Best tablet 2021: the top tablets you can buy right now
Our best tablet guide has recently gained two major new additions in the form of the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) and the iPad Pro 11 (2021). Both are great, but one we rank considerably higher than the other. You can read all about them both 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.
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.
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.
Note: we’re only talking about the 12.9-inch model here. There’s also an iPad Pro 11 (2021), but we haven’t reviewed that yet. On paper it’s largely similar, but with a less impressive screen that doesn’t use Mini LED.
Read the full review: iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)
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, and that makes it the best 10.2-inch iPad you can buy, and also arguably the best cheap iPad, if not quite the best tablet overall.
You’ll find its predecessor down below in this list, but this tablet comes with an A12 Bionic chipset that makes it quite a bit faster than the older model. It also have 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, 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 is the best tablet for a lot of people.
Read the full review: iPad 10.2 (2020)
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 aren’t as good.
Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset, which is the most powerful you can get inside an Android product 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) 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)
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.
In fact, the iPad Air 4 (2020) actually has a newer A14 Bionic chipset. That’s what you’ll find in the iPhone 12 range, and it’s 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)
Apple doesn’t have a foldable phone, but if it did it might look something like the iPad mini 2019 when unfolded. It hasn’t really changed since the last version almost four years ago, but it doesn’t need to: we love the small size.
You can flip open the smart cover, scribble some notes, and toss it in a bag without too much worry.
Yes, the design is a little dated and there are thick bezels outlining this screen, but the price is right for a portable tablet with a lot of power. You really shouldn’t consider buying any other small tablet on the market (notice: it’s the only one on our best tablet list).
Read the full review: iPad mini (2019)
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
If you’re looking for a good compromise between Apple’s new Pro tablets and the base iPad 10.2, this is it. 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 Pro 10.5 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)
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.
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
The iPad 10.2 has been replaced in 2020 by a new affordable slate, but that doesn’t mean the 2019 model is not the best placed one for some. We’ve kept this in the list as we’re seeing the price drop, and the new model isn’t that much better.
This isn’t as high-tech as the iPad Pro models above, but it’s still a remarkably useful tablet. It comes with iPadOS right out of the box giving you all the latest features you’d expect from a tablet, plus it works with Apple Pencil and there’s a Smart Keyboard you can also use to make this a productivity device.
It also has the same luxurious metal unibody as the rest of Apple’s iPad range, though notably it’s ever-so-slightly thicker than the other models of the tablet range at 7.5mm.
Battery life on this iPad is strong, it doesn’t cost as much as a lot of other products in this list and it comes with a capable chipset powering it too. It’s hard to go wrong if you’re looking for an everyday tablet that doesn’t have to sport the very best power and features.
Read the full review: iPad 10.2 (2019)