business device that ties seamlessly into your Microsoft services, then a tablet running Windows 11 is going to be tempting. It’s powerful, but it’s also relatively expensive to get decent hardware for a good user experience. If you’re not a business user, or you don’t need to run Windows-only apps, it may be overkill.
Yes, you can indeed print from a tablet. Check out our guides on how to print from an iPhone and how to print from an Android tablet for all the details you need.
Yes, you can make phone calls on a tablet, but you will need to be connected to the internet. You can either connect to Wi-Fi, which every tablet can do for free, or if you need to make calls while you're out and about beyond the reach of a Wi-Fi network, buy a tablet with cellular support and space for a SIM card. Just bear in mind if you go the SIM card route, you will also have to sign up for a service plan of some kind. Some carriers offer special plans for tablets, but keep in mind that most tablets — and all of Apple's iPads — only support a SIM card for data use, not traditional cellular calling or even SMS/MMS messaging.
You can use FaceTime on an iPad, but there are lots of good alternative video chat apps that work with Android tablets or iPads. Many of them allow you to make audio calls as well. However, the person you want to call usually has to have the same app. Some apps, like Skype, also allow you to call regular landline or mobile phone numbers, but you'll generally have to pay per minute or get a subscription. A good app that will work on Android tablets or iPads that gives you a free number for calling, text messages, and voicemail is Google Voice, but it only works in the U.S.
If you're interested in this option for a business, then you might also consider one of the best VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services.
Yes, you can send text messages from a tablet. If you have an iPad then you can use iMessage, which can connect to your phone to send standard SMS messages and iMessages alike. There are lots of great text messaging apps that work on Android or iOS. You could also use Google Voice if you are based in the U.S. as it gives you a free number for calls and text messages.
How we test
The tablets we test serve as our daily drivers, so we use them extensively to put them through their paces. That means watching movies, gaming, testing out lots of apps, reading, working on them, and even taking photos and shooting videos with them (which is impossible to do without looking stupid). We love new, innovative features, but we can also appreciate classic design done well. Ultimately, we look for tablets that will fulfill the needs of most people, so their ability to serve up entertainment is paramount.
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