The best tablets for 2022: Which should you buy?

Tablets are great for working and playing on the go, and the market has become more diverse over the last few years, offering you a variety of options to choose from. But with so many options available, it can be hard to know where to start.

Below, you can see a full rundown of the best tablets of 2022 to suit all of your needs. From heavy-duty workhorses to tablets for kids, and the 2022 Apple iPad Air, which is the best overall buy that’s good at everything. This list will help you find the right tablet for you.

Looking for some sweet tablet deals? Check out our list of the best iPad deals, and our best tablet deals.

apple ipad air 5 2022 review back flowers

Andy Boxall/

Apple iPad Air (2022)

Best overall

Pros

  • High-performance M1 processor
  • Slim and light
  • Software suitable for work or play
  • Large, colorful, and sharp screen
  • Wide array of quality accessories
  • Center Stage works well

Cons

  • 64GB storage isn’t enough
  • Battery life disappoints

Why should you buy this? The iPad Air (2022) offers almost everything you’ll get from the iPad Pro, but at a lower price.

Who’s it for? Anyone who wants a great tablet at a good price.

Why we picked the iPad Air (2022):

Sure, it’s not the cheapest tablet around (check out the basic iPad for our best value pick), but at $600, the iPad Air still represents excellent value for money. It looks an awful lot better than a lot of competitors while giving you options that rival the much more expensive iPad Pro tablets. The iPad Air (2022) is our pick as the best tablet you can buy right now, and here’s why.

Performance is a particular draw on this tablet. Apple has slung in the laptop-level M1 chip, the same processor from the new iPad Pro series and the MacBook Air (2020). It’s a monster of a chip, and it’s unlikely to find anything that’ll slow it down, including video editing. Power-wise, this is a tablet with enough power to take on a laptop, and it shows.

This is good, because iPadOS means your iPad Air can do well at being a laptop replacement. The Magic Keyboard is an expensive addition, but it turns your iPad Air into a laptop, and a pretty good one at that. There’s also support for the second generation Apple Pencil, making this a good choice for drawers, typers, and tappers alike.

The design is similarly high level. The slim bezels aren’t too small to grab properly, and the weight and comparatively compact 10.9-inch display mean it’s still comfortable to hold. Sure, it’s the same design as last year’s iPad Air, but that’s because there’s nothing wrong with the look of that tablet. Unfortunately, it does lack the 120Hz ProMotion display from the iPad Pro, and you might lack the notice if you’re used to using a screen with a higher refresh rate. But if you’re coming from a more standard 60Hz, it’s not going to bother you.

The cameras are really quite good for a tablet, and the 12-megapixel front-facing camera is particularly good. Center Stage keeps you in the middle of the frame, even if you move around. While you’re unlikely to be taking a lot of pictures with the rear camera, it’s still got the goods when you need it.

It’s certainly not cheap, but if you can stretch to $600, then this is our overall recommendation for a strong tablet that can handle a wide range of tasks and needs. Want an Android-based equivalent, or something a bit cheaper, or even more powerful? Keep reading for more options.

Apple iPad Air 5 (2022)

Apple iPad Air (2022)

Best overall

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus

Best Android tablet

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Beautiful hardware
  • Gorgeous display
  • Great speakers
  • Productivity powerhouse

Cons

  • Keyboard case not included
  • Some software trouble

Why should you buy this? It’s the best Android tablets have to offer.

Who’s it for? Anyone who needs a large-screened tablet with creative, professional, and casual options.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus:

Looking for the best Android tablet out there? Put aside the smaller and larger of its brethren, as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus is the tablet to grab. The 12.4-inch AMOLED display is big and useful, without being as potentially unwieldy as the Tab S8 Ultra’s 14.6-inch display, the frame is made from Armor Aluminum and feels great, and it’s thin and relatively lightweight as well. It’s a premium package, and it certainly won’t disappoint every time you pull it out of a bag or case.

But good looks are only part of what makes this tablet so great — let’s talk accessories. The tablet comes with the Samsung S Pen included, which is stored and charged on the tablet’s rear magnetic strip. It’s a neat little accessory, good for drawing and writing, but for many, the keyboard case will be more useful. Unlike the S Pen, the keyboard case isn’t included, which is a real shame. It’s a good keyboard that avoids the usual trap of mushy keys and a cramped layout, though it’s not the best if you’re wanting to work from your lap, as the plastic is flexible and doesn’t provide a solid base.

Performance-wise, it’s great. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor is powerful, and performance is zippy, especially when paired with the display’s 120Hz refresh rate. Storage options are good too. Options start from 128GB, going up to 256GB. That’s enough storage for most, whether you’re using this tablet for work or play.

Software is probably this tablet’s largest handicap. Unlike iPads and iPadOS, Android tablets haven’t yet had their renaissance moment, and as such, Android just still isn’t built to take advantage of larger screens. Samsung’s desktop PC-like Dex Mode helps a lot, but there are shortcomings Samsung simply can’t build around. Many apps launch into a smartphone-designed interface and simply aren’t designed to work with larger tablet screens.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus

Best Android tablet

apple ipad 9th gen 2021 review leader

Adam Doud/

Apple iPad (2021)

Best value tablet

Pros

  • Great battery life
  • Powerful internals
  • Big upgrade to the front-facing camera
  • Amazing software support
  • Base storage more acceptable at 64GB

Cons

  • Display doesn’t get bright enough
  • Lightning port in 2021
  • Slow Touch ID sensor

Why should you buy this? It’s simply the best value tablet you can buy.

Who’s it for? Everybody who wants a tablet.

Why we picked the Apple iPad (2021):

It’s the tablet world’s “ol’ reliable” — if you want a tablet without the frills, and at a great price, you want the basic iPad. Don’t take the word “basic” to be an insult, too. The basic iPad is an excellent performer, has a 10.2-inch display, long-lasting battery life, and probably the best tablet software you can get. Yes, the design is extremely dated, but get past that, and this is the best value tablet you can buy.

We’ll start with the internal specs. The new iPad is, admittedly, equipped with an old processor. But, it’s an old flagship processor, which does make a difference. The A13 Bionic processor was the silicon that powered the iPhone 11 range, and it’s still a powerful piece of kit, despite its age. This processor should be able to easily handle any games you throw at it and should be purring along nicely for years to come. The other improvement is the installation of 64GB of internal storage as standard, giving you a lot more room to play with.

The iPad has also seen a significant improvement in front-facing camera tech. Goodbye paltry 1.2MP lens, hello 12MP lens. Removing a single period has made all the difference, and now the iPad actually has a selfie camera worth doing video calls with, and the auto-framing tech is pretty cool as well. Battery life is also excellent, though that’s less of a worry when most people’s tablets tend to live near outlets anyway.

Best of all, the basic iPad starts at just $329. That’s an incredible bargain, and there’s nothing on the Android side of the fence that comes close to approaching this tablet in terms of pure value. If you want something capable, but don’t need something with more power than your average desktop computer, then the iPad is easily the best choice around.

Apple iPad 9th Generation (2021)

Apple iPad (2021)

Best value tablet

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Adam Doud/

Apple iPad Mini 6

Best small tablet

Pros

  • Big enough to perform most tasks
  • Compact enough to travel easily
  • Powerful performance
  • Loud speakers
  • USB-C

Cons

  • Screen is not bright enough
  • Too small for content creation
  • No headphone jack

Why should you buy this? You want a great tablet with a smaller footprint.

Who’s it for? Anyone who wants a smaller tablet.

Why we picked the iPad Mini (2021):

It took a while for Apple to update the iPad Mini the last time it got refreshed, and it’s taken a similarly long time to update the iPad Mini’s appearance as well. Thankfully, the wait is at an end, and the new iPad Mini (also known as the iPad Mini 6) has arrived. The new design is now in line with the other premium iPads, meaning the iPad Mini is now finally just a smaller version of the iPad Air and iPad Pro.

It doesn’t match the new iPad Air and iPad Pro where specs are concerned, but it shouldn’t feel like a huge downgrade. The iPad Mini comes with the A15 Bionic processor, and while it’s not the match of the new Apple M1 chip in the more expensive iPads, it doesn’t need to. The A15 will devour any games you’ll want to play, and you’re unlikely to need the oomph the M1 provides for content creation apps, because, well, the iPad Mini is too small to work well as a content processing machine anyway.

Does that make it a bad choice? Absolutely not. It’s supremely portable, stupidly powerful, and an excellent choice if you need something that leverages both of these strengths. The battery lasts around a day and a half of use, so it’s a good choice if you’re taking it out and about, and it also pairs very well with the second-generation Apple Pencil as well.

While the pint-sized iPad isn’t likely to be everyone’s cup of tea, the iPad Mini is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a smaller tablet to carry around. Pair it with a small keyboard and mouse and you’ve got a portable workstation, or just use it for watching videos, reading books, or whatever else you need on the move.

Apple iPad Mini 6 (2021)

Apple iPad Mini 6

Best small tablet

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Amazon Fire HD 8

Best cheap tablet

Pros

  • Amazon integration
  • Ultra-affordable
  • Good battery life
  • Alexa

Cons

  • Software can feel like an advertisement
  • Sluggish performance
  • Under-par display

Why should you buy this? The Fire HD 8 may be too Amazon-centric for some, but Prime subscribers and Alexa lovers will appreciate its ease of use.

Who’s it for? Amazon enthusiasts on a budget.

Why we picked the Fire HD 8:

Amazon’s Fire HD 8 (2020), a refresh of the 2018’s HD 8, doesn’t bring much new to the table. There are a USB-C port and a faster processor, but it’s the low, low price that earns this cheap tablet a wholehearted recommendation.

The LCD screen, with its 1280 x 800-pixel resolution is far from the sharpest, and the viewing angles aren’t great, but it’s good enough to watch movies and read on. Compromises are inevitable to hit this price.

The Fire HD’s all-plastic body is colorful and durable. You’ll also find stereo speakers optimized with Dolby Atmos that deliver reasonably loud, crisp sound on movies, TV shows, and Amazon’s Prime Music streaming service.

Alexa works well on this tablet. Asking questions about popular movies, nearby restaurants, and the weather pulls up visual results on the Fire HD 8’s screen (even when it’s locked). That’s just the tip of the iceberg: Alexa on the Fire HD can also control smart home devices, order pizza, call an Uber, and perform many of the same tasks as Amazon’s Echo speakers or the Echo Show.

Battery life is impressive, too. It lasts for up to 12 hours of mixed-use including reading, gaming, and streaming. The Fire HD 8’s Fire OS software, a customized version of Android, isn’t for everyone. But folks immersed in the Amazon ecosystem will appreciate For You, a recommendation engine that puts videos, apps, games, and movies from the retailer’s library on your home screen.

You won’t find a perfect tablet for less than $100, but the Fire HD 8 is an impressive package. Sure, the screen isn’t as sharp or vibrant as we’d like, and the hardware struggles under heavy loads, but there is no better tablet at this price.

If you’re determined to get something bigger than the Fire HD 8, then you’ll have to pay more, but you should check out the Fire HD 10.

Amazon Fire HD 8 2020

Amazon Fire HD 8

Best cheap tablet

amazon fire hd 8 kids edition review 6

Simon Hill/

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Best tablet for kids

Pros

  • Curated age-appropriate content
  • Generous 2-year warranty
  • Easy parental controls
  • Rugged case
  • Decent battery life

Cons

  • Locked into Amazon ecosystem
  • Some content requires internet access

Why should you buy this? When it comes to parental controls, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is second to none.

Who’s it for? Young kids who need supervision.

Why we picked the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition:

Amazon’s refreshed Fire 8 HD Kids Edition (2020) makes its long-running line of kid-friendly tablets even better, though there’s a disappointing lack of strong competition in this category.

An 8-inch screen with a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution delivers bright and vibrant colors and a thick rubber case around the tablet’s frame cushions against accidental drops. The tablet’s 32GB of internal storage offers enough space for lots of books, games, and other media, and there’s a microSD card slot for expansion if you run out.

When it comes to parental controls, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is second to none. The Fire OS software, a customized version of Android, allows you to manage usage limits, set educational goals, and restrict access to age-inappropriate content. The Parent Dashboard also offers insight into what your kids are doing on their tablets and encourages interaction with discussion questions related to the books your kids are reading.

The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition also includes one year of fee-free access to Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited, a library of more than 15,000 kid-appropriate games, apps, educational content, books, and videos from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and others. Every purchase is backed by Amazon’s two-year, no-questions-asked replacement policy: If the Fire HD 8 breaks, Amazon will replace it.

Simply put, there is no better tablet at this price for young kids who still need parental supervision.

If you want something larger than the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, there’s also a 2021 Fire HD 10 Kids Edition.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Best tablet for kids

microsoft surface pro 8 review 10

Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Best Windows tablet

Pros

  • Gorgeous, 120Hz screen
  • Impressive performance
  • Has two powerful Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • SSD is easily accessible
  • The Surface Slim Pen 2 is exceptional

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Still lacks mobile apps

Why should you buy this? It’s a strong iPad Pro competitor that runs Windows 11.

Who’s it for? Someone who wants a strong tablet, but with all the conveniences of Windows.

Why we picked the Surface Pro 8:

Unlike other entries in this list, which run operating systems originally intended for smartphones, Windows 11 was built for desktops and laptops, so the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has a distinct advantage if you’re intending to use your tablet as a 2-in-1. It’s expensive, and lacks the flexibility of a true tablet OS for mobile apps, but it’s still a great choice for the right person.

We’ll start with the accessories, since they’re likely to be a big part of most people’s use of the Surface Pro 8. The Type Cover is, as ever, excellent. It has a full-sized keyboard, and though the touchpad is a little smaller than we’d like, but it’s still smooth and precise. The new addition this time is a charging slot for the Surface Slim Pen 2, which is also a strong addition to the tablet. The big new feature this time around is haptic feedback, which simulates the feel of a pen on paper. It’s a small addition, but it does make a difference.

The Surface Pro 8 is one of the most powerful Windows 2-in-1 tablets you buy now, which means it’s a performance star. Speed processing in Handbrake was amongst the fastest for its size, and while the lack of discrete graphics means 4K editing isn’t really advised, it’s still likely to be powerful enough for most. The battery is a little bit disappointing though, not quite lasting a full workday if your work involves many tabs, applications, and streaming. It’s an improvement over the last model, but it’s still disappointing it struggles with lasting a workday.

The design still looks great though, even if it’s largely unchanged from previous versions. The bezels around the display have been trimmed down though, which means the screen has been boosted to 13-inches rather than 12.3-inches. It also has a 120Hz refresh rate. Ports-wise, it has three Thunderbolt 4 ports, a Surface Dock connector, and a headphone jack.

Best of all, Windows 11 is a big upgrade over Windows 10, and it means the Surface Pro 8 is surprisingly useable just as a tablet. That wasn’t always something we could say about previous versions of the Surface Pro, and it means the new Pro 8 is something more of a safe investment if you’re looking to actually use it as a tablet.

The Surface Pro 8 really is a worthy competitor to the iPad Pro now — but unfortunately, that means a similar price tag. The 128GB Surface Pro 8 model used to start from $1,100, and upgrading to 256GB or 512GB would cost you $1,200 or $1,400 respectively. These prices have dropped since launch, but frankly, 128GB of storage really isn’t enough, so a bump to the 256GB should be strongly considered. But that’s a similar dilemma you’ll face looking at the iPad Pro, and if you’re looking for a Windows 2-in-1, you’ll find none better.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8-13" Touchscreen - Intel® Core™ i5-8GB Memory - 128GB SSD - Device Only - Platinum (Latest Model)

Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Best Windows tablet

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Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch)

Best big-screen tablet

Pros

  • Incredible performance
  • Beautiful display on 12.9-inch model
  • Stunning design
  • Center Stage works great
  • USB 4/Thunderbolt 3 port

Cons

  • Nearly MacBook priced
  • No Mini-LED on 11-inch model

Why should you buy this? The iPad Pro is extremely powerful and offers a huge screen.

Who’s it for? Gamers, creatives, and power users.

Why we picked the iPad Pro (12.9-inch):

This is the biggest and most powerful tablet around and it’s perfect for all kinds of uses. Not only is the iPad Pro (12.9-inch) the best tablet for multimedia and gaming, but it’s also the best tablet for drawing. The device offers a nice big edge-to-edge display that’s perfect for watching movies, studying, gaming, and so on. The bezels are slim and the home button has been replaced by Face ID. Apple has also adopted USB-C, which gives you far more to choose from in terms of accessories and peripherals.

Sporting the biggest and best screen around, with a 2732 x 2048-pixel resolution and Apple’s Liquid Retina XDR display tech, the tablet offers an incredible display experience all around. The Liquid Retina XDR display means that the iPad leverages Mini LED for super deep black levels and tons of brightness, plus there’s a 120Hz refresh rate — making the tablet perfect for games.

Then there’s processing power. With an M1 chip, the iPad Pro performs about as well as the new Mac Mini, iMac, and MacBook Air, meaning that power users shouldn’t run into the device’s limits. Nothing is faster, whether you’re commanding armies in Civilization VI or editing an image in Photoshop. The iPad Pro can cope with any game or drawing app you throw at it.

Storage starts at 128GB and goes up to 2TB, but you have to pay a lot for a large capacity. There’s no microSD card support.

Apple reckons you’ll get 10 hours of mixed-use from a full charge, or nine hours if you opt for the model with cellular connectivity. The Apple Pencil attaches magnetically and charges wirelessly, but it costs an extra $99. The Smart Keyboard for the 12.9-inch model is $169.

It’s expensive, especially if you need a lot of storage, and there’s no headphone jack, but the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is still your best bet if you’re a power-user that wants the best you can get.

iPad Pro 12.9-inch

Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch)

Best big-screen tablet

Frequently Asked Questions

Which OS is best for you?

If your top consideration is entertainment, and you’re likely to use a lot of apps and games, then we recommend Apple’s iPadOS over Android. There are a lot of polished apps made specifically for the iPad and you have access to all the top subscription services and an extensive content store. It’s also slick and accessible, so anyone can come to grips with it quickly.

Android has a larger selection of free apps and games, though they’re generally less polished, which might be a trade-off you’ll accept. Things are a little complicated by manufacturer UIs, or in the case of Amazon, forked versions of the platform. They can delay Android updates and make the user experience quite different. Amazon’s tablets, for example, run a version of Android called Fire OS and they initially only have access to the limited subset of apps and games that are available in the Amazon Appstore, not the full list that you’ll find in Google’s Play Store.

If you like the idea of accessing the same apps you have on your Windows PC, and you want a business device that ties seamlessly into your Microsoft services, then a tablet running Windows 11 is going to be tempting. It’s powerful, but it’s also relatively expensive to get decent hardware for a good user experience. If you’re not a business user, or you don’t need to run Windows-only apps, it may be overkill.

Can you print from a tablet?

Yes, you can indeed print from a tablet. Check out our guides on how to print from an iPhone and how to print from an Android tablet for all the details you need.

Can you make phone calls on a tablet?

Yes, you can make phone calls on a tablet, but you will need to be connected to the internet. You can either connect to Wi-Fi, which every tablet can do for free, or if you need to make calls while you’re out and about beyond the reach of a Wi-Fi network, buy a tablet with cellular support and space for a SIM card. Just bear in mind if you go the SIM card route, you will also have to sign up for a service plan of some kind. Some carriers offer special plans for tablets.

You can use FaceTime on an iPad, but there are lots of good alternative video chat apps that work with Android tablets or iPads. Many of them allow you to make audio calls as well. However, the person you want to call usually has to have the same app. Some apps, like Skype, also allow you to call regular landline or mobile phone numbers, but you’ll generally have to pay per minute or get a subscription. A good app that will work on Android tablets or iPads that gives you a free number for calling, text messages, and voicemail is Google Voice, but it only works in the U.S.

If you’re interested in this option for a business, then you might also consider one of the best VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services.

Can you text on a tablet?

Yes, you can send text messages from a tablet. If you have an iPad then you can use iMessage, which can connect to your phone to send standard SMS messages and iMessages alike. There are lots of great text messaging apps that work on Android or iOS. You could also use Google Voice if you are based in the U.S. as it gives you a free number for calls and text messages.

How we test

The tablets we test serve as our daily drivers, so we use them extensively to put them through their paces. That means watching movies, gaming, testing out lots of apps, reading, working on them, and even taking photos and shooting videos with them (which is impossible to do without looking stupid). We love new, innovative features, but we can also appreciate classic design done well. Ultimately, we look for tablets that will fulfill the needs of most people, so their ability to serve up entertainment is paramount.

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