The 13 Best Tablets to Buy in 2018

See our top tablet picks for gamers, children, designers and more

iPad Pro 10.5

When shopping for a tablet, it’s hard to know where to start. There are so many things to take into consideration such as portability, budget, battery life and primary usage.

To help you find the tablet that’s best for you, here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular ones on the market right now, ranging from the affordable Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet to the Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3 (which doubles as a laptop).

With Apple’s fastest ever mobile processor and True Tone display, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is easily the best tablet out there right now. The iPad Pro uses sensors to detect the light in whatever room it’s in to adjust the color temperature of the display to the ambient light. The effect makes the screen look more like paper, and is most noticeable when it’s turned off and the screen switches to a bright bluish light. In addition to a 2224 x 1668 screen resolution, the device uses an A10X Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture Embedded M10 co-processor, the fastest mobile processor available on an iOS device, and features four speakers for the best possible sound. Not to mention, the iPad Pro is compatible with the Pencil, and has a special connector to keyboards so you don’t have to rely on a Bluetooth connection to type without using the on-screen keyboard. Obsessed with Instagramming? Apple also included the same rear-facing 12MP camera with 4K HD video, as well as a 7MP FaceTime HD camera, for those who want to take better photos on their tablet. Battery life is around 10 hours and it comes with 256 GB storage.

Best New Release: Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet

The Fire HD 10 tablet is both Amazon’s newest and biggest Fire tablet, and it’s their first step into truly competing with the larger Galaxy and Apple tablets. But, they’re doing that competing at a fraction of the price. It comes in three colors (black, blue or red), two sizes (32GB or 64GB) and with or without the ad-supported special offers. That all feels pretty standard for the Fire series, so let’s move on to the coolest part, which is the number of features you get for that bargain price.

For starters, that screen comes with a full 1080p resolution (1920 x 1200 pixels at 224 pixels per inch), so you’ll be able to post up and watch stunning movies and play HD video games with unbelievable clarity. They’ve even built in an interesting “in-plane-switching” LCD tech that offers less glare and more viewing angles. Even the stereo speakers on the Fire 10 sound as much like ones that belong in your home.

There’s a quad-core 1.2 GHz/1.4 GHz processor set with two times the RAM of the last gen of the Fire, so it won’t choke on any streaming you throw at it. The battery lasts up to 10 hours, so you’ll be able to do exactly what you’re supposed to do with a tablet – enjoy it on the go without having to be tethered to an outlet. The cameras on the front and back aren’t much to write home about, but the rear does offer 2MP of quality with the ability to shoot 720p video. Round that out with built-in Amazon Alexa functionality for summoning assistance and controlling your smart home, and factor in the durability (they’re calling it more durable than the iPad Pro 10.5-inch tablet), and you’ve got an absolute steal for the price.

Best Display: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 sports an HDR-ready Super AMOLED screen that’s bright, vibrant and gives you the starkest differences between black and white levels. On top of that, the 9.7-inch screen gives you a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, which is basically best in class. But beyond the display, the tablet doesn’t skimp on the rest of the features, either. The S pen, which has been a key character on several iterations of Galaxy devices, is front and center here, giving you a ton of extra features such as precise drawing, pulling up quick menus with the side buttons and more.

Samsung has tapped AKG to tune their set of quad speakers to accurately represent what is going on on the screen and to best project the sound to whatever position you’re watching from. Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging gives you a full charge after only three hours, which gives you 12 hours of heavy use on the tablet.

The rear camera affords photos taken at a resolution of 13MP, while the front-facing camera allows selfies and video calls at 5MP. It comes standard with 32GB and can be expanded to up to 400GB by external SD card. There’s a Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor powering it all, which is plenty snappy for some of the more premium features, including Samsung’s seamless wireless sharing functionality called Samsung Flow.

Best 2-in-1 Tablet: Microsoft Surface Book 2 (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB)

Hot off the presses is Microsoft’s Surface Book 2, the company’s most versatile and premium device on the market. The design is just like that of the original Surface Book, but why fix something that isn’t broken? Its magnesium chassis lends it a solid build, although it isn’t the lightest or thinnest machine out there, measuring 0.51 to 0.90 inches and weighing 3.38 pounds. Still, its convenience puts all other competitors to shame. It’s usable in 4 modes: Laptop, Tablet (when the keyboard is detached), Studio (when the keyboard is folded back) and View (when the 13.5-inch PixelSense multi-touch display is detached and flipped around).   

The Surface Book 2 is highly configurable, with the option of an i5 or i7 Intel Core, up to 16GB RAM and up to 1TB or storage. That makes it a more powerful than your standard tablet. Perhaps the most impressive feature of this 2-in-1, though, is its battery life, which boasts an ample 17 hours.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2

If Apple’s iPad doesn’t strike you as a must-buy, turn your head to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2. It’s everything the iPad is, but it runs Android 5.0 underneath Samsung’s proprietary TouchWiz skin. The 9.7-inch 2048 x 1536-pixel display is excellent and more than ideal for day-to-day tasks, including watching movies. The dual 1.9GHz + 1.3GHz quad-core CPU is paired with 3GB of RAM for snappy performance, and it doesn’t even stutter while multitasking. Lastly, the soft-plastic shell that pairs with metal running around the edges offers a semi-premium look and feel.

Beyond looks and power, the battery offers around 10 hours of use under everyday conditions with email, browsing and some movie streaming. Fortunately, the 32GB of internal storage is paired with a microSD slot for up to 128GB of extra storage for movies, pictures and video. The rear-facing eight-megapixel camera takes good enough photos but, like most tablet cameras, feels more like an afterthought than an everyday shooter. Fortunately, one of the Galaxy Tab S2's strengths is that it includes a bevy of Google, Microsoft and Samsung apps right out of the box, so jumping right into work and play is easy.

If you're purchasing this for a child, here's how to childproof your Android and make it kid-friendly. 

If you're buying a used version, here's how to erase all data and reset an Android.

Best Budget: Amazon Fire HD 8

The eight-inch 1280 x 800-pixel HD display of the Amazon Fire is more than good enough to watch the millions of movies and TV shows and read countless books (which are all available through Amazon Prime and other apps such as Netflix and Hulu). Finding movies to watch is a snap, thanks to the 1.3GHz quad-core processor that pairs with 1.5GB of RAM. For many, the display is a sweet spot that helps those who find the seven-inch size too small and the 9.7-inch size too large. Aside from the “sized just right” display, the onboard rear 2-megapixel camera and VGA front-facing camera aren’t terribly impressive, but exist for grabbing photos in a pinch. Camera quality aside, the build of the Fire HD 8 feels far more premium than the price would suggest and Amazon claims its two times more durable than the iPad Mini 4 and at a fraction of the cost. The addition of Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant (which can even make calls) and budget-friendly price makes the Fire HD 8 a must buy. 

Runner-Up, Best Budget: ASUS ZenPad 10.1"

While the ASUS ZenPad 10.1” does not rival the Amazon Fire HD for cheapness, it still comes in at a great price of less than $160 and has plenty of good features for a cheap Android-based tablet. As the name implies, this ZenPad has a 10.1-inch HD IPS screen. It measures .4 x 9.9 x 6.8 inches, weighs 1.1 pounds and has 16GB of storage. However, i’s not slow, thanks to its 2GB of RAM and a quad-core 64-bit processor. If you want to take photos, it has a five-megapixel back camera and a two-megapixel front camera for selfies.

Many Amazon reviewers said the ASUS ZenPad 10.1” met or exceeded their expectations. The biggest thing they said to consider was that this is not an iPad and you shouldn’t replace an iPad with this, as it might be a bit of a letdown. But if this is a first tablet or a tablet for a child, it’s a great option.

Best for Portability: Samsung Tab A

This small tablet by Samsung is designed with portability in mind, the perfect companion for plane rides and overstuffed backpacks. It runs Android Marshmallow on 2GB of RAM and an Octa-core 1.6Ghz processor gives a smooth performance. While the 16GB of internal memory is on the small side, it has a microSDMT card slot to expand your capacity by up to 200GB, perfect for loading your tablet with enough movies and apps to keep you occupied. The 13-hour battery life is also ideal for long stretches on the road, while the smaller 10.1” screen and thin profile won’t weigh you down despite displaying excellent imagery. Finally, you can multitask with ease, thanks to functionality that allows you to run two apps side by side.  

Best for Designers: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Anniversary Edition

Microsoft re-released its award-winning Surface Pro 4 to include the upgraded Windows 10 anniversary edition, with better security measures and support. More importantly for designers, the latest Windows 10 updates pair with the Surface Pro 4 to excel at any professional task, thanks to support for Adobe Creative Cloud, AutoCAD, Visual Studio and other programs. You can easily run demanding creative programs side by side, streamlining the display process.

Of course, the functionality of the Surface Pro is what makes it a designer’s dream. It has a powerful 6th generation Intel i5 or i7 processor, with 4GB or 16GB of RAM. All builds include a beefy battery that can last for over nine continuous hours of use, while the 12.3-inch PixelSense Display looks gorgeous and is incredibly responsive to touch. The Surface Pen has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity and can erase like a normal pencil, making sketching feel natural.

Best for Battery Life: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3

The 10.1" Android Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 has an eye-catching design and a stellar battery life that has enough juice to last the entire day (15 hours). The black features a 2560x1600 Full HD screen with IPS crystal-clear display, which is great for viewing at wide angles (even when it's bright outside). The bottom of the tablet has a cylindrical bar that features built-in dual speakers (courtesy of Dolby Atmos). As for other specs, there's a Snapdragon 652 processor, 3GB RAM and a 32GB SSD, which means it has enough computing power to handle any application. And since it weighs just two pounds, it's easy to take anywhere.

Best for Gaming: Lenovo TAB 2 A10

The Lenovo Tab 2 A10 runs Android 4.4 KitKat (upgradable to Android 5.01 Lollipop), so you can play all the latest Android games with processing power to spare. Its 10.1” IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with 1200 x 1920 pixels yields accurate colors and excellent viewing angles. Best yet, the 7000 mAh non-removable Li-Ion battery will last you nearly a full day. You get some standard features, such as 2GB of memory, an 8MP rear-facing camera and a 5MP front-facing camera, but those are countered by a top-notch sound bar enhanced with Dolby Atmos Cinematic Moving Audio.

Reviewers on Amazon note that it remarkably has no lag in performance and find that its display holds up well to Apple’s iPad.

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Huawei Media Pad T3

The seven-inch Huawei Media Pad T3 is just gorgeous and has a pretty thin set of bezels that are only 6.1mm. The device is only 8.6 mm thick and weighs only 245 grams. The construction is premium as well, offering a single piece of anodized aluminum. The display isn’t super sharp at 1024 x 600, so you aren’t going to blow any minds from a resolution perspective. But the quad-core A7 chipsets give you speeds up to 1.3 GHz, and pairs that with up to 2GB of RAM for ultra-quick performance. The stock storage included isn’t the greatest, giving you only the option between 8GB and 16GB, and the cameras are low on the megapixels offering only 2MP on both the front and the rear. But the massive 3,100 mAh battery will give you a ton of battery life, so it’ll go with you wherever for however long you need. At the end of the day, you aren’t getting top specs and superlative marks, but for well under $100, it’s one of the best tablets for the price.

Best for Portability: iPad Mini 4

The iPad Mini line is the obvious choice for portability with its 6.1mm of thickness and .65 pounds of weight. The screen size is small but not too small at 7.9 inches, with Apple’s classic Retina display offering a resolution 2048 x 1536 pixels. The 64-bit A8 chip has a seamless operation and a truly smooth, native performance. The 8MP camera is pretty impressive, giving you Apple’s well-designed software interface in addition to more MP than is standard in tablet cameras, and they’ve included auto HDR for photos. On top of that, you can record in full 1080p HD for some of the best video footage available at the size.

There’s touch ID powered by the coprocessor, 128GB of internal storage, the choice between silver, space gray and gold, and all the apps and functionality available form Apple’s latest iOS. Even though the iPad Mini 4 isn’t the latest, flagship iPad from Apple, it does not disappoint as a small tablet to toss in your adventure bag.


At Lifewire, our Expert writers are committed to researching and writing thoughtful and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your life and your family. If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission. Learn more about our review process.