The 13 Best Tablets to Buy in 2018
Best Overall: ASUS ZenPad 3S “the ultimate tablet for most people.”
Best 2-in-1: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 “a worthy competitor to the iPad Pro.”
Best Value: Lenovo Tab 4 “providing plenty of oomph for both high-quality entertainment and day-to-day tasks.”
Best Design: Samsung Galaxy Tab A “a device that weighs barely over a pound and has a battery life that can last up to 13 hours.”
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 “a really interesting new offering…with some great features.”
Best iPad Alternative: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8-inch “a great Android tablet for those who want something that resembles an iPad but don’t want to use iOS.”
Best Budget: Asus ZenPad 8 “the specs you get for the value are almost unprecedented.”
Best Under £50: Amazon Fire 7 “an inexpensive Android tablet that can do just about everything more pricey tablets can do.”
Runner-Up, Best Value: Huawei MediaPad T1 “featuring a mighty battery that can…continuously browse the web for eight hours without a recharge.
Runner-Up, Best Design: Huawei MediaPad M5 “delivering exemplary visuals with its 2560 x 1600 resolution and minimized bezels.”
Best Battery Life: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 “sporting an innovative design and a battery life that can last the entire waking day.”
Best Gaming: Fusion 5 “the perfect dedicated gaming tablet.”
Slow-motion video recording: Apple iPad Mini 4
Our Top Picks:
Best Overall: ASUS ZenPad 3S
ASUS released the ZenPad as a direct challenge to rivals at Samsung and Apple, including similar specs and build quality, but with more storage and at a lower price. This is the ultimate tablet for most people, delivering the latest and fastest technology at a stomachable price point.
The smart and sleek design gives priority to the 9.7-inch 2k IPS screen, which runs on ASUS proprietary VisualMaster technology for a stunning 2048 x 1536 resolution. It scores 264 ppi, which is the same as the iPad. The gorgeous screen has an impress 78 percent ratio compared to the body, leaving just enough room below for a super accurate fingerprint sensor that is quick and convenient. In addition to the fingerprint scanner, the device has a microSD slot for additional storage and a USB-C port for quick charging. There isn’t room for much more, as the bezel is less than a quarter inch thick, which ASUS claims is the thinnest in the world. The back sports a smooth premium anodized aluminum body that is both strong and attractive.
Most impressive of all is the lightning-fast performance, thanks to a beastly hexa-core 2.1 GHz processor, 4GB of RAM and the Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS. Just for good measure, ASUS threw in dual five-magnet speakers, an 8MP camera and a high-capacity battery to make this tablet the best overall package on the market at an unbeatable price.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best tablets.
Best 2-in-1: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
Many of the best 2-in-1s run Windows because of its superior desktop capabilities, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 will make you forget you ever knew that. Design-wise, it’s a worthy competitor to the iPad Pro. It has a vivid 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display that claims to be the world’s first HDR-ready tablet. This produces higher contrast ratios and brighter highlights, which does wonders for darker scenes, but don’t expect to find a lot of HDR content just yet. You’ll have to wait a bit until streaming services catch up. At least you’ll be ready when they do.
The S3 runs Android 7.0 Nougat with a Samsung overlay that’s easy to navigate. At the heart is a Snapdragon 820 processor, which is powerful enough for your computing needs, but unfortunately not as good as Snapdragon 835, which rolled out in the Galaxy S8. It also has 32GB of internal storage and a 6,000mAh battery that yields above-average performance.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of this tablet over an iPad is the inclusion of its S Pen. The S3 version is bigger and more pressure-responsive than those used with Samsung phones, and that helps users truly unlock the potential of the 2-in-1. Of course, to do that you’ll also need the keyboard attachment, which is sold separately.
Take a peek at some of the other best 2-in-1 tablets you can buy.
Best Value: Lenovo Tab 4
This snappy little tablet runs on the lower end of price points in the field, but don’t let that fool you – it still packs punch. The eight-inch full HD display doesn’t offer the top resolution in the biz, but it is more than enough for streaming videos and gaming, and to go with the beautiful visual, Lenovo has packed in Dolby Atmos speakers for cinema-quality (and cinema-volume) audio. They’ve also loaded it up with a 64-bit, quad-core Snapdragon processor that clocks in at 1.4 GHz, providing plenty of oomph for both high-quality entertainment and day-to-day tasks. They’ve paired that with 2GB of RAM to give you plenty of overhead on temporary storage for processing.
It all comes in a package that’s only 8.2 mm thick and 310 grams, so it’s among the most portable tablets in its class. It comes loaded with Android 7.1 for the latest OS compatibility, and there’s 16GB of internal storage with the ability to expand it even further with a micro SD slot. The Li-Polymer battery gives you 4850 mAh of battery life, and the cameras provide 5MP and 2MP of resolution (rear-facing and front-facing, respectively).
Best Design: Samsung Galaxy Tab A
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A 10.1” is designed for entertainment and performance. The vibrant high resolution screen has a 1920×1200 resolution and a gorgeous image, thanks to the powerful Octa-core 1.6Ghz processor and 2GB of RAM. You can expand the memory from 16GB to an additional 200GB with the microSD reader. You can also connect directly to a TV or another device with the microUSB.
Android Marshmallow 6.0 is the latest and greatest version of the operating system, making for a clean UI and easy transfer. It also lets you open up two apps side by side, for easy multitasking between messaging and games. And if you have additional Samsung devices, Quick Connect makes transferring videos and photos between TV easy. All this comes in a device that weighs barely over a pound and has a battery life that can last up to 13 hours.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
The Samsung Galaxy S line of tablets has been a fixture in the tablet market for a while, generally coasting right in the middle of the pack in terms of design and functionality. But the Galaxy Tab S4 is a really interesting new offering, and if you’re in the market for an Android tablet, this model offers some great features. First, the display includes Samsung’s tried-and-true AMOLED tech with a 10.5-inch, 2560×1600 screen, making for a 287 ppi density. The cameras offer decent visual specs, too: a 13MP AF sensor on the back with an f/1.9 aperture and an 8MP selfie cam (also with an f/1.9 aperture).
The whole system runs on a Qualcomm MSM8998 2.35 GHz processor with 4GB of RAM. You can pick it up with a 64GB or 256GB configuration, and it can be expanded to a whopping 400GB via microSD card. This tablet comes loaded with the latest Android OS, and it’s the first time that Samsung is included their DeX multitasking functionality in a tablet. Roll that in with an updated S Pen that offers 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity (great for control and for sketching), and this might be the tablet for you.
Best iPad Alternative: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8-inch
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is a great Android tablet for those who want something that resembles an iPad but don’t want to use iOS. Samsung is known for adding a lot of superfluous software to Android (eye-tracking software that is often wonky and its own Siri-esque virtual assistant), but some of the features found in the Tab S2 like split-screen multi-tasking and the SideSync app that mirrors your Samsung phone on the tablet are incredibly useful.
The eight-inch version of the Galaxy Tab S2 features a 1.8GHz quad-core processor, making it one of the fastest tablets on this list, and the 2048 x 1536 screen resolution means it’s perfect for watching videos or reading. The Galaxy Tab S2 is also available in a nine-inch model, for those who prefer a slightly larger display.
Best Budget: Asus ZenPad 8
If you’re on a budget, sometimes it makes sense to spring for a tablet that’s a little older. And the Asus ZenPad 8 is a great place to start. Is this thing old and obsolete? No. The 8 is still a serious workhorse in the Android tablet sphere. While it’s not going to be able to compete with the price points of the Fire tablets, the specs you get for the value are almost unprecedented.
Let’s start with how it looks – Asus has touted the design of the tablet highly on its feature list, and for good reason. They said the external casing has been inspired by fashion, and it shows with the three stunning color options: dark gray, pearl white and rose gold. Add that to the fact that the eight-inch display is roughly 75 percent of the entire enclosure (an impressive screen-to-body ratio), and you’ll see why this thing is a formidable fashion accessory in its own right.
That screen touts a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution with an IPS panel, 10 fingers worth of touch compatibility and Gorilla glass covering it all. They’ve even loaded in ASUS’ proprietary Tru2Life Technology to punch up the appearance of colors and graphics. There’s a 64-bit, quad-core MediaTek processor, up to 2 GB of RAM, up to 16GB of storage (with an included 100GB of Google Drive storage), a 2MP and 5MP front- and rear-facing camera system (resolutions respective), eight hours of battery life and a weight of only .77 pounds.
Best Under £50: Amazon Fire 7
If you’re looking for an inexpensive Android tablet that can do just about everything more pricey tablets can do, the seven-inch Amazon Fire is your best choice. The price means the tablet might not be the fastest on the market (it has a 1.3 GHz processor) or have the best picture quality (1024 x 600 screen resolution), but it’s a solid choice for reading e-books through the built-in Kindle app, or watching videos through Amazon’s streaming service. (Netflix, Hulu, and other services are also available.) The Amazon Fire only has 8GB or 16GB of storage, though that can be expanded locally with a microSD card or via cloud storage. The seven-inch tablet is also incredibly lightweight at just 11 ounces, about the same weight as a paperback book.
The Fire runs Amazon’s own OS, which is based on Android, but doesn’t have any of the official Google apps. That means no Google Play Store for apps, though Amazon does have its own app store that includes access to 38 million TV shows, songs, movies, books, apps and games.
Take a peek at some of the other best Amazon devices you can buy now.
Runner-Up, Best Value: Huawei MediaPad T1
Huawei proves that a $100 tablet can be worth buying with its new Mediapad T1. The compact seven-inch screen sports a slim and lightweight design, just 8.5MM thick and weighing just 15 ounces. The screen resolution is a respectable 600 x 1024 pixels with oncell IPS to reproduce over 90 percent of Adobe RGB color space for bright color and contrast. That may not rival the latest Samsung Galaxy, but it combines with a 178-degree, wide-view angle for a pleasurable viewing experience on an entry-level tablet.
The device’s real standout value comes in its mighty battery that can last over 300 hours on standby time or continuously browse the Web for eight hours without a recharge. The battery is housed in a light silver metal unibody case, which prominently features Huawei’s logo. Performance, while not blowing away any benchmarks, delivers for the pricetag. It runs on a Spreadtrum SC7731G chip with 28nm quad-core 1.2 GHZ ARM, and runs the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system and EMUI 3.0 powered by Huawei.
Runner-Up, Best Design: Huawei MediaPad M5
Don’t let its size fool you. The sleek, slim Huawei MediaPad M5 may have an 8.4-inch display, but it delivers exemplary visuals with its 2560 x 1600 resolution and minimized bezels. The small tablet also packs some serious power with a Kirin 960 processor, a 13 MP rear camera, 4GB of RAM, Android 8.0 Oreo, and up to 128GB of storage. It can handle your graphics needs, even if those needs involve high-end 3D gaming. Streaming a movie? The tablet’s smart technology adjusts unclear frames or contrast to allow for a crisper, clearer, and more compelling visual.
For high-end audio to match, the Huawei is equipped with two built-in speakers from Harman Kardon for an immersive surround-sound-quality listening experience. The tablet can last for up to several days on a single charge thanks to its 5100 mAh battery, which fully recharges in just two hours. Its internal power aside, the M5 has been designed to be externally aesthetically pleasing, with a curved-edge 2.5D glass screen that is as comfortable to hold as it is stylish.
Best Battery Life: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3
This widescreen Android tablet from Lenovo sports an innovative design and a battery life that can last the entire waking day. The distinctive black case holds a 10.1” 2560×1600 Full HD screen with IPS crystal-clear display, which allows for wide-angle viewing and brightness even outdoors. At the bottom is a cylindrical bar that houses built-in dual speakers with Dolby Atmos for one of the most immersive audio experiences on a tablet.
Forget the Bluetooth speaker at home? No problem, the sound is loud and dynamic enough to fill a room and the long battery life means you will have no problem using it as a sound system for an entire day. The 15 hours of battery life also means you can watch movies on the gorgeous screen for a trans-Pacific plane ride. Snapdragon 652 processor, 3GB RAM and a 32GB SSD provide enough computing power to handle any application, and at a lightweight two pounds, it can go with you anywhere.
Best Gaming: Fusion 5
A good gaming tablet should come with a powerful processor, Bluetooth connectivity, ample storage space and a nice screen. While the Fusion5 might not have the nicest camera or speakers, it has all of those requirements and at an excellent price, making it the perfect dedicated gaming tablet.
It packs a powerful MediaTek MT8163 64-bit Quad-core processor which generates 3D graphics and Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 MPCore through a 1080p video decoder for high-performance media. Your app store games will run great and look great on the 10.1-inch IPS 1080p HD screen that is built for media consumption. The tablet also has 32GB of internal storage space, so you can have plenty of games downloaded, while Bluetooth 4.0 allows you to connect wireless headphones or even a keyboard to get the best gaming experience.
Slow-motion video recording: Apple iPad Mini 4
The iPad mini 4 has been equipped with a newer and better A8 processor. The new chip in general applications is 30% faster than its predecessor, and when generating graphics, the efficiency increase reaches 60%. It is a pity that Apple has not decided on a more efficient A8X processor known from the iPad Air 2, not to mention the A9X used in the iPad Pro.
The iPad mini 4 is also the lightest current iPad. It weights 299 g, while the predecessors weighed about 330 g. The thickness of the device also decreased – now the iPad mini 4 is just as thin as the iPad Air 2 (6.1 mm).
Also new is a better camera, which now has 8 megapixels and allows you to record slow-motion movies at 120 fps. Apple has also decided to upgrade the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi communication modules. The former can now operate in the 4.2 standard and the other supports 802.11 a / b / g / ni ac protocols.
The iPad mini 4 screen has remained unchanged. It is still a Retina panel with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. There was also a Touch ID fingerprint reader.
What to Look for in an Tablets?
Budget – Tablets can get pretty pricey, but you can still get a decent device for cheap. While some reach up into the mid-three figures, there’s no reason to spend that much if you can’t afford it. A budget tablet will still grant you access to all your favorite apps, though you might make some sacrifices when it comes to build quality and screen resolution.
Screen size – The average tablet screen is between 7 and 10 inches. That might not seem like a big difference, but it can be when you’re tossing it in a bag or trying to get some work done. Weigh portability versus usability and you’ll be set.
Versatility – Some tablets are actually more functional 2-in-1 machines that double as a laptop. With a detachable keyboard and sometimes even a stylus pen, they are creatures primed for productivity. Whether you’re note-taking, sketching or typing up a paper, a 2-in-1 can be a great (and less expensive) alternative to a laptop.