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Best tablet 2021: the top tablets you can buy right now

Our best tablet guide aims to make finding a great tablet easier, as with so many to pick from, it can be hard to choose. New options are a...

Our best tablet guide aims to make finding a great tablet easier, as with so many to pick from, it can be hard to choose. New options are arriving all the time too, most recently the iPad 10.2 (2021) and iPad mini (2021), so read on to see how they rank below.

There are plenty of other excellent tablets to choose from too though, such as the iPad Air 4 (2020), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro, and the iPad mini (2019). You’ll find all of those and many more in our list below.

The best tablet won't be the same for everyone, so they're all worth considering. Factors that you should bear in mind will include operating system, size, price, and specs. If price is your main focus, be sure to check out our best cheap tablet guide.

To make things easier, each entry below shows you all of those things at a glance, along with an overview highlighting why you might - or might not - like each of them.

And if you don't see anything you like, it's worth checking back regularly, because we're expecting new additions throughout the year and in early 2022, with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 for example likely to land before too long, and that looks set to be a serious iPad Pro rival.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up at the end of November and we're expecting to see a lot of discounts pop up. Whether you're looking for the best iPad Black Friday deals or the best tablet Black Friday deals we've gathered together all the best offers and prices. 

Best tablet 2021

iPad Pro 12.9 2021

(Image credit: Apple)

1. iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)

The best iPad

Weight: 682g | Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm | OS: iPadOS 14 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels | CPU: Apple M1 | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | microSD slot: No | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 12MP + 10MP | Front camera: 12MP

Phenomenal power
Fantastic display
The most expensive tablet
Lackluster color options

The iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) is a spectacular tablet, with its headline feature arguably being the M1 chipset that powers it. This chipset was lifted straight from Apple’s top-end Macs, so you’re truly getting desktop power in a tablet here.

But that’s not all this tablet has going for it. For the first time in an iPad, it also has a Mini LED screen, with a remarkably high 1,600-nit peak brightness, a 120Hz refresh rate, and a 2048 x 2732 resolution. It’s crisp, bright, vibrant, and all-round impressive.

The iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) also has a long-lasting battery, a decent camera, a premium aluminum design, and support for the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2 – these are sold separately, but turn it into a real productivity machine.

So if you want to get some proper work or creation done on a tablet, or you’re just a big tablet gamer, the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) will be the perfect device. But if your needs are lighter then you might find this too expensive and too big.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)

The iPad 10.2 (2021) from front and back

(Image credit: Apple)

2. iPad 10.2 (2021)

The best basic iPad

Weight: 487g | Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm | OS: iPadOS 15 | Screen size: 10.2-inch | Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels | CPU: A13 Bionic | Storage: 64/256GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 12MP

Excellent value
Upgraded selfie camera
Only iPad without Face ID
Doesn’t support newer accessories

The iPad 10.2 (2021) is an affordable iPad and it looks it, as it’s now the only current model with an old-fashioned, bezel-heavy design. We’re not big fans of this aspect of it, but almost every other part of the iPad 10.2 (2021) impressed us.

From its excellent 12MP ultra-wide selfie camera (which gives video calls a major upgrade), to its True Tone display tech (which helps with outdoor visibility), there’s a lot to like here. You also get double the storage of the previous model and a power boost, so this might be a budget iPad, but it’s still a highly capable tablet.

Read the full review: iPad 10.2 (2021)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

(Image credit: Samsung)

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

The best Android tablet

Weight: 575g | Dimensions: 285 x 185 x 5.7 mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 12.4-inch | Resolution: 1752 x 2800 pixels | CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus | Storage: 128GB/256GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 10,090mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 5MP | Front camera: 8MP

Gorgeous OLED screen
Premium design
Android lacks quality tablet apps
High price - but reasonable value

The first Android tablet on our list is the best tablet that Samsung has ever made, and it's a serious rival to the iPad Pro range that you've read about above.

In fact, its screen arguably has those slates beat, as it’s a 12.4-inch Super AMOLED one with a 2800 x 1752 resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. The iPad Pro range can match much of that, but those slates have LCD screens that for the most part aren't as good.

Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset, which we found to be plenty powerful, and it comes with a premium metal build that is incredibly slim with it only being 5.7mm thick.

Want high speed internet? A version of the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus also comes with 5G connectivity, and you'll get the Samsung S Pen stylus in the box for free. Android isn't as good as iPadOS is on tablets, but if you want an Android alternative to an iPad this could be it.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

The iPad Pro 11 (2021) from the front, with the back also half visible

(Image credit: Apple)

4. iPad Pro 11 (2021)

The best 11-inch iPad

Weight: 466g | Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm | OS: iPadOS 14 | Screen size: 11-inch | Resolution: 1668 x 2388 pixels | CPU: Apple M1 | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | microSD slot: No | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 12MP + 10MP | Front camera: 12MP

Desktop PC-level performance
Good battery life
iPadOS doesn't utilize the power of M1
Doesn’t feature a Mini LED display

The iPad Pro 11 (2021) is a superb tablet, but one that’s just ever so slightly underwhelming in the face of the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) with its Mini LED display.

This instead has to settle for LCD like its predecessor, but it still has a great 11-inch 1668 x 2388 screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, and it has the same overpowered Apple M1 chipset as its larger sibling, so nothing should slow this down.

The iPad Pro 11 (2021) also has a smaller, lighter build than the 12.9-inch model, making it more portable – as a result of its smaller size and inferior screen it’s also more affordable, though certainly far from cheap.

If you do have extra cash to spend though, you can always shell out on a Magic Keyboard or an Apple Pencil, both of which are supported. All of which means this is a very powerful, versatile slate – albeit one that’s slightly let down by its restrictive software.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 11 (2021)

iPad Air 4 (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

5. iPad Air 4 (2020)

The best middle iPad

Weight: 458g | Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm | OS: iPadOS 14 | Screen size: 10.9-inch | Resolution: 1640 x 2360 pixels | CPU: A14 Bionic | Storage: 64GB/256GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

All-screen design
Lots of power
64GB storage is limited
Higher price than last-gen

The iPad Air 4 (2020) is arguably the best tablet for anyone who can’t quite justify splashing out on the very best, as it has many of the things that make the iPad Pro range great, but it costs less.

It even has an A14 Bionic chipset, which is what you’ll find in the iPhone 12 range, and we found it to be exceptionally powerful.

The iPad Air 4 (2020) also supports both the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, so it’s almost as good as a laptop replacement or general productivity device as an iPad Pro.

With good all-round specs too and a wide range of colors that you can buy it in, the iPad Air 4 (2020) is a great choice for a lot of people – though the cheapest model only comes with 64GB of storage, which won’t go far.

Read the full review: iPad Air 4 (2020)

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

(Image credit: Lenovo)

6. Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

The best tablet for media

Weight: 485g | Dimensions: 264.3 x 171.4 x 6.9mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 11.5-inch | Resolution: 1600 x 2560 pixels | CPU: Snapdragon 730G | Storage: 128GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 8,600mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 5MP | Front camera: 8MP + 8MP

Lovely OLED display
Loud quad-speakers
Weak camera
Middling power

It’s not often that we see a Lenovo tablet in this list, but the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is deserving, as it combines loads of premium features with a mid-range price.

The highlight is undoubtedly its screen, which is an 11.5-inch 1600 x 2560 OLED one with 263 pixels per inch and HDR10 support. So it’s big, sharp, and being OLED arguably gives it an edge over LCD rivals – including Apple’s entire iPad range.

That screen makes it great for visual media, but it’s great for audio too, thanks to four powerful speakers. And it’s also well built, with a metal shell that leaves it looking as expensive as any other tablet.

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro also supports both stylus and keyboard accessories, so it’s similarly versatile to the iPad Pro range and the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7.

On top of that it also has impressive battery life, with the only weak link really being the cameras (which are a weaker part of most tablets anyway). The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro doesn’t quite have flagship power either, but it’s comfortably mid-range, and priced accordingly.

Read the full review: Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

The iPad mini (2021) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

7. iPad mini (2021)

The best small iPad

Weight: 293g | Dimensions: 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3mm | OS: iPadOS 15 | Screen size: 8.3-inch | Resolution: 1488 x 2266 pixels | CPU: A15 Bionic | Storage: 64GB/256GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 12MP

Stylish compact design
Lots of power
Battery life could be better
5G connectivity is limited

The iPad mini (2021) is a big upgrade for Apple’s tiny tablet range, as it sports a more modern design with a bigger 8.3-inch screen squeezed into an even smaller space than the old model’s 7.9-inch display.

The new mini also comes with a lot more power and 5G support for the first time on a mini model. Elsewhere the changes are smaller, and we weren’t overly impressed by the battery life of the iPad mini (2021), but it’s still not just the best small iPad but the best small tablet from any brand.

Read the full review: iPad mini (2021)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

(Image credit: Samsung)

8. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

The best budget Samsung tablet

Weight: 476g | Dimensions: 244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7 mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 10.4-inch | Resolution: 1200 x 2000 pixels | CPU: Exynos 9610 | Storage: 64GB/128GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 7,040mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Robust design
S Pen as standard
Can be a little sluggish
Some issues with S Pen

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a cheaper version of the Galaxy Tab S6, and rather than offering a smaller tablet it instead loses a couple of high-end specs to keep the price down.

Samsung hasn't included a top-end chipset or the greatest cameras here, but it's far more affordable than a lot of the other options you'll find on this list, and we were impressed with the software customization options and the solid design.

If you're sure an Android tablet will do what you need it to, Samsung products are some of the very best on the market and you'd be hard pressed to go wrong with opting for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

iPad 10.2 (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

9. iPad 10.2 (2020)

The best very cheap iPad

Weight: 490g | Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm | OS: iPadOS 14 | Screen size: 10.2-inch | Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels | CPU: A12 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Cheaper option
Strong performance
Very little change
Only 1.2MP selfie camera

The iPad 10.2 (2020) isn’t the most thrilling of updates, as it’s really only a modest improvement on 2019’s iPad 10.2, but it’s still an improvement, although no longer the best of the range.

This tablet comes with an A12 Bionic chipset that makes it quite a bit faster than the older model. It also has a 20W charger packaged in the box, which means it's much faster at charging than previous models.

All the same great features you'd expect from an iPad of this price return here including access to iPadOS software, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support as well as strong battery life.

Why shouldn't you buy it? The selfie camera is feeling a touch tired on the iPad 10.2 (2020), plus you shouldn't opt for the 32GB model if you want a lot of storage on your tablet. If you're okay with both those things, this remains a great tablet choice.

Read the full review: iPad 10.2 (2020)

iPad Air (2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

10. iPad Air (2019)

The best older iPad

Weight: 456g | Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm | OS: iPadOS | Screen size: 10.5-inch | Resolution: 1668 x 2224 pixels | CPU: A12 Bionic | Storage: 64GB/256GB | microSD slot: No | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 7MP

Brilliant-looking laminated screen
Cheapest Smart Keyboard iPad
Uses the 1st Gen Apple Pencil
Traditional design doesn't wow

If you're looking for a good compromise between Apple's new Pro tablets and the base iPad 10.2, the iPad Air range is it, and this is a cheaper, older model in the range. It's compatible with Apple's excellent Smart Keyboard Cover and priced right for students looking to take notes on a powerful laptop.

It does have Apple Pencil compatibility like all of Apple's newer tablets, but it's not the best tablet for artists. 

The Pro versions support Apple Pencil Gen 2 with extra gesture features and magnetic charging. This iPad sticks with the older Gen 1 Pencil and has just two speakers instead of four. But everyone should be fine with the fast A12 chipset.

Read the full review: iPad Air (2019)

How we tested

Every tablet on this list has been thoroughly tested and put through a comprehensive review, so we know exactly what makes them tick and how they compare. From there, we've ranked them based on our findings, factoring in their price and value too.

What should I look for when buying a tablet?

The main things to consider are how much you want to spend, and what operating system you want - with Apple's iPadOS and Android being the two main options. Then think about what else matters to you in a tablet - be it size, power, camera or battery - and choose accordingly.

What tablet can replace a laptop?

If you're hoping to get serious work done on a tablet then an iPad Pro, such as the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021), would be a good option. This has a big screen, lots of power, and supports a keyboard accessory. For an Android alternative, consider the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, which has similar selling points.



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