Versatile and supremely portable, these are the best tablets on the market right now
Apple and Amazon dominate the tablet market but there are plenty of appealing alternatives out there, which makes choosing the best tablet for your needs less straightforward than it may first seem. With a huge number of models available in a range of sizes, running different operating systems and costing anywhere between £50 and £2,000, it can be hard to know which is the best tablet for you. That’s where we come in.
We’ve tested and reviewed tablets from all of the biggest manufacturers and put together a list of the most impressive across a range of categories. In addition to bitesize reviews of the best tablets on the market, we’ve included a comprehensive buying guide detailing which features you should prioritise and the other important things to consider before making a purchase.
All of the tablets on this list will enable you to surf the internet, write a quick email, stream a TV show or partake in a family Zoom call, but some do those things far better than others. So, if you want to ensure you’re getting the very best tablet that you can afford, read on.
How does Expert Reviews test tablets?
As is also the case with smartphones, we generally begin our tablet tests by downloading the Geekbench and GFXbench applications from either the Google Play, Apple App Store or Amazon Appstore. These give us benchmark results for CPU and GPU performance that we can use to compare the tablet to its competitors. Using DisplayCal software and a display colorimeter, we then measure the screen’s colour-accuracy, contrast, black level and peak brightness.
Next, we test the battery life. To keep consistency across all devices, we set the brightness to 170cd/m2 and engage aeroplane mode, then we set a looping video running and record the final timestamp. For the cameras, we take a variety of photographs, including scenic, low-light and indoor shots, as well as any video recording features. We also test how clear the front-facing lens is, for video call purposes.
As there can be quite a lot of disparity between the different app stores, we also compare the availability of certain apps and services on each, to better determine whether a certain tablet comes with any software compromises.
How to choose the best tablet for you
What do you need your tablet to do?
On paper, all tablets do mostly the same things. The difference comes in how well they perform. If you just want a tablet for browsing the internet, watching Netflix and maybe a little light gaming, a 12.9in iPad Pro is overkill, even if it does handle all of the aforementioned tasks brilliantly.
Likewise, if you want to use your tablet for any kind of demanding work – chopping up 4K video or playing the greatest mobile games – the cheap and cheerful Amazon Fire 8 HD isn’t going to cut it, either. If you’re caught somewhere in the middle, you’re looking at a price between the two. Set aside a budget of somewhere between £250 and £350 and you’ll have plenty of choice – especially if you’re happy looking at the previous generation of hardware for bargains.
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Which operating system do I need?
Tablets come with three main operating systems: iOS for iPads, Android or Windows for everything else. Amazon’s Fire tablets come with their own Fire OS but in reality, this is a heavily modified version of Android designed to sell you Amazon goods more effectively.
In some respects, it makes sense to stick to what you know when in search of the best tablet. It’s certainly easier to stay within the same ecosystem, as everything will have a great familiarity about it – and Apple products, in particular, are very good at syncing between Mac, iPhone and iPad. Likewise, if you’ve only ever used iPhones and Windows laptops, taking the plunge with Android will take a little getting used to. But, in truth, it doesn’t matter which one you use that much, what with cloud storage being what it is. It’s very easy to move documents and files between all three, be it through Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive.
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Do you want to draw or type with your tablet?
Tablets are designed to be poked with the finger, although as a general rule, iOS and Android have a better handle on this than Windows. All the same, certain devices have their own pressure-sensitive stylus for drawing or note-taking. In the case of iPads, this is the Apple Pencil for the iPad and first-gen iPad Pro tablets or the second-gen Apple Pencil for the more recent iPad Pro tablets. Sadly, you won’t get a stylus included with your iPad so you do need to factor the cost into the overall price if you plan on using one.
Microsoft Surface devices all support the Surface Pen, which is again sold separately. A number of Samsung’s tablets come with the company’s own S Pen in the box, too.
Included keyboards are even less common, but as a rule of thumb, you can use any Bluetooth keyboard with a tablet. Some, such as Logitech’s K780, are designed to be used with multiple Bluetooth devices and even contain a raised lip to hold your tablet in place.
An all-around better solution is to buy a cover with a keyboard built-in so it’s there whenever you need it. Apple’s official iPad keyboard case starts at £159, while similar options for the Tab S and Microsoft Surface go for broadly the same price. You can save a few quid by going for third-party alternatives, which exist for all the most popular tablets, but be sure to check customer reviews before investing as they may behave oddly or not be up to snuff.
READ NEXT: The best wireless keyboards
The best tablets to buy in 2023
1. Apple iPad 10.2in (2021): Best tablet for most people
Price when reviewed: From £299 | Check price at Amazon
With the 2022 model only making the most minor of improvements, our favourite standard iPad is still the 10.2in 2021 iteration. The A13 processor may be a bit behind the latest iPhones, but it still manages impressive performance. The tablet’s front-facing camera received a decent upgrade over the previous model, with the same 12MP ultrawide camera found on the iPad Mini (2021).
This was also this model in which Apple brought its True Tone colour matching technology to the display. This picks up on the tone of ambient light in your environment and matches the display’s white point to that colour temperature so your eyes don’t have to readjust when you look up from the screen.
There’s still no USB-C – this is one of the few advantages that the 2022 model offers – but aside from that, there’s very little to dislike about this tablet. Affordable and supremely versatile, the Apple iPad 10.2in remains the best tablet around for most people.
Read our full Apple iPad (2021) review for more details
Key specs – Processor: A13 Bionic; Screen: 10.2in, 2,160 x 1.620; Storage: 32GB; Size: 250 x 174 x 7.5mm; Weight: 493g; Operating system: iPadOS 15
2. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022): Best £100 tablet
Price when reviewed: £100 | Check price at AmazonThough not quite as big a leap as we saw with the 2020 iteration, the Fire HD 8 (2022) is still an improvement in all areas that matter, with particular advances in both battery life and processing power. Carrying over from the 2020 version is the 8in display, 2GB of RAM and your choice of either 32GB or 64GB of storage space. There’s a microSD slot, too, allowing you to bump that capacity up to an extra 1TB.
As with the other recent entries in Amazon’s tablet range, the Fire HD 8 (2022) comes with a £10 price increase, and if you want to remove the ads from the lock screen, you’ll need to pay another £10 on top of that. There’s also still the restricted Amazon app store to contend with – Google apps aren’t present, meaning you can’t carry over bookmarks from your Chrome profile, and accessing your Drive folders is more of a hassle than it needs to be.
Even with those caveats, the Fire HD 8 (2022) is still the best choice if you’re looking to spend no more than £100 on an Android tablet. It’s not the biggest advancement we’ve ever seen, but it’s enough of an improvement over its predecessor to take its spot on this list.
Read our full Amazon Fire HD 8 (2022) review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core MediaTek MT8169A; Screen: 8in, 1,280 x 800; Storage: 32GB; Size: 202 x 137 x 9.6mm; Weight: 337g; Operating system: Fire OS 8
Also consider: Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2022)
If you can stretch the budget a little further, the Fire HD 8 Plus (2022) adds an extra 1GB of RAM, wireless charging support, and a slightly improved 5MP rear camera. The base model with 32GB of storage and lock screen ads costs £20 more, with a 64GB model available for £50 more, and once again the choice to remove lock screen ads from either for an extra tenner.
The screen is the same 8in panel as the standard version, and it uses an identical processor, so the value for money isn’t quite as good here. Still, if you want a relatively affordable tablet that charges wirelessly, the Fire HD 8 Plus fits the bill nicely.
Read our full Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2022) review for more details
3. Apple iPad Air 5 (2022): Best mid-range tablet
Price when reviewed: From £649 | Check price at John Lewis
If you’re looking for a powerful tablet but can’t quite stretch your budget to the iPad Pro, then the fifth-generation iPad Air is your next-best choice. It houses the same processor used in the iPad Air and recent MacBook laptops and has CPU and graphical performance that outstrips laptops costing almost twice as much.
It’s thin and lightweight, too, and comes with a decent 12MP (f/1.8) camera, though it does lack a flash and the secondary ultrawide camera that features on the new iPad Pro. Its only other real drawback is that the accessories that will transform it into a true laptop replacement are very pricey: with the official Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2, you’re looking at a total outlay of around £1,000.
Read our full Apple iPad Air 5 (2022) review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Apple M1; Screen: 10.9in, 2,360 x 1,640; Storage: 64GB, 256GB; Size: 248 x 179 x 6.1mm; Weight: 461g; Operating system: iPadOS 15
4. All-new Amazon Fire 7 (2022): The best budget tablet
Price when reviewed: From £65 | Check price at Amazon
The most recent refresh of Amazon’s budget tablet offers enough technical improvements over its predecessor to justify the £10 price increase. Battery life gets a marked improvement, now lasting roughly ten and a half hours, with a new processor boosting general speeds and responsiveness.
Quality of life features returning from the previous model include hands-free Alexa, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot, now allowing you to extend the internal storage by up to 1TB. Given that the All-new Fire 7 (2022) is only available in 16GB and 32GB variants, this extra capacity is greatly appreciated.
The 7in screen is still a bit weak by modern standards, and the restrictions of Amazon’s FireOS haven’t seen any improvements, but these feel like small concessions for how much the All-new Fire 7 gets right. If you’ve got a hard budget, this is the best value you’re going to get out of a budget tablet.
Read our full All-new Amazon Fire 7 (2022) review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Quad-core 2GHz MediaTek MT8168; Screen: 7in, 1,024 x 600; Storage: 16/32GB; Size: 118 x 181 x 9.67mm; Weight: 282g; Operating System: FireOS 8
5. Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: Best premium Android tablet
Price when reviewed: From £1199 | Check price at Amazon
If you want the biggest possible screen and have the money to spare, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is really the only way to go. It has a big and beautiful 14.6in Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, one we’ve praised as stunning. It excels at HDR content and makes all your movies and TV shows from Netflix and Prime Video look gorgeous. It gets pretty bright so you can expect it to perform well outdoors, and that large screen makes this tablet a candidate for a laptop replacement (just add a keyboard for £340 and you’re already there). Samsung didn’t send us the keyboard to review, so we can’t comment on that, but we did have a look at every other aspect of the tablet.
It’s also a very powerful device, backed by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy with up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. In other words, you can run all the apps your heart desires and store all the documents or files you want without needing to opt for cloud storage or a microSD card slot (though both options are there, naturally).
The app support for tablets of this size isn’t as good as you’d get on a comparable 12.9in iPad Pro. However, if watching TV and films is your priority, this is certainly worth a look.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2; Screen: 14.6in, 2,960 x 1,848px; Storage: 256GB, 512GB or 1TB; Size: 326 x 209 x 5.5mm; Weight: 732g; Operating system: Android 13 (ONE UI 5.1)
Also consider: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus
Samsung also sells a slightly smaller 12.4in tablet in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus. With an excellent display that’s just as good as the one on the larger Ultra, a powerful processor that’s been battle-tested across different devices at this time, and pretty much the same software experience as the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, it’s a cheaper option we can enthusiastically recommend.
The size is a downgrade for those who want the biggest screen possible, and you’re also getting a weaker pair of front-facing cameras which means your Meet or Zoom calls won’t be as good. Still, it’s a great substitute if you want to save some cash.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus review for more details
3. Amazon Fire Max 11: Best Amazon tablet
Price when reviewed: £250 | Check price at Amazon
On top of replacing the Fire HD 10 Plus as the top-end entry in Amazon’s range of tablets, the Fire Max 11 also supplants its cheaper sibling as the brand’s best offering yet. As the name suggests, this tablet is fronted by an 11in display, which has a sharp 2,000 x 1,200 resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. The MediaTek MT8188J processor delivered impressive speeds in our tests, and the battery life proved even better, lasting for close to 20 hours.
As with all Fire tablets, the Max 11 really falls down on the software side of things. FireOS 8 is based on Android 11, so it already feels outdated compared to other modern devices, and there are several missing apps in the store – most notably those from Google. As long as you don’t need it for Chrome, Drive or Gmail, however, the Fire Max 11 is a bright and powerful budget tablet that’s especially well-suited to streaming.
Read our full Amazon Fire Max 11 review for details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.2GHz MediaTek MT8188J; Screen: 11in, 2,000 x 1,200; Storage: 64 or 128GB; Size: 259 x 163 x 7.5mm; Weight: 490g; Operating system: Android 11 (Fire OS 8)
7. Apple M2 iPad Pro (2022): Best iPad tablet
Price when reviewed: From £1,190 | Check price at AmazonThere may not have been much need for more power from the iPad Pro, but Apple has delivered it regardless, with the new M2 processor delivering substantial performance leaps, alongside new Hover functionality for the Apple Pencil and support for Wi-Fi 6E. Otherwise, the hardware isn’t really changed: the 12.9in model is again outfitted with a dazzling mini-LED display, offering terrific peak brightness and colour reproduction, and storage options ranging from 128GB all the way up to a massive 2TB.
The biggest issue with the M2 iPad Pro (2022) is that, even considering the ridiculous speeds and beautiful display, it is far too expensive. So much so, in fact, that when you add the optional keyboard, this tablet winds up a good few hundred pounds more expensive than the faster, lighter and more practical M2 MacBook Air.
This excessive price makes it a hard sell as a laptop alternative, but if you’re looking to buy a big-screen iPad, and you’ve got the money to back it up, the M2 iPad Pro (2022) is top of the game.
Read our full Apple M2 iPad Pro (2022) review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core Apple M2; Screen: 12.9in (2,732 x 2,048); Storage: 128GB–2TB; Size: 11in – 248 x 179 x 5.9mm, 12.9in – 281 x 215 x 6.4mm; Weight: 11in – 468g, 12.9in – 684g; Operating system: iPadOS 16
8. Microsoft Surface Pro 8: Best Windows tablet
Price when reviewed: £949 | Check price at Amazon
Microsoft’s eighth-generation tablet-laptop hybrid still offers the same premise as its forebears, but quite a lot has changed in this recent model. From the display to the connectors to the basic shape, the Surface Pro 8 is unlike anything that came before, and with improved internals, we’re looking at the best Windows 11 tablet yet.
Looking similar to the pricier Surface Pro X, the Pro 8’s two USB-C ports now support Thunderbolt 4 connections, with max data speeds of 40Gbits/sec. The detachable keyboard, despite costing extra, remains one of the best on the market, and the new charging connector works wonders, too. The integrated kickstand can be used to set the Surface Pro 8 to any viewing angle you wish, and the 3:2 aspect ratio display is perfect for working on while in laptop mode. The new 120Hz refresh rate is a real treat, as well.
Performance was also rock-solid in our tests, with the Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU outperforming its predecessor with more than double the speeds in our benchmarks. Battery life remains the only sticking point, but at seven hours it isn’t atrocious by any means.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Quad-core 3GHz Intel Core i7-1185G7; Screen: 12.3in, 2,880 x 1,920; Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB; Size: 287 x 208 x 9.3mm (without keyboard); Weight: 892g (without keyboard); Operating system: Windows 11
9. Apple iPad mini (2021): Best compact tablet
Price when reviewed: From £530 | Check price at Amazon
The original iPad mini launched way back in 2012 and this sixth-generation model has finally got rid of its predecessors’ chunky upper and lower bezels. That has seen the overall size decrease but the screen size jump from 7.9in to 8.3in. The iPad mini 2021 now more closely resembles an oversized iPhone rather than a shrunk-down tablet and that’s no bad thing.
The new model also comes with a USB-C port, support for the Apple Pencil 2 and packs Apple’s A15 Bionic processor – the same CPU used by the company’s latest range of smartphones. It’s nippy as a result and that speedy performance is complemented by a sharp 2,266 x 1,488 display that delivers colours in the sRGB gamut with exceptional accuracy. There’s also support for Apple’s True Tone tech, which helps reduce eye strain by matching the white point on the screen with that of ambient light in the room.
The absence of a 3.5mm audio jack is a little annoying and battery life could be better, but for those seeking a quick, compact, well-designed tablet that balances screen size and function, the iPad mini is just the ticket.
Read our full iPad mini (2021) review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Apple A15 Bionic; Screen: 8.3in, 2,266 x 1,448; Storage: 64GB; Size: 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3mm; Weight: 293g; Operating system: iOS 15
10. Nokia T21: Best tablet under £200
Price when reviewed: £180 | Check price at Amazon
While Amazon’s range of Fire tablets definitely dominate the sub-£200 tablet market, you do have alternatives if the software restrictions put you off. The Nokia T21 runs a clean version of Android 12 straight out of the box, meaning no gaudy layouts or excessive bloatware when you boot it up. So, unlike with the Fire devices, you’ll also get full access to Google’s app store and services, which makes working across devices with Chrome or Docs much easier.
The T21 also features a large 2K display that, unlike its predecessor, isn’t hampered by DRM restrictions, leaving you free to enjoy HD content in full resolution. The boosted vibrancy makes the colours pop more than ever and the viewing angles are decent enough. It’s a shame that the refresh rate tops out at 60Hz, though it’s understandable at this price.
The tablet, as a whole, feels nice and solid thanks to the all-aluminium chassis, and the charging speed has been bumped up from 15W to 18W. Not everything gets an upgrade from the T20 – with performance in particular showing roughly the same results – but the Nokia T21 is a terrific all-round sub-£200 tablet.
Read our full Nokia T21 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core Unisoc T612; Screen: 10.4in, 2,000 x 1,200; Storage: 64GB; Size: 248 x 157 x 7.5mm; Weight: 466g; Operating system: Android 12
11. Honor Pad 8: Best-value Android tablet
Price: £240 | Buy now from Amazon
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra above may be our favourite Android tablet, but the Honor Pad 8 comes a close second.
While performance is a little sluggish compared to its Apple rivals, the large 12in 2,000 x 1,200 screen is vivid, sharp and is surprisingly colour accurate, while battery life clocks in at a highly impressive 14 hours – a bit longer than the 10.2in iPad. The Honor Pad 8’s 5MP rear camera and 5MP selfie-cam will cater for all your photographic needs and performance is surprisingly competent for a tablet at this price, too.
Read our full Honor Pad 8 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 680; Screen: 12in, 2,000 x 1,200; Storage: 128GB; Size: 278 x 174 x 6.9mm; Weight: 520g; Operating system: Android 12
12. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet: Best Chrome OS tablet (that’s also a laptop)
Price when reviewed: £299 | Check price at Currys
Google may have abandoned the Pixel Slate some time ago, but this tablet-cum-laptop from Lenovo proves that Chrome OS tablets are alive and kicking. Its strength comes in its versatility – use it as a tablet when you’re on the move (or on the couch) or attach the clip-on keyboard it comes with to transform it into a fully functional, if rather small, Chromebook.
Its Full HD 10.1in screen is of excellent quality, with decent maximum brightness and superb coverage of the sRGB colour gamut, while its battery lasted over 16 hours in our video playback test – a frankly staggering result given how compact it is.
Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Duet review for more details
Key specs – Processor: MediaTek P60T; Screen: 10.1in, 1,920 x 1,080; Storage: 4GB; Size: 160 x 240 x 7mm; Weight: 450g (without keyboard); Operating system: Chrome OS
13. reMarkable 2: The best digital notepad
Price when reviewed: £279 | Check price at reMarkable
A monochrome E-ink tablet that’s purely designed for note-taking, the reMarkable 2 is a great distraction-free option. With a screen that mimics the feel of paper, it doesn’t come with apps like Netflix or Twitter, but it is able to share your notes via Wi-Fi so you can access your doodles elsewhere.
Writing felt remarkably natural in our tests, in a way that scribbling on an iPad with an Apple Pencil never does, and the syncing works wonders, too. The only downside is the price, and the fact that you have to pay extra for the stylus isn’t ideal, either. Still, if you’ve got the money and you’re in the market for a great digital notepad, then you won’t find any better.
Read our full reMarkable 2 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Dual-core 1.2GHz ARM; Screen: 10.3in, 1,404 x 1,872; Storage: 8GB; Size: 188 x 246 x 4.7mm; Weight: 404g; Operating system: Codex
14. Lenovo Tab P11 Pro: Best-value laptop alternative
Price when reviewed: £375 | Check price at Amazon
If you’re in the market for a laptop alternative, Lenovo’s Tab P11 Pro should be your first stop. The tablet itself is here bundled with a detachable keyboard, a magnetic stand and a stylus pen, all for an incredibly competitive price. Not only that, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a laptop that is as lightweight as the P11 Pro – at just 485g, this is a seriously portable machine.
The slim build doesn’t come at the expense of quality, either: the 11.5in OLED screen delivers exceptional colour reproduction and apparently reaches a peak brightness of 500cd/m², meaning that it can do a movie justice as well as handle your daily workload. With the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chipset running the show, it’s nippy enough, too, producing respectable scores in our benchmark tests.
Though speeds aren’t on the same level as some competitors – such as the lightning-quick Apple iPad Air – the P11 Pro has a secret weapon in its battery life. In our standard video-rundown test, with the brightness set to and flight mode on 170cd/m², it lasted for 17hrs 28mins. If all-day battery life is an important feature for you, there’s not much better out there than the P11 Pro.
Read our full Lenovo Tab P11 Pro review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G; Screen: 11.5in, 2,560 x 1,600; Storage: 128GB; Size: 171 x 264 x 6mm; Weight: 485g; Operating system: Android 10