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The best tablets you can buy: Expert tested

We went hands-on with the top tablets from Apple, Samsung, Amazon, and more to help you choose the best one for your needs.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer and  Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Kayla Solino
Apple iPad (10th generation) | Best tablet overall
Apple iPad 10th Gen with Apple Pencil
Apple iPad (10th generation)
Best tablet overall
View now View at Amazon
Amazon Fire Max 11 | Best Amazon Tablet
Amazon Fire Max 11
Best Amazon Tablet
View now View at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra | Best Samsung Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra
Best Samsung Tablet
View now View at Samsung
OnePlus Pad | Best Android tablet for entertainment
OnePlus Pad
Best Android tablet for entertainment
View now View at Amazon
Microsoft Surface Go 3 | Best compact Windows tablet
The Surface Go 3 (left) has a slimmer screen bezel than the first-generation model (right), but is unchanged from the Surface Go 2.
Microsoft Surface Go 3
Best compact Windows tablet
View now View at Amazon
Apple iPad Pro (6th generation) | Best laptop replacement tablet
Appel iPad Pro 2022
Apple iPad Pro (6th generation)
Best laptop replacement tablet
View now View at B&H Photo-Video
Google Pixel Tablet | Best Android tablet
Google Pixel Tablet
Best Android tablet
View now View at Google Store
Apple iPad Air (5th generation) | Best middle-of-the-road tablet
Apple iPad Air (5th generation)
Apple iPad Air (5th generation)
Best middle-of-the-road tablet
View now View at Best Buy
Wacom Intuos Pro | Best tablet for drawing
Overhead image of person's hand holding a pen and writing on a black Wacom drawing tablet
Wacom Intuos Pro
Best tablet for drawing
View now View at Amazon
Amazon Kindle Scribe | Best tablet for reading
Amazon Kindle Scribe
Best tablet for reading
View now View at Amazon
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet | Best tablet for kids
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet
Best tablet for kids
View now View at Amazon
Show more (6 items)

Tablets have come a long way since the first iPad was released in 2010. Once a device that was designed simply for consuming content and playing games (anyone remember the days of Fruit Ninja?), has, for many, become a full-fledged computer replacement, allowing them to get real work done. That said, a good tablet should have a long battery life, a respectable selection of apps and services, and more functionality than just a screen to watch YouTube videos. 

Also: The best iPad models: The Pro, Air, and Mini compared

With so many tablets on the market today from brands like Apple, Samsung, Google, Amazon, and more, it can be hard to choose one, but ultimately, it comes down to what you need the tablet for. And, while we haven't had a chance to test out the new 2024 iPad Airand 2024 iPad Pro models, keep an eye out for our upcoming reviews on these two tablets. 

What is the best tablet right now?

ZDNET went hands-on with tons of the best tablets on the market, using them for work and entertainment, and even testing them out with our kids. Our pick for the best tablet for most people is the Apple iPad (10th generation), thanks to its versatility and lightweight form. Read on to find the best tablet for your needs. (You can also check out our picks for the best cheap tablets and the best kids' tablets.) 

The best tablets of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Modernized design with a USB-C port
  • Landscape front-facing camera is superior to other iPad models
  • Four new colors to choose from
  • Dongle required to charge Apple Pencil (1st gen)
More Details

Apple's tried-and-true tablet, the base model iPad, is arguably the best value out of Apple's tablet lineup -- especially thanks to its versatility and compatibility. Plus, Apple just lowered the price on this tablet by $100--making it an affordable price of $349.

When it comes to features, you essentially get the same suite as the more expensive iPad Pro and iPad Air models, but in a more lightweight form factor and a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina, True Tone display. Additionally, this model breaks out of iPad's traditional space gray and silver color palette, adding pink, blue, and yellow in addition to sleek silver. 

Review: iPad 2022 (10th Gen): Better than the Pro in two ways

In his hands-on testing, ZDNET reviews editor June Wan determined that if you're shopping on a budget, last year's iPad should "make the most sense," especially given the A14 Bionic processor, USB-C support, 5G support for on-the-go tasks, and a new 12MP ultra-wide camera. There's also a Magic Keyboard Folio made specifically for this iPad. It includes an adjustable kickstand with a 14-key function row for shortcuts. 

However, Apple customers call out that this iPad doesn't support the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil, which means you'll have to use a dongle in order to use it.

Apple iPad specs: Display: 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone | Processor: A14 Bionic chip with 16-core Neural Engine | Storage: 64GB or 256GB | Biometrics: Touch ID | Colors: Silver, Pink, Blue, Yellow  | Cameras: 12MP f/1.8 wide, 12MP Landscape f/2.4 front | Weight: 1.05 pounds | Dimensions: 9.79 x 7.07 x .28 inches | Connections: USB-C, Smart Connector | Battery life: Up to 10 hours of video playback with USB-C charging

Pros & Cons
  • Affordably priced, especially when bundled
  • Solid battery life
  • New, modernized design
  • Performance is just alright
  • Important productivity apps are missing
More Details

The Fire Max 11 is Amazon's newest and best tablet yet. It still runs Fire OS, which means you'll lose access to any of Google's apps and services. However, Amazon's own App Store has many of the same apps that regular Android devices have access to -- including Netflix, Facebook, and Spotify.

With a starting price of $229, the Fire Max 11 brings an 11-inch display, 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage with support for 1TB of microSD card storage. If you're looking for a tablet for work and play, the FIre Max 11 Productivity Bundle costs $329, but comes with a keyboard with touchpad, case and a stylus.

Review: Amazon Fire Max 11: Easily the best Fire tablet yet

ZDNET contributor, Jason Cipriani, went hands-on with the Amazon Fire Max 11 and said that it is "easily the best Fire Tablet Amazon has made yet." "The Fire Max 11 productivity bundle provides everything you need to get some work done on the small and affordable tablet, as long as your work can be done in Microsoft's suite of apps and services, or in sites that work properly with Amazon's Silk Browser," he wrote.

Overall, 94% of Best Buy customers would recommend this tablet, giving it an average rating of 4.7 out of 5.

Amazon Fire Max 11 specs: Display: 11-inch, 2000 x 1200, 410 nits brightness, 213 ppi | Processor: MediaTek MT8188J, 2.2Ghz Octacore processor | Storage: 64GB or 128GB | Memory: 4GB | Colors: Gray | Cameras: 8MP rear and 8MP front-facing camera | Weight: 490 grams | Dimensions: 259.1 x 163.7 x 7.50 millimeters | Connections: 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C port | Battery life: 14 hours

Pros & Cons
  • Improved Dynamic AMOLED display
  • IP68 water and dust resistant
  • Ultra responsive S Pen
  • Not the most portable tablet
  • Occasional app crashes
More Details

If you're looking for an Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is one of the best Android tablets. The Tab S9 Ultra features a 14.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED display, runs on the Android 13 operating system, and Samsung's S Pen stylus is included in the box. 

The base model comes with 12GB of memory and 256GB of storage, and a microSD card for adding up to an extra 1TB of storage to the tablet, the combination of which should be enough for most. Plus, new for this generation is IP68 water and dust resistant, that neither the iPad nor any premium tablet on the market is certified for.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: This tablet can truly replace your laptop

ZDNET's Maria Diaz reviewed the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra and said, that while it looks and feels the same as last year, the upgrades give it a definitive edge over the competition. She also described the tablet as "The perfect device for a professional that seeks the power of a laptop and the flexibility of a tablet."

If you opt for the $350 Book Cover Keyboard, you'll be able to use Samsung DeX on the S9 Ultra, effectively turning the tablet into an Android-powered 2-in-1 device with plenty of space for multitasking and using more than one app at a time. Reddit users say that the S9 Ultra with this keyboard case will feel like a laptop, in terms of looks and weight.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra specs: Display: 14.6-inch, 120Hz refresh rate, Dynamic AMOLED 2X 2960 x 1848 display | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy | Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB | Memory: 12GB, 16GB | Colors: Graphite and beige | Cameras: Rear: 13MP main, 8MP ultrawide, Front: 12MP main, 12MP ultrawide | Weight: 1.6lb | Dimensions: 12.85 x 8.21 x 0.22 inches | Connections: 5G, LTE, Wi-Fi 6E, Wi-Fi Direct Bluetooth 5.3 | Battery: 11,200mAh

Pros & Cons
  • Display looks good
  • Solid performance
  • Battery life
  • Android apps still need tablet improvements
  • Not a tablet for productivity
  • It looks and acts a lot like an iPad
More Details

OnePlus is better known for its smartphone lineup where the company has led the way with producing phones that include a ton of features and performance while undercutting the competition when it comes to cost. And for the most part, that's exactly what's happened with the OnePlus Pad. 

This Android-powered tablet has month-long battery standby, along with impressive daily battery life. Cipriani reviewed this tablet and found it quick and snappy for daily tasks like checking your email, playing games or browsing the web, all on a display that looks fantastic. 

Review: OnePlus Pad: A tablet for Android fans who secretly want an iPad

"One aspect of the overall experience I enjoyed using was the multitasking features built into OxygenOS, the operating system the Pad runs, Cipriani wrote. "More specifically, I found myself frequently using a quick gesture on the display to effectively split the display in half, putting one app on the left side of the screen, and a second on the other half. A two-finger swipe down from the top of the screen was all it took."

OnePlus also sells a keyboard case and a stylus for the OnePlus Pad, which more or less turns the OnePlus Pad into an iPad Pro dupe. However, verified customers who have bought and used this tablet say online that trackpad gestures and navigation are finicky, and a lot of the same interface features -- such as the mouse pointer -- on the OnePlus Pad come straight from Apple's iPadOS interface for the same feature. 

OnePlus Pad specs: Display: 11.61-inch, 144Hz refresh rate, LCD 2,800x2,000 display | Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 9000 Mobile Platform | Storage: 128GB | Memory: 8GB | Colors: Halo green | Cameras: 13MP rear. 8MP front camera | Weight: 555 grams | Dimensions: 189.41 x 258.03 x 6.54mm | Connections: USB-C | Battery: 9,510mAh

Pros & Cons
  • Windows Hellow
  • Lots of ports
  • Up to 256GB storage
  • Can only install apps from Microsoft Store in Windows 10 S Mode
More Details

The design hasn't changed for the Go 3, meaning it should work with all of the original accessories, including the Type Cover keyboard. The Go 3 has faster internals that provides a better overall experience and performance, and this time around, all three configurations of the Go 3 use an SSD instead. Previously, the combination of slower storage via an eMMC drive and the Intel Pentium processor wasn't an enjoyable experience. 

Review: Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: A portable and versatile 2-in-1, but battery life disappoints

ZDNET's Mary Branscombe tested the Surface Go 3 back in 2021 and said it "shines as a portable device." It's perfect for working on an airplane tray table or a crowded train, and for throwing in a backpack. It's a small tablet, with a display of just 10.5 inches, but it runs the full Windows operating system that you can customize.

It can also run Windows 10 in S Mode, which limits you to installing apps from only the Microsoft Store, along with a few other security features. But you can opt for the full Windows 10 experience by leaving S Mode.

One Reddit user praised the Surface Go 3, saying, "No issues running a bunch of Edge tabs, Excel, Word, and PP docs all at the same time," adding, "Even media consumption is way easier on the Go 3."

Microsoft Surface Go 3 tech specs: Display: 10.5-inch PixelSense Display | Processor: Intel Pentium Gold or Intel Core i3 | Storage: 64GB or 256GB | Memory: 4GB or 8GB | Biometrics: Windows Hello face sign-in | Colors: Platinum | Cameras: 8MP rear, 1080p video. 5MP front facing camera | Weight: 1.07 pounds | Dimensions: 9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches | Connections: 1 x USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack, 1 x Surface Connect Port, microSD card reader | Battery life: 11 hours

Pros & Cons
  • iPadOS 16.1's new multitasking feature
  • Strong performance thanks to M2 chip
  • The most expensive, by a long shot
  • Not many changes compared to previous model
More Details

The design of the iPad Pro hasn't changed all that much on the outside from previous generations, but on the inside, you'll find Apple's M2 processor which consists of 20 billion transistors -- 25% more than the M1. It's the same exact processor that Apple is using in the new 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Customers who have bought it praise this processor upgrade, saying it makes the iPad Pro "future-proof" and worth the cost in the long run.

Review: iPad Pro (2022) review: I'm cautiously optimistic. Or foolish

In our testing, we found it to be faster and more capable than any other iPad model we've tested to date, noting the hardware "continues to overpower the software." You can expect downloads up to 2.4Gbps, twice as fast as the previous model, 15% faster performance, and up to 35% faster graphics performance.

The Pro also supports the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil, and there's a new hover feature thanks to the M2 chip. "[The feature] monitors when the tip of the Pencil gets near the iPad Pro's display -- within 12 millimeters -- to proc unique app interactions via the new hover feature," Cipriani wrote in his review. "In the Notes app, for example, that means you'll see a small preview of what the selected tool will look like when you put the tip of the pencil to the screen."

And, although the differences between the 5th-generation and this 6th-generation model 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. 

Apple iPad Pro tech specs: Display: 11-inch Liquid Retina display or 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: 11-inch: 1.03 pounds 12.9-inch: 1.5 pounds | Dimensions: 11-inch: 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 inches, 12.9-inches: 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25-inches| Connections: USB-C Thunderbolt/USB-4 | Battery life: 10 hours

Pros & Cons
  • Good performance and battery life
  • Finally, Android tablet apps done right
  • The Charging Speaker Dock makes it a Nest Hub
  • No official keyboard case
  • Hub Mode could use some quality-of-life improvements
More Details

Google's first Android tablet in years is exactly what Android tablets should have been all along. It's true, not all apps are optimized for the larger screen, but Google's gotten clever in the way it handles those apps, while also getting a bunch of developers on board with updating their apps for the bigger display. 

Review: Google Pixel Tablet: What Android tablets should have been all along

"When you open an app on the Pixel tablet, the app stays confined to a phone-like column view that takes up effectively a third of the tablet's display," Cipriani notes in his hands-on review. "The app can live on the left edge of the screen, in the middle or on the right edge. You move it by double tapping in the blank space on either side of it."

Not only is the app experience better with the Pixel Tablet, but it pulls double duty acting as a smart home hub when it's not in use thanks to the included Charging Speaker Dock. The $129 accessory (if you want to buy extras) has a built-in speaker that ups the bass by 4x, while enabling a hub mode feature that effectively makes the Pixel Tablet more like a Nest Hub, instead of a tablet. 

Unfortunately, right now there isn't any sort of official keyboard or stylus for those who want to get some work done on the Pixel Tablet. Customers who have bought the tablet have voiced on Reddit that they mainly use it for media consumption and that it does the job for that purpose. 

Google Pixel Tablet tech specs: Display: 10.95-inch LCD, 2560x1600, 500 nits | Processor: Google  Tensor G2| Storage: 128GB or 256GB | Biometrics: Fingerprint sensor | Colors: Hazel, rose, porcelain  | Cameras: 8MP front, 8MP rear | Weight: 17.39 ounces | Dimensions: 10.2 x 6.7 x 0.3 inches | Connections: USB-C, pogo pins | Battery life: Up to 12 hours of video playback 

Pros & Cons
  • Great battery life
  • M1 processor
  • 4K video capable
  • Up to 256GB storage
  • Only one USB-C port
More Details

Apple's latest update to the iPad Air is more of a catch-up announcement than anything. The 5th-generation iPad Air keeps the same design we saw Apple bring to the Air in late 2020, but it now boasts an M1 processor and 5G connectivity. 

The Apple iPad Air still sits confidently between the base iPad and the iPad Pro when you look at price, but it's effectively caught up to the iPad Pro in terms of performance. With a 10.9-inch display, a Touch ID sensor that doubles as a power button on the side of its housing, it's more affordable and slightly different than the iPad Pro. The new iPad Air still works with the Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil

Review: iPad Air (2022) review: So good I almost regret buying my iPad Pro

Where the iPad Pro is the model for those who want nothing but the best, the iPad Air is the model for those who want to use the tablet for work and play, without big sacrifices in performance or features. In our review, we said the iPad Air is "where your search should begin and, likely, end" if you're in the market for an iPad.

Ultimately, we think the more Apple pays attention to the iPad Air, the less the 11-inch iPad Pro makes sense, and customers agree. Overall, 98% of Best Buy customers who bought the iPad Air would recommend it to others and gave it an overall rating of 4.8 out of 5.

Apple iPad Air tech specs: Display: 10.9-inch Retina display | Processor: Apple Silicon M1 | Storage: 64GB or 256GB | Biometrics: Touch ID | Colors: Space gray, starlight, pink, purple, blue | Cameras: 12MP rear, 4K video. 12MP Ultra Wide camera | Weight: 1.02 pounds | Dimensions: 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24 inches | Connections: USB-C port | Battery life: 10 hours

Pros & Cons
  • Three sizes to choose from
  • Industry-leading amount of pressure sensitivity levels
  • Included stylus
  • Need an external screen to use
  • Need to replace the nibs of the stylus often
More Details

When it comes to drawing tablets, Wacom is one of the industry leaders. With virtually no lag and 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity in the battery-free pen included, this no-screen tablet is the best one on the market for professional artists looking to create while providing a natural drawing experience.

While this writer's experience using it as a non-artist was simply for fun, professional artists and graphic designers will appreciate the Pro Pen 2's sensitive pressure points that allow you to go light and thin or dark and thick with your strokes. You can use the tablet to zoom in and out of your artwork, making fine-tuning details a breeze. Reddit users note that the Pro Pen 2 is better than anything they have experienced in a stylus and that it alone is worth buying the Wacom Intuos Pro for. 

Review: This Wacom drawing tablet feels like putting pen to paper

The possibilities are endless when it comes to creativity with the Wacom Intuos Pro tablet, and that is reinforced with a fully-customizable ExpressKeys located on the side of the active area. These buttons allow for artists to add their most-used tools for them to easily access. Its lightweight design is perfect for using it on a desk or on your lap, and with multiple sizes available, you can use this practically anywhere. This tablet connects to both Windows and Mac devices.

You'll also get free access to drawing-specific apps and services, like Clip Studio Paint Pro for two years, Boris Optics for one, and have the option to test Corel Painter Essentials 8 and Corel AfterShot Pro 3 for 90 days. 

Wacom Intuos Pro tech specs: Display: Small, medium, or large | Weight: 0.99-2.86 pounds | Dimensions: ‎16.79 x 11.19 x 0.31 inches | Connections: USB and Bluetooth

Pros & Cons
  • Impressive battery life
  • Included pen for handwritten notes
  • Compatible with Microsoft Word
  • Premium pen upgrade will cost you more
  • Does not support note-taking on magazines or newspapers
More Details

The Kindle Scribe is perhaps the perfect example of part e-reader, part tablet to satisfy your reading and note-taking needs. It has the same functions you've come to know and love in a Kindle, like 300 ppi glare-free screen, weeks of battery life, and adjustable warm light. It's also compatible with Amazon's Basic or Premium Pen, so you can take handwritten notes or underline important quotations within the book you're reading. 

Your notes are automatically organized in one place for every book, so you can browse, review, and export them via email. The Kindle Scribe also comes with preset templates to help you create notebooks, journals, and lists, and you can can create sticky notes in Microsoft Word and other compatible Word documents. 

Review: Amazon Kindle Scribe

ZDNET contributing writer, Matthew Miller, went hands-on with the Kindle Scribe and called it "close to perfect." "I use my Kindle Scribe daily as my primary note-taking device, and the habit of carrying it has also resulted in me reading more books than I have in years," Miller wrote. "It's an excellent ebook device while also serving as a capable working tablet."

The Kindle Scribe comes with the Basic pen, but verified Amazon customers say it's best to opt for the $30 premium pen so you get more advanced features like a dedicated eraser and the shortcut button.

Amazon Kinde Scribe tech specs: Display: 10.2-inch 300 ppi Paperwhite display | Storage: 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB | Weight: 15.3 ounces | Dimensions: 7.7 x 9.0 x .22 inches | Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C | Battery life: Up to 12 weeks (at 30 minutes per day)

Pros & Cons
  • Affordable
  • Kids edition has many perks
  • Easy to use
  • Performance will be an issue
  • Amazon's Appstore is hit or miss
More Details

Amazon just updated this tablet model in 2022, making it faster and with a longer battery life. Not only does it have a kid-proof case built to withstand 3 to 7-year-olds, but it also comes with a free one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+. 

The tablet also grants users an Amazon FreeTime Unlimited subscription, which grants you access to thousands of kid-friendly ad-free books, as well as movies, games and other kid-friendly and educational content. Parents who purchased this tablet on Best Buy give it an average rating of 4.7 out of 5, and 95% would recommend it to other parents. 

Review: I bought this Amazon kids tablet instead of an iPad and wasn't sorry

"The Fire HD 8 Kids tablet is a well-built, entry-level tablet that comes with a sturdy kid-proof cover and features useful parental controls," wrote ZDNET's Maria Diaz, who bought the tablet for her kids. "Its 13-hour battery life means that you'll need to charge it less often than other competitors, and the combination of a durable case and screen ensures the integrity of the Fire tablet for years to come."

The tablet's kid-friendly case is also worth mentioning, because it protects against drops and bumps, and it comes complete with an adjustable stand so your kids can go hands-free. But Amazon does offer you a two-year worry-free guarantee in case the tablet does succumb to playtime.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids tech specs: Display: 8-inch display | Processor: Hexa-core 2.0 Ghz | Storage: 32GB or 64GB (expandable by up to 1 TB) | Memory: 2GB | Colors: Blue, purple, Disney Mickey Mouse, or Disney princess | Cameras: 2 MP front and rear-facing cameras with 720p HD video recording | Weight: 18.3 ounces | Dimensions: 8.7 x 7.1 x 1.1 inches| Connections: 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C port | Battery life: 13 hours

What is the best tablet?

After going hands-on with all of these tablets, the 10th-generation iPad is our pick for the best tablet. It has a battery life of up to 10 hours, up to 256GB of storage, and a lightweight design that's perfect for working or streaming movies on the go. Its fairly affordable price tag also makes it a great choice for students who need a mobile work computer. 

If you want to see quickly how the 10th-generation iPad specifically compares to the other tablets that made our list, see the handy chart below that compares factors like price, storage, and display size.



Display size


Apple iPad (10th gen)


10.9 inches

Up to 256GB

Amazon Fire HD 10


10.1 inches

Up to 512GB with microSD card

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra


14.6 inches

Up to 1TB with microSD card

OnePlus Pad


11.6 inches

128 GB

Microsoft Surface Go 3


10.5 inches

Up to 256GB

Apple iPad Pro (6th gen)


11 or 12.9 inches

Up to 2TB

Google Pixel Tablet


10.95 inches

Up to 256GB

Apple Gen iPad Air (5th gen)


10.9 inches

Up to 256GB

Wacom Intuos Pro 


Small, medium, or large


Amazon Kindle Scribe


10.2 inches

16GB, 32GB, or 64GB

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids


8 inches

32GB or 64GB

Which is the right tablet for you?

The biggest question you'll need to answer about any tablet purchase is what you plan on using it for: Do you just want something to read a comic book and binge on some Netflix shows while you walk on the treadmill? If so, then a Fire tablet or the base model iPad is going to be more than enough for you. 

However, if you want to use a tablet more like a laptop, then you'll want to consider the iPad Pro, or one of the Surface devices. Here is a decision matrix that can help you choose which tablet is right for you:

Choose this tablet...

If you want or are...

Apple iPad (10th gen)

The best overall option when it comes to power, storage, and user-friendliness. The Apple iPad is the best tablet for anything.

Amazon Fire HD 10

An affordable tablet with basic features great for streaming. If you're looking to spend less on a tablet, this is a great pick. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

An Android tablet with expandable storage up to 1TB. This is Samsung's best tablet--and largest--tablet, by far. 

OnePlus Pad

The best Android tablet for entertainment and daily tasks like checking your email and browsing the web.

Microsoft Surface Go 3

A compact tablet for travel and mobile work. One of the best parts about this tablet is that it has A LOT of ports.

Apple iPad Pro (6th gen)

A tablet to replace your laptop thanks to its powerful Apple M2 chip. All you need to add is an attachable keyboard, and you have a device as powerful as the MacBook Pro.

Google Pixel Tablet

Google's Pixel Tablet is one of the best Android tablets on the market. It's fast, reliable and comes with a Charging Speaker Dock that completely changes how you use it. 

Apple iPad Air (5th gen)

A lightweight tablet that won't break the bank. At just over 1 pound, this iPad works with the Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil. 

Wacom Intuos Pro

A digital artist or graphic designer looking to create on a tablet. This tablet was made specifically for drawing, and it feels like putting a pen to paper. 

Amazon Kindle Scribe

An part e-reader, part tablet with an outstanding battery life and an included pen. It's even compatible with Microsoft Word. 

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids

A kid-friendly tablet with built-in parental controls. It even has a kid-proof case and a two-year worry-free guarantee. 

Factors to consider when choosing the best tablets:

 These were the factors that were most important to us when making our top picks: 

  • Feature sets: Not all tablets are created equal. Some are better for kids, others are simply for artists, and then there's the mini laptop for working professionals and students. We considered a variety of use-cases to match virtually every need. 
  • Price points: Tablets are an expensive piece of tech, especially if you're planning on investing in compatible accessories or buying for your kids to inevitably drop at a moment's notice, 
  • Integrations with other products: We considered options that can work with a smart case, attachable keyboard, Apple Pencil, or Stylus, and other work and entertainment add-ons. 
  • Battery life: Whether you're using your tablet for work or play (or both), you'll want it to last the duration of your task. 

How did we test these tablets?

When choosing the best tablets, ZDNET editors considered our own experiences testing and using these tablets. We do extensive hands-on testing of tablets, including ease using them for work and entertainment, and paying attention to specs like display, battery life, and overall experience while using the tablet.

For products we recommend, we write a product spotlight review that we update periodically with new features and pricing information.

What brand tablet is best?

By and large, Samsung and Apple tablets consistently have the best tablets in the market in terms of features, speed, camera, and quality. OnePlus and Google are newcomers who have great first generation products, but don't have the same proven track record. 

Dan Gookin, an author of technology books, said that Samsung's lineup of tablets is the best option for Android users who want good hardware in a tablet: "I believe Samsung is the only major player left for the Android tablet market, which makes them a good choice if you want to stay on Planet Android," he said. 

On the other hand, Avi Greengart, a consumer tech analyst at Techsponential, said that iPads are the best tablets for most people. 

"There's an endless array of accessories, there's a lot of iPad-specific software, and you can use it for watching content, for browsing the internet, for games, for education, etc.," Greengart told ZDNET. "For productivity, you can add a keyboard or pencil to it. It's also powerful enough for light computing tasks that consumers think of when they're looking for a tablet." 

At the end of the day, it depends on which software you prefer and what you plan to actually use your tablet for.

What are the newest iPad models?

Apple announced the 6th-generation iPad Air and the 7th-generation iPad Pro models on May 7. You can preorder the tablets now at Apple's website, and they are officially available on May 17. 

Also: How to preoder the new iPad Air, iPad Pro, Magic Keyboard, and Apple Pencil Pro

The new iPad Air comes in two sizes for the first time (11 inches and 13 inches) and features the M2 chip. In addition, the iPad Air now starts at 128GB instead of the mere 64GB that Apple previous included in the base model.

The iPad Pro now comes with the new M4 chip which Apple says delivers up to 4x faster GPU rendering and a 50% faster CPU performance than the M2 in the previous iPad Pro. The Pro tablets also feature an Ultra Retina XDR display, which Apple called "the world's most advanced display."

What does it mean if a tablet is Wi-Fi only?

When a tablet says that it is "Wi-Fi Only," that means that it requires a wireless internet connection to access things like email, websites, and apps. There are models available that give you the option to use LTE cellular data to connect to the internet, but if you aren't planning on traveling with your tablet, you can stick to a Wi-Fi only model.

What features to look for in a tablet?

It depends on what you're specifically looking for and your preferences. Gookin says he prioritizes the operating system: "I look for software, which is why I recommend iPad over Android," he said. "Many Android apps are customized for a smartphone screen and can look awkward on a tablet." 

Similarly, high-performing processors are also important, but Greengart said it all depends what you're using the tablet for. "If a tablet is on the slow side to launch apps, but if you're using it to write term papers, or even to browse the internet on a regular basis, it may make a lot of sense to go with a tablet that's got a higher performing processor," he said. 

Greengart also added that, unlike smartphones, people aren't as likely to update their tablet model every year, so he suggested thinking about how willing you are to deal with those small inconveniences like speed or battery life that can add up over time. 

Is a tablet better than a laptop?

That depends on what you want to use your tablet or laptop for. Digital artists tend to prefer tablets since they're easier to draw on with a stylus. Tablets are also great for photo editing and streaming movies if you get one with a large enough screen size. But if you want to do things like create spreadsheets, type in a word processing program, or do intensive 3D animation or modeling, you're better off with a laptop.

What tablet is best for students?

For students, there are specific things to look for when it comes to a tablet for learning and studying. Anne Leavitt, a former teacher and founder and CEO of Homeschool Newbie, said that, in most classes, students use a tablet for its basic functions such as internet searches, school projects, or running basic programs which don't require fancy specs. 

She recommends prioritizing features like storage space (at least 32 GB), and a large display between 10-14 inches. "For most students, you want at least 4GB of RAM to run your programs without lag. We only have a limited amount of time in the classroom and spending it wisely is essential," Leavitt said.

Are there alternative tablets worth considering?

Of course, the tablet market is more than just these 10 picks above. There are plenty of other options from different brands at various price points if you're looking for additional tablets. 

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