The 9 Best Tablets of 2021

See our top picks for gamers, children, movie-lovers, and more

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
"The edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display is as bright and beautiful as ever, with a 2388x1688-pixel resolution"
Best Overall, Android:
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ at Amazon
"The Tab S7+ is a top tier Android tablet with a gorgeous high refresh AMOLED display, HDR10+ support, and a powerful Snapdragon 865+ chipset."
"For Apple lovers on a budget, the 8th generation iPad offers incredible value and functionality."
"The Mini manages to make up for its smaller but more portable size by featuring a gorgeous 7.9-inch retina display"
"For a Window 10 experience in a small form-factor, the Surface Go 2 is light, portable, and can meet all your laptop needs."
"In terms of hardware, it's the same as Amazon's regular Fire HD, except encased in a kid-proof bumper available in eye-catching blue, pink, or yellow."
"For an ultra-light multimedia tablet, the svelte iPad Air 4 offers a great combination of design and performance."
"If you're looking for a tablet to make calls and utilize mobile data, the brand new LTE enabled Tab A is your best choice."
"The Surface Pro line has found a delicate, valuable space in between tablets and laptops."

The best tablets are dominated by three major operating systems: iPad OS, Android, and Windows 10. Tablets across these three platforms come in all shapes and sizes, and they hit multiple different price ranges offering a mix of multimedia capabilities and productivity. Other slates are more affordable and geared toward usage for kids and families.

On the premium end, tablets like the iPad Pro and the latest models of the Samsung Galaxy Tab come with the latest and greatest processor, bright high-resolution screens, quad-speakers, and in some cases, they support higher refresh rate displays. You also have the option of pairing them with accessories like a keyboard and stylus, allowing you to engage in productivity tasks like working on documents, taking notes, and sketching.

For those on a tight budget, you have plenty of mid-range and affordable tablets to pick from. The Amazon Fire series devices are particularly popular for families with kids since they won't break the bank. If you're looking for more options for affordable tablets, be sure to take a look at our roundup of the best cheap tablets and the best tablets under $200.

Here, read on to see the best tablets to get.

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

Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch 2020
What We Like
  • Stunning design

  • Fast, powerful performance

  • Improved AR through LiDAR

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive, even before accessories

  • No headphone jack

The fourth generation of Apple's top-end iPad doesn't lose any of the impressive, market-leading features users have come to expect. The edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display is as bright and beautiful as ever, with a 2388x1688-pixel resolution at the 11-inch screen size and 2732x2048 pixels on the 12.9-inch screen. You can work and play harder than other tablets could only dream about, thanks to an A12Z Bionic processor that's faster than a lot of laptops. Its 8-core graphics chip also helps maximize performance on games, apps, and media editing.

One hardware improvement in the 2020 iPad Pro is a 10MP ultra-wide rear camera added along with the main 12MP one. Not that we condone people holding up large tablets in public places to take pictures, but the forward-thinking tablet adds other camera-related tricks. It uses Light Detection and Ranging, or LiDAR, technology to rapidly scan the environment and load 3D objects onto it. Our reviewer could see a lot of potential to make augmented reality (AR) experiences faster, smoother, and more immersive.

The iPad Pro becomes even more powerful when paired with its latest accessory, the Magic Keyboard. Your tablet attaches magnetically to it and "floats" over the full-size keyboard. More significantly, trackpad support opens the iPad up to new worlds, working with swipe gestures as well as a smart, context-sensitive cursor that's precise and intuitive. When combined with the game-changing support for mouse control added in iPadOS (in addition to the Apple Pencil stylus), you have an iPad that comes closer than ever to taking over laptop duties.

Screen Size: 12.9 inches | Resolution: 2732x2048 | Processor: A12Z Bionic | Camera: 12MP/10MP rear and 7MP front | Battery: Li-Ion 9,720mAh

Best Overall, Android: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+
What We Like
  • Beautiful 12.4-inch AMOLED screen

  • Tons of processing power and some software tricks

  • Premium build quality and design

  • S-Pen comes included

What We Don't Like
  • Suffers from non-tablet apps

  • Slightly odd aspect ratio

  • Fairly expensive

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ is, without a doubt, the closest thing Android tablets have ever come to laptop replacements or iPad Pro competitors. Even though the Galaxy Tab line has always felt fairly premium, it hasn’t often felt terribly finished. The Tab S7+ is a really compelling step forward. The standout feature is the insanely beautiful, stunningly high-definition display.

Using the HDR+-capable, AMOLED tech that Samsung is known for, this is without a doubt the best tablet display on the market. While it does offer the same 120Hz refresh rate found on the latest iPad Pro line, it does so with starker black tones and way more vibrant colors. The Snapdragon 865+ processor is also the most powerful chip that Qualcomm has ever released, rivaling Apple’s A14 Bionic chipset in real world performance (even if the numerical benchmarks tilt toward Apple). But, because the Tab S7+ comes with its excellent, sub 9ms latency S-Pen included in the box, it’s notable how much better of a value it is than the iPad Pro.

While Android isn’t exactly the most tablet-friendly OS, because developers haven’t optimized their apps in the same way that iPad developers have, the Tab S7+ does offer something the iPad doesn’t: Samsung Dex. This desktop-like, taskbar-based skin placed over the top of Android makes this tablet feel a lot like a Chromebook or a Windows laptop. You will need to spend an extra $220 to get the official Samsung keyboard cover to take full advantage, but this is a compelling means of being more productive on the device. And because Android offers the Xbox Game Cloud and Stadia apps, unlike the iPad, this is possibly a better gaming platform, too.

The hardware feels great, the cameras aren’t quite smartphone-caliber, but are definitely in keeping with Samsung’s track record. Oh, and did we mention that screen? The Tab S7+ is available with up to 1TB of storage and up to 8GB of RAM, and allows you to expand the storage even further with a microSD card slot.

Screen Size: 12.4 inches | Resolution: 2800x1752 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ | Camera: 13MP/5MP rear and 8MP front | Battery: Li-Ion 10,090mAh

"Not only is this a denser display than anything out there in the tablet space, but it’s also AMOLED, meaning the blacks are as inky and sharp as possible, and the colors are eye-searingly bright."Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Best Value: Apple iPad (2020)

iPad (8th Generation)
What We Like
  • Remains a good value for the price

  • Works with the Apple Pencil (1st gen)



  • Snappy performance from the A12 chip

  • Works with old cases and the Smart Keyboard

  • Headphone jack

What We Don't Like
  • Still no USB-C despite other models making the jump

  • Limited storage, with only two storage options

  • FaceTime camera only 720p

  • Similar in most ways to the 7th gen model

  • Overall design remains unchanged

The 8th generation iPad 10.2-inch is Apple’s entry-level tablet, its most affordable iPad, and it’s more impressive than ever before. With the same great-looking Retina display as the previous version, the powerful A12 chip, improved support for the Apple Pencil, and compatibility with previous-generation iPad Air and iPad Pro accessories, the iPad 10.2-inch (2020) has earned your attention.

Positioned as the most affordable iPad, the iPad 10.2-inch is an impressively competent piece of hardware. When paired with a Smart Keyboard, I was able to use it as a laptop replacement in a lot of situations where I either couldn’t or didn’t want to carry around my much larger and heavier laptop. The new iPadOS 14 is a real boon to productivity, and the Apple Pencil is almost a required purchase with the Scribble feature that allows you to handwrite in any text field.

The 8th generation iPad 10.2-inch is still significantly less powerful than either the iPad Air 4 or iPad Air Pro, and those alternatives are worth looking at if you have space in your budget and a greater need to use your tablet like you would a laptop. For the price though, the 2020 iPad is as good as it gets.

Screen Size: 10.2 inches | Resolution: 2160x1620 | Processor: A12 Bionic| Camera: 8MP rear and 1.2MP front | Battery: 10 hours web surfing

"Combined with iPadOS 14, which makes it easier and faster to flip between apps, the combination of the 8th gen iPad and a Smart Keyboard was a reasonable replacement for my laptop in a lot of situations." Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best Mini: Apple iPad Mini (2019)

Apple iPad mini (5th generation)
What We Like
  • Small and portable

  • All-day battery life

  • Fast A12 Bionic processor

  • Headphone jack

  • Apple Pencil support

What We Don't Like
  • Only two speakers

  • No Smart Keyboard Compatability

  • No Face ID

  • No USB-C

  • Physical Touch ID home button

The new iPad Mini comes with a powerful A12 Bionic chip and 64-bit architecture, which allows you to multitask with multiple apps running, share augmented reality experiences with your friends, and play the hottest games with virtually no lag. You'll get 10 hours of battery life before needing a charge, and the specs all fit inside the sleek and lightweight design (it's 0.24 inches thick and weighs 0.66 pounds).

The Mini manages to make up for its smaller but more portable size by featuring a gorgeous 7.9-inch retina display, with an anti-reflective 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution. The screen makes your images and videos pop, with High Dynamic Range (HDR) support and two cameras, an eight-megapixel on the back, and a seven-megapixel on the front for FaceTime calls. There isn't an app this tablet can't handle, and anything you need to accomplish can be done on the run or while traveling — the Mini is just that versatile and nimble.

Colors come in rose gold, space gray, and classic silver models, and you can choose between 64GB of memory or 256GB.

Screen Size: 7.9 inches | Resolution: 2048x1536| Processor: A12 Bionic| Camera: 8MPrear and 7MP front | Battery: 5,124mAh

"The unbeatable portability of the Mini makes it an ideal replacement for daily planners, notebooks (with GoodNotes 5), and small sketch pads." — Sandra Stafford, Product Tester

Best Productivity: Microsoft Surface Go 2

Microsoft Surface Go 2
What We Like
  • Nice, portable design

  • Solid performance and hardware

  • Long-lasting battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Keyboard is a little cramped

  • Better configurations cost quite a bit more

The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is the convertible tablet answer to laptops. With its Windows 10S operating system, it meets all your productivity needs in a lightweight and ultraportable design. The touchscreen is a 10.5-inch 1920x1080 panel with a 220ppi resolution. It's crisp and the 3:2 aspect ratio allows you to fit a decent amount of content.

There are multiple configurations available for the Surface Go 2. The more powerful options with the Intel core m3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD storage will cost more than the base model, but it'll also give you improved performance and multitasking capabilities. Unlike Android and iPadOS slates, the Surface Go 2 can run word processing, Excel, PowerPoint, and other key parts of the Microsoft Office Suite.

The tablet comes with a keyboard and Surface Pen, giving you options for typing, taking notes, handwriting recognition, and drawing. There's a 5MP front-facing camera that supports Windows Hello login, an 8MP rear camera, dual-band Wi-Fi, and support for LTE with the Snapdragon X16 modem, giving you connectivity no matter where you are.

Screen Size: 10.5 inches | Resolution: 1920x1280 | Processor: Intel Core m3| Camera: 8MP rear and 5Mp front | Battery: 10 hours regular usage

Best for Kids: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition
What We Like
  • Durable design with bumper case

  • Excellent kids content

  • Includes a year of FreeTime Unlimited

  • Good parental controls

  • Reasonable price

  • Two-year worry-free warranty

What We Don't Like
  • No waterproof

  • Poor camera

  • Lacks biometrics

  • Not a good option for older kids

Tablets can be a godsend for keeping kids entertained and out of your hair—the trickier part is making sure they have a device that's appropriate to them. That's where the Kids Edition of the Fire HD 10 joins the fun. In terms of hardware, it's the same as Amazon's new, speedy version of the Fire HD 10, except encased in a kid-proof bumper available in eye-catching blue, pink, or yellow. This latest model packs a gorgeous 10.1-inch, 1080p full HD display, a faster processor, 32GB of storage (with room to expand up to 512GB), and enhanced Wi-Fi.

On the software side, all Kids Edition tablets come with a free year of Amazon's FreeTime Unlimited service, letting your child access tens of thousands of kid-friendly games, videos, books, and other apps without the risk of buying things they shouldn't, or without you having to individually pick out what to download or purchase. The range is pretty broad, so depending on your child's age, you may also want to customize parental controls to filter content, set time limits, and more. Adding additional peace of mind is Amazon's two-year "worry-free guarantee"—if the device breaks for any reason, the company will replace it, no questions asked.

Screen Size: 10.1 inches | Resolution: 1920x1280 | Processor: Mediatek MT8183 Helio P60T| Camera: 2MP rear and 2MP front | Battery: 6,300mAh

"For a small child who isn’t in school yet, there are a lot of learning apps that are incredibly useful."Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best Portable: Apple iPad Air (2020)

iPad Air 4
What We Like
  • Snappy performance

  • Big, beautiful Retina display

  • Uses USB-C

  • Great looking color choices

  • Solid competition for the iPad Pro at lower price

What We Don't Like
  • No Face ID

  • Not enough storage options

  • Fingerprint sensor is touchy

The iPad 4 is a massive improvement over the previous generation, with a blisteringly fast processor, laminated display with rounded edges just like the iPad Pro, and compatibility with iPad Pro accessories. It’s positioned firmly between the iPad 10.2-inch and iPad Pro in terms of cost and features, but there’s a pretty strong argument for the iPad Air 4 being the iPad to buy for productivity, entertainment, and anything else you need it to do.

Aesthetically, the iPad Pro looks a lot like a slightly smaller iPad Pro. They share a lot of design cues, and you can use accessories like the second-generation Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard with the iPad 4 just like you would with the Pro. The iPad Air 4 features a more powerful processor than the iPad Pro (2020) though, and it’s an absolute dynamo in the productivity department.

Multitasking is smooth as silk, the Liquid Retina display is beautiful and incredibly responsive when used with the Apple Pencil, and the tablet really shines when used with the Magic Keyboard. If you’re in the market for a tablet that can do a pretty convincing laptop impression with the right accessories, and the iPad Air 4 is in your budget, then don’t sleep on this one. 

Screen Size: 10.9 inches | Resolution: 2360x1640 | Processor: A14 Bionic| Camera: 12MP rear and 7MP front | Battery: 7,606mAh

"With a faster processor and access to the same great accessories, the iPad Air does just about everything the iPad Pro does for less money." Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best with LTE: Samsung Galaxy Tab A (2019)

Galaxy Tab A 8"
What We Like
  • Compact

  • Lightweight

  • 4G compatible

  • Decent sound quality

  • Has a headphone jack

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't work with S Pen

  • Relatively low resolution

  • Mediocre rear camera

Samsung's Tab A comes in a very attractive 8.4-inch chassis, a great blend of portability and usability (bolstered by an extremely sharp 1920x1080 full HD display, up from the previous generations 1280x800). There's a powerful octa-core processor replacing the quad-core Snapdragon, an upgraded 5MP camera, and, most importantly for some, LTE support so you can make and take calls and utilize mobile data anytime you're away from a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Though the battery is slightly smaller in the 2020 model (though only barely, at 5,000mAh vs. 5,100mAh), it's still got the capacity to keep you browsing, reading, and gaming for long stretches without needing to be reupped. It's also very affordable for an LTE tablet, and is also available as a purely Wi-Fi device for even less, directly through Samsung's website. It's a sharp, versatile, powerful modern tablet and a new high water mark for Samsung's tablet offerings.

Screen Size: 8.0 inches | Resolution: 1280x800| Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 429| Camera: 8MP rear and 2MP front | Battery: 5,100mAh

"The Galaxy Tab A is compact and lightweight, weighing only 10.6 ounces. You can easily hold it in one hand, as it measures only 7.95 inches tall and 4.93 wide." — Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best Splurge: Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Microsoft Surface Pro 7
What We Like
  • Wonderfully portable

  • Great performance

  • UBS-C port

What We Don't Like
  • No Thunderbolt 3

  • Type Cover not included

  • Middling battery life

Microsoft may not have threatened Apple much in the traditional tablet market, but the Surface Pro line has found a delicate, valuable space in between tablets and laptops. The Surface Pro 7, is a 2-in-1 device that's designed to be put to work. The tablet itself sports a vibrant 12.3-inch display bordered by pretty chunky bezels by today's standards, but you may not be holding it like a tablet much. Snap it into the Type Cover accessory and you can type away on one of the most comfortable backlit keyboards around.

As has always been the downside with Surface Pros, that keyboard that's so crucial to the experience doesn't actually come with the tablet, so you have to pay more to get the most out of a device you're already splurging on. But you do get impressive hardware for your investment, especially if you spring for the top-tier configuration: a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU with 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB in storage. It's like a business laptop with extra flexibility—and Microsoft has added a handy USB-C port to the Pro 7, too.

As a whole, the product's 7th generation carries on the tradition of Surface Pro tablets as leading 2-in-1 productivity machines, but it does so without adding too much new. If you're hankering for something a little more forward-thinking in design and hardware, the always-connected Surface Pro X may be worth a look.

Screen Size: 12.3 inches | Resolution: 2736x1824| Processor: Intel Core i3/i5/i7| Camera: 8MP rear and 5MP front | Battery: 10.5 hours average use

"The Surface Pro 7 transitions effortlessly from productivity to creativity to entertainment in a way that’s hard to replicate on any other device."Jonno Hill, Product Tester

Final Verdict

Apple's iPad lineup still sets the standard when it comes to premium tablets, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is best at both multimedia and productivity. It's beautiful to look at, powerful to use, and keeps making new strides in terms of peripheral support and augmented reality. For the best Android equivalent, we love the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ with its 120Hz high refresh display, powerful processor, and productivity potential. There are also several affordable options on this list, particularly among the Amazon Fire lineup if you just want the basics.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jordan Oloman is a tech writer whose work has appeared in several prominent tech and gaming publications. Beyond the devices in this article, he has tested a wide variety of tablets and other products for Lifewire.

Sandra Stafford is a writer and educator who lends her expertise to a number of reviews on Lifewire, including various iPad models and other gadgets for people and their pets.

Ajay Kumar is a Lifewire Tech Editor who has worked for a decade in tech journalism and digital publishing, covering the industry and reviewing everything from tablets to games and hardware.

Anton Galang has 12+ years of experience in writing and editing, focusing on consumer tech and education. He believes in enjoying tablets for work and play—for kids of all ages.

Jonno Hill is a lifelong tech enthusiast who has written for top tech and culture websites, now testing and reviewing a variety of tablets, laptops, and other electronic essentials.

Erika Rawes has been writing for Lifewire since 2019. She's previously been published in Digital Trends and US Today. As a tech generalist, she's tested a wide range of products.

Jason Schneider has been writing for Lifewire since 2019 and has a decades' worth of experience reviewing consumer technology products.

Jeremy Laukkonen is an experienced reviewer and product tester who's been writing for Lifewire since 2019. He's tested a profusion of products, including many tablets, laptops, and smartphones.

FAQs

What is the best drawing tablet?
The best drawing tablets are one that can provide you with a stylus or pen, giving you handwriting recognition and the ability to take notes, sketch, and create digital art. Take a look at our list of the best drawing and graphic tablets for a good overview of your options across many price ranges. If you don't want a dedicated drawing tablet, several newer slates from Samsung and Apple, including the latest iPad and Tab S7+ work with the S Pen or Apple Pencil. With both devices you get the ability to take notes, draw, and sketch, while still being able to use the tablet for general multimedia and productivity.

What is the best tablet for kids?
The best tablet for kids should be rugged, affordable, and have built-in parental controls so you can limit your child's access to certain content and screen time. Take a look at our roundup of the best tablets for kids to see a great list of options. We particularly favor the Amazon Fire HD 8 and HD 10 Kids Edition because they come with a durable rubber case that can stand up to drops and have plenty of parental control options.

What is the best Samsung tablet?
Samsung is the premier manufacturer of Android tablets in the world with slates like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ on the premium end, and the highly affordable Galaxy S5e on the lower end. Our roundup of the best Samsung tablets provides a good overview of your options that fall between them, with many choices that can meet any budget.

What to Look for in a Tablet

Screen size - The average tablet is around 10 inches, measured diagonally, but they can be as small as 8 inches and run up to 13.5. The screen size is really a personal preference, but for productivity purposes, it’s often the bigger the better. If you’re merely streaming a show or reading a book, a smaller screen should suffice.

Budget - You should definitely prepare to pay a premium for an Apple iPad, which can easily cost fives times that of a budget tablet. And the higher the screen resolution and the more powerful the processor, the more you can expect to pay. But Amazon makes some amazingly affordable options that still give you access to all the apps you could want, plus its Alexa personal assistant.

Battery life - Compared to smartphones, which barely make it through the day on a single charge, most tablets can last at least a couple days, depending on use, of course. Be sure to buy one with at least 10 hours of rated battery life and you’ll be good to go.

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