Best tablet 2021: the top tablets you can buy right now

Our best tablet guide has recently gained a major new addition in the form of the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) which shot straight in to first place. You can read all about what makes it so good below, and if you’re after something smaller, make sure to check back soon to see where the iPad Pro 11 (2021) ranks.

There are plenty of other excellent tablets to choose from too though, such as the iPad Air 4 (2020), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro, and the iPad mini (2019). You’ll find all of those and many more in our list below.

The best tablet won’t be the same for everyone, so they’re all worth considering. Factors that you should bear in mind will include operating system, size, price, and specs.

To make things easier, each entry below shows you all of those things at a glance, along with an overview highlighting why you might – or might not – like each of them.

And if you don’t see anything you like, it’s worth checking back regularly, because as well as the iPad Pro 11 2021 likely being added soon, we’re also expecting other new additions throughout the year, with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 for example likely to land before the end of 2021, and that looks set to be a serious iPad Pro rival.

Don’t need a new tablet right away? Waiting for Amazon Prime Day 2021, which is expected at some point during June this year, may be a good idea. In previous sales events from the company we’ve seen discounts on iPads as well as Android tablets, so you may want to wait until then.

1. iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)

The biggest upgrade to the iPad Pro since its inception

Specifications

Weight: 682g

Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm

OS: iPadOS 14

Screen size: 12.9-inch

Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels

CPU: Apple M1

Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB

microSD slot: No

Battery: Up to 10 hours

Rear camera: 12MP + 10MP

Front camera: 12MP

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Reasons to buy

+Phenomenal power+Fantastic display

Reasons to avoid

-An almighty price-Lackluster color options

The iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) is a spectacular tablet, with its headline feature arguably being the M1 chipset that powers it. This chipset was lifted straight from Apple’s top-end Macs, so you’re truly getting desktop power in a tablet here.

But that’s not all this tablet has going for it. For the first time in an iPad, it also has a Mini LED screen, with a remarkably high 1,600-nit peak brightness, a 120Hz refresh rate, and a 2048 x 2732 resolution. It’s crisp, bright, vibrant, and all-round impressive.

The iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) also has a long-lasting battery, a decent camera, a premium aluminum design, and support for the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2 – these are sold separately, but turn it into a real productivity machine.

So if you want to get some proper work or creation done on a tablet, or you’re just a big tablet gamer, the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) will be the perfect device. But if your needs are lighter then you might find this too expensive and too big.

Note: we’re only talking about the 12.9-inch model here. There’s also an iPad Pro 11 (2021), but we haven’t reviewed that yet. On paper it’s largely similar, but with a less impressive screen that doesn’t use Mini LED.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)

2. iPad 10.2 (2020)

Probably the best choice for most

Specifications

Weight: 490g

Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm

OS: iPadOS 14

Screen size: 10.2-inch

Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels

CPU: A12 Bionic

RAM: 3GB

Storage: 32/128GB

microSD slot: No

Battery: Up to 10 hours

Rear camera: 8MP

Front camera: 1.2MP

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Reasons to buy

+Excellent value+Strong performance

Reasons to avoid

-Very little change-Only 1.2MP selfie camera

The iPad 10.2 (2020) isn’t the most thrilling of updates, as it’s really only a modest improvement on 2019’s iPad 10.2, but it’s still an improvement, and that makes it the best 10.2-inch iPad you can buy, and also arguably the best cheap iPad, if not quite the best tablet overall.

You’ll find its predecessor down below in this list, but this tablet comes with an A12 Bionic chipset that makes it quite a bit faster than the older model. It also have a 20W charger packaged in the box, which means it’s much faster at charging than previous models.

All the same great features you’d expect from an iPad of this price return here including access to iPadOS software, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support as well as strong battery life.

Why shouldn’t you buy it? The selfie camera is feeling a touch tired on the iPad 10.2, plus you shouldn’t opt for the 32GB model if you want a lot of storage on your tablet. If you’re okay with both those things, this is the best tablet for a lot of people.

Read the full review: iPad 10.2 (2020)

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

Samsung’s finest tablet yet

Specifications

Weight: 575g

Dimensions: 285 x 185 x 5.7 mm

OS: Android 10

Screen size: 12.4-inch

Resolution: 1752 x 2800 pixels

CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus

Storage: 128GB/256GB

microSD slot: Yes

Battery: 10,090mAh

Rear camera: 13MP + 5MP

Front camera: 8MP

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Reasons to buy

+Gorgeous OLED screen+Premium design

Reasons to avoid

-Android lacks quality tablet apps-High price

The first Android tablet on our list is the best tablet that Samsung has ever made, and it’s a serious rival to the iPad Pro range that you’ve read about above.

In fact, its screen arguably has those slates beat, as it’s a 12.4-inch Super AMOLED one with a 2800 x 1752 resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. The iPad Pro range can match much of that, but those slates have LCD screens that aren’t as good.

Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset, which is the most powerful you can get inside an Android product and it comes with a premium metal build that is incredibly slim with it only being 5.7mm thick.

Want high speed internet? A version of the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus also comes with 5G connectivity, and you’ll get the Samsung S Pen stylus in the box for free. Android isn’t as good as iPadOS is on tablets, but if you want an Android alternative to an iPad this could be it.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

4. iPad Air 4 (2020)

Why go Pro when the Air is this good?

Specifications

Weight: 458g

Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm

OS: iPadOS 14

Screen size: 10.9-inch

Resolution: 1640 x 2360 pixels

CPU: A14 Bionic

Storage: 64GB/256GB

microSD slot: No

Battery: Up to 10 hours

Rear camera: 12MP

Front camera: 7MP

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Reasons to buy

+All-screen design+Lots of power

Reasons to avoid

-64GB storage is limited-Higher price than last-gen

The iPad Air 4 (2020) is arguably the best tablet for anyone who can’t quite justify splashing out on the very best, as it has many of the things that make the iPad Pro range great, but it costs less.

In fact, the iPad Air 4 (2020) actually has a newer A14 Bionic chipset. That’s what you’ll find in the iPhone 12 range, and it’s exceptionally powerful.

The iPad Air 4 (2020) also supports both the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, so it’s almost as good as a laptop replacement or general productivity device as an iPad Pro.

With good all-round specs too and a wide range of colors that you can buy it in, the iPad Air 4 (2020) is a great choice for a lot of people – though the cheapest model only comes with 64GB of storage, which won’t go far.

Read the full review: iPad Air 4 (2020)

5. iPad Mini (2019)

The best (and only) small tablet on our best tablet list

Specifications

Weight: 304g

Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1 mm

OS: iPadOS

Screen size: 7.9-inch

Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels

CPU: A12 Bionic

Storage: 64GB/256GB

microSD slot: No

Battery: 5,124mAh

Rear camera: 8MP

Front camera: 7MP

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Reasons to buy

+Perfect portable size+Surprisingly powerful specs

Reasons to avoid

-Bezel-heavy design-Uses the older Apple Pencil

Apple doesn’t have a foldable phone, but if it did it might look something like the iPad mini 2019 when unfolded. It hasn’t really changed since the last version almost four years ago, but it doesn’t need to: we love the small size.

You can flip open the smart cover, scribble some notes, and toss it in a bag without too much worry.

Yes, the design is a little dated and there are thick bezels outlining this screen, but the price is right for a portable tablet with a lot of power. You really shouldn’t consider buying any other small tablet on the market (notice: it’s the only one on our best tablet list).

Read the full review: iPad mini (2019)

6. Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

An accomplished performer with a few key weaknesses

Specifications

Weight: 485g

Dimensions: 264.3 x 171.4 x 6.9mm

OS: Android 10

Screen size: 11.5-inch

Resolution: 1600 x 2560 pixels

CPU: Snapdragon 730G

Storage: 128GB

microSD slot: Yes

Battery: 8,600mAh

Rear camera: 13MP + 5MP

Front camera: 8MP + 8MP

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Reasons to buy

+Lovely OLED display+Loud quad-speakers

Reasons to avoid

-Weak camera-Middling power

It’s not often that we see a Lenovo tablet in this list, but the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is deserving, as it combines loads of premium features with a mid-range price.

The highlight is undoubtedly its screen, which is an 11.5-inch 1600 x 2560 OLED one with 263 pixels per inch and HDR10 support. So it’s big, sharp, and being OLED arguably gives it an edge over LCD rivals – including Apple’s entire iPad range.

That screen makes it great for visual media, but it’s great for audio too, thanks to four powerful speakers. And it’s also well built, with a metal shell that leaves it looking as expensive as any other tablet.

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro also supports both stylus and keyboard accessories, so it’s similarly versatile to the iPad Pro range and the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7.

On top of that it also has impressive battery life, with the only weak link really being the cameras (which are a weaker part of most tablets anyway). The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro doesn’t quite have flagship power either, but it’s comfortably mid-range, and priced accordingly.

Read the full review: Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

7. iPad Air (2019)

The middle iPad

Specifications

Weight: 456g

Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm

OS: iPadOS

Screen size: 10.5-inch

Resolution: 1668 x 2224 pixels

CPU: A12 Bionic

Storage: 64GB/256GB

microSD slot: No

Rear camera: 8MP

Front camera: 7MP

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Reasons to buy

+Brilliant-looking laminated screen+Cheapest Smart Keyboard iPad

Reasons to avoid

-Uses the 1st Gen Apple Pencil-Traditional design doesn’t wow

If you’re looking for a good compromise between Apple’s new Pro tablets and the base iPad 10.2, this is it. It’s compatible with Apple’s excellent Smart Keyboard Cover and priced right for students looking to take notes on a powerful laptop.

It does have Apple Pencil compatibility like all of Apple’s newer tablets, but it’s not the best tablet for artists.

The Pro versions support Apple Pencil Gen 2 with extra gesture features and magnetic charging. This iPad Pro 10.5 sticks with the older Gen 1 Pencil and has just two speakers instead of four. But everyone should be fine with the fast A12 chipset.

Read the full review: iPad Air (2019)

8. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

Cheaper, and still quite great

Specifications

Weight: 476g

Dimensions: 244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7 mm

OS: Android 10

Screen size: 10.4-inch

Resolution: 1200 x 2000 pixels

CPU: Exynos 9610

Storage: 64GB/128GB

microSD slot: Yes

Battery: 7,040mAh

Rear camera: 8MP

Front camera: 5MP

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Reasons to buy

+Robust design+S Pen as standard

Reasons to avoid

-Can be a little sluggish-Some issues with S Pen

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a cheaper version of the Galaxy Tab S6, and rather than offering a smaller tablet it instead loses a couple of high-end specs to keep the price down.

Samsung hasn’t included a top-end chipset or the greatest cameras here, but it’s far more affordable than a lot of the other options you’ll find on this list.

If you’re sure an Android tablet will do what you need it to, Samsung products are some of the very best on the market and you’d be hard pressed to go wrong with opting for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

9. iPad 10.2 (2019)

Not as great as it was, but still pretty fantastic

Specifications

Weight: 483g

Dimensions: 251 x 174 x 7.5mm

OS: iPadOS

Screen size: 10.2-inch

Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels

CPU: A10 Fusion

RAM: 3GB

Storage: 32/128GB

microSD slot: No

Battery: Up to 10 hours

Rear camera: 8MP

Front camera: 1.2MP

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Reasons to buy

+Bigger screen than previous models+Works with Smart Keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-Older iPads are cheaper-iPad Air better for sketching

The iPad 10.2 has been replaced in 2020 by a new affordable slate, but that doesn’t mean the 2019 model is not the best placed one for some. We’ve kept this in the list as we’re seeing the price drop, and the new model isn’t that much better.

This isn’t as high-tech as the iPad Pro models above, but it’s still a remarkably useful tablet. It comes with iPadOS right out of the box giving you all the latest features you’d expect from a tablet, plus it works with Apple Pencil and there’s a Smart Keyboard you can also use to make this a productivity device.

It also has the same luxurious metal unibody as the rest of Apple’s iPad range, though notably it’s ever-so-slightly thicker than the other models of the tablet range at 7.5mm.

Battery life on this iPad is strong, it doesn’t cost as much as a lot of other products in this list and it comes with a capable chipset powering it too. It’s hard to go wrong if you’re looking for an everyday tablet that doesn’t have to sport the very best power and features.

Read the full review: iPad 10.2 (2019)

10. iPad Pro 11 / iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Still a top Pro tablet

Specifications

Weight: 468g/632g

Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm/280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm

OS: iPadOS

Screen size: 11-inch/12.9-inch

Resolution: 2388 x 1668/2048 x 2732

CPU: A12X Bionic

Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB

microSD slot: No

Battery: 7,812mAh/9,720mAh

Rear camera: 12MP

Front camera: 7MP

TODAY’S BEST DEALS

Reasons to buy

+Pencil clips on, finally+Insane amount of power for a tablet

Reasons to avoid

-Software limits laptop experience-Pencil and keyboard expensive extras

The iPad Pro (2018) models have fallen a long way down this list as they’ve been superseded, but they’re still very impressive. They’re expensive for sure, but they’re exceedingly powerful and further the 2-in-1 design ethos if you spring for the keyboard cover folio.

They have a laptop-like experience in design and performance, and the newer Apple Pencil magnetically clips onto the frame of these iPad Pros. With superb speakers and a great screen-to-body ratio, it’s hard not to fall in love with the finely crafted hardware design.

However, there are setbacks for the iPad Pro range that you should be aware of. iPadOS is better than previous versions of Apple’s tablet software when you’re trying to multitask and perform laptop-like tasks, but it is far from perfect.

Another strictly mobile challenge: these slates don’t have a headphone jack. If you want the standard 3.5mm jack in a computer-like device, you’ll want to spring for an actual computer or some other tablets.

Everything about the iPad Pro 11 and iPad Pro 12.9 make them strong tablet experiences if you’re looking for an Apple-made slate though – you’ll just need to swallow the high price and keep in mind that they’re not a true laptop replacement.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 11 (2018) | iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

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