Tablets are still one of the most versatile and useful tech purchases you can make, even if they never did kill off the humble laptop. They can stream movies, make video calls, send emails, browse the web, read books, make music and much much more. If the size of your phone screen just doesn’t cut it and you don’t want a laptop, then a tablet is the perfect companion.
There are many great tablets out there – iPads are obvious choices – but there are several we’d recommend for you, depending on your budget, needs and taste in design. And of course, there are many terrible tablets out there too, but rest assured, none of those features in our ranked chart.
Here we compare the best of Apple’s devices with the top Android models from the likes of Samsung and Xiaomi as well as any worthy Windows tablets – likely from Microsoft’s Surface range – and other alternatives.
Best Tablets 2023
1. Apple iPad Air (2022) – Best Overall
- Great design
- Large display
- Compatible with Pro accessories
- Awkward Touch ID placement
- A little pricey
- Thick bezels
While only featuring small tweaks compared to its 2020 predecessor, there’s little that really needed changing to make the best tablet on the market even better.
The main upgrades come in the form of a move to Apple’s M1 chipset, there’s a new 12Mp front-facing camera with the company’s face-tracking Centre Stage tech for use in video calls and the cellular variant now supports 5G speeds.
Beyond that, it offers up the same premium design in an array of colours, Touch ID and compatibility with Apple’s Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil. All Apple’s really done is given its best tablet an even longer lifespan.
If you want that 120Hz ProMotion tech or thinner bezels, consider the 11in iPad Pro instead, but you’ll pay quite the premium for these extras.
2. Xiaomi Pad 5 – Best Android
- Stunning display
- Good performance
- Slim design
- Lacklustre selfie camera
- MIUI not for everyone
It’s been a while since Xiaomi offered up a slate on the global stage but its return to the tablet space in 2021 – in the form of the Xiaomi Pad 5 – is pleasingly compelling.
The tablet boasts a thin design that’s fronted by a gorgeous 2.5K 120Hz display and comes backed up by great stereo speakers and solid performance to boot.
Just as with its phones, Xiaomi’s tablet-optimised take on its MIUI user experience won’t suit everyone but it’s wholly usable, and while the added connectivity found on the Chinese models doesn’t make it to most markets internationally, there’s still little else on the Android side of the fence we’d highly recommend, especially around the Pad 5’s asking price.
3. Apple iPad 10.2in (2021) – Best Value
- Large display
- Great performance
- Dated design
- Lacklustre cameras
- Middling speakers
It might not be hugely different from the previous entry-level iPad, or as big as the new 2022 model but Apple has yet again created a tablet that’s very hard to complain about and will be an easy decision for many people as the cheapest way to get an iPad – even with a price increase on the original RRP.
If you’ve got the seventh or eighth-gen iPad, there might not be enough to tempt you, but there’s a lot to love here if you’re coming from an older device or want to dip your toe into the iPad experience.
It’s got everything you need from a tablet to do all the daily things you’d want, featuring a 10.2in TrueTone screen, A13 Bionic chip and 64GB of storage as standard.
4. Apple iPad Mini (2021) – Best Small Tablet
- Compact design
- Apple Pencil support
- Superb performance
- A little pricey
- No Magic Keyboard support
The sixth-gen iPad Mini ditches the old form factor for something more akin to the iPad Air and Pro ranges; with an angular design, stereo speakers, Centre Stage technology and much smaller bezels than before.
The Mini’s 60Hz display has jumped to 8.3in, but without changing the physical size of the tablet – allowing for more display real estate without affecting its portable nature. It’s a gorgeous display too, with the highest pixel density of any iPad right now, even if it is a bit on the small side for true split-screen multitasking.
It’s powered by the same A15 Bionic silicon as the iPhone 13 range, making it more powerful than the iPad Air at a similar price.
The Touch ID sensor has been moved to the Power button – like with the iPad Air – and there’s support for the second-gen Apple Pencil to boot. However, the lack of a Smart Connector on the rear means that it doesn’t have its own Magic Keyboard; a real boon for the iPad Air and Pro ranges, and the only real chink in the Mini’s armour.
5. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 – Best with Stylus Included
- Excellent flagship performance
- Long-term software support
- Slim, lightweight design
- S Pen stylus included
- LCD display
- No charger included
- No 5G option in the US
Those looking for a premium Android experience should seriously consider the Galaxy Tab S8. It’s expensive but still the most sensible option compared to the Tab S8+ and Tab S8 Ultra.
You get a lot for your money including a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, plenty of RAM and storage making it more powerful than the rest of the Android market. It’s also one of the only ones to come with a stylus included in the form of the S Pen.
As well as Samsung’s trademark high standard of design and build, you’ll benefit from long software support with no less than four years of OS updates. One of our main gripes is the lack of an AMOLED screen, especially at this price, but this will only bother serious creatives and cinephiles.
Other caveats include Samsung not including a charger and 5G is a tricky situation as you can’t get it in the US and in the UK it’s a sizeable upgrade in terms of cost.
6. Apple iPad Pro 12.9in (2022) – Best for Creatives
- Unmatched performance
- Excellent range of features
- Mini-LED screen
- Expensive, especially in the UK
- Not many apps take advantage of M2
- Similar to previous-gen
The latest iPad Pro in the larger size is the most capable tablet on the market, sporting Apple’s desktop-level M2 chip that provides unmatched power, one of the best displays around with a 120Hz refresh rate and mini-LED backlighting that allows it to compete with OLED displays while being much brighter.
The experience is improved even more with the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard, with the latter turning the tablet into a fully-fledged laptop replacement. However, those are optional extras when the tablet has already gone up a whopping £250 in the UK for the cheapest model.
If you really will use all the raw power and creative features such as Hover mode on the Apple Pencil, then you may be able to justify it. Otherwise, look to the 2021 model or another iPad from the range.
7. Microsoft Surface Pro 9 – Best Windows Tablet
- Solid battery life
- Premium design
- Great keyboard cover and stylus
- Excellent webcam
- Poor performance on ARM models
- Limited ports
If you rely on Windows or want a great tablet for productivity, the Surface Pro 9 is the best choice – provided you go for an Intel model.
A move to 12th-gen chips is the only upgrade of note (aside from removing the 3.5mm headphone jack), but that’s easy to forgive after the big upgrades introduced on the Pro 8. It maintains a sleek, premium design, with the 120Hz display the star of the show.
Other highlights include solid battery life, a great webcam and excellent accessories, even if the latter are still sold separately.
You might have see that there’s a new ARM-based model for 2022, which improves battery life, adds new video calling features and brings 5G to the Surface Pro for the first time. But the effect on performance and how some third-party apps run simply isn’t worth it for most people.
8. Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 (2021) – Best Budget
- Nice design
- Good battery life
- Impressive audio
- Underwhelming display
- Limited internal storage
- Slow charger in-box
The Galaxy Tab A8 makes an impressive return to Samsung’s tablet range, sporting an attractive design and other standout qualities, including impressive audio chops.
The display and the limited internal storage are its biggest shortcomings, holding it back from being an instant affordable media player recommendation, but it still offers respectable battery life and offers a fairly balanced all-round experience, especially for the price.
9. Apple iPad (2022) – Best Design
- Great modern design
- Good performance
- More expensive than ever
- Stupid Apple Pencil connection
- 64GB is an insult
The 2022 iPad is another good tablet and is a go-to option if you want to do a wide range of tasks such as watch films, take video calls, read books, play games and surf the web. It just costs more than the last model, which is still on sale and still a product that can do everything this new model can.
Apple still ships the regular iPad with just 64GB which feels stingy, especially considering the higher price. The 256GB version is the one to get for most people, pushing the price close to that of the iPad Air, which has a better screen and supports the newer Apple Pencil. Apple is in full up-sell mode with its features and pricing here and connecting the older Apple Pencil to the new iPad with an adapter is a joke.
The new colours are nice and the Magic Keyboard Folio is too, but the regular iPad just isn’t the great deal it used any longer.
10. ReMarkable 2 – Best E-Ink
- Thin, light and stylish
- Excellent pen input
- Powerful companion app
- Continued software updates
- Pen not included
- Subscription unlocks all features
- Very occasional software gripes
- No backlight
For something a bit different to your traditional tablet, the ReMarkable 2 is well worth a look. This E-Ink slate might look like a stylish rival to the Amazon Kindle but you can do a lot more than read books on it.
The stunningly thin design is a highlight here and the custom OS makes tasks like note taking very easy indeed and there’s clever cloud syncing, screencasting and online storage too.
On the downside, you have to pay for a subscription for everything to work and sadly ReMarkable doesn’t include a stylus and the screen doesn’t have a backlight for using the tablet in the dark.
Your buying guide to the best tablets in 2022
There’s lots to think about when buying a new tablet but we’ve got you covered with our buying advice below. Also, make sure to click through to the full reviews of any tablets you’re interested in to read more about them.
What should I look for when buying a tablet?
When buying a tablet there are lots of things to consider including build quality, design, size, core specifications, operating system, features, performance, battery life and more.
Which elements are important to you depends on what you need a tablet for. For entertainment, you’ll likely want to prioritise a large, colourful screen and good speakers but for productivity performance, battery life and accessories like a keyboard case are probably top of your list.
We have ranked the tablets above but that doesn’t automatically mean the one in first place is the best suited to your needs.
You’ll also need to decide how much to spend and devices can go beyond the $1,000/£1,000 mark if you buy a premium device in a high-spec model.
Of course, you can spend a lot less than that and we’ll often have cheaper models in this chart but also have a dedicated list of the best budget tablets if you have a tight budget.
Should I buy an Android, Windows or iPadOS tablet?
In the tablet world, you’ve got four main choices for operating systems: an iPad, an Android tablet, an Amazon Fire tablet or a Windows tablet.
Apple iPads run the company’s own iPadOS, which is widely regarded as one of the best out there. It’s easy to use and app developers usually make it their first choice, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find what you’re after whether it’s a banking app or the latest games.
If you have an iPhone, then it’ll also be very familiar. This is valuable when you buy accessories that require apps – mainly smart home or fitness gadgets – as you may not be able to control these from a Windows (or Fire) tablet.
In most cases, apps are made available on Android as well as iPads, but not always. Android tablets can be cheaper than iPads, but there are some Samsung models which cost the same or are more expensive.
Windows tablets come in both cheap and expensive guises, with the advantage of being able to support the same programs you’re likely already used to running on your laptop or PC. There just aren’t as many finger-friendly tablet-optimised apps as you’d find on your phone or an iPad.
And that’s why most Windows tablets come with a keyboard (or at least offer one as an optional accessory) they’re really a hybrid of a laptop and tablet. But as you’ll find out in most of our Windows tablet reviews, this is rarely a case of getting the best of both worlds. One exception is the Surface Pro line, from Microsoft.
The fourth option is Amazon’s Fire tablets. These are based on open-source Android but are locked into Amazon’s own ecosystem, running on what’s called Fire OS. As such, you won’t find any Google services or apps on them natively, so bear this in mind. They are very affordable, though.
Bear in mind that some tablet makers use their own custom OS, such as the ReMarkable 2.
What is the best brand for tablets?
As already alluded to, Apple is probably the brand most people think of first when it comes to tablets thanks to the dominance of the iPad. If you can afford one and it ticks your boxes then great, but there are reliable alternatives.
As mentioned, Amazon makes its own Fire Tablet range but when it comes to Android and Windows slates there are almost too many to choose from – although we are big fans of Microsoft’s own Surface devices, many of which are tablets.
Many of the top brands make both Windows and Android tablets and we’d recommend looking at devices from the likes of Samsung, Lenovo, Asus and Xiaomi. Other brands include Huawei, Nokia, Realme and others.