Entertainment Best tablet 2022: the top Android and iPad slates
Best tablet 2022: the top Android and iPad slates
The best tablets combine the portability of a smartphone with the versatility of a laptop. These portable devices have come a long way since their early beginnings, and many of them are now powerful enough to serve as great laptop alternatives.
When choosing the ideal tablet, whether you want the best iPad, the best Android tablet, or a cheap tablet with excellent performance, it’s important to know what you’ll be using it for. Some tablets are made for professionals and creatives, offering powerful performance and useful features like a stylus or keyboard folio compatibility. Others work best as portable entertainment devices, being great for gaming or watching movies.
Since we’ve tested every major tablet and used each of them for a broad range of purposes, we can tell you which ones are worth your time and money. We’ve narrowed down your choices below, paying attention to processing power, software, screen quality, battery life, and how well they work with accessories. With plenty of tablets vying for your attention, we’ll make it easy for you to choose the best tablet for you.
The best tablet 2022
The iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) is a spectacular tablet, with its headline feature arguably being the M1 chipset that powers it. This chipset was lifted straight from Apple’s top-end Macs, so you’re truly getting desktop power in a tablet here.
We were blown away when we tested the tablet – the chip was great for tasks like photo and video editing, as well as gaming. But that’s not all this tablet has going for it. For the first time in an iPad, it also has a Mini LED screen, with a remarkably high 1,600-nit peak brightness, a 120Hz refresh rate, and a 2048 x 2732 resolution. It’s crisp, bright, vibrant, and all-round impressive.
The iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) also has a long-lasting battery, a decent camera, a premium aluminum design, and support for the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2 – these are sold separately, but turn it into a real productivity machine, and we used them non-stop in our testing period.
So if you want to get some proper work or creation done on a tablet, or you’re just a big tablet gamer, the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) will be the perfect device. But if your needs are lighter then you might find this too expensive and too big.
Read the full iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) review
With the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, Samsung isn’t just aiming to compete with the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021), it’s aiming to top Apple’s slate. And, in some ways it succeeds.
Samsung’s tablet has an even bigger 14.6-inch screen, and it comes with an S Pen stylus in the box – while with the iPad you have to buy an Apple Pencil separately. While we thought that we’d find the giant screen overwhelming, it’s actually great, whether you’re using it for art or just watching movies.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra can also more or less match Apple’s best tablet in a lot of ways, including power, thanks to a top-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, and cameras, with both slates sporting a handy 12MP ultra-wide camera on the front.
You can also buy a keyboard folio for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, and it has great speakers and plenty of storage. So in many ways it really is an even bigger iPad Pro – just one that runs Android. But that last point is a big part of why the Tab S8 Ultra doesn’t quite match the best that Apple has to offer, because Android is a slightly unwieldy tablet operating system.
Couple that with the slate itself being large and heavy enough to not be as portable as you might want your tablet to be, and Apple edges the win. But for Android fans who want the best available option and aren’t on a budget, this is the tablet to buy.
Read the full Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review
Apple’s latest iPad has a lot more in common with the iPad Pro than with the company’s entry-level slates. And, when we tested the thing, we had to keep checking which tablet it actually was.
There’s an all-body display, M1 chipset, Apple Pencil compatibility and long-lasting battery. Oh, and of course it runs on Apple’s iPadOS which is a supremely useful tablet operating system. On test, its performance is very close to the iPad Pro range, which is impressive when you consider its list price.
This is one of the best tablets we’ve tested, and the iPad Pro and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra only beat it in a few ways, like with their bigger screens, extra storage space and high-res displays. But if you don’t have the money to stretch for those two premium tabs, this mid-range alternative could be great for you.
Read the full iPad Air (2022) review
The Lenovo Yoga Tab 13 is a really interesting tablet – one that goes well beyond just being a smartphone with a bigger screen. That starts with its design, as it has a built-in stand that lets you angle it on surfaces without any sort of case, or even hang it off things – hence the Yoga name. We found this incredibly useful, as we could easily position the Tab on different surfaces when streaming music or movies.
The Lenovo Yoga Tab 13 also has a large speaker housed in the stand section at the bottom. This is bigger and more powerful than most tablet speakers, so it’s a treat for watching movies and playing games on, even without headphones.
Plus, the Lenovo Yoga Tab 13 has a micro HDMI port, which is an unusual find on a tablet. This allows you to connect it to other devices so you can easily output the display on a larger screen or use it as a second screen for a computer, and we found the Tab a great device to use as a portable second screen.
On top of all that it also has the tablet basics down, including a large 13-inch screen, a powerful Snapdragon 870 chipset, and a big 10,200mAh battery – complete with speedy 30W charging support. It lacks a camera on the back, but that’s the only real omission here.
Read the full Lenovo Yoga Tab 13 review
The iPad 10.2 (2021) is an affordable iPad, and it looks like it, as it’s now the only current model with an old-fashioned, bezel-heavy design. We’re not big fans of this aspect of it, but almost every other part of the iPad 10.2 (2021) impressed us.
From its excellent 12MP ultra-wide selfie camera (which gives video calls a major upgrade), to its True Tone display tech (which helps with outdoor visibility), there’s a lot to like here. You also get double the storage of the previous model and a power boost.
Apple has given it the A13 Bionic chip, giving it a solid upgrade over its predecessor. During testing, it was slightly snappier in operation, with apps being quick to load. We were able to multi-task easily nor did we experience any lag. This might be a budget iPad, but it’s still a highly capable tablet.
Read the full iPad 10.2 (2021) review
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus is a serious rival to the iPad Pro range that you’ve read about above. Sure, it’s been eclipsed by the Tab S8 family, but it’s still great. Its screen arguably has iPads beat, as it’s a 12.4-inch Super AMOLED one with a 2800 x 1752 resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. The iPad Pro range can match much of that, but those slates have LCD screens that for the most part aren’t as good.
Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset, which we found to be plenty powerful. Plus, it comes with a premium metal build that is incredibly slim with it only being 5.7mm thick.
Want high speed internet? A version of the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus also comes with 5G connectivity, and you’ll get the Samsung S Pen stylus in the box for free. Android isn’t as good as iPadOS is on tablets, but if you want an Android alternative to an iPad this could be it.
Read the full Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus review
The iPad Pro 11 (2021) is a superb tablet, but one that’s just ever so slightly underwhelming in the face of the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) with its Mini LED display. This instead has to settle for LCD like its predecessor, but it still has a great 11-inch 1668 x 2388 screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, and it has the same overpowered Apple M1 chipset as its larger sibling, so nothing should slow this down.
The iPad Pro 11 (2021) also has a smaller, lighter build than the 12.9-inch model, making it more portable – as a result of its smaller size and inferior screen it’s also more affordable, though certainly far from cheap. If you do have extra cash to spend though, you can always shell out on a Magic Keyboard or an Apple Pencil, both of which are supported. All of which means this is a very powerful, versatile slate – albeit one that’s slightly let down by its restrictive software.
Read the full iPad Pro 11 (2021) review
The iPad Air 4 (2020) is arguably the best tablet for anyone who can’t quite justify splashing out on the very best, as it has many of the things that make the iPad Pro range great, but it costs less. It even has an A14 Bionic chipset, which is what you’ll find in the iPhone 12 range, and we found it to be exceptionally powerful.
The iPad Air 4 (2020) also supports both the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil. So it’s almost as good as a laptop replacement or general productivity device as an iPad Pro.
With good all-round specs too and a wide range of colors that you can buy it in, the iPad Air 4 (2020) is a great choice for a lot of people – though the cheapest model only comes with 64GB of storage, which won’t go far.
Read the full iPad Air 4 (2020) review
Lenovo might not be the first name you think of when you consider a tablet but the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro has a screen that makes it a great option for streaming content on the move. It has a 12-inch display with a 2K resolution of 1,600 x 2,560. Alongside that, its AMOLED display offers a refresh rate of 120Hz so it can handle fast-moving action on screen with minimal motion blur. There’s also support for HDR10+ and Dolby Vision so you gain vibrant colors and great contrast.
Besides the gorgeous display, the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro uses a Snapdragon 870 chipset so it’s fairly speedy. It’s ideal for gaming with that screen helping out, particularly when considering cloud streaming game services like Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Elsewhere, there’s an effective stylus included for getting more precise with your touches, even if it’s not the best of the bunch. A decent battery life that should last most of the day rounds off the appealing package.
Read the full Lenovo Tab P12 Pro review
The iPad mini (2021) is a big upgrade for Apple’s tiny tablet range. It sports a more modern design with a bigger 8.3-inch screen squeezed into an even smaller space than the old model’s 7.9-inch display.
The new mini also comes with a lot more power and 5G support for the first time on a mini model. Powered by Apple’s A15 Bionic chipset – the same processor that powers the iPhone 13 series, it’s powerful enough to run any app or game and showcase multitasking prowess. During our tests, we found it to be more than capable for most things.
Elsewhere the changes are smaller, and we weren’t overly impressed by the battery life of the iPad mini (2021). However, it’s still the best small iPad and the best small tablet from any brand.
Read the full iPad mini (2021) review
How we test tablets
Every tablet on this list has been thoroughly tested and put through a comprehensive review, so we know exactly what makes them tick and how they compare. From there, we’ve ranked them based on our findings, factoring in their price and value too.
What is the best brand for tablets
Different brands make devices aimed at different buyers, so there’s no ‘best’ brand, there’s just a brand that’s best for you.
Amazon’s slates are great for low-budget entertainment, but aren’t as good for work or creativity. Samsung has some like that too, though its top-end slates are better for workers.
Apple’s iPads hit all beats, though they cost a lot, so aren’t great for everybody. Lenovo’s tabs are great for working, especially for students, and its Yoga devices bring features that are great for entertainment too.
Other, smaller tablet makers generally focus on entertainment tools, though some are good for work and a select few are also useful for creatives.
What should I look for when buying a tablet?
The main things to consider are how much you want to spend, and what operating system you want – with Apple’s iPadOS and Android being the two main options. Then think about what else matters to you in a tablet – be it size, power, camera or battery – and choose accordingly.
What tablet can replace a laptop?
If you’re hoping to get serious work done on a tablet then an iPad Pro, such as the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021), would be a good option. This has a big screen, lots of power, and supports a keyboard accessory. For an Android alternative, consider the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, which has similar selling points.