September 21st, 2017 | Updated on March 31st, 2020
The best tablets are all about combination, with most offering a decent keyboard and desktop-style experience to sound the death knell for laptops.
From Apple’s larger iPad Pro (now joined by the iPad Pro 10.5) to Android’s Google Pixel and Samsung tablets, there’s a lot of choice out there.
In terms of how we decide which goes where, we rank them based on multiple elements including performance, battery life, screen quality and more, with price playing an important part too. Scroll down for 10 amazing tablets you never want to miss.
1. New iPad (2017)
The best iPad, giving you plenty of power and bang for your buck
Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5 mm | OS: iOS 10 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels | CPU: A9 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: approx 8,800mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Beautiful 9.7-inch screen Cheaper than predecessor Thicker than Air 2. No 256GB option
The best tablet you can buy right now is the new iPad 2017 with its crisp 9.7-inch display, punchy A9 power and a lower price tag than the tablet it replaces – the iPad Air 2.
The new iPad (2017) doesn’t reinvent the tablet; in fact it doesn’t differ much at all from its predecessor. The only real upgrade is the chipset, with Apple’s A9 heart giving the new iPad more power – however it’s the price which is the real winner.
There’s no 16GB model, with the iPad kicking things off at 32GB, and considering that’s cheaper than the entry level iPad Air 2 it offers serious value for money.
What’s next? The new iPad has only just launched, so we won’t see a replacement for a while – but Apple’s iPad Mini line is in need of an update, so keep an eye out for the iPad Mini 5 in the coming months.
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2. iPad Pro 10.5
A bigger and better version of the Pro
Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm | OS: iOS 10 | Screen size: 10.5-inch | Resolution: 1668 x 2224 pixels | CPU: A10X | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/256GB/512GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: TBC | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP
Great speakers. 512GB version. Screen adds a lot of expense. iOS still isn’t a good laptop replacement
It’s a tough decision over whether the new iPad Pro is the best tablet in the world, or the more recent (and more basic) iPad – but the new Pro is in second solely on the higher price.
If you can see past that, or you really need a tablet that can truly keep up with any app you want to throw at it while using a dedicated Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, this should be the device you look at.
The new ProMotion screen adds an impressive layer of fluidity to daily use – if not strictly necessary – and the smaller bezels means you’re getting far more display in a footprint not much bigger than last year’s 9.7.
It’s an iPad for the professionals – but also one that media munchers will adore using. What’s next? It will likely be a long, long while before Apple launches any kind of new tablet, so if you’re in the market for one it’s between this and the new iPad for your money.
3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
A top-notch iPad Pro rival
Weight: 429g | Dimensions: 237.3 x 169 x 6mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Snapdragon 820 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 6,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP
Great premium design, S-Pen stylus included in box, HDR-ready display is excellent, Keyboard is a costly extra, High price tag, Won’t replace your laptop just yet.It may not be the best tablet on our list, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is the best Android tablet you can buy right now.
It’s stuffed full of power, has an excellent display and features an iPad-Pro rivaling S-Pen stylus and optional keyboard.
The price tag could be a stumbling block, but if you’re looking for the best Android has to offer in tablet form the Galaxy Tab S3 is the slate for you.
What’s next? The Galaxy Tab S3 has just launched, so it won’t be replaced anytime soon.
4. iPad Pro 9.7
A brilliant tablet that brings power to portability
Weight: 437g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 6.1 mm | OS: iOS 10 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels | CPU: A9X | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB/256GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: TBC | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP
Great speakers, Pencil and keyboard support, 256GB version, Lower power than larger version, Smaller screen impedes multitasking We never do this, but the iPad Pro 9.7 is not dropping as far down our list as it offers something the Pro 10.5 doesn’t: a cheaper price.
The iPad Pro 9.7 offers a lot of the power of the larger iPad Pro, along with the Smart Keyboard and Pencil support, but brings it in a much more bag-and-palm friendly size. Oh, and those four speakers are just brilliant too.
It’s a decent laptop alternative for those trying to work out if they need the worry of a new Windows device, but only if you’re working on rudimentary files. Free access to Apple’s office suite helps a huge amount though, and it’s going to get the same iOS 11 upgrade that the other models will, making it a much more attractive laptop replacement for cheaper.
However, it is off sale now – so if you’re going buy one, be quick and shop around to see if you can get a better deal.
What’s next? We’ve already had it: it’s the iPad Pro 10.5 and it’s very much worth a look if you want the snazziest tablet out there.
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5. iPad mini 4
The best small-screen tablet
Weight: 299g | Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 10 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Dual-core 1.5 GHz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 5124mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Brilliant screen, Sleek design
Touch ID finger scanner, Smaller display can be hard to read, No Pro version
The best 7-inch tablet at the moment is definitely the iPad mini 4. If you like the look of Apple’s iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro, but find them a) too big, b) too expensive or c) both, then you’re in luck as the diminutive iPad mini 4 gives you the best of Apple’s tablet world in a form factor that’s not only beautiful, but highly portable.
It lacks the Pro features of a keyboard or Pencil support (the latter would be really nice to have on this smaller display) but overall it’s got a decent screen upgrade and more than enough power to enjoy every day.
6. Asus ZenPad 3S 10
One of the best new Android tablets out
Weight: 430g | Dimensions: 240.5 x 163.7 x 7.2 mm | OS: Android Marshmallow | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Mediatek MT8176 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP
Strong, hi-res display, Swift response, Mediocre battery life, Not great build quality
With an iPad-like design, the Asus ZenPad is something of a direct rival to Apple’s best tablets with an alternative operating system.
The screen is sharp and bright, and the power is decent – if not a well-known chipset running things.
The battery life and build quality aren’t quite up to Apple’s standards, but then again, neither is the price – a good option if you want a larger screen for less.
7. Google Pixel C
The best Android tablet (if you ignore the price)
Weight: 517g | Dimensions: 242 x 179 x 7mm | OS: Android Nougat | Screen size: 10.2-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1800 | CPU: Tegra X1 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP
Fantastic screen, Premium design, Plenty of power, Heavy Keyboard is pricey
Google’s Pixel C is one of the best Android tablets. It has it all: a fantastic display, heaps of power and a premium design.
Plus, for those willing to splash the cash, the keyboard is a great accessory (and if you look around, there are some good low-cost alternatives).
It’s not quite a laptop replacement, but for those in the market for a truly premium Android tablet – look no further. That’s especially great as you can now download Android 7 Nougat software.
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8. iPad Pro 12.9
Apple’s biggest slate isn’t its best, but it’s not far off
Weight: 713g | Dimensions: 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm | OS: iOS 10 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2048 x 2732 | CPU: Dual-core 2.26 GHz | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB | Battery: 10,307mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Expansive screen, hugely powerful, Great speakers, Expensive Heavier than many tablets
The iPad Pro won’t be for everyone due to the size and cost, but for those it does appeal to (and can afford it) you’re unlikely to find a better tablet for your needs, and you’ll swiftly find it indispensable.
It’s also worth noting that this 2015 model has been replaced by a much-upgraded version, complete with better internals and a nicer screen – although you can still buy the older variant from many retailers.
If you’re considering the iPad Pro (2015) then whether its graphics, multi-tasking or providing a pseudo-Mac experience when you’re away from the office the Pro is very capable.
Even the Pencil – hilarious name that we’re now getting used to aside – is an impressive tool for a particular niche. For the more professional user, or just one that cares about a larger, more expansive screen to work on, this is the best tablet out there and more than capable of replacing a laptop.
What’s next? This tablet has been refreshed now, and we’re just waiting to get our hands on a final review unit to bring you a definitive verdict. For now though, you can check out our hands on: iPad Pro 12.9 review.
9. Microsoft Surface Pro 4
The Windows tablet that can replace your Windows laptop
Weight: 766g/786g | Dimensions: 292.10 x 201.42 x 8.45mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size: 12.3-inch | Resolution: 2,736 x 1,824 | CPU: Various | RAM: 4GB/8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: up to 9 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP
Larger, sharper screen, vastly improved, Type Cover, Built in kickstand
Can a tablet really replace your laptop or home PC? That’s still up for debate, but the best tablet trying to make that happen is the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.
It does a fine job with the full blown version of Windows 10, an integrated kickstand and optional keyboard attachment. Great for creative professionals, students and everyday folks alike, this is a top choice and one of best Windows Laptop we’ve reviewed.
What’s next? We’re expecting to see the refreshed Surface Pro 5 in spring 2017, with a new rechargeable stylus alongside.
10. iPad mini 2
A great tablet but a little old
Weight: 331g | Dimensions: 200 x 134.7 x 7.5 mm | OS: iOS 10 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Dual-core 1.3 GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 16/32/64/128GB | Battery: 6470 mAh | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Amazing screen, Solid design, cheap price, One of the oldest on test, Screen resolution not great
The iPad mini 2 is a great tablet if you can get it for the right price – it’s one of the best budget tablets around.
The things you’ll miss are a better, clearer and brighter screen and improved design if you don’t spend the extra to go for the iPad mini 4 – but for many people, that’s perfectly acceptable and this slate is a great portal into the excellent world of iPads and all the great apps you get access to.