Tablets fill that gap between your laptop and your smartphone. The long battery life and large displays are great for binge-watching your favorite movies and shows on cross country flights and road trips. Plus, they are easy to pack around, especially since tablets are generally lightweight and sport a slim profile you can easily slip in and out of a bag.
When you really get into the nitty-gritty of the capabilities, the best tablets now stand toe-to-toe with laptops. Here’s why:
Incredibly sharp, vivid and large displays (iPad Pro, iPad Air)
Storage options up to 1TB (iPad Pro)
Longer battery life than most laptops (Samsung Galaxy Tab 6)
Slim and lightweight (Remarkable 2, iPad Air, Amazon Fire HD 10)
When you pair tablets like the iPad Pro or Samsung Galaxy Tab 6 with a wireless keyboard and a stylus, you essentially have a full laptop — only with a better camera system. So stop thinking of your laptop as a device for only watching movies (although they are great for that). When you take a closer look at the best tablets of 2021 below, you might say goodbye to your laptop, especially if you only use it to surf the web.
1. 12.9 Inch iPad Pro (2021)
This iPad can basically replace your laptop. It can easily last all day before it needs a powerup — that’s definitely saying something considering the size and power — and since it’s powered with the M1 chip, it’s arguably the most powerful and fast tablet you’ll find. Not only is it powerful, but the Liquid Retina XDR display is absolutely beautiful with a 120Hz refresh rate that scrolls oh so smoothly. The camera setup is equally as incredible with an ultra-wide system and a feature called Center Stage, which will keep you in the middle of the frame even when you are moving about on a video call. There is an 11-inch model if you want to save a little coin, but if you’re already looking for the best tablet in this price range, you might as well go all the way and spring for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
2. 2021 Apple iPad Mini
Apple finally gave the Mini the country club spa treatment and redesigned it to give it a better look, more powerful processor and amazing battery life. It is designed like the iPad Pro, but in Mini form with an aluminum enclosure. The display is 8.3-inches with a 60Hz refresh rate. Sure, it’s not 120Hz, but it’s nothing close to a deal-breaker. Plus when you consider this has an A15 Bionic chip — the same found in the new iPhone 13 — it’s more powerful than the iPad and iPad Air, and has the same amount of storage as the standard iPad. The battery can last for a few days on regular use without a charge or close to seven hours if you are just marathoning HD videos continuously. Finally, the Mini also supports LTE and 5G connectivity (for $150 extra, of course).
3. Samsung Galaxy Tab A7
If you’re looking for a true and delightful Android experience in tablet form, look no further than the Galaxy Tab A7. You get full reign over the Google Play store and can load up your tablet with the apps that you need to function at your best. Speaking of functioning at your best, you get more than all-day battery life which is great for those who like to consume plenty of content on the 10.4-inch display. There’s facial recognition technology plus it uses USB-C charging ports for fast charging and allows you to use existing cables you have lying around instead of those frustrating micro-USB cables. Considering everything you get, this is an absolute steal at $179.99 from Amazon.
4. Microsoft Surface Pro 8
GREAT FOR OFFICE PROS
The Surface Pro 8 is like a mini-computer and essentially can replace your office clunker when paired with a detachable keyboard and stylus. Powered by a speedy Intel i5 processor (or i7 if you upgrade) and 8GB of RAM (up to 32GB) and Windows 11, it’s better suited for powering through office work rather than mobile gaming, but it’s still a great tablet for content crushing on a lazy weekend, especially watching your favorite shows on the vibrant 13-inch display. Both the front and back cameras look amazing, especially great for Zoom and Teams calls with more than all-day battery life to get you through a whole workday.
5. 2021 Apple 10.2 Inch iPad
When you compare the 2021 (or 9th generation) iPad to last year’s, or even the year before that, aesthetically you won’t see much, if any difference — and that’s just fine. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So why spring for a new $329 iPad. First, it’s one of the more affordable iPads and luxury tablets available. Second, the A13 Bionic chip brings with it incredibly fast processing speeds and performance that still smokes most of the competition. And the base model comes with 64GB of storage which is more than plenty. Add an Apple Pencil or keyboard and you can pretty much leave your laptop at home.
Read More: Best Tablets for College
6. BOOX Max Lumi ePaper
GREAT FOR NOTE TAKING
Much like the ReMarkable II tablet, this e-Paper reimagines the tablet and provides a digital way to work that doesn’t stray away from the analog feel of a paper and pad. Powered by Android, you can access the Google Play Store and download apps you need to help you work and play. The large 13.3-inch screen is great for drawing, typing and e-reading. Speaking of, it has an upgraded Lumi Moon light that changes the front light colors while you read. This is a game-changer for those who like to pick up an e-reader and get through a few pages before bed. It’s definitely a different take on a tablet, but a great tool for taking notes and getting work done.
7. Lenovo Yoga Tab 13
GREAT FOR CONTENT
The Lenovo Yoga Tab 13 was designed for you to take in your favorite content. It’s great to place on a kitchen counter and follow along with a YouTube recipe or to sit on the couch and watch your favorite show. The back of the tablet has a flip-out stand that’s great for tables and countertops, but it is missing a rear camera, which is rather rare in this day and age for a tablet. That being said, there’s plenty of onboard storage with 128GB and 8GB of RAM. Plus the Snapdragon 870 is plenty speedy, even enough for lag-free gaming. It’s probably a little too big to be a commuter, but for at-home entertainment, this is a solid choice for a tablet.
8. Apple iPad Air (2020)
BEST PREVIOUS YEAR IPAD
If you take everything that makes the 11-Inch iPad Pro immediately attractive (slim bezel design, Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard support, liquid retina display) and offer it for less than $600, you end up with the latest iteration of the iPad Air, which is the best tablet Apple has made to date. What’s more, the A14 Bionic chipset that’s packed inside this 11-inch tablet comes is more powerful than what you get with the iPad Pro. Of course, there are some tradeoffs. The iPad Air doesn’t include the same 120Hz ProMotion display or the ability to size up to 12.9 inches. But when it comes to the best all-around package you can get in 2021, the iPad Air is tough to beat.
9. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7
This pricey-yet-powerful option pairs great with the S Pen to write and markup documents, draw and take notes right on your tablet. Plus, with the 120Hz display the Galaxy Tab S7 is a great digital canvas for artists. It can also switch into DeX mode when connected to a keyboard and, much like the iPad Pro, you essentially have yourself a 2-in-1 laptop. Similar in price to the iPad Air, the Galaxy Tab S7 also has a superior 15-hour battery life. If Android is more your flavor, then it’s hard to look past the appeal of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7.
Read More: The Best Samsung Tablets
10. Apple iPad Pro (2020)
BEST TABLET FOR CREATIVES
The iPad Pro is basically a small laptop in a tablet’s body with the camera system of top-tier iPhone models. The base model features 128GB of storage, which is as good as the most highly rated laptops. The liquid retina display, which you can write on using a stylus, looks incredibly sharp and vivid. And the 10-hour battery life will last you virtually all day whether you’re binge-watching videos or taking pictures with the dual-lens 12MP wide and 10MP ultra-wide camera system. On top of all that, it’s slim and light enough to slip right into your bag.
Like all Apple products, it’s easy to use whether you’re a tech-savvy member of Gen Z or an AARP card-carrying Baby Boomer. If you add iPad Pro accessories like wireless keyboards to your tablet setup, then the iPad Pro can fully replace your laptop — unless you do creative work, video or audio editing, or gaming. Still, for the average person, the iPad Pro can do almost everything.
11. Amazon Fire HD 10
This isn’t the sexiest tablet on the market today, but it gets the job done. The Amazon Fire HD 10 may not be as flashy or come with as much storage as the iPad Pro or Tab 6, but the 12-hour battery life is better than both the iPad Air and Pro. In addition, hands-free Alexa can make navigating through content and apps as simple as talking. It’s one of the best tablets for entertainment, especially when you consider its small price tag compared to other top-rated tablets. If you mostly want to access apps like Netflix, Spotify, Instagram, Kindle and Amazon Prime, then this affordable tablet is more than up for the job.
Read More: Best Cheap Tablets
12. TCL Tab
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK
TCL is better known for its affordable flat-screen TVs, which compete with displays that are much more expensive. But now the company is bringing its “bang for the buck” mentality to tablets with the TCL Tab. And for a first effort, the TCL Tab is no slouch. It packs a 2.0 GHz octa-core CPU, 3 GB of RAM into an 8-inch, 1080p display, making this an excellent choice for reading or streaming. But what we love most is that the battery can provide up to 24 hours of use on a single charge while offering the ability to wirelessly share its power with Qi-compatible phones.
13. Microsoft Surface Go 2
The original Microsoft Surface was one of the first functional hybrid devices to exist when it was released in 2012. And while it was better than any hybrid before it, it still made a few too many concessions to truly catch on. But since then, Microsoft has worked to refine that concept and the Surface Go 2 is one of the most polished results yet. Equipped with an Intel Core m3 CPU and 8GB of RAM this 11-inch tablet is built to handle all your media consumption needs, as well as many of the daily productivity tasks that you’d typically call on your laptop for.
14. ReMarkable Tablet 2
A DIFFERENT TYPE OF TABLET
We were big fans of the ReMarkable Paper Tablet, and the ReMarkable 2 is even better. It’s a digital solution for people who still prefer a pen and paper to typing notes on a keyboard. This tablet and stylus feel as though you are righting on paper, but with the benefits of a cutting-edge tablet. For instance, it can automatically convert handwritten notes to text when you need to send your meeting notes to others. It also allows you to write on PDF documents instead of having to use document signing programs like Docusign. Plus, all of the notes you take are saved to the cloud. The display looks more like a Kindle Paperwhite than a typical tablet, as ReMarkable worked with E Ink on its paper tablet. In short, it’s a different type of tablet, but one that makes writing much more efficient and distraction-free.
Right now the ReMarkable Paper Tablet 2 is only available via pre-order.
15. Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition
BEST TABLET FOR KIDS
When your kid wants a tablet, but you’re not quite ready to hand over your iPad Pro and let them run wild, the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition offers both physical and virtual protection. You can limit the amount of screen time and set additional parental controls. But your kiddo still has plenty of access to books, apps, and videos through a one-year free subscription to Amazon Free-Time. It’s actually pricier than the Amazon Fire HD 10, but the extra $50 is worth the childproofing. There’s no shame in hiring a digital babysitter in the form of the best tablet for kids.
Read More: The Best Tablets for Toddlers
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