There are times when a tablet is much, much more preferable than a smartphone for accomplishing a task.
Even if that task is sitting around reading the news. Which, I suppose, is exactly what you’re doing right now.
The great thing about tablets now, rather than tablets five or ten years ago, is you get decent ones for reasonable prices and they’ve got way more functionality than you might think.
Some are effectively just mini computers. You can attach a keyboard and mouse and use them to replace your laptop.
Whereas others can be thought of a supercharged smartphones. Doing things your phone can do, only with a bigger screen and better speakers.
We’ve rounded up our favourites here, with options to suit every specification and budget.
Best all-rounder: Apple iPad Air
If you just want to cut straight to the chase and find the best possible tablet for the most amount of uses, it’s this one: the iPad Air (2022).
Its benefits are numerous: a distinct and frequently updated operating system, a huge amount of processing power, a plethora of available accessories, and excellent build quality.
Yes, it means you’re locked into Apple’s ecosystem and it also may seem expensive up front. But make no mistake, the iPad Air is the James Milner of the tablet world. It can handle anything you want it to and it’ll keep going for absolutely ages.
Get the iPad Air (2022) from £569 at John Lewis.
If you want to know even more about it, we’ve got a full review right here.
Best budget option: Amazon Fire HD8
If money is the main driving decision over which tablet to buy, then look no further than Amazon’s Fire tablet line-up.
The cheapest of the cheap is the 7-inch Fire tablet with an RRP of £59.99 – currently discounted to just £31.99.
However, if you can possibly stretch to it, go for the Fire HD 8, priced at £89.99.
Doing so will net you double the amount of storage space, more RAM and a high definition display. Since you’ll likely want to pair this with a Prime subscription (for movies, TV shows, music and books) it’s nice to be looking at a full HD screen.
Of course, there are drawbacks: Not every app is available on Amazon’s app store and you’ll also have to put up with adverts on the lock screen. But if you just want a tablet for entertainment, it’s hard to ignore Amazon’s offering.
Better yet, there are accessories for it, like this wireless charging stand that turns it into an Alexa-enabled smart display.
Best for portability: Apple iPad mini
There’s no getting around the fact that, if you’re looking for a portable tablet, you’re not going to want something with a 10 or 12-inch screen.
Which is likely why Apple has kept its line of mini tablets alive. The most recent version is the result of a huge design refresh in 2021.
The new iPad mini is 7.8mm shorter and 0.2mm thicker than 2019’s iPad mini 5. But it’s also 7.5g lighter with a screen size that’s jumped from a 7.9-inch display to an 8.3-inch one, thanks to the lack of bezels.
The screen itself is a Liquid Retina display with a resolution of 2,266 x 1,488 pixels and a pixel density of 326ppi. And all the benefits of a full-fat iPad are included, like a cutting-edge processor, plenty of apps and Apple’s commitment to privacy and after-sales care.
It’s quite simply the best small tablet you can buy.
Shop the iPad Mini from £459 at John Lewis.
Best for office work: Microsoft Surface Pro 8
Despite Apple’s best efforts, there are still a few stumbling blocks to using iPadOS as a fully-fledged desktop replacement. And those same limitations can just as well extend to the Android tablets out there.
So if your objective is work first, play later, you’ll want to get yourself one of the Surface devices on offer from Microsoft. The latest and greatest of which is the Surface Pro 8.
Microsoft has made several design choices, like a 3:2 aspect ratio, a pair of USB-C ports (there’s a USB-A port added to the charging brick), headphone jack and, of course, the full Windows 11 operating system.
The only drawback – and it’s a one to bear in mind – is you’ll have to pay an extra £160 to buy the keyboard cover separately. And if you’re going to use it for work, it’s pretty much essential.
Get the Surface Pro 8 from £849, direct with Microsoft.
Best for Android users: Samsung Galaxy Tab A7
Not everyone wants to jump into Apple’s (or Microsoft’s) ecosystem when it comes to tablets. For that reason, there’s Android. Google’s operating system is less restrictive than Apple’s, so if you want a tablet with a bit more freedom to tinker, this is where you should look.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 is a good mix of price, performance, and build quality. It’s not quite a stock Android experience as Samsung likes to add a few of its own touches. But otherwise, you can pretty much do what you want with it.
There’s a colourful 10.4-inch screen (Samsung is good at screens), decent speakers, respectable battery life and a nice metal design that feels better to hold than a plastic alternative.
There’s only 32GB of on-board storage, but Samsung will let you add to this with a microSD card. It’s not a tablet to go to for heavy work demands, but for light entertainment, it’ll do the business.
Buy for £219 at Amazon.
The best tablet for gaming: Asus ROG Flow Z13
The Asus ROG Flow Z13 is a monster in every respect – which it needs to be if you’re hoping to use a tablet for high-end gaming. Think of it as the Surface Pro 8 on steroids.
This 13.4-inch beast comes with an attachable keyboard and a kickstand, which lets you know it’s not really trying to be a ‘tablet’ at all. You can configure the internals to include a 1TB hard drive, an Intel Core i9-12900H CPU and an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti GPU. That’s plenty enough to kick back with for a few hours of Elden Ring.
Although a few hours is being generous. You’ll get around five hours of battery power for demanding tasks which can drop down to as little as an hour if you’re really hammering it with a full-on AAA gaming title.
But still, if you’re a gamer and you want the best there is, this is it.
Priced at £1898.99 at Scan.
Best screen: iPad Pro 12.9
Apple holds one distinct advantage when it comes to building tablets: it controls everything.
That means the hardware and the software are all designed by Cupertino. And the iPad Pro 12.9 is the pinnacle of that. It’s also the best iPad running Apple’s own silicon chip: the Apple M1. That means there’s an awful lot of synergy happening under the aluminium chassis.
As a result, battery life and processing ability are maximised and, because the USB-C charging port supports Thunderbolt 4, you can add plenty of accessories and use this almost as a laptop replacement.
Moreover, the 12.9-inch, 120Hz screen is what Apple calls the Liquid Retina XDR display. It’s basically Apple’s professional standard Pro Display XDR screen normally used by photography and videography professionals. So it looks good.
Shop from £959 at John Lewis.
Best for writing: reMarkable 2
The reMarkable 2 is a tablet with a difference. It’s focusing on doing one thing and doing it really well: writing.
The 10.3-inch screen is a black and white e-ink one – like you’d find on a Kindle – rather than traditional glass. That means writing on it with the supplied stylus is just like writing on paper.
Your notes, doodles and annotations all sync to the cloud so you can access them on other machines and this tablet will even recognise your scrawl and automatically turn it into legible text.
There are no apps and only 8GB of storage, but that doesn’t really matter because this gadget isn’t trying to be anything more than digital paper.
From £299 at reMarkable.
The best tablet for kids: Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition
Amazon has pretty much cornered the market when it comes to tablets for kids, and not just because of the colourful plastic shield it wraps around its devices.
The Fire 7 isn’t the nippiest tablet and doesn’t have the best screen, but it does come with a year’s subscription to Amazon Kids+, a service providing age-appropriate apps, games, books and videos. As you’d expect, parental controls are baked in as well so you can control everything your kids do on this tablet.
As a sweetener, Amazon also adds a two-year free guarentee to its kids’ tablets. So if your toddler flings the thing off the couch and cracks the screen, Amazon will replace it, no questions asked.
Get the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Tablet for £99.99 at Amazon.
Best tablet that’s also a phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
Samsung has grabbed the foldable sector by the balls with a number of envelope-pushing gadgets.
Revealed in August last year, the Fold3 is a 7.6-inch tablet that folds down to a 6.2-inch smartphone. Both screens use AMOLED technology and feature a 120Hz refresh rate which makes them great for watching videos or playing games.
What’s impressive is that Samsung has fitted an under-display camera to the 7.6-inch screen. So if you’ve got the phone open as a tablet, you can have an uninterrupted screen but still utilise a camera for video calls or facial recognition on apps.
The Z Fold3 5G packs an octa-core processor alongside 12GB of RAM with a choice of either 256GB or 512GB of storage. You can also use Samsung’s S Pen stylus accessory with it and it comes in a choice of either black, green or silver.
From £1,599 (with trade-in discounts available) at Samsung.
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