Tablets By Budget
Ultimate List of Best Tablets to Buy in 2021
Tablets are fantastically useful tools, be that for entertaining yourself (or the kids), staying informed with the latest news and current affairs, being creative or working, they are do everything devices that offer fantastic value for money.
This is why T3 has created this best tablets for 2020 guide. From the best tablets to the best Android tablets, and onto the best iPads, this guide has you covered, delivering a suite of superb slates that will do anything but disappoint.
There's plenty of premium choices, for those who want high-level power and features, as well as a selection of super affordable tablets that do the basics brilliantly. We've also included some valuable buying advice, which can be found below our top tablet recommendations.
These are tips and things to look out for when selecting your next slate, including information on sizes and operating systems.
Apple iPad Air
This technically is the iPad Air 3, but it is more like the second-gen 10.5-inch iPad Pro – it's that latter 2017 tablet that the 2019 version of the iPad Air is replacing in the Apple line-up.
The dimensions and screen stay largely the same, but the internal processor gets a tasty boost. Apple Pencil support is here, too, but only for the first-gen stylus.
While there's a smart connector for a keyboard too, so this is a slightly better proposition than the entry-level iPad for serious typists and those who will need to use their tablet for working.
Pricewise and specs-wise this sits in the middle of the Apple iPad tablet range at the moment, and that should tell you all you need to know about whether it's the best tablet for you. It's a really good balance of price, performance and portability, made even better by iPadOS. If you are looking for a fantastic all-round tablet experience the Apple iPad Air 2019 delivers and does so at a firmly mid-tier price point.
The iPad Pro 12.9-inch
The iPad Pro 12.9-inch is the largest, most powerful tablet we've ever seen from Apple.
Indeed, its 12.9-inch, 2048 x 2732-pixel display is a thing of real beauty, while its incredibly powerful A12X Bionic processor is a technical marvel, rapidly crunching through any task you through at it.
There's a top-level supporting suite of tech and features, too, including a capacious and long-lasting 9720 mAh battery, 6GB of RAM and 1TB of internal storage space, as well as 4K video capture functionality and support for Apple's great new Apple Pencil, too.
The tablet runs the latest iPadOS and comes installed with four powerful speakers behind the screen, which make consuming media a joy.
In our review of the all-new 12.9-inch Apple iPad Pro, T3's own Matt Bolton concluded that it is "the best tablet on the market, it's slick, the design is class-leading, and it's insanely powerful, which means it's only going to get more capable with updates as time goes on." Enough said, we think.
Apple iPad 10.2-inch
The new entry-level 10.2-inch iPad really makes you wonder why you would pay more for a more expensive iPad – it's a little slower, sure, and doesn't have the ultra-thin bezels or the very best True Tone screen.
But you still get a whole lot of Apple tablet for not much money. And the ever improving iPadOS runs just as well on the basic Apple iPad as it does on the iPad Pros.
It's the perfect tablet for relaxing on the sofa, or giving to the kids, or doing just about everything you would want to do with a tablet – it has Apple Pencil support now, too, though only for the first-generation stylus.
"It's a really great tablet," we wrote in our review. "There's no obvious compromise on performance, it's a generous screen size, the battery life is good, and it's easy to expand with a keyboard cover or Apple Pencil.
Samsung Galaxy TAB S6
If you prefer Android to iPadOS and want the very best tablet that's powered by Google software, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is it.
It's beautifully designed, it's packed with power, and the S Pen continues to get more and more useful with each passing upgrade.
The software sophistication, the quality of the media playback (both audio and visuals), and the look of that high-resolution 10.5-inch screen.
It may not be quite as good as the iPad, but it's close, and you can at least escape Apple's walled garden (and set a default web browser that isn't Safari – imagine that).
Samsung has even managed to pack in a dual-lens rear camera on this device, so if you absolutely must take photos with your tablet, this won't let you down. As with the iPad, you're probably going to want the official keyboard accessory as well, which will cost you extra. Overall, if you want an Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is the best on the market today.
Microsoft Pro 7
The Surface Pro 7 is everything we know and love from the Surface series: the power of Windows 10 and the versatility of a tablet or 2-in-1 form factor.
It's undoubtedly one of the best tablets of 2020: Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 options (all 10th gen), up to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of storage, and of course that fantastic 12.3-inch PixelSense display.
Despite all that power, it's still light enough to hold in one hand (just about) and chuck in a bag.
We should point out that, as normal, the Surface Pro Type Cover and Surface Pen are optional extras – so you're going to need to pay a bit more cash to make the very most of everything the Surface Pro 7 has to offer. As far as desktop experiences in tablet form factors go though, this is hard to beat.
When it comes around to tablets today there is one name that dominates all others, Apple.
While other manufacturers have challenged the iPad, it is fair to say that for the vast majority of users, unless they have to have a tablet running a non-iPadOS operating system, then an Apple iPad should be the first thing they consider.
This is why Apple's iPad feature so highly in our best tablet guide. Moving away from Apple, and Samsung is the next biggest producer of tablets, with its Tab range delivering powerful Android tablets that run, basically, like giant phones.
These tablets deliver access to the Google Play Store, so rival the iPads in terms of apps, and also tend to be well specked, too. Microsoft's Surface range of systems has also started to make some waves in the tablet industry, with the Windows-running slates offering an even closer-to-laptop experience for non-Apple Mac users.
The Surface Go in particular stylishly shows that Windows needn't not be the preserve of full-blown laptops. Lastly, in terms of makers of note, it would be impossible not to mention Amazon and it Fire range of tablets.
These tablets run FireOS, which isn't quite as good as the operating systems running on Apple and Android tablets, but they do offer all the basics and almost all the major apps most users want.
The Fire tablets are super cheap, too, and the modern ones comes with Amazon's Alexa AI assistant built in.