If you haven't bought a new tablet in recent years, now is a good time to consider doing so. Not only are tablets more powerful today, but the displays are better, and mainstream models let you enjoy features that were previously reserved for more expensive flagships.

The only question is, what is a tablet? The inclusion of a touchscreen and the ability to work without a physical keyboard attached seem to provide a pretty good definition. In that sense, all modern phones are tablets, but with sizes and aspect ratios of devices that are meant to be used as phones, they are arguably not the best tablets. So what are the best?

Whether you need a new tablet for work or study, content consumption or web browsing, this buying guide has got you covered. From high-end to budget, iPad, Android, Windows, and ChromeOS, here are our picks of the best tablets.

The Best Tablet for Most People

Apple iPad 10.2" (9th-gen) or iPad Air

Great | Differentiating Features
Unbeatable combination of price, performance, and features.

Good | Most Have It
Storage starting at 64GB.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Bezels remain chunky. Lacks the display features and USB-C connector of most iPad models.

The Apple iPad comfortably retains the tablet crown, despite the vast improvements made by Android and Windows tablets over the past few years. While several options are available at various price points, the $329 iPad (available for $299 at Walmart), remains our pick as the best for most people.

Apple launched a newer 10th-gen iPad in 2022, but for $150 more, we can't call it a direct replacement. The main reason to consider the slightly larger and newer 10.9" model is if you want a tablet that doubles as a low-end laptop: it has the same 12MP front camera but on the long edge, like a laptop rather than a phone, and supports the new Magic Keyboard Folio, which offers function keys as well as a trackpad.

On the more affordable 10.2" iPad, the 2160 x 1620 Retina display offers 500 nits of brightness and the same 264 PPI as the iPad Pros. It does lack several features of the more expensive models, but the iPad is colorful, crisp, and great for content consumption of all types. The stereo speakers at the bottom offer good audio output and there's also a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The A13 Bionic SoC offers decent CPU and GPU performance. It's not the state-of-the-art M1 found in the iPad Air, but it's close enough to the A14 in the 2022 model to justify the savings.

Elsewhere, the 9th-gen iPad offer an 8MP rear cam and the same 10-hour battery and ultra wide 12MP front cam as the more expensive models. There's support for the first-gen Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. It comes with Touch ID and the old Lightning port instead of USB-C, and a 20W charger is included. You also get iPadOS – the most complete tablet OS available. A brilliant combination of price, performance, and features make this an easy top choice for media consumption.

Got a little more to spare? Check out the iPad Air

If you don't need all of the iPad Pros' features and storage options but still want one of the best tablets for 60 FPS gaming or 3D modeling, the Air is an interesting middle ground. At $599 for the 64GB version, it's not as affordable, but it offers many of the Pros' best features at a more reasonable price.

Some of the Air's advantages over the 9th-gen iPad include an all-screen design without a home button (Touch ID is built into the power button); a fully laminated, 10.9-inch 2360 x 1640 Liquid Retina display with a wide color gamut and an anti-reflective coating; a 12MP rear camera; and Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio, and 2nd-gen Apple Pencil support. The Wi-Fi + Cellular version also supports sub-6Ghz G5 speeds.

The Air also has USB-C charging, and sports the much more powerful M1 SoC and 8GB of RAM, all wrapped in a thin and light design. If you're happy to pay a bit more, the iPad Air is a top choice. The only caveat is that the 256GB version is close in price ($750) to the 128GB version of the 11" iPad Pro (see below).

Best of the Best

Apple iPad Pro 11" M2

Great | Differentiating Features
More power than you'll need on the M2 chip. 120Hz refresh rate display. Face ID. Solid camera array. 12.9" model gets mini-LED HDR capable display.

Good | Most Have It
Impressive battery life.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Expensive. Still not a direct laptop replacement. Pencil and Magnetic Keyboard sold separately.

The 2022 iPad Pro 11" replaces the 2021 version as the best tablet you can buy overall, if only for the M2 chip, which is significantly better than the M1 in the previous model for graphics processing. The iPad Pro sports the same ProMotion display as before, boasting of a buttery-smooth 120Hz refresh rate, which makes scrolling a joy. There's also Face ID and narrow bezels that make this a svelte and well crafted slate. Unlike the iPad Air, the USB-C connector supports USB4/Thunderbolt speeds, and the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions also support mmWave 5G.

The 11" Pro is the best iPad for several types of professionals. If you are a graphic artist, drawing on a 120Hz display will be a different experience. If you are an indoor designer who wants to show your clients what their kitchen or office would look like, LiDAR is a must-have. The bezels in the iPad Pro are slimmer than the Air's, and it's compatible with the same accessories.

You also get a 12MP front camera and four speakers.

While the large 12.9-inch Pro is great, it's overkill for most users unless you plan to take advantage of the higher quality and more expansive display. If you are a video editor who works on the go, the 12.9'' Pro might be the device of your dreams. The Mini-LED display with its 1600 nits of peak brightness (1000 for the whole screen), its only competitors are some of the most expensive laptops.

The magnetic Magic Keyboard (optional $350 extra) features a floating design and cantilevered hinges to support viewing angles of up to 130 degrees, plus the software integration to make this ever closer to becoming a laptop replacement – a decent attempt for casual users. The Apple Pencil – sold separately – which attaches magnetically to the side, is very responsive and delivers a very polished user experience, especially with the new Pencil Hover feature.

The 11" Pro starts at $799 for the Wi-Fi only version with 128GB ($769 on Amazon), and goes up from there as you add storage and RAM. Same goes for the 12.9" model that starts around $1,100 for the cheapest, Wi-Fi only, 128GB version. You don't even want to know how much a maxed out iPad costs, but for lovers of slates, there's none better.

Best Productivity Tablet

Microsoft Surface Pro 9

Great | Differentiating Features
Full Windows productivity on an Intel CPU. Two Thunderbolt 4 ports. Replaceable SSD. Stylus has haptic feedback.

Good | Most Have It
Gorgeous, 120Hz display and long battery life.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Stylus and keyboard cost extra. Intel CPUs require active cooling.

Following price cuts since its release in late 2022, the Surface Pro 9 has replaced its predecessor as our top choice for Windows productivity on the go. The new 12th-gen Core processors include 2 performance cores and 8 efficiency cores for a total of 12 threads and extremely efficient multi-core performance. You also get up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM, two Thunderbolt 4 ports (but no USB Type-A), and the same solid case with a kickstand that allows it to be used at different angles.

The 120Hz IPS display uses the 3:2 aspect ratio (2880 x 1920) we've come to expect from Surface devices, making it great for productivity work. You also get a 10-megapixel camera on the rear and a 1080p cam on the front for Windows Hello. While the top-specced machine with a Core i7 CPU and a 1TB SSD can cost $2,600, a model with an almost identical Core-i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a (replaceable) 256GB SSD can be had for $936.

The Slim Pen 2 charges wirelessly and provides haptic feedback, and the Signature Keyboard uses backlit, mechanical keys. The downside is that, like with iPads, the keyboard and stylus cost extra.

The 5G version is a more direct competitor to the iPad Pro, with the passively-cooled SQ3 Arm processor, USB-C 3.2, up to 16GB of LPDDR4x RAM and 512GB of storage, and optional cellular connectivity. Starting at $1,300, however, we can't recommend it when the previous-gen Surface Pro X with SQ2, USB-C 3.0, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and 4G cellular connectivity can be had for half that money at $613.

Best ChromeOS Tablet

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5

If you want something cheaper than a Surface but more suitable than an Android tablet for productivity, then Lenovo's IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook is an interesting option.

For $393 you can get it with modest internals, including the Snapdragon SC7180, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage; and a detachable keyboard. The 13.3" OLED display supports a wide color gamut, and you also get 4 speakers, 2 microphones, a 5MP front cam and an 8MP rear one.

Best Android Tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

Great | Differentiating Features
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC. 120Hz, Super AMOLED display. S-Pen included. Android updates until 2027.

Good | Most Have It
Sleek design, good battery life, cameras, and speakers.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Android on tablets is still in the shadow of iPadOS. Performance still can't match Apple's flagship. Pricey.

The Galaxy Tab S8+ has been hailed as the best Android slate ever built, and it's easy to see why. The Galaxy Tab S8+ uses a Super AMOLED panel that makes content look fantastic, with vibrant, gorgeous colors and perfect blacks that are ideal for outdoor viewing. It's even got an in-screen fingerprint reader similar to those found on modern phones.

Much like in the phone business, Apple's main rival in the tablet market is Samsung (well, except for Microsoft). We've opted for the "plus" model as it's got a few advantages over the smaller Galaxy Tab S8 in addition to its 12.4-inch (2800 x 1752, 266ppi) 120Hz, 16:10 display.

Storage starts at 128GB, and it comes with a USB-Type C port, 8GB of RAM, four speakers, and a 5G option. The front-facing camera has been upgraded to 12MP ultra-wide from 8MP, and the ultra-wide at the rear to 6MP, alongside to the same 13MP snapper of the S7 line. An advantage over the iPad Pro is that Samsung's stylus is free in the box rather than requiring another $99 outlay. Latency has been improved to 2.8ms from the previous model's already respectable 9ms.

If you prefer screen size and multitasking capability over portability and value, the new 14.6" Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the one for you. Other than size, the Ultra's advantage is that RAM grows with storage, to 12GB with 256GB of storage, and 16GB with the 512GB storage option. It also has an additional 12MP ultra-wide camera in the front. The downside is obviously price, starting at $1,100 for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

The Galaxy Tab S8 line is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, which is more powerful than the previous Snapdragon 865, but not in the same performance ballpark as the iPad Pro's M2 chip. Battery life remains impressive, but you still have to deal with the somewhat disappointing software.

Android on tablets has come a long way, and you do get DeX mode, so compatible apps work in windowed versions, but iPadOS remains superior. The real upgrade in terms of software is the promise of OS updates until 2027. But if you're in the market for a premium Android tablet, the Galaxy S8+ is a sleek device with an unmatched screen.

One Step Down: Older or Smaller?

If you want to save some money, the Galaxy Tab S7+ is available at $500 for the base model with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM, and will keep getting Android updates until 2024.

Yet, we believe the basic Tab S8 will be a better purchase in the long-term, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, software updates until 2027, and 8GB of RAM even on the cheapest version with 128GB of storage. The more traditional 11" LCD display still looks great with a resolution of 2560 x 1600, and it has the same 12MP ultra-wide front camera of the S8+.

The Best Tablet for One-Hand Use

Apple iPad Mini 6

Great | Differentiating Features
A15 SoC is faster than the iPad 10th-gen. Pixel density is 326ppi. Support for 2nd-gen Apple Pencil.

Good | Most Have It
Easy to hold with a single hand. Battery life is 10 hours. Sub-6GHz 5G speed support on the Wi-Fi + Cellular version.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Keyboard support limited to Bluetooth.

Most tablets with displays smaller than 9" are budget devices with outdated hardware and older Android versions, but the iPad Mini is a glaring exception. Regardless of size, the Mini is better than the vast majority of tablets on the market.

With a 2266x1488 resolution, its 8.3" display actually has the highest pixel density of all iPads (326ppi). It sports the A15 Bionic chip, which is faster than the 10th-gen iPad's A14, and 4GB of RAM.

That's still not close to what the iPad Air offers, but now that you can get the Mini for $400 (shop around to find it at that price), it's harder to complain about that. The Wi-Fi + Cellular version does support sub-6GHz 5G speeds, like the iPad Air. It also has the same ultra-wide 12MP front camera and 12MP wide rear camera.

The Mini doesn't support the Smart Keyboard or Magic Keyboard, but it supports the 2nd-gen Pencil. It also has 4 color options. The base model comes with 64GB of storage and Wi-Fi, and for $150 more you get 256GB of internal storage.

Budget Options

Amazon Fire HD 10 or Samsung Galaxy Tab A8

Great | Differentiating Features
Can't find better at this price, good screen, speakers, and battery life

Good | Most Have It

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Cameras aren't the best, very Amazon-focused, limited apps

It's a case of buyer beware when purchasing a budget tablet; there are plenty of sub-$200 or even $100 slates available that aren't worth your time. But Amazon's Fire HD 10, which runs the Android-based Fire OS, remains a good option at $85 as of writing for the 32GB storage model, though you might want to pay the extra $15 to remove the ugly lock-screen ads.

With a crisp, bright screen and fairly loud speakers, the Fire HD 10 is a cost-effective device for those who use tablets sparingly for content consumption, or if you want something cheap for your kids, and it's even more useful if you have a Prime subscription. The Fire 10 features hands-free Alexa, allowing it to work in the same way as Amazon's many Echo devices. But you can only access Amazon's App store, so no Google services – unless you're willing to side-load them.

In this latest 2021 iteration, the Fire HD 10 has received a thinner and lighter design, 3GB of RAM, and a brighter 10-inch display, 32GB and 64GB storage options (expandable up to 1TB via microSD), and a 2.0GHz octa-core processor, all of which is nice for that low price point.

Budget Android option

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8

If you want a tablet with a fully fledged OS and great software support, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 ($220 with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM) comes with everything you need from a content consumption-focused tablet: the 1920x1200 (216 PPI), 10.5" screen is vibrant and colorful, the speakers and battery life are excellent, and the build is sturdy.

Samsung's tablet also comes with features you'd expect to find on more expensive models, including facial recognition and USB-C charging. The Unisoc Tiger T618 SoC isn't on par with the entry-level iPad's A13, and the cameras aren't great, but the tablet is still much cheaper than Apple's slate with the same amount of storage.

Masthead credit: Daniel Korpai