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The best tablets have traditionally been a large-screened alternative to smartphones. But just as the display sizes of phones continue to grow, tablets have seen their screen size increase as well. This is a welcomed trend for those who do a lot of work on a tablet, including students or those who work remotely and want something thin and lightweight but with a large screen.
Here's a perfect example: Samsung has been selling tablets for years, usually in two different sizes, with a "Plus" model being the biggest. However, earlier this year, Samsung announced the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra with a 14.6-inch display -- the largest Samsung has used in a tablet.
So it begs the question -- who else makes tablets with large displays? It turns out, there are more options than you'd think. Not all of them approach 15 inches, but there's more than enough screen real estate in the picks below.
Apple iPad Pro tech specs: Display: 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion and True Tone | Processor: Apple Silicon M2 | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or 2TB | Biometrics: Face ID | Colors: Silver, space gray | Cameras: 12MP wide, 10MP ultrawide rear and 12MP TrueDepth FaceTime front | Weight: 1.5 pounds | Dimensions: 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches | Connections: USB-C Thunderbolt/USB-4 | Battery life: 10 hours
Apple's 2022 iPad Pro lineup is by far the most capable and impressive iPad lineup we've seen, making it our best overall pick. It's also the most expensive by a long shot. The design hasn't changed all that much on the outside, but on the inside, you'll find Apple's M2 processor which consists of 20 billion transistors -- 25 percent more than the M1. It's the same exact processor that Apple is using in the new 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
Review: iPad Pro
I spent some time with the 12.9-inch Apple iPad Pro and found it to be faster and more capable than any other iPad model I've tested to date. You can expect downloads up to 2.4Gbps, twice as fast as the previous model, 15 percent faster performance, and up to 35 percent faster graphics performance.
The Pro also supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, and there's a new hover feature thanks to the M2 chip. The feature works like this: Once the tip of the Apple Pencil gets near the iPad Pro's display, and when it's within 12 millimeters, parts of the interface come to life in apps that support the new feature. The Smart Connector is on the back of the iPad Pro, giving you the option to use it with the Magic Keyboard which includes backlit keys and a trackpad, or Apple's Smart Keyboard.
Also: M1 iPad Pro (2021) vs M2 iPad Pro (2022): Is it worth the upgrade?
And, although the differences between the 5th generation and 6th generation models are more subtle, the M2 chip is really what shines here, making it a powerhouse tablet. The iPad Pro, combined with iPadOS and the M2 chip, is as close as you can get to a laptop without actually buying a laptop.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra tech specs: Display: 14.6-inch, 120Hz, Super AMOLED 2,960x1,848 display | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, microSD up to 1TB | Memory: 8GB, 12GB, 16GB | Colors: Graphite | Cameras: 13MP and 6MP rear. 12MP and 12MP ultra-wide front camera | Weight: 1.6lb | Dimensions: 12.85 x 8.21 x 0.22 inches | Connections: USB-C | Battery: 11,200mAh
Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is by and large (pun intended) the tablet with the biggest display on our list. With a 14.6-inch AMOLED display, you're sure to have enough room for work and play on the Tab S8 Ultra. Included in the box is Samsung's S Pen stylus that can be used for drawing out ideas or writing notes, or you can use it to navigate the tablet's Android 12 interface -- and even write in any text field and have it automatically converted to digital text.
What's not included in the box is Samsung's $349 Book Cover Keyboard. The keyboard is a must-have accessory if you plan on doing any work on the Tab S8 Ultra, because it provides a physical keyboard and trackpad and is the best way to take advantage of Samsung's DeX platform. When docked in the keyboard, the standard Android 12 interface changes to something that looks and works like a regular computer with a desktop and windowed apps.
Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
ZDNET Contributor Matthew Miller went hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, and called it Samsung's "biggest, boldest, and best tablet."
"I enjoy using Samsung DeX with the tablet, especially now with the full second screen support for VMware," he said. "Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is clearly built for productivity, and Samsung pushes Android to its limits with optimization of its apps and DeX support."
Outside of gaining extra memory, don't upgrade from the base model just to gain extra storage. The Tab S8 Ultra has a microSD card slot that will accept up to 1TB of additional storage.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 tech specs: Display: 13-inch PixelSense Flow display | Processor: Intel Core i5 or i7 | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB | Memory: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB | Biometrics: Windows Hello | Colors: Platinum, graphite | Cameras: 5MP front-facing, 10MP rear-facing | Weight: 1.96 pounds | Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches | Connections: 2 x USB-C Thunderbolt 4, 3.5mm headphone jack, 1 x Surface Connect port | Battery life: 16 hours
Microsoft's Surface lineup helped usher in the 2-in-1 detachable computer market, so I'd be remiss if I didn't include it on this list. It is sold as a stand-alone tablet, after all. Microsoft redesigned the Surface Pro 8, shrinking the bezels around the 13-inch display and giving it the same basic design as the Surface Pro X.
With the Surface Pro 8, you're getting a tablet that runs Windows 11 out of the box, instead of a mobile operating system like Android or iPadOS. That means you're not going to have to worry about finding apps or workarounds for your workflows.
Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 8 for Business
I also got my hands on the Microsft Surface Pro, and was (almost) converted to a Windows user. What particularly impressed me was the the addition of Thunderbolt 4 support. The ability to connect a tablet to an external display and have it actually work how it's supposed to is a huge boost for my productivity.
Of course, if you want to use the Surface Pro 8 as a laptop you'll need to buy a Surface Pro Signature Keyboard. Or, you can opt to get the combo that includes the keyboard and Microsoft's Slim Pen 2 stylus. There's even a handy compartment on the keyboard itself that stores the pen and charges it at the same time.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 tech specs: Display: 13.3-inch OLED display | Processor: Snapdragon SC7180 | Memory: 8GB LPDDR4x | Storage: 128GB eMMC SSD | Cameras: 5mp (front) | Weight: 2.22 pounds | Dimensions: 12.05 x 7.32 x 0.27 inches | Battery: 12 hours
Finally, there's a tablet that comes with a keyboard. Lenovo's Chromebook Duet 5 is a perfect option for someone who lives and works inside Google's ecosystem of services and products. It's a full-fledged ChromeOS device, but instead of having a permanently attached keyboard, it's a tablet that docks into the keyboard that comes in the box.
When it's docked, you'll get a standard Chromebook layout and interface. You can access all of your Chrome apps, visit websites, and the like. You can also install Android apps directly from the Google Play Store. These are the same apps you can install on your phone, some of which are optimized for tablets.
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5
ZDNET Contributor Steven Vaughan-Nichols said this Chromebook is a great machine for a great price.
"In this case, [the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5] scored a decent 61. For ARM-powered Chromebooks, this is a good number," he wrote. "Its battery life also came to a healthy 12+ hours."
When you disconnect the keyboard from the Duet 5, the interface will slightly adjust and adapt to a touch-first approach, ideal for a tablet. If you live and work in Google's ecosystem, then the Chromebook Duet 5 makes a lot of sense.
Microsoft Surface Pro X tech specs: Display: 13-inch PixelSense display | Processor: Microsoft SQ 1 or SQ 2 | Storage:128GB SSD | Memory: 8GB LPDDR4x | Cameras: 5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p full HD video, 10.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD and 4k video | Weight: 1.7 pounds | Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.28 inches | Connections: 2 USB-C, Surface Connect port, Surface Keyboard port, nano SIM | Battery: 15 hours
I already included the Surface Pro 8 on this list, but the Surface Pro X deserves its own callout. The Pro 8 and Pro X share the same design along with keyboard and stylus support. What makes the Pro X different is that it's powered by Microsoft's SQ1 or SQ2 ARM-based processor. That's the same kind of processor architecture that's used by Apple in its Apple Silicon chips currently found in the iPad Pro and several Macs.
The benefits of moving to an ARM processor are seen in battery life and, in the case of the Pro X at least, the addition of LTE connectivity. However, there are some downsides. One of which is that apps need to be rebuilt to support ARM processors, instead of the tried and true Intel or AMD processors Microsoft uses in the rest of its Surface products.
Review: Microsoft Surface Pro X
I've used a Surface Pro X since it first launched and while the app compatibility issue has gotten a lot better, there's still some work left to do before I'm not able to tell the difference between an app that's been updated and one that hasn't.
ZDNET Contributor Simon Bisson also used the Surface Pro X and said, "Microsoft has produced an excellent device for mobile workers, with a focus on Office and the web."
All of that to say -- if you're someone who likes living on the bleeding edge of technology and wants a tablet that has LTE connectivity so you can work from anywhere, the Pro X is worth considering.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE tech specs: Display: 12.4-inch, 2560x1600 display | Processor: Qualcomm SM7325 | Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB | Memory: 4GB, 6GB, 8GB | Colors: Black, silver, green, pink | Cameras: 8MP rear, 5MP front camera | Weight: 1.34lb | Dimensions: 7.28 x 11.21 x 0.25 inches | Connections: USB-C | Battery: 12 hours
If you want to spend less on a big tablet, Samsung's "FE" series of devices are designed with Samsung fans in mind. That is, the company takes the best features of its high-end devices, trims some of them down, and releases a more affordable product.
The Tab S7 FE has a large 12.4-inch display, a snappy processor, as well as multiple storage and memory options. The device, which comes in various colors, also has a 5G version available if you want to use it while on the go.
Some standout features include face recognition technology, two stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos, and multi-device connectivity. It also has a great battery life that will last you for at least 12 hours.
While the display on the S7 FE isn't as nice as the S8 Ultra, it's still more than suitable for streaming or playing games, and it also comes with an S Pen, adding even more to its affordability.
The best large tablet is the iPad Pro (2021), thanks to its powerful Apple M1 chip, impressive cameras, and optional 5G support.
iPad Pro (6th generation)
Starting at $1,099
12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or 2TB
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
Starting at $1,020
14.6-inch, 120Hz, Super AMOLED 2,960x1,848 display
128GB, 256GB, 512GB, microSD up to 1TB
Microsoft Surface Pro 8
Starting at $650
13-inch PixelSense Flow display
128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5
13.3-inch OLED display
128GB eMMC SSD
Microsoft Surface Pro X
Starting at $406
13-inch PixelSense display
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
12.4-inch, 2560x1600 display
64GB, 128GB, 256GB
When trying to decide between one of these tablets, the biggest question to ask yourself is what operating system do you want. Once you figure out if you need a full computer experience or if a mobile-centric operating system is enough, you can narrow it down from there.
If you're stuck deciding between the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Pro X, I'd recommend going with the Pro 8 only because you don't have to worry about app compatibility as you do with the Pro X.
Choose this large tablet...
If you want...
iPad Pro 6th generation
The best overall option with a vibrant display and exceptional performance. The M2 processor gives you all the power you need for work, content creation, and streaming.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
To stay in the Android ecosystem, have a great battery life, and a 5G option. It features a microSD card slot so you can expand the internal storage to 1TB.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8
A large tablet that can replace the need for a desktop computer with its robust display and strong performance. Its compact size makes it perfect for mobile professionals.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5
A tablet that uses ChromeOS.with a solid battery life and routine update schedule. This tablet is great for students with a 12+ hour battery life.
Microsoft Surface Pro X
A large tablet to take with you on the go thanks to the LTE connectivity and lightweight design. With LTE connectivity, you can access the internet when Wi-Fi networks aren't available.
Samsung Galaxy S7 FE
A super affordable tablet with a large display, expandable storage, and good battery life. For under $500, you'll still get premium-grade features like Dolby Atmos support and a 12-hour battery life.
There aren't many options for tablets with large displays, so I considered a few points while comparing models:
Tablets range in size from small to large. Small tablets are usually five to seven inches. Mid-size tablets have a screen ranging from nine to 11 inches. Then, there are large tablets with screen sizes from 12-14 inches.
Keep in mind that the larger the tablet, the heavier it will usually be.
Neither accessory is a requirement. It all depends on how you plan to use the tablet. If you're going to use it for watching movies, playing games, or reading books, a keyboard isn't required.
However, if you plan on using it as a weekend replacement for your laptop, or for school, then, yes, you'll need to spend the extra money on one. You can get Bluetooth options online or at electronic stores, and they're perfect traveling companions for when you want to work or play on the go.
There is a big difference in terms of the quantity and quality of apps that are available for iPadOS over Android. Apple and third-party developers have spent years fine-tuning the experience on the larger display device.
Google has all but admitted it gave up on making Android tablets, and developers have taken the company's lead. You'll find a lot of apps you can install and use, but ultimately they're nothing more than the phone version of the app, and many just don't work as they should.
Large-screen tablets are easier to find than small tablets, so it just takes some research into the market. Here are a few other large-screen tablets I recommend.
This large-screen tablet is perfect for family sharing and catching up on your favorite entertainment.
As a predecessor to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 lineup, this large-screen tablet has plenty of specs worth considering.
This affordable device comes with a solid battery life at a decent price for a large screen.