These days, a tablet is an incredibly useful device, especially for anyone who loves to stream movies or TV shows, or read e-books. Buying a tablet is an important decision, which is why we’ve put in the hours to research and find out best tablets 2021. Read on and we’ll explain the various factors you should consider in your purchase, then list the 10 best tablets on the market today.
What’s your desired screen size?
First, ask yourself what size you need. Are you looking for a tablet just to relax with a gaming session on the couch, or are you looking for something you can use on your commute? This will help determine which size will suit your needs.
7 inches to 9 inches (Small)
Cheaper and less powerful, these smaller tablets have screens 6 to 8 inches diagonally. What they lack in power, though, they make up for by being lightweight and thin, making for a great e-reader or gaming option to slip into a bag or purse, and tablets in this size range can have a battery duration of 15+ hours. With the rising popularity of phablets, however, these smaller tablets are unfortunately losing popularity to their phone competitors, so the availability of such a device may be lower than a larger option.
8.9 inches and higher (Large)
You’ll find a much wider selection of tablets in this range, as these are considerably larger than phablets. These tablets usually have better and faster processors, and provide a better viewing experience over tablets with smaller screens. You’ll find yourself much more immersed in your movie or show, and your game will be a much more entertaining experience with such a large screen, but the size might make this a bit uncomfortable for an e-reader option.
How Much Storage do you Need?
It’s also very important to consider device storage, especially since not all tablets have the option to expand their storage, such as Apple’s iPad. There are other options for storage, such as cloud storage, which works wonders for those files you don’t need every day. Consider how much storage you need, and then consider how much storage you’ll need in the coming years; a tablet is an investment, so make sure you future-proof your device!
16GB to 32GB
Tablets with only 16GB of storage are usually older, refurbished devices or very small tablets sized more like a smartphone. If you’re looking for a tablet mainly for streaming or internet browsing, 16GB is plenty. New tablets usually have 32GB of storage, which is excellent for playing media or games and storing various types of media, such as music.
Some tablets in this range may have expandable storage options, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab A which you can upgrade from 16GB to a whopping 256GB with the addition of a microSD card.
64GB to 256GB
While 32GB is essentially the minimum for storing pictures, games, movies, and other apps, 64GB will give you much more flexibility in storage. Even so, you might find yourself struggling with space for your files, especially on iPads; apps on iOS are double the size on average compared to apps on Android.
Having a tablet with 128GB to 256GB is comparable to having an average laptop with a solid-state drive (SSD), which should be far more than enough storage. If you plan to use your tablet regularly and for things such as travel, business, or even just frequent use at home, this storage range will be a wise investment to future-proof your tablet.
512GB to 1TB
Tablets with storage options ranging from 512GB to 1TB are becoming more popular in recent years, usually in high-end tablets or 2-in-1 laptops. These premium tablets are intended for creatives who need powerful processors and graphics for use with apps such as Photoshop or ProCreate, or intended for use in a professional business setting to provide an experience more like a laptop.
Android, iOS, or Windows 10?
Along with the size of the screen and size of storage, consider which operating system the tablet uses. Each operating system has its pros and cons, and you should make sure to pick the one that works best with your needs.
Made to run the very first iPhone, Apple has relied on iOS for their mobile devices ever since, and have had a long time to perfect it. iOS features media sharing between devices, a truly massive app catalog, and is wrapped in a simple and user-friendly interface that should be familiar to an iPhone user. Apple iPads are the only tablets that run Apple iOS.
While the popularity and market share of iOS ensures it gets first dibs on most new apps, Android has been catching up fast in recent years, particularly with regards to the quantity and quality of games, magazines, movies, and TV. Android is also a very flexible operating system, featuring far more customization than either of its competitors.
Microsoft Windows 10
Microsoft’s newest operating system powers not just desktops and laptops, but also tablets and hybrids. Windows 10 takes the best features of older editions of Windows and bundles them into a single cohesive package, focusing on taking advantage of a touchscreen. The drawback is that the app selection is drastically smaller and less varied, but you can find software around the web.
Mobile Data or just Wi-Fi?
While just about every tablet features WiFi connectivity, higher-end tablets often have a cellular data version, which lets the device access mobile networks such as 4G LTE. This gives you more freedom with your tablet, but might tack on $10 or so to your monthly phone bill.
What are your display needs?
Modern tablets have much higher resolutions than the devices of yesteryear, making images and text much more visible and sharp. Consider if you need (or want) any display options, such as the iPad Pro’s anti-reflective coating which helps visibility in bright light.
Consider what kind of ports you want your table to have; many tablets feature upgradable storage via memory card, and some even support USB flash drives. The iPad lacks a memory slot, but for $29 you can use the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter to use a USB keyboard or import photos, while newer iPad Pro models feature a USB-C port to directly connect with third-party accessories.
Also, consider if you will be printing from your tablet or not; if so, the iPad supports wireless printing with AirPrint-enabled printers, and most printers feature apps to support WiFi printing from iPad or Android devices.
Crucially important, consider how much you are (or aren’t!) willing to spend on a tablet. For $200 or less, you can purchase a great 7-inch or 8-inch tablet. Naturally larger display sizes cost more, but you can still get an excellent 10-inch tablet for roughly $350.
Now that you’re aware of what all goes into buying a tablet, let us show you the top 10 tablets you can buy today.
Best Tablets 2021
1. New Apple iPad 10.2-inch Tablet
Combining the capability and power of a desktop computer with the accessibility and flexibility of a tablet, the new iPad is more versatile than ever. Featuring a larger 10.2-inch Retina display with full-size Smart Keyboard support alongside the incredible new abilities of iPadOS, it’s unbelievably fun and unmistakably iPad.
- Great performance
- Familiar design with the same 32GB storage
- Battery life is solid
- Generous screen size
- Enclosure made of 100% recycled aluminum
- iPadOS greatly enhances your productivity
- Smart Keyboard comes at a hefty price
- A bit bulkier than its predecessor
2. Fire HD 8 Tablet 8-inch Display
A well-rounded and affordable device with an 8-inch HD display, the Fire HD 8’s 1.3 GHz quad-core processor and 1.5GB of RAM will easily fuel your streaming and gaming needs. Ten hours of battery life isn’t the best but should last long enough to keep you entertained with a few movies on a long flight.
The Fire HD 8 also gives you access to a variety of e-books, apps, games, and media, along with Alexa’s hands-free options to check the weather outside, pause your music, and much more.
- Very affordable
- Good battery life
- Well built
- Speakers aren’t the best
- Display could be better
- Amazon’s ecosystem isn’t as great as competitors
3. Apple iPad Air 10.5-Inch
Replacing the discontinued 10.5-inch iPad Pro, Apple’s iPad Air has the same lightweight and thin enclosure, coming in at 6.1mm thickness and just about a pound of weight. Not just portable, the iPad Air is stylish as well, coming in your choice of Gold, Space Gray, or Silver and either 64GB or 256GB storage options.
- Much more affordable than the iPad Pro
- Retina display is large and features high resolution
- Battery life is excellent
- Lightning-quick A12 chip
- No Face ID
- Missing the squad stereo speakers of the iPad Pro
- Design is dated
4. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-inch Tablet
With a design both lightweight and sturdy, the Galaxy Tab A 8-Inch is great for both travel and home use. Featuring minimized bezels to give you a clear view of your favorite movie, show, game, or project, this tablet is built to go where you go while looking and feeling good doing it.
- Good Performance
- Google Play Store has a dazzling variety of apps and media
- Solid build quality
- Rather expensive for what’s on offer
- Cameras are a bit disappointing
5. ZONKO 10-Inch Tablet
Running with a 64-bit Octa-Core processor backed by 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, the ZONKO 10-Inch can function as a phone, with Dual SIM Card slots and the ability to have both in standby simultaneously. The powerful processor provides amazing entertainment, whether you’re playing games, browsing the internet, or watching your favorite show or movie.
- Durable but lightweight
- Great value for the cost
- Expensive compared to some other options
6. Apple iPad mini Tablet
Looking very similar to the iPad mini 4, the new iPad mini has three times the processing power and features an upgrade to the A12 bionic chip with a neural engine, a stunning 7.9-inch Retina display, and supports the Apple Pencil for all your artistic and note-taking needs. The iPad mini weighs a mere 0.66 pounds and is 0.24 inches thin — hence the name, “mini” — and comes in a lovely gold color with up to 256GB of storage space. The screen packs an impressive 326 pixels per inch with a resolution of 2048 x 1536, an anti-reflective coat which has only 1.8% reflectivity, and supports both the P3 wide color gamut and True Tone, which will automatically correct the white balance so images look much more natural in its 500 cd/m2 brightness. Additionally, the touchscreen supports all of the iOS multi-touch gestures.
- Works with Apple Pencil
- Good performance and battery life
- Backward compatible with iPad mini accessories
- An impressive variety of apps
- TrueTone screen is a big plus
- Dated exterior design still has large bezels
- Does not support second-generation Apple Pencil
- Higher cost than the 9.7-inch iPad
- Does not support USB-C
7. Asus ZenPad 3S 10
While this tablet looks reminiscent of the iPad, the quality falls a bit short, but the customization and freedom of the Android OS and expandable storage options help make up for it. The ZenPad 3S 10 features a lovely QHD screen and has great audio, but the power of the tablet is held back by the disappointing battery life.
- Chipset boasts impressive speed
- Gorgeous 2K display
- Support for high-resolution audio
- Poor battery life
- Awkward positioning of the speakers
- Some issues with the build quality
8. Google Pixel C
From Google’s younger, bolder, and more experimental days, the Pixel C was intended to showcase the ability for Android to handle the processor and that Android tablets weren’t out of the game yet; unfortunately, even today Android tablets have difficulty standing up to the competition of the iPad. Even so, the Pixel C is very powerful and comes with a beautiful display, but the price tag is far higher than the iPad Pro.
- High-quality build
- Stunning display
- Could’ve been more lightweight
- Keyboard is an expensive accessory
- Lacks microSD option
- No 4G model
9. Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus
Supporting multiple accounts and with accessories to convert into a kid-friendly device, the Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus is an excellent choice for a family tablet. The design is easy on the eyes, and it combines those good-looks with a powerful build to run just about anything you can throw at it.
- Ergonomic design
- Good performance and battery life
- Speakers and cameras are great
- Display is beautiful
- Screen glare is a minor issue
- Graphics performance could be better
- Powered by an old version of Android, Android 7.1
10. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
Don’t let the name fool you; the S2 isn’t a huge upgrade from its predecessor. It’s more lightweight and less bulky and sports a 4:3 aspect ratio on the display, but otherwise, it remains very similar. Not much more powerful nor longer lasting than before.
- More portable due to lightweight and thin build
- 4:3 Display
- Includes microSD card slot
- Mediocre camera
- Short battery life
- Minimally improved performance
Whether you’re streaming, gaming, reading, or creating, a tablet is an invaluable device to have, freeing you from the restraints of a desktop and the small display of a phone. All of the best tablets 2021 listed above are reliable and long-lasting, so make sure that whichever you choose, you’re making your decision with confidence.