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The Best Tablet You Can Buy (And 7 Alternatives)

Tablets may be fading in popularity, but there are still some great devices out there. If you’re in the market for a new , then we’re here to help you cut down that short list and snag the right one for you.

Apple’s iPad range still dominates the scene, but there are some innovative running Android and Windows. We also have top picks for the budget-conscious and for kids. These are the best tablets you can right now.

Our pick

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Why should you this: The iPad boasts a vibrant display, silky smooth performance, and long battery life, all at an affordable price.

Our Score

The best

Apple iPad 9.7

A great all-rounder that will meet the needs of most people.

$329.00 from Apple

Who’s it for: Everybody who wants a tablet.

How much will it cost: $330

Why we picked the Apple iPad (2017):

The iPad has deservedly dominated the tablet scene for years now, and the 5th generation iPad (2017) is the culmination of all of Apple’s experience. There are no bells and whistles here. If you want innovation, keep looking. This is a solid, accessible, all-rounder that delivers a really good tablet experience at a reasonable price.

The bright, 9.7-inch display is perfect for watching videos on. Although it’s slightly thicker than the iPad Air 2, it feels slim and light to handle, with Apple’s usual high standards shining through in build quality. Inside there’s Apple’s A9 processor with an embedded M9 co-processor and 2GB of RAM, but all you really need to know is that it runs smoothly. Whether you’re skipping in and out of apps, browsing the web, watching a movie, or playing the latest , the iPad delivers lag-free performance.

If you must take photos with your tablet, there’s an excellent 8-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.4 aperture, that’s fast and capable of capturing plenty of detail. The 1.2-megapixel selfie camera has an f/2.2 aperture, which is adequate for Facetime at 720p, but little else.

The battery life is fantastic. The thicker body allowed Apple to in a larger 8,610mAh battery and it just goes and goes. You can expect more than 10 hours of HD video playback from a single charge, and with normal use on Wi-Fi you might reasonably expect to go a week between charges.

If you’re looking for weak spots, then we direct you towards the single, bottom-firing speaker. Beyond that there are no glaring flaws here and we think it’s the best tablet you can buy without having to spend a lot more money.

Our review

The best Android tablet

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is the closest an Android tablet comes to replicating the iPad Pro, and boasts an absolutely gorgeous display.

Our Score

The best Android tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Slim and sleek with a great display and solid battery life.

$649.99 from T-Mobile

$599.99 from Verizon

Who’s it for: Anyone looking for an Android-based iPad alternative.

How much will it cost: $600

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3:

Despite some odd design flaws, the Galaxy Tab S3 is a quality gizmo, with an absolutely gorgeous display. There’s no tablet in the world with a screen capable of rivaling the S3’s 9.7-inch Super AMOLED, and it supports HDR content (which companies like Netflix and Youtube are making available more and more these days). Even viewing non-HDR content on the S3’s 2,048 × 1,536-pixel display is an absolute joy.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor (the same chip you’ll find in popular flagship smartphones like LG’s G5 and Samsung’s own Galaxy S7 Edge) works fine, despite its relative age, and 4GB of RAM is more than enough to keep the tablet humming happily. The included 32GB of onboard storage is a bit disappointing, but it can be expanded via MicroSD card if you’re looking to download lots of stuff.

The Tab’s speakers are respectably loud, and it’s got cameras on both the front and back — though, the rear-facing 13-megapixel camera is capable of recording 4K video at 30 frames per second, while the front camera is good enough for selfies and video chat, but little else.

This time around, Samsung has paired its custom TouchWiz interface with Android 7 Nougat, and it works like a charm. Split-screen functionality is better than ever, with lots of neat tricks to learn over time. Despite a bit of bloatware that the tablet won’t let you delete, the software here is generally very good.

The battery lasts an exceptional 10+ hours, and the included stylus pen interacts smoothly with the tablet’s screen. The downside is the physical design of the Tab S3. Most people use tablets in landscape orientation (read: sideways), but the S3 seems to be designed more for use in portrait. Also, the fingerprint sensor is frustratingly unreliable, and often requires multiple attempts (regardless of how you’re holding the device).

If you’re devoted to Android devices, the Tab S3 is a good choice. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the natural progression we had hoped for from the S2, and there are some annoying issues most people won’t be able to get past. Worth a look, but the price tag is pretty unbecoming.

Our review

The best alternative tablet

Why should you buy this: The Lenovo Yoga Book is amazing as a straight tablet, for taking notes/drawing, and is easier to type on than a standard tablet.

Our Score

The best alternative tablet

Lenovo Yoga Book

It features a unique design with a touch-sensitive slate.

$299.99 from Staples

$499.00 from Walmart.com

Who’s it for: Anyone seeking a tablet with a semi-keyboard or easy note-taking ability.

How much will it cost: $500+

Why we picked the Lenovo Yoga Book:

We were impressed with the innovative design of the Lenovo Yoga Book, so it had to make the list, but it doesn’t fit easily into any category. Ostensibly, it’s a 2-in-1 that combines a solid Android tablet (we don’t recommend the Windows version) with a clever touch-sensitive slate connected with an eye-catching, 360-degree, metal hinge.

The 10.1-inch touchscreen is good and it will work with any stylus, but the really interesting thing here is the capacitive touch panel on the other side of the hinge. It can act as a drawing pad for sketching or jotting notes, and it also has a keyboard mode that lights it up with a full set of QWERTY keys. It’s weird typing on a touch surface, but the haptic (vibration) feedback helps.

General performance is fast and responsive and the battery life is excellent, offering up to 15 hours. It does also have a decent 8-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. The folding action on the hinge is solid and it feels just like a book to hold, which makes it very comfortable to read on. It could be the perfect portable pal for artists, note-takers, and students.

Sadly, it’s not powerful enough to serve as a real laptop replacement and we can’t recommend the Windows version for that reason. However, as a tablet, it’s stellar, and it’s the best Android tablet you can buy that also offers something extra.

Our full review

The best small tablet

Why should you buy this: The iPad Mini is that perfect meshing of power and portability. You can take it anywhere and read or watch shows on it with ease.

Our Score

The best small tablet

Apple iPad Mini 4

You won’t find a better small tablet available today.

$399.00 from Apple

Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a smaller tablet.

How much will it cost: $400+

Why we picked the iPad Mini 4:

It doesn’t quite hit the high notes of Apple’s bigger iPads, but the iPad Mini 4 still benefits from an attractive metal design, a fast processor, and a great app and game library.

You’ll find the 7.9-inch display is a pleasure to read on and it’s a great size and weight to hold comfortably. It’s good for watching movies or gaming, too, though you’ll probably want headphones to go with it. Battery life is solid, offering a good 10 hours between charges.

Portability is the reason to pick the iPad Mini 4. If you want an iPad and need something smaller in size or price, then this is it.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the size that has been scaled down here — the iPad Mini 4 is not as lightning fast as its bigger siblings. It’s also expensive. However, you can’t beat the iPad Mini if it’s a small tablet you want.

Our full review

The best premium tablet

Why should you buy this: The iPad Pro offers the most power and flexibility in the best all-around size. It’s expensive, but worth every penny.

Our Score

The best

Apple iPad Pro 9.7

It’s the perfect blend of power and portability.

$599.00 from Apple

$599.00 from Target

Who’s it for: Anyone who wants the best and has the bank account for it.

How much will it cost: $600+

Why we picked the iPad Pro 9.7:

The iPad Pro 9.7-inch boasts the impressive power of its larger sibling with the svelte form factor of the Air 2. That killer combo puts it head and shoulders above the competition. This is a versatile tablet.

It ticks all the boxes as a traditional tablet for entertainment consumption with a great display, long battery life, and the best library of tablet-specific apps and you can find. It has four speakers for unsurpassed sound quality and volume. Even the cameras are a cut above the rest, with a 12-megapixel main shooter, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for Facetime and selfies.

You can also use the Smart Keyboard with it and our favorite stylus, the Apple Pencil. The iPad Pro is perfect for drawing, sketching, or taking notes.

It’s great for productivity in a pinch, too, but we’re not convinced that it’s a true laptop replacement. It is also very expensive. However, this is the best premium tablet you can buy, hands down.

Our full review

The best cheap tablet

Why should you buy this: Amazon’s FireOS isn’t our favorite operating system, but it does get the job done at less than $100.

Our Score

The best cheap tablet

Amazon Fire HD 6

These rock bottom prices cannot be beat.

$49.99 from Amazon.com

Who’s it for: Anyone with a limited budget.

How much will it cost: $70+

Why we picked the Fire HD 6:

There’s a lot of choice at the budget end of the tablet market, but you will not find a better deal than the Fire HD 6 and Fire HD 8 from Amazon. Performance is decent, battery life is good, and they are extremely easy to get to grips with.

The specs in these tablets are far from world-record-breaking, but if you just want something for web browsing, watching the odd movie, and casual gaming, they offer unsurpassed value for money. Amazon does offer an even cheaper tablet, in the shape of the $50 Fire, but there are too many compromises to make it worth recommending.

If you want something really portable, the HD 6 is perfect, but the HD 8, currently on offer at $90, is probably the best deal on the market right now. You’ll want Amazon Prime membership to take full advantage of the ecosystem, but even adding that cost on top, the complete package Amazon is offering here is impressively cheap. Prime also gives you access to TV shows, movies, ebooks, and music.

The limited choice in the Amazon Appstore is a definite drawback, performance is limited, and the cameras are so bad they might as well not be there. But you will not find anything better at this price.

Our full review

The best kids tablet

Why should you buy this: It’s a dedicated kids tablet that works out of the box. There just isn’t any good competitor in this space. We recommend it above any other kids tablet.

The best kids tablet

Fire Kids Edition Tablet

It’s an affordable kid-friendly tablet that makes things easy for parents.

$99.99 from Amazon

Who’s it for: Young children with parents on a budget.

How much will it cost: $80

Why we picked the Fire Kids Edition:

Truth be told, the kids tablet market is not brimming with quality. We would hesitate to recommend the basic Amazon Fire tablet for adults, but the Kids Edition has some important additions that make it well worth considering for young kids.

The Amazon Fire Kids Edition comes with a protective case and a two-year replacement warranty that covers accidental damage. If junior dunks it in the sink or jumps up and down on it, Amazon will replace it no questions asked. It also comes with a year’s subscription to Amazon FreeTime, which is a curated collection of kid-friendly books, TV shows, movies, games, and educational apps that you can tailor for your child’s age. Rounding out the package are some of the best parental controls we’ve ever used.

For young kids, this is an unbeatable deal and it makes things very easy for parents. You can hand this off to your child with minimal setup and have peace of mind that it’s safe for them.

As tablets go, the Amazon Fire is very limited. It’s quite slow, the 7-inch display has a disappointingly low screen resolution, and the blocky, plastic design is forgettable. As a first tablet for young kids, it makes a lot of sense, but for older kids, around ten years-old and up, we’d recommend something like the Fire HD 6, HD 8, or even the iPad Mini 4, if your budget allows.

The best Windows tablet

Why should you buy this: We don’t love Windows 10 as a pure tablet, but the Surface is a very good laptop replacement that puts touch first.

Our Score

The best Windows tablet

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

This is the best 2-in-1 we’ve ever used.

$1,233.49 from Amazon

$1,299.99 from Microsoft

Who’s it for: Anyone seeking a Windows tablet that can serve as a laptop.

How much will it cost: $900+

Why we picked the Surface Pro 4:

The original Surface Pro was flawed, but it had a major impact on the market. Microsoft has refined the design since then, and the Surface Pro 4 is as close as you can get to a hybrid device that serves equally well as a tablet and as a laptop.

You’ve got a gorgeous 12.3-inch screen, a thoughtful design, and a choice of internal specs that range from basic to lightning fast. It is by far the most configurable device on our list. The pixel-packed display and loud speakers make it a pleasure to watch movies on. There’s also an 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

The Type Cover and Surface Pen are excellent accessories and, combined with the full version of Windows 10, make this a great choice for creative professionals, students, and everyone in between. This is real portable productivity.

On the downside, battery life is bit disappointing and the Surface Pro 4 can be eye-wateringly expensive if you opt for top end specs.  Still, it’s our favorite 2-in-1 .

Our full review

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 video 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.

Which OS is best for you?

If your top consideration is entertainment, and you’re likely to use a lot of apps and games, then we recommend Apple’s iOS as the best platform. 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 get to grips with it quickly.

Android has a larger selection of free apps and games, though they’re generally less polished, but that might be a tradeoff 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, runs a version of Android called Fire OS and out of the box they 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 10 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 specific Windows-only apps, it may be overkill.

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