The 7 Best 12-Inch Tablets of 2021

Check out top large tablets from Apple, Microsoft, and more

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If you're looking for a big-screen device that's still relatively portable, we suggest checking out one of the best 12-inch tablets available. If that size seems a little too big, there's no scarcity of options with around 10-inch display panels. Some of these tablets, such as the Amazon Fire HD 10, are primarily intended for lightweight, everyday tasks, including web browsing and streaming. But others, such as Apple's 4th Generation iPad Pro, are powerful enough for resource-intensive work, including high-resolution video editing and digital artwork creation. And even though most tablets are standalone devices, some can pair with keyboard covers to also work as laptops.

Choosing the right tablet isn't easy, since there are dozens of options to choose from. To help you decide, we've rounded up some of the best tablets on the market. Read all about them, and take your pick!

The Rundown
Powerful and feature-loaded in equal measure, Microsoft's Surface Pro 7 is easily one of the best 12-inch tablets available.
Measuring 9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches and weighing a mere 1.2 pounds, the Surface Go 2 is the ideal companion for your school needs.
This reliable, feature-packed tablet is ideally suited for lightweight tasks such as reading e-books, web browsing, and streaming.
Runner-Up, Best Budget:
Dragon Touch K10 Tablet at Amazon
While its hardware is pretty basic, the Dragon Touch K10 is sufficient for everyday tasks such as streaming and web browsing.
The iPad Pro's 12.9-inch 'Liquid Retina' display is a sight to behold, with the tablet handling everything from gaming to editing.
One of the best Android tablets currently available, Samsung's Galaxy Tab S6 Lite offers a lot of value for your money.
The Lenovo Tab M10 Plus boasts a premium all-metal chassis and a reasonable price tag.

Best Overall: Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Microsoft Surface Pro 7
What We Like
  • Great overall performance

  • Lots of connectivity options

What We Don't Like
  • Some battery and freezing issues

Powerful and feature-loaded in equal measure, Microsoft's Surface Pro 7 is easily one of the best 12-inch tablets available. It sports a 12.3-inch "PixelSense" display, with a resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels and a pixel density of 267ppi. The panel also supports 10-point multitouch input, and its 3:2 aspect ratio is perfect for productivity-oriented tasks. The machine is driven by Intel's 10th Generation Core i5 processor, and our recommended configuration also comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage.

As far as connectivity and I/O ports are concerned, the Surface Pro 7 features Wi-Fi 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0, USB (both Type-A and Type-C), 3.5mm audio, Surface Connect, and a microSDXC card reader. You also get an 8MP rear camera (with Full-HD video capture), a 5MP front-facing camera (with Windows Hello support), dual studio microphones, and stereo speakers with Dolby Audio. Thanks to its detachable "Type Cover" keyboard and built-in kickstand, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 can effortlessly transition from tablet to laptop. It runs Windows 10 Home out of the box, and has a battery endurance rating of up to 10.5 hours on a single charge.

Best for Students: Microsoft Surface Go 2

Microsoft Surface Go 2
What We Like
  • Really affordable

  • Very portable

  • Solid screen experience

What We Don't Like
  • Under-powered in some configurations

  • Thick, dated bezels

  • Accessories cost extra

Measuring 9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches and weighing a mere 1.2 pounds, Microsoft's Surface Go 2 is the ideal little companion for your school needs. Its 10.5-inch "PixelSense" display features a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and a pixel density of 220ppi. You also get 10-point multitouch input support, and the panel's 3:2 aspect ratio works wonderfully when it comes to creating or editing documents. Our recommended configuration of the Surface Go 2 is powered by an Intel Pentium Gold CPU, helped by 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. This hardware combination is more than capable of handling day-to-day tasks such as taking digital notes, web browsing, and even streaming media playback.

Wireless connectivity and I/O options include Wi-Fi 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0, USB Type-C, 3.5mm audio, and Surface Connect, as well as a microSDXC card reader. Among other notable additions are an 8MP rear camera (with 1080p video support), a 5MP front-facing camera (with Windows Hello compatibility), dual microphones, and 2W stereo speakers. Being a 2-in-1 device, the Microsoft Surface Go 2 switches between tablet and laptop modes seamlessly. It runs Windows 10 in S Mode out of the box, and can go up to 10 hours when fully charged.

“Offering features like a crisp full-HD touchscreen, modern connectivity features, and more in a compact and well-crafted body, Microsoft’s Surface Go 2 is a great convertible tablet for not just students, but just about everyone.” Rajat Sharma, Product Tester

Best Budget: Amazon Fire HD 10

Amazon Fire HD 10
What We Like
  • Seamless integration with Amazon's services

  • Full HD display

What We Don't Like
  • Battery takes a long time to charge

If you want a reliable and feature-packed tablet that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, look no further than Amazon's Fire HD 10. Boasting a 10.1-inch in-plane switching (IPS) display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels and a pixel density of 224ppi, this tablet is ideally suited for lightweight tasks such as reading e-books, web browsing, and streaming media. It's powered by a 2.0GHz octa-core processor, working alongside 2GB of RAM. You can choose between 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, although we recommend the latter for better performance.

Unsurprisingly, the Fire HD 10 features tight integration with many of Amazon's digital content services, including Prime Video and Audible. In addition, it gives you hands-free access to the Alexa virtual assistant. In terms of connectivity and I/O, there's Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm audio, USB Type-C, and a microSD card slot included in the mix. Since this tablet runs Android-based Fire OS, the Amazon Fire HD 10 is compatible with an array of Android apps. Some other features worth mentioning include two 2MP cameras (one each at the front and the rear, both with 720p video recording support), dual speakers, and a built-in microphone.

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Dragon Touch K10 Tablet

What We Like
  • Content mirroring to TV/monitor via microHDMI

  • Affordable pricce

What We Don't Like
  • Paltry internal storage

Even though there's no dearth of affordable tablets on the market, we are particularly fond of Dragon Touch's K10. Its 10.1-inch touchscreen display comes with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, and uses IPS technology to deliver improved color and contrast levels across all viewing angles. Under the hood, you get MediaTek's quad-core CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of onboard storage. While this hardware is pretty basic, it's sufficient for everyday tasks such as media streaming and web browsing.

The tablet runs Android OS, thus allowing you to access a wide range of apps and games from the Google Play Store. If we talk about wireless connectivity and I/O options, the K10 offers Wi-Fi 802.11bgn, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB, 3.5mm audio, and a microSD card slot. Apart from that, it also features a microHDMI port, allowing you to conveniently mirror the tablet's content to any TV or monitor, making for a better visual experience. The Dragon Touch K10 features two 2MP cameras (one each at the front and the rear) for photos and video calls, and is rated for up to seven hours of use with the battery completely charged.

“Although it doesn’t have the best display or top-tier performance, Dragon Touch’s K10 more than makes up for it by offering truly useful features like screen mirroring at a price that won’t break the bank." Rajat Sharma, Product Tester

Best from Apple: Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th Generation 2020)

Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch 2020
What We Like
  • Top-of-the-line performance

  • LiDAR scanner for Augmented Reality apps

What We Don't Like
  • Sky-high price

It may cost a pretty penny, but there's no denying the fact that Apple's 4th Generation iPad Pro is the finest 12-inch tablet you can buy. With a resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels and supporting the P3 wide color gamut, its 12.9-inch "Liquid Retina" display is a sight to behold. The panel also features a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, resulting in a smooth and responsive multi-touch experience. Delivering horsepower to the device is Apple's A12Z Bionic CPU, which can handle everything from graphically demanding games to 4K video editing without breaking a sweat. In addition, you can use the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil to annotate documents, create digital illustrations, and much more.

In terms of I/O and wireless connectivity options, the iPad Pro comes with Wi-Fi 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit LTE (optional), and USB Type-C. There's a dual-lens (12MP and 10MP) camera setup at the back, complete with goodies like 2x optical zoom, true tone flash, and 4K video capture at up to 60fps. For selfies and video calls, you get a 7MP front-facing camera, complemented by features such as Portrait mode and full-HD video recording at up to 60fps. Apple's iPad Pro also packs in four speakers, five studio microphones, and uses advanced its "Face ID" for secure authentication.

“Having a gorgeous high-refresh rate display, incredible processing power, support for a wide ecosystem of accessories, and a lot more, Apple’s iPad Pro is definitely in a league of its own." Rajat Sharma, Product Tester

Best Mid-Range: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
What We Like
  • S-Pen doesn't need any charging

  • Great battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Annoying pre-installed software

One of the best Android tablets currently available, Samsung's Galaxy Tab S6 Lite offers a lot of value for your money. Its 10.4-inch multi-touch display has a resolution of 2000 x 1200 pixels, meaning that everything from websites to high-resolution videos are rendered with improved sharpness and clarity. The device is powered by an octa-core Samsung Exynos 9611 processor, coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64 or 128GB of internal storage. Using the bundled S Pen, you can take notes, mark up PDF and other files, as well as create digital artworks. The stylus boasts 4,096 levels of pressure and doesn't need charging to be used.

For I/O and connectivity, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite comes with Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, LTE, 3.5mm audio, USB Type-C, and a microSD card slot. You also get two cameras (8MP at the rear and 5MP on the front), and AKG-tuned stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos surround sound. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite runs Android, allowing you to access loads of apps and games from the Google Play Store. Backing up the whole package is a 7,040mAh battery, which is rated for up to 13 hours of use on a single charge and also supports fast charging.

Best Processor: Lenovo Tab M10 FHD Plus (2nd Gen)

What We Like
  • Sturdy metal construction

  • "Kids Mode" with parental controls

What We Don't Like
  • Dated Android version

Boasting a premium all-metal chassis, Lenovo's Tab M10 Plus belies its reasonable price tag. But there's a lot more to this thing than just good looks. It features a 10.3-inch display, having a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels and a pixel density of 220ppi. The panel also supports 10-point multi-touch input, with IPS technology making for a consistent viewing experience across all angles. You get MediaTek's Helio P22T CPU under the hood, working in tandem with 2 or 4GB of RAM and 32, 64, or 128GB of onboard storage. The result is a device that can tackle even the most demanding of usage scenarios with ease.

Coming to I/O and wireless connectivity options, the Tab M10 Plus sports Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm combo audio, USB Type-C and a microSD card slot. The tablet also gets an 8MP camera at the back, as well as a 5MP front-facing camera for selfies and video calls. Some of the other additions worth noting include stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos sound, dual microphones with dedicated digital signal processing, and face unlock. The Lenovo Tab M10 Plus runs Android, and its 5,000mAh battery can provide up to eight hours of use on a full top up.

“With practical features such as a sharp full-HD display, multiple RAM and storage configurations, and a near-stock software experience, Lenovo’s Tab M10 Plus is a versatile tablet that ticks off almost all the right boxes.” Rajat Sharma, Product Tester

Final Verdict

As feature-laden as all of the above-detailed tablets are, our overall vote goes to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7. It includes a bevy of handy features like multiple connectivity ports and comes with great overall performance, all at a price that’s quite reasonable. Moreover, the 2-in-1 design also makes it a capable everyday laptop.

About our Trusted Experts:

Rajat Sharma is a technology writer and editor with more than seven years of experience in the field. He has tested out and reviewed a lot of tablets, laptops, and 2-in-1 devices over his career so far. Prior to Lifewire, he has worked as a senior technology journalist with The Times Group and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, two of India’s largest media houses.

Jason Schneider has a degree in music technology and communications from Northeastern University. He has been writing for tech websites for nearly 10 years and brings even more years’ of consumer electronic expertise to the table.

FAQs

Which one is better, standalone tablets or 2-in-1 devices?
Generally speaking, standalone tablets are more portable and easier to use. They are better for those with light usage requirements, involving basic tasks such as web browsing and streaming media playback. On the other hand, 2-in-1 tablets (also called convertibles or hybrids) are a lot more versatile, as they can double up as laptops. They also tend to be more powerful, which makes them ideal for those with resource-intensive workflows, involving multitasking and audio or video editing.

Which software platform is the best for a tablet?
It depends on your intended usage requirements, and the programs and apps you work with. While Windows-based 2-in-1 devices (e.g. Microsoft Surface Go 2) are compatible with a diverse array of desktop programs, tablets running iPadOS (e.g. Apple iPad Pro) and Android (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite) benefit from a vast ecosystem of both shared and exclusive apps, many of which are targeted at professionals and creative artists.

How important is a stylus?
The majority of tablets work flawlessly without a stylus, because they all come with multi-touch displays. However, a stylus becomes essential if you plan on using the device for anything that requires precise input, such as creating illustrations or annotating digital files.

What to Look for in the Best 12-inch Tablets

Display: When you’re talking about large-format tablets, the display is clearly a key consideration. Many entry-to-mid-level tablets hover around 1080p resolution, providing plenty of crispness for media consumption, but nothing to write home about. The higher-end models tend to nearly double that resolution, giving you a much higher-definition experience. Keep this, alongside color response, in mind if you want to use your tablet for art and design.

Storage & power: There’s a wide range of options for tablets, but typically you’ll find RAM capacities that span from 2GB to as many as 16GB, with the greater side of the spectrum being much better for heavy browsing and media use. Internal storage can be limited to as little as 16GB or as much as 1TB, but the lower end often comes with micro SD card slots to expand that storage. Processors have a lot more variety, with Apple building their own and Windows/Android tablets choosing between Intel’s mobile core processor or more of a phone-style processor. These are all important specs to keep in mind as they relate to your use. Professional purposes will require more power and more storage, whereas “casual couch use” can lean more to the lower end.

Form factor: The build quality of a tablet often hinges on how much you spend. The more you pay, the more metal, glass, and attention to detail will be involved. Budget tablets tend to be plastic-y, but some of the lower-end models tend to be a little less prone to scratching because of rubberized backs.

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