The 10 Best Tablets to Buy in 2017

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

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 to the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S (which doubles as a laptop).

1
Best Overall: 9.7-inch iPad Pro

9.7-inch iPad Pro
Apple

With Apple’s fastest ever mobile processor and new True Tone display, the 9.7-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 2048 x 1536 screen resolution, the device uses an A9X 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 (like the iPhone 6S), for those who want to take better photos on their tablet. Battery life averages 9 to 10 hours and it comes with 128 MB storage.

2
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2
Courtesy of Amazon.com

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.

3
Best Budget: Amazon Fire HD 8

All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet
Courtesy of Amazon.com

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 and budget-friendly price makes the Fire HD 8 a must buy. 

4
Best 2-in-1: Samsung Galaxy TabPro S

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S
Courtesy of Amazon.com

If you’re looking for a device that does double duty as a tablet and laptop, then the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is for you. The slim (.25 inches) and sleek design comes with a full-size detachable keyboard (and trackpad) that snaps easily into place so you can answer e-mails and catch up on your work even after you leave the office. With an estimated battery life of 10.5 hours, the Galaxy TabPro S runs on Windows 10 and has an Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. And if you’re looking to play games on this tablet, you can stream Xbox One games to the 12-inch tablet through the Windows 10 Xbox app.

5
Best for Portability: iPad mini 4

iPad Mini 4
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The iPad mini 4 is arguably Apple’s best tablet outside of the iPad Pro line, which easily makes it one of the best eight-inch tablets in the marketplace. Weighing less than a pound, the iPad mini 4 uses an A8 processor that’s just a half-step slower than the iPad Air 2’s A8X chip, but is capable of all the same software features as the larger tablet such as side-by-side multitasking; it even has the same 8MP rear-facing camera as the Air 2. The smaller screen of the iPad mini may not be for everyone, and it is more expensive than the other small tablets on this list, but iOS has a much better selection of tablet apps than Android. iMessage alone is a great reason to choose the smaller iPad over any Android tablet, not to mention access to third-party apps such as Paper by FiftyThree and Tweetbot. The iPad mini 4 comes in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB, and is available in three colors (gold, ​silver, and space gray).

6
Best for Designers: Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Courtesy of Amazon.com

With its included Surface Pen and its ability to run full Windows 10 apps like Photoshop, the Surface Pro 4 is perfect for those who want a tablet for doing serious design work. Like the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S, the Surface Pro 4 is a full Windows laptop packed into the frame of a tablet. It’s a 2-in-1 that’s tablet first, laptop second, though it does come with specs such as Intel Core m3, i5, or i7 processors, Intel HD or Iris graphics, up to 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage. The Surface Pro 4 includes an adjustable easel-like kickstand that can be set to almost any angle, making it great for any artist. Plus, the PixelSense screen has a higher contrast ratio than most other tablets and much lower glare, so you don’t have to worry about the lighting of the room making it hard to draw.

7
Best Screen Display: Huawei MediaPad M3

Huawei MediaPad M3
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The 8.4-inch Huawei MediaPad M3 has an aluminum shell that offers a premium style, and it rivals the iPad Mini's look and feel. Weighing 11.35 ounces and just .3 inches thick, Huawei has done everything they can to minimize the design so the 2560 x 1600-pixel display is the main attraction. Its “Vivid” display is eye-popping and offers more than enough warmth to be ideal for watching movies and performing more traditional tablet tasks. Speaking of movie viewing, Huawei’s partnership with Harmon Kardon offers an audio experience that is at the top of tablet market, with one-watt twin speakers on each end of the backside. The speakers might be the star of the show, but the included H300 earbuds by AKG also offer stellar audio listening on the M3 (you can bet on clear and strong sound). While the M3 runs Android 6.0 out of the box, the Hisilicon Kirin 950 processor and 4GB of RAM offer best-in-class performance. The battery lasts around nine hours.

8
Best for Gamers: NVIDIA Shield K1

NVIDIA Shield K1
Courtesy of Amazon.com

If you’re a hardcore gamer, listen up. The NVIDIA Shield K1 can tap into NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW cloud gaming service that streams PC games directly to the tablet. And while you may be thinking that an eight-inch tablet is way too small to play PC games on, the device can also output to a TV through HDMI for an even more immersive experience. Movie buffs will love streaming videos and new releases on the tablet, thanks to its dual front-facing speakers and 1,920x1,200 resolution. NVIDIA also stays ahead of the pack by updating the tablet relatively quickly when there are new versions of Android available since it does very little to customize the OS, unlike other manufacturers.

9
Best for Kids: LeapFrog Epic

Leapfrog Epic
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Finding a tablet suitable for a child can be tricky because not only do you need one that can hold up despite spills and drops, but the device also has to be customizable. And the LeapFrog Epic delivers on all these requirements, and then some. For starters, the tablet is more rounded than other tablets and comes with either a bright green or pink bumper case to protect it in the event of an accidental fall off the coffee table.

To go along with the kid-friendly design, LeapFrog included software on the Epic that’s tailored for kids between the ages of three and nine. Setup is simple: Parents only need to enter their child’s name and age, and the Epic will auto-populate a profile of age-appropriate apps, games, and ebooks. (But children can also use their imagination to customize their home screen.) And what’s a child-friendly tablet without parental controls? With the LeapFrog Epic, you can set usage time limits, as well as filters for the tablet’s web browser.

10
Best for Battery Life: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3
Courtesy of Amazon.com

If battery life is your main concern when looking for a tablet, then you’ll want to invest in the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3. The eight-inch Android tablet isn’t exactly the fastest on the market at the moment, and the screen has the same low 1024 x 600 resolution as the Amazon Fire, but that means the giant battery can last much longer. In fact, the Yoga Tab 3 is able to last 20 hours on a single charge, which is long enough to last through all seven Star Wars movies plus some web browsing in between. Like other Lenovo tablets, the Yoga Tab 3 has a built-in kickstand so you don’t need to buy a case to prop it up on a table, and it includes two front-facing speakers for a better sound experience than other tablets of the same size and price. Keep in mind, however, that the Yoga Tab 3’s quad-core processor could be faster, and it only has one 8MP camera that swivels from front to back.

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