What's the best tablet? The best tablet is the iPad Air 2, but if you're looking for an Android tablet you should look instead to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 but there are plenty to choose from here. Learn more about these top tablets and some great alternatives in our best tablets chart below.
The best tablets in the UK in 2016, plus best tablets buying advice, tablets reviews. Best value tablets, best iPads, best Androids. What is the best tablet available in 2016? Take a look at this chart of the 20 best tablets you can buy right now in the UK.
We review the best tablets available to buy in 2016 in the UK. Scroll down (or click this link) for our 20 best tablets reviews, or read on for our general buying advice. (Also see: Best SIM-only deals: Best SIM-only and Data SIM deals for smartphone and tablet users.)
Latest entry: Google Pixel C.
Best tablets buying advice
Best tablets reviews: Android vs iPad vs Windows
The most obvious difference between tablets is what platform they run on. There are exceptions, but the majority are either iOS (Apple iPad), (Google) Android, or (Microsoft) Windows. iOS and Android are broadly similar: think of them as large, powerful smartphones. They are great for consuming movies and TV, for playing games, reading eBooks, and browsing the web. Sharing photos and catching up via Facebook, Instagram or Pintrest are all great on iPads and Android tabs. And you can catch up on email, too.
Third-party software programs are known as apps, and are available via the relevant app stores: Apple's iTunes or Google Play. The same is true of music- and other media. The good thing about this is that you know the software will work well with your device, the bad side is that you are locked into the developer's world. This is especially true of iPads: without jailbreaking you are locked into iTunes for everything. Google devices are a little more open, but that does mean that in principle at least there is more risk of what looks like a legitimate app being malware.
Android also comes in many versions (the latest is Android 6.0 Marshmallow), whereas a new iPad will always have the latest version of iOS. Manufacturers will reskin Android to make their devices unique - Samsung's TouchWiz and HTC's Sense, for example. And in some cases they add in their own app- and media stores. Then there are devices from the likes of Amazon, whose Kindle Fire tablets offer a heavily customised version of Android. Such devices are cheaper to buy because they offer access only to Amazon's store for digital media and apps. Kids tablets are similarly locked down - but in this case for your child's safety, as well as commercial needs.
If Android- and iPad tablets are generally great for consumption and communication, they cannot compete with your laptop when it comes to creativity and productivity. That is where Windows tablets such as the Surface Pro 4 from Microsoft come in. (Confusingly, there is a 'mobile' version of Windows known as Windows RT, that is similar to iPad and Android software. But this is now defunct.)
Where other tablets are supersized smartphones, Windows tablets are shrunk down laptops. With the right spec they offer all of the power and software support of your normal Windows PC, but in a tablet form. This can be great if you need truly portable productivity, but it will typically cost you more than would a good Android tablet or iPad. And there may be a cost in terms of battery life. Finally, although you can install every Windows software program, app- and media support in the Windows world tends to be more patchy.
Basically: for fun, you need an iPad- or Android tablet. For work, go Windows. But only if you can afford the best. For more on this, see our articles: The best Android tablets of 2016 UK and Best kids' tablets. Also, check out Best Windows tablets.
Best tablets reviews: Display
There are two, or three, main tranches of tablet display - essentially small, medium and large. The 7in devices such has the Nexus 7 and iPad mini are roughly the size of a paperback book. Great for reading, playing and watching when on the move, and unlikely to hurt your wrists when you are partaking in any of these activities lying or sitting at home.
If you want more screen size the 10in tabs are for you. The original iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab devices are roughly 10 inches in size. These offer a better TV- and movie watching experience, but are bigger to carry about with you. You can get even bigger screens with the Surface Pro 4 and iPad Pro if you feel the need.
The third display category inbetween and typically called 8in, although you will find various sizes between 8- and 9in including the Galaxy Tab S2 8, Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact and Nexus 9. It's an increasingly popular size and the happy medium between small and large.
Key things to look out for are screen resolution, and aspect ratio. In terms of the former you want the highest number possible, with a pixel density of at least the original iPad mini's 163ppi but Retina class of 264ppi is nice and crisp. In terms of aspect ratio, it depends on what you want to do with your tablet. Just be aware that movies will display in widescreen when you hold your tablet horizontally, so if you wish mainly to watch them you want a 'widescreen' tablet. But for web browsing a squarer screen will be better.
Many Android tablets have widescreen displays with an aspect ratio of 16:9 (the same as a TV), while iPads have 4:3 screens, like old non-widescreen TVs.
Best tablets reviews: Connectivity
There are two major factors to consider here: Wi-Fi, and cellular. All tablets will have Wi-Fi connectivity. Ideally, at this point you want 802.11ac connectivity, and you want it to be dual band. But single-band 802.11n will be fine too.
Cellular connectivity is a more acquired taste. Typically tablets that can take a SIM cost more. And then you have to pay for the SIM, either on contract or PAYG. Ask yourself if you will be using the tablet to connect to the web when you are away from Wi-Fi: if so, it may be worth the additional cost. (Remember that you can probably share your smartphone's cellular connection, if required. This called tethering.) If you do want a cellular tablet, look for 4G connectivity.
Other important features will be Bluetooth and - potentially - NFC. Wireless charging is starting to become important, too. Some tablets may come with an infrared transmitter - or IR blaster - which means you can use it to control other gadgets around your house such as your TV.
iPads have their own proprietary charging cable, with its 'Lightning' connector. This means that you need Apple-only peripherals. Android- and Windows tablets typically connect via all brand Micro USB chargers, with some Windows tablets offering full-sized USB connectors. Reversible USB Type-C is becoming more common.
Best tablets reviews: Storage
Get as much as you can, and don't be fobbed off with the idea of additional cloud storage. For most tablet use 16GB is the absolute minimum, but more is always better. It's also worth knowing in advance how much storage is taken up by the OS, and how much is available to you as an end user. A 16GB tablet never has 16 gigabytes of storage for the end user to access.
Expandable storage is a good thing, but not the panacea some manufacturers would have you believe. Being able to add in an SD card will quickly increase your tablet's storage capabilities, but this may come at a cost, both in terms of device performance and cold hard cash. Apple refuses to use expandable storage, as it believes it may affect your experience of your iPad. (It may also be so that it can sell you a more expensive, more capacious iPad.)
Best tablets reviews: Processor and memory
There is too much complexity here to go into, but suffice to say that you almost always get what you pay for in terms of performance. A dual-, quad- or even octa-core processor will improve performance, and more RAM is always a good thing - typically 1-3 GB. Most Android tablets, and all iPads, use ARM processors from the likes of Qualcomm. But Intel is making a strong comeback in this space, providing chips for Samsung's Android line, among others.
When it comes to Windows tablets you will see almost exclusively Intel processors. As with the rest of the X86 PC world, right now Intel is best. But not all Intel CPUs are equal, and generally speaking an Intel Atom chip will provide weaker performance than an Intel Core CPU.
Best tablets reviews: Camera
Don't expect the best quality camera on your tablet unless you're happy to pay a lot, and don't be fooled by megapixel ratings. Most tablets come with at least one camera, and two cameras is good for video calling. But manufacturers typically assume that tablet owners will have a better smartphone camera to hand and don't waste valuable space and cash on high-end optics. Anything below 5Mp is to be avoided if this is an important area.
Best tablets reviews: Size and weight
In the world of tablets you can never be too thin, or too light. But remember that with great portability comes better components, and greater cost. Ideally you should try out a tablet before you buy - at the very least read our reviews. As mentioned above even the lightest 10in tablet is harder to hold for a long time than is a 7in mini tablet. And that may suit your needs better.
Best tablets reviews: Battery life
Finally, there's battery life. You don't want your tablet to last less than around six hours, and the recharge time is worth knowing, too. Some tablets take almost as long to charge as they do to discharge.
To find out more about what to look out for take a look at this feature: which tablet should I buy?
20 best tablets of 2016 UK: best tablet reviews
- Reviewed on: 26 August 15
- Buy for 79.99
The Asus ZenPad C 7.0 is a fine tool for carrying in your bag wherever you go and using to check emails and social media and browse the web. Beyond that its functionality is limited, but what more can you expect from an £80 tablet? If you can stretch to the £99 Hudl 2 you will find a noticeable jump in performance, but the Asus is the more portable of the two.
Read our Asus ZenPad C 7.0 review.
- Reviewed on: 20 August 15
- RRP: £369 inc VAT
The Dell Venue 8 7000 is an attractive Android tablet with a super slim design, a great screen and offers smooth performance combined with good battery life. However, it's more expensive than closely matched rivals and the RealSense camera technology which is supposedly a selling point isn't worth the time of day.
Read our Dell Venue 8 7000 review.
18. Nexus 7 (2013)
- Reviewed on: 22 July 14
- RRP: £199 (32 GB)/£239 (1 32GB)
The 2013 flavour of the Nexus 7 is no longer available from Google. But shop around and you can find it in various online stores, at a great low price. Arguably the Hudl 2 offers a similar blend of value and quality, and may even be a bit faster. But you are unlikely to notice, and although the Nexus 7 is still lacking a microSD card slot, for many people will be the best 7in tablet around. It may even be the best value tablet there is.
Read our Nexus 7 (2013) review.
- Reviewed on: 17 April 14
- RRP: From £399 inc VAT
The Xperia Z2 is a great looking and well built Android tablet. It is staggeringly thin and light for a 10in device, has a great screen, expandable storage and good performance. We like the OS and the camera. Indeed, our only issues with the Xperia Z2 Tablet is occasionally laggy web browsing, and the fact that the screen is poor under natural light. But priced in line with the iPad Air this is right at the top of the shop.
Read our Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review.
- Reviewed on: 1 August 14
- RRP: £399 inc VAT
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is one of the firm's best ever tablets with a thin and light design, although there is still too much plastic. Hardware is decent, namely that impressive display and great battery life making this a consumption machine. It's got pretty much everything you could want on a tablet, and it is priced competitively against its key rivals earning it a recommended award.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 review.
15. Google Nexus 9
- Reviewed on: 18 May 15
- RRP: £299 inc VAT
Previous Nexus tablets, particularly the Nexus 7, have been hard to beat for value but that's not the case for the Nexus 9. It's not a bad tablet - especially if performance is a priority - but the screen isn't perfect and neither is build quality. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is a better choice if you can live with a smaller screen, and don't forget the original iPad Air also costs £319 now, making it look very good value indeed.
Read our Google Nexus 9 review.
- Reviewed on: 22 January 16
- RRP: From £639 inc VAT
A very decent laptop replacement, and an okay tablet, the Surface Pro 3 is undeniably impressive. If you need a single device to do everything we can't think of any better device. And when you consider the cost of buying a discrete laptop, tablet and desktop PC the Surface Pro 3 is priced to shift. The question remains as to whether people want a single device rather than multiple gadgets that are better at their individual tasks. Microsoft's latest results suggest that Surface Pro 3 is winning hearts and minds. Has it won yours?
Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review.
13. iPad mini 2
- Reviewed on: 16 December 13
- RRP: £239 inc. VAT
The iPad mini with Retina display is a fabulous tablet. The screen is excellent and more than worth the minimal weight gain. Performance is also excellent, and the 64-bit processor makes this much more future-proof than the original iPad mini. The higher price (compared to the original cost of the iPad mini) may be frustrating, but it’s arguably better value than the iPad Air as well as being more portable. If you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.
Read our iPad mini 2 review.
12. Apple iPad Air 1
- Reviewed on: 12 February 14
- RRP: Wi-Fi: £319 (16GB), £359 (32GB). Cellular: £419 (16GB), £459 (32GB). Higher storage capacities no longer available
In many respects a triumph, the iPad Air also introduces compromises to hit the low-weight/thin-case targets. Sound quality through the new stereo speaker has deteriorated, and although a matter of taste we found the iPad mini-style case loses the premium feel of preceding generations of iPad. The iOS 7 interface, not popular with every user, cannot be avoided on this device and it suffers some stickiness in app zooming. Ultimately though the iPad Air will suceed by simple nature of its new weight – the lose of almost 200g is so significant to its handling, and means it could encroach on E Ink ebook readers; only with the power and versatility, not to mention gorgeous colour screen, of a real iPad.
Read our Apple iPad Air 1 review.
11. iPad Pro
- Reviewed on: 8 December 15
- RRP: £679 (32GB, WiFi); £799 (128GB, WiFi); £899 (128GB, cellular). US pricing $799/$949/$1079
At £679, few people will buy the iPad Pro instead of an iPad Air 2. It has a great screen and plenty of power, but do you really have a need for this hulking tablet? 32GB of storage will prove too limiting for most people, and the 128GB option with the Pencil and/or keyboard is expensive (that's ignoring the £65 silicone rear cover). If you're considering the Pro, go to an Apple store and hold one to understand exactly how bulky and hefty the new tablet really is. If you can live with all that the Pro is a great choice - just don’t expect it to replace your laptop.
Read our iPad Pro review.
- Reviewed on: 14 December 15
- RRP: From £749 inc VAT (model tested £1079)
There is a great deal to like and rave about the Surface Pro 4. The design is thinner and lighter for starters. The screen is awesome, there's plenty of power available, the new Surface Pen is better and the Type Cover is a vast improvement on the last one. However, the design is inherently awkward at times, it's more expensive that a lot of laptops and the Type Cover, which you'll pretty much need, isn't included lowering the value.
Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review.
- Reviewed on: 26 January 16
- RRP: £144 inc VAT
Whether Xiaomi intended to or not, the Mi Pad 2 is an Android tablet disguised as an iPad mini. This may disgust you or be exactly what you're looking for. Either way, we can't deny that this is a well-made, stylish tablet with decent specs for the price. You're best off getting the 64GB model and if the iOS style user interface is a turn-off, remember that Android is highly customisable.
Read our Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 review.
- Reviewed on: 28 July 15
- RRP: £499 inc VAT
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is a seriously impressive device and easily one of the best tablets we've ever tested. The design is astonishingly thin and light and the waterproofing with only the need for one cover is a bonus. This topped with excellent hardware, performance and software means we can barely fault it. However, the fact Sony bundles it with the Bluetooth keyboard with no option to buy it alone means that it's more expensive than rivals. We feel it's a 9/10 products but we've no choice but to mark the value score lower.
Read our Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet review.
- Reviewed on: 2 December 14
- RRP: £269 inc. VAT
It's great to see Sony finally make a smaller tablet and the 8in form factor is proving to be increasingly popular. The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is super thin and light and is waterproof to boot. Hardware is decent but not mind-blowing and while rivals like the Galaxy Tab S offer a bit more gadgetry, Sony offers High-Res audio and a killer feature for gamers in the form of PS4 Remote Play. It's a great effort from Sony if you're looking for a high-end 8in tablet.
Read our Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review.
6. Amazon Fire
- Reviewed on: 10 February 16
- RRP: £49 inc VAT
It's certainly not perfect, and the lack of Google apps will still put some people off, but the Fire is excellent value at under £50. The latest Fire OS is so Android-like that it's easy to use, and the Fire for Kids app makes it possible to limit what you kids can do and how long they can use the tablet. There are some sore points: the poor cameras, the sluggish performance at times, and the long charging time. But at this price it's hard to complain. And you certainly won't find a better tablet for the same money.
Read our Amazon Fire review.
- Reviewed on: 27 August 14
- RRP: £319 inc VAT
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is one of the best Android tablets we've ever reviewed. In terms of hardware it's the best you can buy right now and has a superbly thin and light design. There's very little to dislike here aside from some elements of the TouchWiz software and the higher price compared to Android rivals (the iPad mini 2 is the obvious alternative if you're not set on Android). If you would rather save money and aren't so bothered about top-notch spec and additional features like the fingerprint scanner and IR blaster, check out the Nexus 7 and LG G Pad 8.3.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 review.
4. iPad mini 4
- Reviewed on: 25 September 15
- RRP: From £319 inc VAT (16GB)
There are cheaper tablets - cheaper iPads even - but if you can afford to buy the iPad mini 4 you won't be disappointed. It finally has a great screen and while it can't match the more powerful iPad Air 2, it's got more than enough poke to satisfy demanding users. The rear camera is decent and a big step up from many cheaper tablets. With great build quality and battery life on top, it's hard to fault the new mini so unless you want to wait to see if Apple launches an iPad Air 3, or you want the Air 2's bigger screen, it's a good buy.
Read our iPad mini 4 review.
- Reviewed on: 16 November 15
- RRP: £319
We loved the Galaxy Tab S2 since the very first time we got our hands on it back in August, and upon further investigation and after spending more time with it we just love it even more. It's a tablet well worth considering if you've been thinking about buying the iPad mini 4, as it can contend and sometimes outshine Apple's tablet when it comes to design and power. It's almost unbelievably thin and light and that screen is a joy to use.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8 review.
- Reviewed on: 20 January 16
- RRP: £399 inc VAT ($500) for 32GB; £479 inc VAT ($600) for 64GB
As a standalone tablet, the Pixel C is superb. It’s better than the HTC-made Nexus 9 which was great but not exceptional. Which the 'C' most certainly is. Storage is a bit limited, but if you can live with 32GB it’s good value at £399. Paying an extra £119 for the keyboard is something we can’t see many buyers doing. If typing is a priority, you’d be better off spending your £518 on a decent ultraportable laptop as Android Marshmallow – good as it is – isn’t nearly as versatile as Windows. And while the keyboard is well designed, you’ll still prefer a full-size laptop keyboard. If you need to run Windows apps, the consider the Surface 3 which is slightly cheaper - even with the optional keyboard - but remember that there are even cheaper options such as the Asus Transformer T100HA.
Read our Google Pixel C review.
- Reviewed on: 27 January 15
- RRP: From £399 inc VAT
Besides the Touch ID fingerprint feature, the new screen assembly and uprated processor are the headline features. New cameras are a bonus too. Overall the Apple iPad Air 2 is the best tablet you can buy, without even a close competitor in performance, attention to detail, quality of build and sheer usability.
Read our Apple iPad Air 2 review.