(Pocket-lint) - If you're trying to narrow down which tablets are the best currently available, you've come to the right place. In this guide, we'll be compiling the top tablets that we've tested for our dedicated reviews.
Only devices we've fully tested appear on this list, and we've tried to cover a range of budgets, operating systems and sizes to help you with your choice - not just the most premium and high-powered options.
And while it's certainly true that the Apple iPad looms large over this product category, there's actually still plenty of choice on the market for those who want an Android tablet, or perhaps even something else entirely.
For more things to consider when looking for a new tablet, read our section on what to consider before you buy. Without further ado, here are our top recommendations right now.
What are the best tablets in 2022?
- Apple iPad (2021)
- Apple iPad mini (2021)
- Amazon Fire 8 HD
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
- Apple iPad Air (2022)
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
Best tablet: Our top pick
Apple iPad (9th generation, 2021)
- Great entry-level device
- Superb ease of use
- Impressive display
- Still no all-screen design
- Apple Pencil support is first-gen only
The Apple iPad (2021) is the entry point in the range, offering a 10.2-inch display and a Smart Connector for keyboard and accessory support.
It foregoes a couple of features compared to the more expensive models, such as Face ID, an anti-reflective display and True Tone, but it's still the best pick in terms of value, in our book. Since most people just want a simple and standard option, this is typically our top recommendation.
It has the ideal performance for apps and media consumption, a very reasonable price point, Apple Pencil support (1st Generation) and iPadOS is excellent for multitasking. Despite numerous other options from Apple, the iPad 10.2 (2021) is the perfect entry-level tablet.
Tablets we also recommend
The entry-level Apple iPad isn't for everyone - it just happens to offer the best overall blend of features, design and value. With that in mind, here are some more hugely impressive tablets that you could consider, particularly if you don't mind spending a bit more cash.
Apple iPad mini (2021)
- Simply beautiful design
- Great display
- Superb specs
- No longer as affordable
- Misses out on some premium features
The Apple iPad mini finally has a new design, and it's a real triumph. Not only is it now slimmer and lighter than its predecessor, but it also manages to provide a bigger display size, thanks to a change in the bezel's shape.
A much more powerful option than other small tablets, the iPad mini is once again an attractive, compact option that's good for watching movies, playing games, and reading or writing on the go. These elements are true of every iPad, of course, but the fact you can do it all one-handed and then store this away much more easily is a real boon.
It's not quite able to replace your laptop, due to the fact the Smart Connector is saved for bigger models, but things like Apple Pencil (2nd Generation) support help this remain an extremely versatile slate. Our only true gripe, then, is that it bypasses Apple's more premium features, such as Face ID, MagSafe charging and ProMotion refresh rates.
However, even with those omissions and a fairly lofty price tag, this is still an absolute joy to use - so good, in fact, it commands its own space in the tablet market.
Amazon Fire 8 HD
- Handy size
- Supreme value
- Ideal for Prime Video
- Not the best build quality
- Won't be great for productivity
The Fire HD 8 sits in a sweet spot between Amazon's value-pick Fire 7 and the larger Fire HD 10.
While the performance and features of the Fire HD 8 excel past those of the Fire 7, it also manages to outlast the Fire HD 10, making it a slightly more enticing proposition for those who want to travel with it.
The Fire HD 8 positions itself well for entertainment, especially for those who are Prime members, where the value for money cannot be disputed. Whether you're a globetrotter, looking for a travel tablet, or just something to entertain your kids, the Fire HD 8 is well worth considering. At this price point, there's very little else that comes close.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
- Premium performance power
- S Pen is included
- Can be a laptop alternative
- Lacks OLED panel of Tab S8 Plus/Ultra
- Not a huge leap from predecessor
If you're in the market for a premium Android tablet, Samsung's standard model is always a good place to start - and the Tab S8 is the latest in that line.
We wouldn't say it represents the very best value for money, with few significant leaps forward from the Tab S7 that was released back in 2020, but, to its credit, it does actually tick a few boxes that others struggle to. Namely, this is one of the very few Android tablets with a design that rivals the iPad and pairs it with top-end power.
The larger screen provided by the 12.4-inch AMOLED Tab S8+ will certainly appeal to some, and the 14.6-inch Tab S8 Ultra is another bracket of users entirely, but we think the standard Tab S8 is the pick of the bunch.
Apple iPad Air (2022)
- Super-fast M1 processor
- Sleek design
- Great accessory compatibility
- Still not cheap
- No Face ID
- Not the best internal storage options
The fifth-generation iPad Air is an absolute triumph, delivering a superb midpoint between the entry-level iPad and the iPad Pro line, which is another leap forward in terms of performance and price.
It's not cheap itself, coming with an asking price that puts it in competition with some premium tablets, but we really feel the value for money is excellent. Especially for those who have been considering a jump up from their older tablet (and less so if you're the owner of a 2020 iPad Air), the M1 processor, sleek design and ability to pair it with accessories are all huge wins.
The only downsides here are the lack of Face ID (like its predecessor) and the omission of a 128GB model, which leaves you picking between a 64GB or 256GB version. Other than that, it's tough to really fault the latest iPad Air.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
- Fantastic big screen
- Four-speaker stereo audio is brilliant
- Great for multitasking
- Big and cumbersome
- It's not cheap
Other tablets on the list are very much everyday, convenient tablets for every purpose. But for those wanting something a little different, pushing closer to the kind of use you'd want from a laptop, the Tab S8 Ultra is it.
It has a massive 14.6-inch display that's fantastic for media, notably joined by four epic stereo speakers. It's very powerful, too, and, with support for a full-size snap-on keyboard and S-Pen, it's genuinely useful for content creation and getting work done.
It's not cheap, but it's safe to say other tablets don't come close to offering what this is capable of thanks to that big, wide display.
Other products we considered
The Pocket-lint editorial team spends hours testing and researching hundreds of products before recommending our best picks for you. We consider a range of factors when it comes to putting together our best guides including physically testing the products ourselves, consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. Many of the devices we consider don’t make our final best guides.
These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top five selections:
How to choose a tablet
The range of tablets is very wide, from affordable budget models to deluxe, high-end devices. They have much in common (they’re a slab of glass or just occasionally plastic) and lots of differences (build quality, operating system, compatibility with a stylus or keyboard). Here are some of the questions you should be asking before you cough up your cash.
What size screen do you need?
Bigger screens mean a higher price. Do you want it primarily as an ebook reader, say, in which case a seven-inch model might do? But if you want to watch movies on it, or value the benefits of a big screen for everything from creative apps to games, then you’ll be looking for a 10-inch display or bigger. Apple’s iPad has a 10.2-inch screen, the iPad Air is 10.9 inches and the iPad Pro comes in two screen sizes, 11-inch and 12.9-inch. Amazon’s tablets range from seven inches to 10.1 inches. Microsoft’s Surface tablets stretch from 10.5 inches to 13 inches.
How many apps does it have?
This is down to the operating system. Surface tablets have access to most or all the Windows 10 applications, Apple’s iPads use Apple’s iPadOS and run more than a million apps, while Google’s Android tablets have even more, though not all are optimized for the larger screen of a tablet instead of a smaller phone display. The fourth operating system is Amazon’s Fire OS. This is essentially Android but heavily curtailed so that a much smaller number of apps work. That’s because Amazon tests everything before allowing it into the Fire OS set-up, but all the main apps are there. Finally, there’s Huawei’s system which is also a version of Android. Because the Chinese manufacturer is only allowed to use open-source Android, it doesn’t have access to Google’s services such as Google Maps, Play Store and Gmail. There are strong alternatives to most of the main apps and many big-name apps appear in Huawei’s App Gallery, the alternative to the Play Store. But there are still popular apps that are missing.
Do you need it to work with advanced styluses?
If you like drawing on your tablet, in art apps, or enjoy writing notes with a stylus, note that not all tablets have special versions. Any tablet will work with a stylus that has a sort of squidgy nib, but if you want something that’s more like an actual pen or pencil on paper, some tablets have their own solutions. All current Apple iPad models work with the excellent Apple Pencil (there are two versions, one works with the iPad and iPad mini, the other with the iPad Air and iPad Pro). Microsoft’s Surface series has its own stylus, as do some Samsung and Huawei tablets.
Can you connect a keyboard and if so, how much will it cost?
Many tablets have keyboard accessories, which connect wirelessly by Bluetooth or by special hardwired connectors, such as the Smart Connector on the iPad Pro, for instance. Microsoft has the Type Cover which protects the display and works as an effective keyboard. The advantage of a keyboard or keyboard cover is that it turns the tablet into a decent laptop substitute. The disadvantage is that in almost every case they are optional accessories and can be expensive (the Magic Keyboard for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is magnificent, but it costs £349).
How about cameras?
Let’s be clear, if you’re buying a tablet to get a camera, you’re doing it wrong. Tablets are ergonomically completely unsuited to being a useful camera apart from one feature – the large display makes for a great place to frame your shots. Even so, few tablets have outstanding cameras, and the photographic aspects probably shouldn’t be your priority in buying the tablet.
How much can you spend?
How much have you got? No, seriously, the range of prices is remarkable, from £49.99 for the Amazon Fire 7 Tablet to £2,149 for the latest iPad Pro with maximum storage. You’ll likely want to spend somewhere in between. Amazon’s tablets are sold practically at cost and lack the exquisite build quality of the iPad range. Mind you, low price and high value aren’t always the same thing.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.
Tablets have gone from slightly niche products to ones that are completely embedded in so many of our routines, so we've used all the options on this list extensively to see how they hold up to that sustained usage. We've checked out how their displays perform for media viewing, and how useful they are on the productivity side of things, as well as how their battery life is.
Pricing is of course important, as is build quality and reliability, while being compatible with accessories to help you get more things done is always a bonus.
We aren’t interested in pointless number crunching or extraneous details - we just want to provide an easy to understand review that gives you an idea of what it's going to be like to use. And don’t for a second think that the products aren't tested fully because the reviews are concise.
We’ve been covering tech since 2003, and, in many cases, have not only reviewed the product in question, but the previous generations, too - right back to the first model on the market. There is also plenty of models we've considered that didn't make the cut in each of our buyer's guides.