There are so many different options when it comes to buying one of the best tablets in 2022 that it can be tricky to know which one to pick. Which is why we’ve created this handy guide to help you make the right decision.
From Apple's iPad range, through to Android and Windows options, whether you're looking for a coffee table tablet, a workhorse with keyboard or stylus accessories, something primarily for entertainment, or a slate that can do it all, there's an option for everyone.
Perhaps you’re looking for a tablet for the kids to play with, one of the fancier higher-end options from Apple or various Android makers, or you're intention is to go budget – whatever it is you’re looking for, we’ve narrowed down your options to only the best tablets 2022 has to offer.
If you only want to know the top 3, then here are our best picks:
The best tablet for most people is the Apple iPad Air (2022). Apple devotees will especially love the slim and stylish design, and it has pretty much everything the iPad Pro has, but for a slightly lower price, making it a solid choice for those wanting a tablet for everyday use. The use of Apple's own superfast M1 processor also means it's like an F1 car disguised as a nice mid-range saloon.
The best affordable Android tablet is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. It's a great all-rounder in terms of quality and functionality, which delivers stronger than its 'Lite' name might suggest. It offers great battery life and there's an included S Pen stylus too, so you can not only use it for watching stuff, but sketching and note-taking too.
If you are only interested in Apple products, then the best budget iPad is Apple's iPad 10.2 (2021). This tablet can be used with Apple Pencil or a keyboard – each sold separately – making it super functional for work, play and getting creative. It does all the basics perfectly, so while it's a slight upgrade over its predecessor it's still a very strong slate.
The best tablets you can buy today in 2022
A seriously powerful piece of kit, the 2022 iPad Air features Apple's M1 chipset, an upgrade that really shows. You can pretty much do anything and everything on this tablet, whether that's edit 4K videos or even open large illustration files - although admittedly creative work is somewhat limited by the operating system, iPadOS.
Like the slate that came before it, there's Apple Pencil 2 support and a smart connector for a keyboard too - all sold separately - so this is a slightly better proposition than the entry-level iPad for serious typists and those who want to use their tablet for work. That extra power goes a long way to generate a more laptop-style experience.
Sitting firmly in the middle of Apple's tablet range, beneath the Pro models but above the base iPad, it's a really good balance of price, performance and portability. This is the 'just right' Apple slate that will be ideal for most people. Want to know more? Read the full Apple iPad Air (2022) review.
Now in its 9th generation, so it's showing its age a bit, this is still the best affordable tablet if you want something that can be a surprisingly powerful creative tool - there's first-gen Pencil and keyboard compatibility - as well as a way to watch video and browse social media.
It's a shame that it still doesn't offer proper stereo sound, considering how many people will use it to watch videos on, and better cameras would be nice too. But that's the trade off for affordability.
What the iPad really gives you over even cheaper tablets is headroom – it does all the basics perfectly, but you can also get into video editing, illustration, music-making and any number of other things in exactly the same apps that people run on the higher-end iPad Pro. It might be showing its age, but age is experience, which is why the iPad 10.2-inch comes high up our list.
While the Lite is not quite as powerful as some others in Samsung's range – the clue's in the name really – if your needs aren't that demanding and you want a well-built Android tablet with an excellent screen, this slate is a strong yet affordable offering.
It comes with an included S Pen stylus, too, which makes it great for sketching and doodling, in addition to watching all your favourite content. There's great battery life, too, so you can watch for hours at a time.
So if you’re after a tablet that’s as comfortable for sketching and taking notes in a college classroom as it is playing your saved-up Netflix binge on long-haul flights, the S6 Lite is a good family tablet with plenty of features to recommend it for both work and play.
The iPad mini is a little powerhouse of a tablet, packing in the incredibly fast Apple A15 processor. It's not as capable as the Air or Pro models, but is still a fantastic creativity machine – that's even capable enough to handle video editing – for those who don't want giant screen real-estate.
That smaller panel, at 8.3-inches, delivers a wide-colour gamut, high resolution, plus there's Apple Pencil support should you want to draw or sketch. Being such a small size and weighing barely anything also makes it the ideal 'throw it in your bag' everyday companion. It’s also great for games or entertainment.
But while the iPad mini has all the strengths of iPadOS – including its huge collection of dedicated apps and stable performance even when multitasking – the smaller screen means it can’t always make the most of them. This isn’t suited to office-style productivity (spreadsheets, documents, etc), just due to the size of the screen and how that limits what you can see when multi-tasking. As a fun super-portable tablet that you can do anything on, this iPad is impossible to beat.
Getting work done is made much easier with a Windows 11 machine, and the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is one of the very best because it combines power with portability. It's not just about work, though, as you’ll even be able to download Android apps, adding to its versatility.
The 11th Gen Intel Core CPU on board, paired with up to 32GB of RAM, also makes this one of the most powerful tablets you can buy – the whole system feels seriously fast – meaning it's powerful enough to play games. A standout feature is the 13-inch screen. It's a bright, sharp and colourful beauty and offers an extra smooth 120Hz refresh rate, so everything looks silky smooth.
The only downside is that the battery life could be better, but that’s not to say it’s terrible because it will still get you through most of the day.
As we said in our iPad Pro (2021) 12.9-inch review, this is just Apple showing off. The mini-LED screen is simply the best display in any tablet, while the M1 processor inside is stunningly fast.
Sure, it's ridiculously overpowered for most people, which is why the iPad Air is still our recommended tablet for most people, but if you need a tablet that's as powerful as a MacBook Pro then the iPad Pro delivers in spades.
The only weak point is iPadOS, which is still a little clunky when it comes to multitasking. The only thing more exciting than this iPad right now is the knowledge that the tech inside it will soon trickle down to more affordable models.
Not everyone wants or needs such a big screen, but if you do then the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the best tablet you can buy. It has a 14.6-inch Super AMOLED that is completely and utterly stunning.
Helping you to get work done more efficiently, you’ll be able to open up to three windows at once on the display, plus you get an S Pen stylus included in the box so you’ll be able to start note-taking or sketching as soon as you start it up. Although this tablet isn’t as fast as the most expensive Apple iPads, it’ll still be able to cope with just about anything you could throw at it.
Fantastic for selfies as well as video calls, the dual front cameras are better quality than you'd get in most other tablets (it's also why there's a notch on this slate). The camera system can detect up to 10 people in the shot adjusting the view to fit everyone in the frame, so group video calls will be just as doable as those by yourself.
Granted, its price tag might make your eyes water, but we'd argue that it’s worth it as long as you think that you’ll make use of everything it has to offer. If big is what you want, there's nothing that can outsmart the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra.
If you like the idea of an Android tablet to use for work, play or streaming then you could consider the Xiaomi Pad 5 - it runs on the MIUI for Pad software, which is based on Android but has been tweaked to work better on a bigger tablet screen.
The 11-inch display manages to look seriously sleek thanks to its 120Hz refresh rate. You'll get bold, bright colours too. The Xiaomi Pad 5 isn't the most powerful slate in the world, but this helps to balance out its asking price, which is what makes it further appealing. And, as a result, its efficiency means the battery will get you through the day - even if you're asking more demanding tasks of it.
So if you're on the hunt for a good-looking tablet that performs well across the board, the Xiaomi Pad 5 ticks those boxes. Any Android fan will get along well with this slate.
Maybe you don't have as much space in your backpack, or maybe you have smaller hands, or maybe you just don't have quite as much money to spend – those are some of the reasons you might pick the 11-inch iPad Pro over the 12.9-inch version.
Despite its smaller size, the internals of the iPad Pro 11 are the same as the bigger version: it's supremely powerful, it's incredibly versatile (if you're willing to fork out for extra cost for the keyboard cover folio). In short, it's an absolute beast of a tablet.
It'll run apps and games without breaking a sweat (making it ideal for word processing on the go), and with iPadOS now on the scene it's a better laptop replacement than ever before. Expensive, but recommended.
The Surface Go is a pro-level tablet computer that successfully breaks into the market traditionally dominated by the Apple iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab ranges. It doesn't quite match the slickness of its rivals, but then again its rivals don't have the flexibility of Windows.
And that, simply put, is why this second-gen compact and stylish Windows 10 tablet has found its way into our best tablets guide – it offers something that the other tablets in this list don't, and it does so at an attractive price point, too.
There's been an update model, the Go 3, but that's barely any different to the Go 2, hence recommending the older one in a bid to grab a bit of a bargain.
- Also, why not read our guide to the best smartphones while you're here?
Amazon makes some of the best budget tablets around, offering decent hardware at compelling prices, but there's a big caveat: no Google Play Store access, so not as wide a choice of apps as you might be used to, with major absentees including Gmail and YouTube.
If you can live with that (you still get apps like Netflix, Plex and Facebook), then the Amazon Fire 10 HD (2021) has a good size screen, plenty of storage, and up to 12 hours of battery life. These Fire tablets tend to be better built than other budget slates too, and are going to last.
As such, we recommend the Amazon Fire HD 10 as the best cheap tablet to buy if you want something the whole family can enjoy. It will deliver a long-lasting companion that is especially good for streaming content from Disney+, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
What to consider when shopping for a tablet
Not everybody wants or needs a pro-spec tablet, which is why our best tablets guide includes some much more affordable options too. We'll look at all the premium models too, of course, but we're well aware that budgets are quite tight for many of us right now.
We've also produced guides to the best tablets for kids, many of which are more affordable than you might think – and while we have the cheapest prices for every tablet right on this page, check our guide to the best Amazon Fire tablet deals, best iPad mini deals and best iPad Pro deals if you want to see every current deal for those specific tablets. And if all you really want your tablet to do is show you e-books, it's well worth considering one of the best Kindle e-readers on the market.
In this best tablets guide we're focusing solely on dedicated tablets. If you fancy a tablet that's also a laptop, check out our guide to the best 2-in-1 laptops.
How to choose the best tablet for you
More than ever before, choosing a tablet is about choosing an ecosystem.
If you plump for a Kindle Fire you're electing to join Amazon’s ecosystem, which is based on Google's Android but does its own proprietary thing with its own proprietary App Store.
Go for Android and you're betting on Google and its Play Store. Go for an iPad you're embracing Apple and its separate App Store. If you buy a Windows tablet you're going down the Microsoft road - but with access to Android apps on Windows 11 machines.
There are pros and cons of each. Apple and Amazon are the safest for kids, with Apple the most secure. But it really comes down to what you want to do, and what apps you intend to do it with, rather than if you should buy one of the best Android tablets or best Apple iPads.
As far as the hardware goes, screen size is perhaps the most important factor. Right now 7-inches seems too small when smartphones are just a fraction smaller, while anything over 11 inches is trickier to carry around. On-board storage can be paltry too, so look out for expansion options and/or good cloud storage services.
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How we test tablets
From the most expensive iPad Pro on the market, to the cheapest budget slate, T3 takes testing tablets very seriously. This is because, far from just one-dimensional devices, today's best tablets are powerful computers that are incredibly versatile, and increasingly people are buying them to use as their primary computing device.
Tablets are also big enablers for creativity, as well as productivity, and for entertainment, which is needed now more than ever. With so many people working and living at home, the last thing they need is their core technology letting them down, which is why we review every tablet by the same strict criteria here at T3.
We start by evaluating the tablet's package in total. So we judge the quality of the slate's build as well as what accessories it comes with out of the box. If a tablet is advertised with a stylus and doesn't come with one in the box then we will tell you about it. Equally, if the tablet feels plasticky and cheap in the hand, we'll reveal this.
Next up, we look at what the tablet delivers in terms of hardware, and that includes both its screen and internal components. The majority of a tablet is its screen, and as they are touchscreen devices it is crucial in our eyes that they are not let down by poor fidelity or unresponsive inputs.
In terms of core components, we'll find out what the tablet's CPU, GPU, RAM, storage and battery capacity are on paper, and then we'll look to benchmark the slate and also see how it actually performs in real life. We'll stream video, play games, edit photos, browse the internet, work, be creative and more during our review period.
We'll also take a tablet on the road to see, firstly, how easy it is to carry and transport and, two, to see how strong and long-lasting its battery actually is. If a tablet conks out after just six hours runtime you'll know about it, as too if it delivers all-day battery life.
Finally, we explore the tablet's operating system and software. How intuitive and easy to use these things are is key to how well a tablet scores in this section, as too its breadth of empowering features.
Finally the slate is given a star score out of five, with five stars the best and one star the worst achievable. If a tablet has scored highly, it is then considered for our best tablets buying guide.
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