Best tablets in 2021 | Laptop Mag

Tablets were once purely thought of as windows for consuming content. But Apple and Microsoft have proven that these devices are more than just portable TVs by adding cursor support and keyboard attachments. We’ve compiled the best tablets for the money, from those posing as laptop replacements like the Surface Pro 7 and the iPad Pro 2020 to the best Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and Amazon’s Kindle models. 

Apple’s iPads are some of the best tablets so be sure to check out our full iPadOS review to learn about all the tricks these tablets can do. If you’re not sold on any of these, one of the best 2-in-1 laptops might be the right choice. Or if you’re a student who wants a sleek laptop or tablet that can last through four years of abuse, check out our best college laptops page. 

Other tablets to keep an eye on are the Microsoft Surface Neo — a foldable PC made with dual 9-inch tablets — and the upcoming iPad mini. If you’re an Apple fan, check out our coverage of the new iPad and iPad Air. As previously mentioned, the Galaxy Tab S7 is our favorite Android tablet but for the best content viewing experience, go with the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus and its stunning OLED display. We’ve also reviewed the Surface Pro 7+, a new version of the Pro 7 made specifically for business users.

What are the best tablets for the money?

Apple and Microsoft continue to dominate the best tablets rankings, which largely consists of Surface devices and iPads. The best tablet for the money is the iPad Air. It might not offer the same power as the iPad Pro, or the portability of the iPad mini, but its size and price are what will attract everyday consumers. 

If you need extra power or want a tablet to replace your laptop, then the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the best option. Its speedy A12Z chip can keep up with most laptops and the Retina display continues to impress. And now that it has mouse and trackpad support, the larger iPad Pro is a genuine laptop replacement. Just behind the iPad Pro is Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7 (or the Surface Pro 7+ if you’re a business user). It too has a gorgeous display and fast performance. We even prefer its keyboard accessory over anything Apple sells. 

If Apple and Microsoft aren’t your cups of tea, give Amazon a shot with Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet. The company’s Fire tablets are still going strong, and are a good option if you’re primarily using the tablet for consuming entertainment. Also on this list is the excellent Samsung Galaxy Tab S7, an Android tablet with a DeX desktop interface, which can be used to double as your laptop. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)1. iPad Air (2020)

A more affordable iPad Pro, for consumers

CPU: A14 Bionic | Display: 10.9-inch, 2360 x 1640-pixels | Storage: 64GB (starting) | Dimensions: 9.7 x 7 x 0.24 inches | Weight: 1 pound | Ports: USB-C

Sleek design with thin bezels

A14 Bionic chip delivers excellent performance

Good battery life

Loud, clear speakers

Accessories are expensive add-ons

No Face ID or headphone jack

Apple’s latest iPad Air is the best non-Pro iPads ever, and the tablet we recommend to most people. Instead of being an upgraded version of the entry-level iPad, the new iPad Air is essentially an iPad Pro without the fancy, niche features. It has a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with thin display bezels for a more modern design. 

Under the hood is the A14 chip, making the iPad Air the first Apple product to flaunt the new six-core processor. So far, the performance numbers are impressive, with the Air outperforming some laptops. Battery life also remains excellent at 10 hours and 29 minutes, although competing slates endure for even longer. 

But perhaps the best reason to buy the new $599 iPad Air is that it now supports the Apple Pencil Gen 2 (with magnetic wireless charging on the side) and the Magic Keyboard accessory, making the Air a potential laptop replacement. 

Read our full iPad Air (2020) review.

2. Apple iPad

The best tablet for most people

CPU: A10 Fusion Chip, embedded M10 coprocessor | Display: 10.2 inches, 2160 x 1620 | Storage: 32GB (starting) | Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.3 inches | Weight: 1.1 pounds | Ports: Lightning, Headphone

Longer battery life

Brighter display

More screen space

Smart Keyboard support, finally

Gets pricey with Keyboard and Pencil

Apple’s 10.2-inch iPad might seem a lot like its predecessor (and it is), but the company tweaked enough for us to still love this slate. Not only does the extra screen space (up from 9.7 inches) go a long way in iPadOS, but the added Smart Keyboard Cover support is a finally moment.

On top of that, we saw nearly 12 hours of battery life in our tests, and its colorful, super-bright display ties it all together for a solid experience. Priced at $329, the iPad is the cheapest tablet in Apple’s lineup, making it the best tablet for the money. 

Read our full Apple iPad review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)3. Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 2020)

The best tablet for power users

CPU: A12Z Bionic | Display: 12.9 inches, 2732 x 2048 | Storage: 128GB (starting) | Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.2 inches | Weight: 1.4 pounds | Ports: USB-C

Stellar performance

Intuitive and useful trackpad support

Vivid and superbright display

Awesome cameras


The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the best tablet for power users, by some distance. It might not be a major improvement over its predecessor, but the new A12Z Bionic chip still performs well against full-fledged laptops. 

The biggest improvement has more to do with software. Added cursor and trackpad support mean the iPad Pro is finally a true laptop replacement. You can now connect any Bluetooth mouse or wireless trackpad (like the Magic Trackpad 2) and use a cursor to navigate iPadOS 13.2. The feature will feel complete when Apple releases the Magic keyboard attachment with trackpad later this year (although it’ll cost $349). 

Another new feature is the lidar sensor, which accompanies two rear-facing cameras. Designed to improve AR apps, the potential of this sensor will be realized in the years to come. Apart from those features, the iPad Pro is exactly what we’ve come to expect; It has an excellent 12.9-inch display, awesome performance and long battery life. 

Read our full 12.9-inch Apple iPad Pro (2020) review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)4. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7+

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Display: 11-inch, 2560 x 1600 (S7), 12.4-inch, OLED (S7+) | Size: 10 x 6.51 x 0.25 inches (S7), 11.22 x 7.28 x 0.22 inches (S7+) | Weight: 1.1 pounds (S7), 1.3 pounds (S7+)

Improved S pen

Great speakers

5G support

No headphone jack

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 is one of the best tablets due to its battery life. This tablet can offer over 13 hours of battery life. Wow!

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ both have excellent cameras: a 13MP main camera and a 5MP secondary ultra-wide lens. On the front is an 8MP selfie camera. Both tablets are updates of the Galaxy Tab S6 and feature an improved S Pen that is included in the box. The Galaxy Sab S7 and Galaxy S7+ have faster processors and 5G connectivity.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ is one of the best Samsung tablets, too, with its 12.4-inch,  2800 x 1752-pixel screen, but due to its magnificent AMOLED display, there is a dip in battery life (it lasts 8 hours and 51 minutes).

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and Galaxy Tab S7 Plus review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)5. Amazon Fire HD 10

CPU: 2.0 GHz octa-core CPU | Display: 10.1 inches, 1920 x 1200 | Storage: 32GB (starting) | Dimensions: 10.3 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches | Weight: 1.1 pounds | Ports: Headphones, USB-C

Fantastic battery life 

Bright, crisp display 

Decent performance 

USB-C (finally)

No Google apps

Speakers have weak bass

Amazon has upgraded its best tablet with a port that not even Apple’s iPad offers: USB-C. On top of that, you get fantastic battery life with a bright, colorful 1920 x 1200-pixel screen that’s great for binge-watching. 

We still wish Amazon would allow the Google Play store in by default — the Fire OS mail app is wanting and the real YouTube app is far better than the website.

Read our full Amazon Fire HD 10 review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)6. iPad mini (2019)

Our favorite small tablet

CPU: A12 Bionic chip, Neural Engine Embedded M12 coprocessor | Display: 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536 | Storage: 64GB (starting) | Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.2 inches | Weight: 10.9 ounces | Ports: Lightning, headphone jack

Great performance

Bright and colorful display

Apple Pencil support

Excellent battery life

Large bezels


Apple’s updated one of its most beloved tablets with a set of specs that makes it more than worth buying. From its speedy A12 Bionic chip to its bright, beautiful display, this is both a slate that’s great to consume content on and get things done on as well. On top of that, you get lengthy battery life plus support for the Apple Pencil. 

Read our full iPad mini (2019) review.

If you prefer a tablet over a clamshell, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the best 2-in-1 detachable.  (Image credit: Laptop Mag)7. Microsoft Surface Pro 7

The best detachable 2-in-1 laptop

CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 4GB/8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824-pixel | Size: 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches | Weight: 1.7 pounds/2.4 pounds (with keyboard)

Premium metal chassis

Fast overall performance

Bright, vivid display

Keyboard and stylus sold separately

Slow, expensive SSD

The Surface Pro 7 takes an excellent tablet in last year’s Surface Pro 6 and gives it a power boost. While battery life takes a hit, the new 10th Gen CPUs provide outstanding performance. 

The design hasn’t changed at all, but the Surface Pro 7 now has a USB-C port for charging and connecting peripherals. Microsoft still sells the comfortable Alcantara-clad Type Cover and the super-responsive Surface Pen, which makes it easy to draw or take notes on this tablet’s vivid and bright 12.3-inch display.

See our full Microsoft Surface Pro 7 review


(Image credit: Laptop Mag)8. Microsoft Surface Go 2

CPU: Intel Core m3-8100Y | Display: 10.5 inches, 1920 x 1280 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.9 x 0.3 inches | Weight: 1.2 pounds (1.8 with keyboard) | Ports: USB-C, Surface Connect, headphone, microSD

Vivid 10.5-inch display

Sleek magnesium design

Long battery life

Excellent webcam

Cramped Type Cover keyboard

Microsoft’s Surface Go 2 gives you a ton of the perks of the Surface Pro, but at a much more affordable price. Starting at $399, it offers a bright, colorful display, a comfy keyboard and a sturdy-feeling magnesium design. It also includes Windows Hello support for facial recognition login. 

You shouldn’t expect the faster performance from its Core m3-8100Y CPU but it should provide enough power for everyday tasks. Compared with the previous version, the Surface Go 2 has thinner bezels, faster speeds and now delivers epic battery life of more than 11 hours. 

Read our full Microsoft Surface Go 2 review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)9. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

An inexpensive tablet for Android users

CPU: Samsung Exynos 9610 | Display: 10.4 inches, 2000 x 1200 pixels | Storage: 4GB | Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.3 x 0.3 inches | Weight: 1 pound | Battery life: 12:40

Premium design with thin bezels

Amazing battery life

S Pen is included

Bright 10.4-inch screen

Middling performance

You get a bright 10.4-inch display, an included S Pen stylus and amazing, all-day battery life all for just $350. That is what makes the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite such a compelling tablet for those in the market for an iPad alternative. Running Android 10, this slate is great for Droid owners, especially those with Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

While its performance can lag behind at times, the S6 Lite is a good choice if you just need to run basic everyday tasks, like web browsing or video streaming. In many ways, the S6 Lite fills the same role as the iPad but for those who aren’t in the Apple ecosystem.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite review.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable is the closest thing you can get to a Surface Pro 7, and it’s even better that one. (Image credit: Laptop Mag)10. Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable

The best tablet that detaches

CPU: Intel Core i5-1130G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB | Display: 12.3-inch, 1920 x 1280-pixel | Size: 11.2 x 8 x 0.3 inches | Weight: 1.7 pounds (2.4 pounds with keyboard)

Long battery life

Good 12.3-inch display

Excellent keyboard

Accessories come bundled

Terrible speakers

No USB Type-A

The Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable is, in short, a better version of the Surface Pro 7. It has the same detachable form factor and uses a kickstand that can rotate to about the same 160-degree angle. The 12.3-inch display is almost identical to the one on the Surface and, like the Pro 7, the detachable keyboard is fantastic. You even get military-grade durability from its rigid chassis.

Why is it better than the Surface Pro 7 and Pro 7+? Because the ThinkPad X12 Detachable lasts longer on a charge, enduring for more than 11 hours, and it weighs slightly less than its magnesium alloy competitor.  Better yet, the X12 Detachable comes bundled with the keyboard and pen, although you’ll need to spend a pretty penny on this business-focused detachable. 

If you need good speakers or a USB Type-A port, then you might go with the Surface Pro 7, otherwise, we prefer the X12 Detachable.

See our Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable review

How to choose the best tablet for you

Choosing the right tablet requires the same thought process as buying a laptop. As with any product, the first thing you need to decide is your primary use for a tablet. If it’s to browse the web on the couch or watch Netflix in bed, then you don’t need to spend $1,000 on the iPad Pro. You’re probably better off with the $329 iPad or even the $400 Surface Go — both of which have excellent displays. You can even settle on the $80 Amazon Fire HD 8, a tablet made strictly for multimedia viewing. 

If you need a tablet that can double as a laptop, then your best options are the iPad Pro or the Surface Pro 7 — tablets that can be paired with an attachable keyboard and support trackpad/mouse input. Both of these devices provide plenty of power for even the most demanding users. 

The size of the tablet is another consideration. While it might not sound like it, a 12.9-inch tablet feels massive in the hand. If you want something less unwieldy, consider a tablet with a screen that is smaller than 10 inches. Almost all tablets are thin and lightweight but few have good connectivity options. The Surface tablet stands out in this regard, offering a USB-A input. 

How we test the best tablets

Our tablets go through rigorous benchmark testing before they even land in the hands of our reviewers. Our test vary slightly based on which OS the tablet runs, but the overall performance and graphics of almost all tablet is measured by the Geekbench 5 benchmark. 

We also use a fancy colorimeter to quantify display quality. The device can measure the sRGB color range a display captures and the average brightness across the panel.

Our battery test gives an accurate measure of everyday runtimes. To test the endurance of a tablet, we set the display to 150 nits then run a continuous loop consisting of web browsing and video playback until the device powers off. 

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