Update: The best tablet you can buy has changed again in 2017 thanks to the debut of the Apple iPad Pro 10.5 and New iPad, as well as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. Tablets are having a small comeback story this year.
Apple is sitting cozily at the top of our list with two great options for tablet lovers because of its better tablet software, and it'll double down on its efforts with the launch of iOS 11. But don't dismiss the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. It has plenty of power and nearly just as much in the way of productivity chops as our top recommendation.
Here are our ranking for the best iOS, Android and Kindle tablets.
Original article follows below.
What is the best tablet in 2017?
The best tablets in 2017 are all about combination. They all offer thin-and-light designs, but have decent keyboard and desktop-style experiences.
A good tablets makes you ask the question: Why do I even need a laptop? Here's the problem: there are a lot of choices out there, from Apple's larger many new iPads to the series of Samsung tablets.
We rank tablets based on multiple factors, including performance, battery life, and screen quality, with price playing an all-important role in the final tally.
The new iPad (2017) doesn't reinvent the tablet, in fact it doesn't differ much at all from its predecessor. The only real upgrade is the chipset, with Apple's A9 heart giving the new iPad more power – however it's the price which is the real winner.
There's no 16GB model, with the iPad kicking things off at a more reasonable 32GB, and considering that's cheaper than the entry-level iPad Air 2 it offers serious value for money.
The iPad Pro 10.5-inch is best for anyone who wants a serious tablet upgrade, even though the cheaper iPad 9.7 remains good enough for most people.
It has standout features that give it a productivity boost, including Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard compatibility. When iOS 11 comes out, this tablet will be a suitable laptop replacement for certain consumers.
The new ProMotion screen adds an impressive layer of fluidity to daily use – if not strictly necessary – and the smaller bezels means you're getting far more display in a footprint not much bigger than last year's 9.7.
It's solely ranked second because of its higher price. It's almost double the price in the US. That said, it's an iPad for the professionals – but also one that media munchers will adore using.
You're not going to find a better, full-featured Android tablet than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. It has a HDR-screen for the ultimate contrast ratio, four speakers that sound as good as those on the iPad Pro and an larger S Pen that's included.
You won't get a free keyboard cover, which helps makes this a good on-the-go productivity tool. It costs extra. You also can't get HDR video content at any price. Netflix and Amazon will eventually roll out HDR streaming movies and TV shows in the future (they have done so for 4KTVs), so you're really buying into a 2-in-1 tablet with features you can't use right away.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
The best full-featured tablet is the iPad Pro 9.7 – the smaller screened version of the iPad Pro 12.9 that wants to replace your laptop.
While there are plenty of brilliant Android tablets around at the moment, the newest iPad offers a lot of the power of the larger iPad Pro, along with the Smart Keyboard and Pencil support, but brings it in a much more bag-and-palm friendly size. Oh, and those four speakers are just brilliant too!
There's no Apple iPad Pro 2 release date just yet, or even confirmation that such a tablet exists. You're safe to buy this one right now.
Read the full review: iPad Pro 9.7
The best 7-inch tablet at the moment is definitely the iPad mini 4. If you like the look of Apple's iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro, but find them too big, too expensive or both, then you're in luck. With no official confirmation of an iPad mini 5 yet, the diminutive iPad mini 4 gives you the best of Apple's tablet world in a form factor that's not only beautiful, but highly portable.
Read the full review: iPad mini 4
You can't look at this new Asus ZenPad 3 10 and not think of an iPad. It has the same 9.7-inch display, but it runs Android instead of iOS. It has a sharp screen and the performance is solid, even if you don't recognize the chipset by name. It just can't match the best Apple iPad tablet due to its inferior battery life and build quality. But that might not matter if you fancy is cheaper price above all else.
Read our full review: Asus ZenPad 3S 10
Google's Pixel C is simply one of the best Android tablets out there. It has a fantastic display, heaps of power and a premium design. It pairs well with a Google Pixel or Google Pixel XL smartphone and even runs the Android 7.0 Nougat update. In fact, it's one of the few ways that you can try the new Android O developer preview.
It's not quite a laptop replacement, but there's a fantastic keyboard accessory if you're willing to pay extra. Be warned: You won't find the cheaper Google Pixel C 32GB model on sale through the Google Store. Only the 64GB is sold there now, though you can still find the 32GB deals through other retailers.
Read the full review: Google Pixel C
The iPad Pro won't be for everyone due to the size and cost, but for those it does appeal to (and can afford it), you're unlikely to find a better tablet for your needs. Whether its graphics, multi-tasking or providing a pseudo-Mac experience when you're away from the office the iPad Pro is capable of so much.
Even the Apple Pencil – hilarious name aside – is an impressive tool for a particular niche. Not everyone will dig it. But for serious pros who need more than the iPad Pro 9.7, this is the best tablet to replace a laptop.
Read the full review: iPad Pro
Can a tablet really replace your laptop or home PC? That's still up for debate, but the best tablet trying to make that happen right now is the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – and it does a fine job with the full blown version of Windows 10.
It has an integrated kickstand and optional keyboard attachment, making it ideal for creative professionals, students and everyday folks alike.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4
This isn't the discontinued Google Nexus 7, but it's slightly bigger cousin made by famed graphics card maker Nvidia. Obviously its speciality is gaming with a compatible controller. Just don't be fooled into thinking the gamepad comes with the Nvidia Shield tablet. Not at its current asking price of $199.
Strangely, it doesn't come with a charger either. That's okay. You probably have plenty of microUSB cables and wall adapters. What's important is that this can play Android games and stream both Steam games and Nvidia Grid games. It's a small tablet, but a mighty big value.
Tablet apps for your new purchase
As with today's best smartphones, applications play a big role on tablets – once you've decided which of these tablets is right for you, check out our top app lists so you can get your fill of Temple Run, update your friends on Facebook and read the latest news, all on a bigger screen.
- Best Android apps
- Best iPad apps
- Best free iPad apps
- Best free Android games
- Best iPad games
- Best free iPad games
If you're not quite ready to part with your cash, then take a look at these other noteworthy slates – they're ones that have likely been on the list in the past or are coming out soon.
Until the iPad Pro 9.7, this was the best tablet in the world. Even though it has been replaced by Apple, it's still a brilliant tablet that has further raised the bar for the rest of the competition in terms of build quality, features and performance.
Good news: it's now cheaper thanks to the release of the newer iPad Pro and the new iPad, which ditches the "Air" moniker.
Apple's range of tablet-optimized apps and a slick iOS 10 user interface makes the iPad Air 2 extremely versatile while also being incredibly easy, and enjoyable, to use.
Read the full review: iPad Air 2
There are plenty of reasons to invest in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 – especially if you're looking to buy one of the best Android tablets at an affordable price. This was the best tablet that Samsung had ever produced before the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 launched.
You can pick it up for a new low price in 8-inch and 9.7-inch variants. Almost impossibly thin, pumped full of power and with a slicker interface it gives the best iPads a real run for its literal money. You're basically only missing the S Pen, keyboard and HDR screen and speaker upgrades from the new version.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is the best tablet option for PS4 and PS4 Pro owners, as it allows you to stream games from your console direct to the tablet when you're in another room of your house. Link up your PlayStation 4 controller to the Z4 Tablet and you'll be gaming in bed, in the kitchen and on the toilet. The included keyboard dock in the box also makes for a great stand.
If you can get used to Sony's version of the Android user interface and handle the price tag, this isn't a bad option. There's no Sony Xperia Z5 and it may be skipped entirely for a Sony Xperia Z6, but this is not a reason to hold off on buying right now, as it's merely a rumor.
Read the full review: Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet
Tablets don't have to be big and cumbersome, and the rather clumsily named Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is testament to just that. It's not Sony's best tablet – that goes to the Z4 further up the page, but it's super-slim profile, waterproof chassis, bright display and solid line up of specs means it'll comfortably slip in your bag and won't baulk at the first sign of rain. However, it's a little older now, so be warned that it won't be getting all the Android updates you might hope for.
Read the full review: Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S was unveiled at the very start of 2016 and boasts a great screen, solid build and Windows 10. It's an odd device, but one that works better than we expected it to. The keyboard dock isn't great, with a cramped mouse and keys which aren't the easiest to type on – but over all Samsung's made a solid Windows slate.
Read our review: Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S
Huawei's first Windows 10 device is a well-designed 2-in-1 that rivals the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and iPad Pro in places. It's a promising, yet pricey, first 2-in-1 from the Chinese company, managing to feel fresh despite arriving late to the party.
Read our review: Huawei MateBook
The popular iPad mini range has won fans around the world, probably due to the fact it's the cheapest iPad offering in Apple's range. While the arrival of the iPad mini 5 in 2017 is likely, there's a small question mark around whether Apple will bother after criticism for its less than impressive iPad mini 3 update. If it does arrive expect more power with a new processor, the latest version of iOS 10 on screen and the same premium metal body.
What it needs to beat: iPad mini 4
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