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.

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" (8th-gen)

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

Good | Most Have It
A12 Bionic is a noticeable upgrade over predecessor's A10 SoC.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Bezels remain chunky. Lacks the power of Air and Pro models.

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

This 8th generation iPad has minor differences over the 2019 model, but it's definitely worth the money if you're upgrading from an older iPad. The two tablets are nearly identical, the biggest changes are the newer version's slightly lighter weight and the upgrade to the faster A12 Bionic SoC. It also has the same MSRP: $329 for 32GB and $429 for 128GB.

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 the 120Hz refresh rate 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 Apple's 7nm A12 Bionic offers improved CPU and GPU performance compared to previous models. It's not the state-of-the-art A14 Bionic found in the iPad Air and iPhone 12, but there's plenty of power here with good efficiency.

Elsewhere, the 8MP rear/1.2MP selfie cams and 10-hour battery are unchanged; there's support for the first-gen Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard Folio case. 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 -- with a brilliant combination of price, performance, and features make this an easy top choice.

Willing to spend a little more?
Check out the iPad Air 4

If you want something with a bit more grunt than the standard iPad but don't need the iPad Pros' feature set, the Air is an excellent middle ground. At $599, 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), four speakers, a 10.9-inch 2360 x 1640 Liquid Retina display, 12MP rear camera, and 2nd-gen Apple Pencil support.

It also has USB-C charging, a minimum 64 GB of storage, and sports the more powerful A14 Bionic, all wrapped in a thin and light design. If you're happy to pay a bit more, the iPad Air 4 is a top choice. Shame about the lack of a 120Hz screen and Face ID.

Best of the Best

Apple iPad Pro (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. With the M1 chip, the latest iPad Pros have received more horsepower than you're probably going to need. The USB-C connector supports USB4/Thunderbolt speeds, and the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions also support 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 those of the Air, 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.

These are the first iPads to receive a desktop-level processor. The M1 SoC delivers considerable performance gains over previous iPad Pro models equipped with the A12Z Bionic. Apple claims the 8-core CPU and GPU are 50- and 40-percent faster. Not that you're going to notice too much. Apple used to say that the A-series SoC was "faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops," but with the M1 we can entirely believe that claim now.

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 iPad 11-inch 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. You also get a USB-C connector, and there's the Apple Pencil -- sold separately -- which attaches magnetically to the side, it's very responsive and delivers a very polished user experience.

The square camera module resembles the iPhone, getting you a 12MP wide lens, 10MP ultrawide and a LiDAR scanner for "AR experiences."

The 11" Pro starts at $799 for the Wi-Fi only version with 128GB, and goes up from there as you add storage and RAM. Same goes for the 12.9" model that starts at $1,099 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 7

Great | Differentiating Features
Full Windows productivity on an Intel CPU.

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

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Few changes over last-gen model. Cover and keyboard cost extra.

The Surface Pro 7 has been around for almost two years now but for now remains our top choice for Windows productivity on the go. There's a mid-cycle update of the same tablet called the Surface Pro 7 Plus which received a minor bump to 11th-gen Core CPUs, removable SSD, and optional 4G, while we're expecting the Surface Pro 8 to arrive before the end of 2021.

The Surface Pro 7 comes packing 10th-gen 10nm Ice Lake-U series processors, compared to previous iterations it added USB Type-C and Wi-Fi 6, but no Thunderbolt 3. Its internal storage is faster, and battery life is improved. The biggest performance improvement you might notice, however, could come from the integrated Iris Plus graphics. Pretty much everything else in the Pro 7 is unchanged from the Pro 6, that means you get the same solid case with kickstand that allows it to be used at different angles.

The design has been altered little since the Surface Pro 4, but Microsoft might want to say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We'll have to see if Microsoft decides a more radical update in the next iteration.

The gorgeous, 12.3-inch IPS display uses the 3:2 aspect ratio (2736 x 1824) we’ve come to expect from Surface devices, making it great for productivity work. You also get an 8-megapixel camera on the rear and a 5-megapixel cam on the front for Windows Hello. And while the top-specced machine can cost close to $2,000, the Core-i5 model can be found for as low as $800 retail.

This is an excellent choice for productivity on the go. The downside is that, like iPads, buying the excellent Type Cover keyboard and stylus costs extra. With an imminent upgrade replacement, we've seen plenty of deals that bundle the base model + keyboard for as little as $599.

Best Android Tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+

Great | Differentiating Features
The best Android tablet out there. Amazing display. S-Pen included.

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

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

Much like in the phone business, Apple's main rival in the tablet market is Samsung (well, and Microsoft). The Galaxy Tab S7 Plus has been hailed as the best Android slate ever built, and it's easy to see why. We've opted for the Plus model of the Galaxy Tab S7 as its got a few advantages over the smaller version. On paper, Samsung's device is more than a match for the iPad Pros, partly thanks to its 12.4-inch (2800 x 1752, 266ppi) 120Hz, 16:10 display.

The Galaxy Tab S7 Plus 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.

Storage starts at 128GB, and it comes with a USB-Type C port, 6GB of RAM, four speakers, and a 5G option. Camera-wise, you get an 8MP front-facing camera alongside a 13MP snapper and a 5MP ultra-wide at the rear.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Plus (starting at $790) is powered by the Snapdragon 865+, a powerful SoC though it's not in the same ballpark as the iPad Pro's M1 chip in terms of overall performance. Battery life is an impressive 8 hours and 51 minutes, 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. But if you're in the market for a premium Android tablet, the Galaxy S7 Plus is a sleek device with an unmatched screen.

A solid alternative: Galaxy Tab S6

Our choice from last year, the Galaxy Tab S6 remains a great option for fans of Android tablets. It also comes with a Super AMOLED screen, S-Pen, and several other features that make its successor so great. While not as powerful as the Tab S7 range, you can find the Tab S6 for less.

A non-Samsung option for $350: Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

Samsung dominates Android tablets the way it does phones, but that doesn't mean there aren't alternatives, such as the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro. Lenovo rivals the Tab S7 by featuring a gorgeous OLED screen (11.5 inches, 1600 x 2560, 263 PPI) that comes with HDR10 support, four loud stereo speakers, and impressive battery life. It also starts at a wallet-friendly $399. Unfortunately, the Snapdragon 730G and cameras are a bit underwhelming.

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 $150 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 sideload them.

In this latest 2021 iteration, the Fire HD 10 has received a new thinner and lighter design, more RAM, and a brighter 10-inch display. Now with 3GB of RAM, 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 HD (2nd-gen)

For something a little different that's around the same price, check out Lenovo's Smart Tab M10 HD (2nd-gen), which starts at $150. 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 Google Kids Space. The feature works with Google's Family Link to show a colorful interface packed with child-friendly games, videos, books, and apps. The tablet is a bit underpowered, has a lower resolution than the Fire HD (1280 x 800), and the battery life could be better, but the Smart Tab M10 HD is a viable alternative to Amazon's product.

Paying a little more: Samsung Galaxy Tab A7

While the two previous tablets offer great value, paying a little extra will get you something even better: the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 ($215) comes with everything you need from a content consumption-focused tablet; the 2000 x 1200 (224 PPI), 10.4-inch 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 Snapdragon 662 processor and 3GB RAM mean the A7 isn't on par with the entry-level iPad, and the camera isn't great, but it's also a lot cheaper than Apple's slate.

Masthead credit: Daniel Romero