We’ve been reviewing tablets since Apple brought them to the mainstream with its first iPad. Since then our team of experts has reviewed more hundreds of tablets from every manufacturer you can think of. All our reviews are unsponsored, and all our buying advice is honest and impartial as a result.
We may make money if you click one of the links to buy a tablet. That means we want you to be happy with your purchase, so you come back to us again the next time you need something.
Android’s come on leaps and bounds since it first arrived on tablets, but at the moment the market is still firmly controlled by Apple. If you’re after a top-end tablet for work and play, the iPad Pro 10.5 is the best overall tablet currently available. If you’re on a budget and just need something for basic Netflix binging, or gaming, then the 2017 iPad 9.7-inch is the best-value option.
How we test tablets
best value tablet
Every tablet we use is run through a series of synthetic benchmarks to gauge its performance. We then test its battery by looping a locally stored video until it dies. From there we get one of our expert reviewers to use it as their primary tablet for at least a week to see how it handles real-world use before giving it a final score. On bigger devices we also run long-term reviews where the reviewer will keep using it and updating our review with any new issues they encounter.
Apple iPad Pro 10.5
- Big price jump from previous iPad Pro models
- Expensive peripherals
- No fast charger in the box
Is a regular iPad too small for you? Then consider the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, also known as the iPad Pro 2. It’s not cheap, but it does have the best screen, best camera and best performance ever seen on a tablet. It’s rather expensive if you want something just for Netflix binges and web browsing, this might be overkill. But if you want something designed for creativity and productivity on the move, this might be spot on.
It’s a slightly more sensible follow-up to the original 12.9-inch Pad Pro, which was somewhere between an iPad, a MacBook and the Surface Pro. If the 10.5-inch iPad Pro 2 is still too much tablet for you, it’s worth also looking out for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
iPad 9.7-inch 2018
The cheapest iPad currently for sale, the iPad 9.7-inch 2018 is the perfect mixture of price and performance. It’s not the laptop replacement the iPad Pro wants to be, but it has an excellent screen and enough grunt to easily handle any app or game on the App Store.
The battery is big enough to last 11-hours on a charge and it benefits from the improved split-screen features in iOS 11.
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Buy now: iPad 9.7 for £319 from Apple
Huawei MediaPad M3
Huawei’s latest mini tablet, the MediaPad M3, might be a pricey piece of kit, but it does what it sets out to do very well. The 8.4-inch 3560 x 1600 resolution display is great, while the plentiful internal combination of the Kirin 950 and 4GB RAM make it snappy and quick to use. The media experience is improved further by the great-sounding speakers.
It looks good too, with a sturdy metal and glass body that certainly has a similar look to the brand’s flagship P9 smartphone. It has similar issues to that phone too, notably the dodgy EMUI software that Huawei keeps loading on top of Android 6.0.1. It’s slow, ugly and slightly buggy and just not as good as competing skins.
32GB of internal storage comes as standard (along with a microSD card slot) and there’s a decent 8MP camera on both the front and back. As with any tablet camera, we’d probably avoid using it as your main snapper.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
- Software lacks polish
- Multitasking is janky
- Glass back is a fingerprint magnet
Samsung’s latest high-end tablet, the Galaxy Tab S3, is good, it’s even great in some areas, but the poor software really lets it down. Android just isn’t built for tablets and the multitasking implementation is far from the best.
Still, this tablet is great for media thanks to the HDR display and impressive battery life. It also comes with an S-Pen in the box, which is accurate and easy to write and draw with.
Tablet buying guide
When picking a tablet there are a few key questions you should ask. The biggest are which operating system is right for you and what do you need it for?
Tablet operating systems
You can currently get tablets running a variety of different operating systems. The two biggest are iOS and Android. Some people would also list Windows, which runs on top end devices including the Samsung Galaxy Book and Microsoft Surface Pro, but given their emphasis on being used with an attachable keyboard we classify these as convertibles and list them in our separate best laptops guide.
In general we find iOS is more suited to tablets as Apple has put significantly more investment optimising it for larger screens. Android is still very good, but issues generally arise when companies add custom skins to the OS, which usually cause annoying bugs, needlessly rework the UI and delay how quickly the devices can receive software updates.
If you are firmly embedded in either Google’s software ecosystem you should still consider an Android tablet though as many are significantly cheaper than Apple iPads and generally remain fine for basic things, like web browsing and video streaming.
What do you need a tablet for?
Before you buy a tablet, you should always consider your specific needs. There’s no point shelling out oodles of cash for a top end tablet with a digital stylus if you just want something to watch TV on, or use to distract the kids during long journeys. The extra investment is only really worth it if you’re a designer or plan to use it for work / school. If you just want something to read on you’d also do well to avoid tablets entirely and invest in an e-reader.