See our latest update to this buying guide: The Best Tablets

Like PCs and other tech products as of late, tablets have seen a resurgence and demand's been reaching new record levels. Not only are tablets more powerful today, but the displays are better, and we can enjoy features on mainstream models previously reserved for more expensive flagships.

The only question is, what is a tablet? The inclusion of a touchscreen and the ability to work without a physical keyboard attached seem to provide a pretty good definition. In that sense, all modern smartphones are tablets, but with sizes and aspect ratios of devices that are meant to be used as phones, they are arguably not the best tablets. So what are the best?

Whether you need a new tablet for work or study, content consumption, web browsing, or for your kids, this buying guide has got you covered. From high-end to budget, iPad, Android or Windows, here are our picks of the best tablets.

The Best Tablet for Most People

Apple iPad 10.2" or iPad Air

Great | Differentiating Features
Unbeatable combination of price, performance, and features.

Good | Most Have It
Storage starting at 64GB is a notable upgrade over predecessor's 32GB.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Bezels remain chunky. Lacks the display features and USB-C connector of other iPad models.

The Apple iPad comfortably retains the tablet crown, despite the vast improvements made by Android and Windows tablets over the past few years. While several options are available at various price points, the $329 iPad remains our pick as the best for most people.

This 9th generation iPad has minor differences over the 2020 model, but it's definitely worth the money if you're upgrading from an older iPad. The two tablets look nearly identical, and the biggest changes are the newer version's upgrade to the faster A13 Bionic SoC and 64GB of base storage. It also has the same starting MSRP of $329 for 64GB, or $479 for 256GB.

The fantastic 2160 x 1620 Retina display remains, offering 500 nits of brightness and the same 264 PPI as the iPad Pros. It does lack several features of the more expensive models, but the iPad is colorful, crisp, and great for content consumption of all types. The stereo speakers at the bottom offer good audio output and there's also a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The upgrade to the A13 Bionic SoC offers improved CPU and GPU performance. It's not the state-of-the-art M1 found in the iPad Air and Pro models, but there's plenty of power here with good efficiency.

Elsewhere, the 8MP rear cam and 10-hour battery are unchanged, but the 1.2MP front cam has been upgraded to an ultra wide 12MP; there's support for the first-gen Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. It comes with Touch ID, it hasn't upgraded to USB-C from the Lightning port like its siblings, and a 20W charger is included. You also get iPadOS – the most complete tablet OS available. A brilliant combination of price, performance, and features make this an easy top choice for media consumption.

Got a little more to spare?
Check out the iPad Air

If you don't need all of the iPad Pros' features and storage options but still want one of the best tablets for 60-FPS gaming or 3D modeling, the Air is an interesting middle ground. At $599 for the 64GB version, it's not as affordable, but it offers many of the Pros' best features at a more reasonable price.

Some of the Air's advantages over the standard iPad include an all-screen design without a home button (Touch ID is built into the power button); a fully laminated, 10.9-inch 2360 x 1640 Liquid Retina display with a wide color gamut and an anti-reflective coating; a 12MP rear camera; and Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio, and 2nd-gen Apple Pencil support. The Wi-Fi + Cellular version also supports sub-6Ghz G5 speeds.

The Air also has USB-C charging, and sports the much more powerful M1 SoC and 8GB of RAM, all wrapped in a thin and light design. If you're happy to pay a bit more, the iPad Air is a top choice. The only caveat is that the 256GB version is close in price ($750) to the 128GB version of the 11" iPad Pro (see below).

Best of the Best

Apple iPad Pro 11" M1

Great | Differentiating Features
More power than you'll need on the M1 chip. 120Hz refresh rate display. Face ID. Solid camera array. 12.9" model gets mini-LED HDR capable display.

Good | Most Have It
Impressive battery life.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Expensive. Still not a direct laptop replacement. Pencil and Magnetic Keyboard sold separately.

The iPad Pro 11" remains our top pick as the best tablet you can buy overall, even with the cheaper iPad Air being upgraded to the same M1 chip. The iPad Pro sports the same ProMotion display as the previous generation, boasting of a buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate, which makes scrolling a joy. There's also Face ID and narrow bezels that make this a svelte and well crafted slate. Unlike the iPad Air, the USB-C connector supports USB4/Thunderbolt speeds, and the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions also support mmWave 5G.

The 11" Pro is the best iPad for several types of professionals. If you are a graphic artist, drawing on a 120Hz display will be a different experience. If you are an indoor designer who wants to show your clients what their kitchen or office would look like, LiDAR is a must-have. The bezels in the iPad Pro are slimmer than the Air's, and it's compatible with the same accessories. You also get a 12MP front camera and four speakers.

While the large 12.9-inch Pro is great, it's overkill for most users unless you plan to take advantage of the higher quality display. If you are a video editor who works on the go, the 12.9'' Pro might be the device of your dreams. The Mini-LED display with its 1600 nits of peak brightness (1000 for the whole screen), its only competitors are some of the most expensive laptops.

The magnetic Magic Keyboard (optional $350 extra) features a floating design and cantilevered hinges to support viewing angles of up to 130 degrees, plus the software integration to make this ever closer to becoming a laptop replacement – a decent attempt for casual users. The Apple Pencil – sold separately – which attaches magnetically to the side, it's very responsive and delivers a very polished user experience.

The 11" Pro starts at $799 for the Wi-Fi only version with 128GB ($749 on Amazon), and goes up from there as you add storage and RAM. Same goes for the 12.9" model that starts at $999 for the cheapest, Wi-Fi only, 128GB version. You don't even want to know how much a maxed out iPad costs (honestly, it's ridiculous), but for lovers of slates, there's none better.

Best Productivity Tablet

Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Great | Differentiating Features
Full Windows productivity on an Intel CPU. Two Thunderbolt 4 ports. Replaceable SSD. Stylus has haptic feedback.

Good | Most Have It
Gorgeous, 120Hz display and long battery life.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
More expensive than last-gen model. Stylus and keyboard cost extra. Intel CPUs require active cooling.

The Surface Pro 8 was released in late 2021 and has instantly become our top choice for Windows productivity on the go. It comes packing quad-core 11th-gen Core processors and up to 32GB of RAM, and includes two Thunderbolt 4 ports, but no USB Type-A. The screen is bigger than previous versions at 13" and the bezels are slimmer, and you get the same solid case with kickstand that allows it to be used at different angles.

The 120Hz IPS display uses the 3:2 aspect ratio (2880 x 1920) we've come to expect from Surface devices, making it great for productivity work. You also get a 10-megapixel camera on the rear and a 5-megapixel cam on the front for Windows Hello. While the top-specced machine can cost $2,600, the base Core-i5 model with 8GB of RAM and a replaceable 128GB SSD can be had for $890.

The Slim Pen 2 charges wirelessly and provides haptic feedback, and the Signature Keyboard uses backlit, mechanical keys. The downside is that, like with iPads, the keyboard and stylus cost extra.

The Surface Pro X is a more direct iPad Pro competitor, with the passively-cooled SQ1 or SQ2 ARM processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and optional cellular connectivity. As of writing, a version with SQ1, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and cellular connectivity can be had for $790.

Best Android Tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

Great | Differentiating Features
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC. 120Hz, Super AMOLED display. S-Pen included. Android updates until 2027.

Good | Most Have It
Sleek design, good battery life, cameras, and speakers.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Android on tablets is still in the shadow of iPadOS. Performance still can't match Apple's flagship. Pricey.

Much like in the phone business, Apple's main rival in the tablet market is Samsung (well, except for Microsoft). Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S8+ has been hailed as the best Android slate ever built, and it's easy to see why. We've opted for the "plus" model as it's got a few advantages over the smaller Galaxy Tab S8 in addition to its 12.4-inch (2800 x 1752, 266ppi) 120Hz, 16:10 display.

The Galaxy Tab S8+ uses a Super AMOLED panel that makes content look fantastic, with vibrant, gorgeous colors and perfect blacks that are ideal for outdoor viewing. It's even got an in-screen fingerprint reader similar to those found on modern phones. An advantage over the iPad Pro is that Samsung's stylus is free in the box rather than requiring another $99 outlay. Latency has been improved to 2.8ms from last year's already respectable 9ms.

Storage starts at 128GB, and it comes with a USB-Type C port, 8GB of RAM, four speakers, and a 5G option. The front-facing camera has been upgraded to 12MP ultra-wide, and the ultra-wide at the rear to 6MP, alongside to the same 13MP snapper of the S7 line.

If you prefer screen size and multitasking capability over portability and value, the new 14.6" Tab S8 Ultra is the one for you. Other than size, the Ultra's advantage is that RAM grows with storage, to 12GB with 256GB of storage, and 16GB with the 512GB storage option. It also has an additional 12MP ultra-wide camera in the front. The downside is obviously the price, starting at $1,100 for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

The S8 line is powered by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, which is more powerful than the previous models' Snapdragon 865, though not in the same performance ballpark as the iPad Pro's M1 chip. Battery life remains impressive, but you still have to deal with the somewhat disappointing software.

Android on tablets has come a long way, and you do get DeX mode, so compatible apps work in windowed versions, but iPadOS remains superior. The real upgrade in terms of software is the promise of OS updates until 2027. But if you're in the market for a premium Android tablet, the Galaxy S8+ is a sleek device with an unmatched screen.

If you want to save some money, we believe the basic Tab S8 will be a better purchase in the long-term than the Tab S7+ (which now can be found for the same price), with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, five years of software updates, and 8GB of RAM even on the cheapest version with 128GB of storage. The more traditional 11" LCD display still looks great with a resolution of 2560 x 1600, and it has the same 12MP ultra-wide front camera of the S8+.

A non-Samsung option for $400:
Lenovo Yoga Tab 13

Samsung dominates Android tablets the way it does phones, but that doesn't mean there aren't alternatives, especially if you want something less traditional. The Lenovo Yoga Tab 13's built-in stand makes it ideal for use on a desk. It may not offer all of Samsung's software features and support, but in terms of hardware it rivals the Tab S7+ with the Snapdragon 870, 8GB of RAM and 128 of Storage. The 2160 x 1350 display is limited to 60Hz, and a rear camera is not included, but it comes at a wallet-friendly $399.

The Best Tablet for One-Hand Use

Apple iPad Mini 6

Great | Differentiating Features
A15 SoC is faster than the basic iPad's. Pixel density is 326ppi. Sub-6GHz 5G speed support on the Wi-Fi + Cellular version.

Good | Most Have It
Easy to hold with a single hand. Battery life is 10 hours. Support for 2nd-gen Apple Pencil.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Keyboard support limited to Bluetooth.

Most tablets with displays smaller than 9" are budget devices with outdated hardware and older Android versions, but the iPad Mini is a glaring exception. Regardless of size, the Mini is better than the vast majority of tablets on the market.

With a 2266x1488 resolution, its 8.3" display actually has the highest pixel density of all iPads (326ppi). It sports the A15 Bionic chip, which is faster than the basic iPad's A13, and 4GB of RAM. That's still not close to what the iPad Air offers, but now that you can get the Mini for $400 it's harder to complain about that. The Wi-Fi + Cellular version does support sub-6GHz 5G speeds, like the iPad Air. It also has the same ultra-wide 12MP front camera and 12MP wide rear camera.

The Mini doesn't support the Smart Keyboard or Magic Keyboard, but it supports the 2nd-gen Pencil. It also has 4 color options. The base model comes with 64GB of storage and Wi-Fi, and for $150 more you get 256GB of internal storage.

A Budget Option

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021 model)

Great | Differentiating Features
Can't find better at this price, good screen, speakers, and battery life

Good | Most Have It

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Cameras aren't the best, very Amazon-focused, limited apps

It's a case of buyer beware when purchasing a budget tablet; there are plenty of sub $200 or even $100 slates available that aren't worth your time. But Amazon's Fire HD 10, which runs the Android-based Fire OS, remains a good option at $100 as of writing for the 32GB storage model, though you might want to pay the extra $15 to remove the lock-screen ads.

With a crisp, bright screen and fairly loud speakers, the Fire HD 10 is a cost-effective device for those who use tablets sparingly for content consumption, or if you want something cheap for your kids, and it's even more useful if you have a Prime subscription. The Fire 10 features hands-free Alexa, allowing it to work in the same way as Amazon's many Echo devices. But you can only access Amazon's App store, so no Google services – unless you're willing to side-load them.

In this latest 2021 iteration, the Fire HD 10 has received a new thinner and lighter design, 3GB of RAM, and a brighter 10-inch display, 32GB and 64GB storage options (expandable up to 1TB via microSD), and a 2.0GHz octa-core processor, all of which is nice for that low price point.

Good for kids:
Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus (2nd-gen)

For something a little more fully fledged that's often around the same price, check out Lenovo's Smart Tab M10 HD (2nd-gen), which starts at $160. Its big selling point is the Google Assistant Ambient Mode that turns the Android tablet into a smart display when dropped into the included dock.

Lenovo's tablet is well-built for the price and is especially suitable for young children thanks to Kids Mode 4.0. The feature shows a colorful interface packed with child-friendly games, videos, books, and apps. The tablet is a bit under-powered, and the battery life could be better, but with 4GB of RAM and a 1920 x 1200 resolution, it's a viable alternative to Amazon's product.

Paying a little more:
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8

While the two previous tablets offer great value, paying a little extra will get you something even better: the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 ($220 with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM) comes with everything you need from a content consumption-focused tablet: the 1920x1200 (216 PPI), 10.5" screen is vibrant and colorful, the speakers and battery life are excellent, and the build is sturdy.

Samsung's tablet also comes with features you'd expect to find on more expensive models, including facial recognition and USB-C charging. The Unisoc Tiger T618 isn't really on par with the entry-level iPad's A13, and the cameras aren't great, but the tablet is still much cheaper than Apple's slate.

Masthead credit: Daniel Romero