Best tablet 2018: from slim and stylish slates, to productivity powerhouses

Find the best tablet for you with T3's top picks of the best tablets on the market today

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Let’s cut to the chase. The best tablet in the world right now is the standard 9.7-inch iPad. It’s usurped our previous preference, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, because it does almost as much for a lot less cash.

However, while the iPad is the best all-round tablet, that doesn’t mean it’s the best one for you. Indeed, there are currently a dump truck-load of tablets on the market and, despite the Android side of that slowing down as of late, there are still a fantastic quantity of propositions out there.

All of which means that making the right decision when buying a new tablet a tricky experience. To help you find the perfect tablet for you, both in terms of usage scenarios and budget, we've rounded up the absolute best tablets on the market today, as well a provide you with some key buying advice.

We've also included a separate, dedicated list of the best tablets for children, too, so if you are looking for the best kids' tablet, then simply scroll down to find a curated list of the best available.

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 Android but does its own proprietary thing with its own proprietary App Store. 

Go for Android and you’re betting on Google, even though Google’s enthusiasm for tablets is tepid. If you go for an iPad you’re embracing Apple, and if you buy a Windows tablet you’re going down the Microsoft road.

There are pros and cons of each. Apple and Amazon are the safest for kids, and Apple the most secure. Android has arguably the worst user experience, and Windows fewer really good tablet apps. But it really comes down to what you want to do, and what apps you intend to do it with.

As far as the hardware goes, screen size is paramount. 7 inches is too small when smartphones are just a fraction smaller; 13 inches adds bulk and weight without significantly improving on a slightly smaller screen. On-board storage is usually risible, so look out for expansion options and/or good cloud storage.

The best tablets on the market today

best tablet Apple iPad 9.7 (2018)

1. Apple iPad 9.7 (2018)

The 2018 iPad is the sweet spot in Apple’s current lineup: Pro features without the Pro price.

Specifications
Weight: 469g
Dimensions: 240x169.5x7.5mm
OS: iOS 11
Screen size: 9.7
Resolution: 2048x1536
CPU: Apple A10 Fusion
RAM: Unknown
Storage: 32/128GB
Battery: Unknown
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 1.2MP
Reasons to buy
+It’s the best value iPad+Apple Pencil support+It’s almost an iPad Pro
Reasons to avoid
-Compelling new, but hardly an essential upgrade

The new king of our best tablet roundup, the new 9.7-inch iPad is simply a cracking all-rounder.

The iPad is nearly an iPad Pro. Its screen is 9.7” compared to 10.5” or 12.9”; its processor is an A10 Fusion compared to an A10X Fusion; its camera is 8MP with HD video compared to 12MP and 4K; and it supports the Apple Pencil. But the big difference is in its price. 

The cheapest iPad Pro is £619, or £769 for the 12.9-inch model. The iPad starts at £319. It’s not a direct rival to the pricier Pro models, but you really need to be sure you need the marginally better camera, display and speakers if you’re going to spend twice as much money on a Pro.

Read the full review: New Apple iPad (2018)

Adding a TrueTone screen and stereo speakers would make it more of a killer product but as it is, Apple still makes the mid-range tablet to beat. It’s sure to continue to dominate its market, even if owners of iPads from the last few years have little reason to upgrade. Why buy anything else?

Best tablets 2018 Apple iPad Pro 10.5

2. Apple iPad Pro 10.5

Our pick of the Pros: it’s slightly smaller and an awful lot cheaper

Specifications
Weight: 469g
Dimensions: 250.6x174.1x6.1mm
OS: iOS 10
Screen size: 10.5
Resolution: 1668x2224
CPU: Apple A10X Fusion
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64/256/512GB
Battery: approx 8,800mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+As powerful as the 12.9”+Exceptional audio+Incredibly quick
Reasons to avoid
-It’s expensive-Over-specced for some

If your budget allows, the iPad Pro beats the standard iPad in several ways. Its processor is slightly faster, and its display is fully laminated with Apple’s ProMotion system, True Tone display and wide colour gamut. 

The camera is a 12MP model with an f/1.8 aperture and 4K video shooting, and it takes better photos not just thanks to its extra resolution but also because of its wide colour capture. Unlike the standard iPad it has optical image stabilisation. There are four speakers here instead of the usual two, and the sound is stunning for something so small.

Read the full review: Apple iPad Pro 10.5

The only difference between the 10.5” and the 12.9” is the latter’s bigger screen, but we prefer the smaller model’s portability: it’s more than adequate for anything you want to look at, and big enough to use the Apple Pencil without feeling constrained. And it’s quite a lot cheaper, coming in at £619 for the entry level 64GB model compared to £769 for the 12.9-inch.

Best tablet 2018 Apple iPad Pro 12.9

3. Apple iPad Pro 12.9

If you need to go Pro, and need to go big, this is the tablet for you

Specifications
Weight: 677g
Dimensions: 305.7x220.6x6.9mm
OS: iOS 10
Screen size: 12.9
Resolution: 2732x2048
CPU: Apple A10X Fusion
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64/256/512GB
Battery: 10307mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Huge, beautiful screen+Apple Pencil support
Reasons to avoid
-Too big for some-Again, could be over-specced

This may seem like a blown up iPad, and, well, that's what it essentially is. The iPad Pro is the largest tablet we've ever seen from Apple and it really is a monster. It has a 12.9-inch display that makes it a difficult to handle. So don't expect any one-handed action here (is anyone else hearing these innuendos?)

Read the full review: Apple iPad Pro

It does mean there's a big beautiful screen you can draw on with the Apple Pencil, and there's a huge 10,307mAh battery under the hood to keep this thing powered on for ages. Inside is an Apple A10X Fusion chip and 4GB of RAM. You can also get a huge 512GB of storage, but be warned it's going to cost you.

Best tablets 2018

4. Apple iPad Mini 4

The best small tablet

Specifications
Weight: 299g
Dimensions: 203x134x6.1mm
OS: iOS 9
Screen size: 7.9
Resolution: 1536x2048
CPU: Apple A8
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 16/64/128GB
Battery: 5124mAh
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 1.2MP
Reasons to buy
+Thinner chassis+Great screen
Reasons to avoid
-Old chipset-Camera issues

It's not a huge surprise that Apple's smaller tablet is still one of the best on the market. Interestingly, though, its high-end build quality causes it some problems, making it heavier than a lot of the plastic-bodied Android tablets out there.

Read the full review: iPad Mini 4

It's ideal travel companion as it's easy to hold and just the right size for a decent gaming experience. Some people knocked the iPad Mini for not adding many features with the last iteration, but we'd say it's difficult to improve upon perfection. If you're after a small tablet, this is your choice.

Best tablet 2018

5. Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

The best Android tablet you can get

Specifications
Weight: 429g
Dimensions: 237.3 x 169 x 6mm
OS: Android 7.0 (Nougat)
Screen size: 9.7-inches
Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 820
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 32GB
Battery: 6000mAh
Rear camera: 13MP
Front camera: 5MP
Reasons to buy
+A genuinely good Android tablet+It’s got the S Pen+Sharp, vibrant screen
Reasons to avoid
-Average battery-A new one is coming this fall

Samsung's latest attempt at a tablet is much better than any Android attempt we've ever seen before. Even though the design isn't all that inspiring (but really, how can you make a tablet inspiring?), it offers a lot of high-end spec under the hood, and a gorgeous 9.7-inch screen up front, and the brilliant S Pen for precise note-taking, too.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

And, in all honesty, this is the probably the closest Android manufacturers have got to an iPad Pro competitor - which in our eyes is a massive compliment. 

The Galaxy Tab S3 is hardly revolutionary in the looks department, but it’s a powerful performer with a good screen, a large battery, a 13MP camera and that all-important S Pen.

Because it’s been out for a while now – we’re expecting a newer model in the Autumn – it’s also widely discounted, so while the RRP is £599 it’s available for an awful lot less. At £600 it’s probably overpriced, but if you don’t pay full whack you’re getting a very good, well engineered device.

2-in-1 tablet best slate

6. MICROSOFT SURFACE PRO (2017)

One of the very best Windows 10 devices of any kind and a superb choice for power users

Specifications
Weight: 768g
Dimensions: 292x201x8.5mm
OS: Windows 10 Pro
Screen size: 12.3-inches
Resolution: 2736x1824
CPU: Intel Core m3, i5 or i7
RAM: 4/8/16GB
Storage: 128/256/512GB or 1TB
Battery: up to 13.5 hours video playback
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 5MP
Reasons to buy
+PC power, tablet portability+Full windows experience+Premium design and build
Reasons to avoid
-Big and heavy

At £799 the Surface Pro is good value. At £619, the special offer available as we write this, it’s a steal. 

Microsoft’s tablet is the company’s best yet. The keyboard is superb, the Surface Pen has been made better and the form factor happily straddles the line between tablet and laptop.

It’s a very, very good device for mobile working. too, and because it’s running Windows 10 Pro you get the full Windows experience, not just a cut-down version for touchscreens. 

Microsoft may have been late to the current tablet party – it pioneered tablet PCs, but they were ahead of their time and a bit rubbish; it wasn’t until the iPad that tablets really got going – but it’s at the top of its game. Just don’t pay the full RRP: with a new Surface Pro on the horizon there are deals to be had.

Best tablet 2018

7. Google Pixel C

A pretty decent tablet from Google

Specifications
Weight: 517g
Dimensions: 242 x 179 x 7mm
OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Screen size: 10.2-inch
Resolution: 2560 x 1800
CPU: Nvidia Tegra X1
RAM: 3GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: N/A
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 2MP
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant display+Premium design
Reasons to avoid
-Not optimised for keyboard-Battery could be better

Don't mistake the Google Pixel C for just another Nexus product. This is Google's chance to prove it can make incredible hardware without the help of another manufacturer. And it has done exactly that.

Read the full review: Google Pixel C

This is the best Android tablet you can buy right now. It's not exactly cheap at £399 and the keyboard costs an extra £119, but the whole experience is surprisingly great. It's got a very understated design that looks professional and stylish at the same time.

The best tablets for kids 2018: find the best tablet for children of all ages

Tablets and kids go together like weaponry and psychopaths: if you’ve ever tried to pry an iPad from a four-year-old’s fingers you’ll know just how alluring tablets are for kids of any age. And if like us you’re on first-name terms with your local mobile device screen repairer, you’ll know that it’s best to keep the kids away from your own devices.

The good news is that there’s never been a better time to buy a tablet for your child, and you don’t need to spend as much money as you might think.

Our favourite tablet for kids at the moment is the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition

Bear in mind storage space, speed and processing power. This may sound a bit like gobbledygook to you, so our list provides you with all the information you require to make an informed purchase. Keep an eye out for kids tablets that have the option to increase the storage if you are unsure of how the tablet will be used.

How to choose the best kids' tablet for your child

Our priorities are very different when we’re buying for children. Processing power matters much less than parental controls and long battery life, and exterior design doesn’t matter when it’s going to spend all its time in a protective case, covered in crumbs. For younger children we think parental control options are paramount: it’s all too easy for a child to stumble upon content that’s utterly inappropriate on popular sites such as YouTube.

If you’re considering an Apple, Android or Amazon (rebranded Android) tablet then the choice of apps isn’t an issue, but with proprietary tablets the selection is much more limited and sometimes much more expensive. It’s worth thinking about what your child is likely to want in a year from now, not just today: a child that’s quite happy with Peppa Pig clips now may well be a proficient platform gamer just months later. A tablet that can’t grow with your child is a tablet that’ll end up gathering dust.

Let’s find the best tablets for children of all ages.

Our pick of the best tablets for kids to buy today

Best tablet for kids

1. Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition

Incredible value for money, but never pay the full price

Specifications
Best for: Value for money
Battery life: 8 hours
Case Included: Yes
Age Range: 3-12
Reasons to buy
+Exceptionally cheap+Superb library+Good parental controls
Reasons to avoid
-Not much use without Wi-Fi

The Fire 7 Kids Edition is currently £99.99, but don’t pay that: Amazon seems to cut its price for every sales promotion from Prime Day and Black Friday to We Haven’t Had A Sales Event For Two Weeks Day. At nearly £100 it’s good value; at nearer £70 it’s a steal. We have two, and they’re in constant use.

What makes the Fire 7 so good isn’t just the price. It’s the Amazon ecosystem. It comes with a year of Amazon Fire for Kids, which means your children can download tons of apps and content from the likes of Disney without paying anything. The parental controls are excellent, the provided case is nice and tough and in the unlikely event that you break it, Amazon will send you a new one for free.

LeapFrog Platinum 7

2. LeapFrog Platinum 7

Incredibly tough with a great range of educator-approved apps, but apps and games are expensive

Specifications
Best for: Peace of mind
Battery Life: Over 5 hours
Case Included: Yes
Age Range: 3-9
Reasons to buy
+Safe environment+Really tough+Educator-approved apps
Reasons to avoid
-Apps and games are expensive

When you buy an Apple, Android or Amazon tablet you still need to supervise things: the ads in some age-appropriate games are anything but, and even apparently innocuous apps such as YouTube Kids can contain really disturbing content. That’s not an issue with the LeapPad, which lives in its own educator-approved world. You can be confident that no matter what app your child uses, they’re not going to be interrupted with a screaming advert for Gory Hell Exploding Innards 3.

It’s been designed with education in mind and boasts first-class parental controls along with a library of over 1,000 educator-approved apps (ten come with the device), and that’s both its strength and its weakness: the library is good, but the content is expensive. For example, the Paw Patrol problem solving game is £7.50 as a digital download; Paw Patrol apps on the iPad are £1.99.

Apple iPad 2018

3. Apple iPad

The latest grown-up iPad is great for children and teenagers too, but as it’s Apple it’ll cost you

Specifications
Best for: All-round performance
Battery Life: 11 hours
Case Included: No
Age Range: Any
Reasons to buy
+It’s an iPad+Apple Pencil support for students+iOS 12 has great parental controls
Reasons to avoid
-Cost is high

At £319 the iPad isn’t cheap – you can buy three Kindle Fires for the same cash – but it’s hands down the best tablet for anybody of any age unless you want to spend even more on an iPad Pro. Apple’s family sharing makes it easy to manage kids’ apps and subscriptions, the already decent parental controls will get a massive upgrade with the imminent iOS 12, and if your child is older and studying or about to study at university you can get an educational discount.

£319 sounds like a lot, but it’s actually £80 less than the iPad mini. That has more storage but the bigger iPad is more powerful, and we can’t think of many reasons to want a smaller, more expensive iPad when the normal one is so good. The mini doesn’t support Apple Pencil either (that’s not included with any iPad: it’s another £89).

One thing the iPad isn’t is tough. Our resident 4-year-old scratched our iPad’s supposedly tough glass in seconds, and we’ve lost track of the smashed iPad screens we’ve had over the years. Replacing iPad screens isn’t cheap and the results are often disappointing, so a really good, child-proof case isn’t an optional extra. It’s essential.

Best tablet for kids

4. ASUS ZenPad 3S 10

Require a kid-friendly device with adult performance features? This tablet gives you the best of both worlds

Specifications
Best for: Android users
Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
Case Included: : No
Age Range: 3 upwards
Reasons to buy
+Large storage capacity+Advanced performance features
Reasons to avoid
-Children’s features need to be installed 

Why purchase a device for the adults and a device for the children when the ASUS ZenPad 3S 10 is great for both? Unlike the first two products, we wouldn’t call this device particularly ‘kiddified’. It doesn’t come with a protective case and it doesn’t come with any parental controls or child-friendly apps installed. So why is it on our list? The good thing is, the installation of these functions is perfectly possible with the Android platform. And with the hi-res display, your children won’t have any complaints when watching their wonderful programs in the back of the car either! This is a great tablet for children who don't want their kids spending hours in front of tech as you can completely control what goes on it and it has the added bonus of Mum and Dad being able to use it when the little nippers are in bed.

Best tablet for kids

5. Apple iPad Mini 2

Is your mini-me hankering after an iPad Mini? Find out why it’s not a bad shout after all

Specifications
Best for: Long lasting investment
Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
Case Included: No
Age Range: 3 upwards
Reasons to buy
+Hi-res display+Multi-functions
Reasons to avoid
-Parental controls need to be installed 

Firstly, it doesn’t take Einstein to work out that the Apple iPad Mini 2 is more than double the price of the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition. That’s because this device, first and foremost, hasn’t been designed to to be handed over to a 3 year old. Instead, it’s been built to perform to ‘adult standards’, which is why for the price, it’s pretty good as an all-age product. 

The good thing is, parental controls and your child’s favourite games can be quickly installed, so you can fully regulate what they do, where they go and what they watch on the device. Pretty useful if you want to hand it over in exchange for some peace and quiet. Yes it's expensive, but, if you have a pre-teen who wants to feel grown-up and join the Apple world, this is the best tablet for older kids.

Best tablet for kids

6. Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

How about the most upgraded version of the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet?

Specifications
Best for: Older children value
Battery Life: 12 hours
Case Included : Yes
Age Range: 3-12 years
Reasons to buy
+Like an HD 7, but bigger+Comes with 32GB storage
Reasons to avoid
-Requires WiFi to access undownloaded content 

The HD 8 is an inch larger diagonally than the HD 7, and it doubles the internal storage, ups the speakers from mono to stereo with Dolby Atmos support and gets another 4 hours of its battery. As with the 7, don’t pay the RRP: wait for Amazon to discount it.

It also offers 4 more hours of battery life to give 12 hours in total- great if you’re planning on a long-haul trip to Disneyland in the near future! As an added bonus, the screen is a higher resolution, which means if you want to take it away for half an hour (good luck with that!) to catch up with your own tele, you can do so without compromising on picture quality.

As with the Amazon Fire 7, parental controls and a year of Fire For Kids Unlimited is included too. If you're kids have already got a tablet and you are looking to upgrade, this feature rich option is a great buy.

Best tablet for kids

7. 7” Kids Tablet PC Ainol Q88 Android 4.4

If you know your kids are gonna wreck the device in 5 mins, give this cheapie a go.

Specifications
Best for: Parents on a budget
Battery Life: 6 hours
Case Included: Yes
Age Range: 2-9 years
Reasons to buy
+Wallet Friendly+Access to loads of features on Google Play
Reasons to avoid
-A little basic for adult usage

It may be the cheapest on our list but in terms of what you get for your money, it’s a pretty valuable buy. Coming with its own coloured case, this 7” kids tablet arrives primed and ready to be dropped and drooled over while providing children with a safe and controlled platform on which to access their favourite apps, videos and programs.

It comes with 8GB of available storage and a further 64GB is available to purchase if necessary. As mentioned, it is a little basic when it comes to resolution and performance power, but it’s more than adequate for the kids. If you have younger children and you've been toying with the idea of getting them a tablet, try this one.

Lenovo Tab 3 10 Plus

8. Lenovo Tab 3 10 Plus

It’s cheap, it’s cheerful, it’s splash-proof and it’s dust-proof. Probably not jam-proof, though

Specifications
Best for: Budget Android
Battery Life: 12 hours
Case Included: No
Age Range: Any
Reasons to buy
+Half the price of an iPad+10-inch display+Solid performance, if unspectacular
Reasons to avoid
-A bit boring

There are tons, and we mean tons, of budget Android tablets out there – although it’s safe to say they’ve never really been a priority for Google, so the Android tablet experience isn’t as nice as Apple’s iPad or Amazon’s Fire. But who cares, when Lenovo can give you a ten-inch tablet running Android 6 for half the price of an iPad?

We’re picking Lenovo here because its tablets are well screwed together and widely discounted: where the 32GB model has an RRP of £199, it’s widely available for £50 less from the usual suspects. The quad-core processor is fine, the 12-hour battery life is useful for travelling, it’s not going to fall to pieces as you use it and you can install your own parental control app from the Google Play Store. If you want something as big as an iPad for half the price, this is well worth considering.