Jul 12, 2018
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Best tablet 2018: the top slates tested and ranked

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The best tablets are all about versatility, with several offering a decent keyboard and desktop-style experience which will be worrying news for the laptop world.

From Apple's iPad Pro range to an array of Android tablets, there's a lot of choice out there. And unlike the best smartphones, Windows makes an appearance too.

We're picking from our top recommendations of iOS 11, Android and even Windows 10 tablets, all offering thin-and-light designs and many with decent keyboard and desktop-style experiences.

We expect more tablets to launch this year, with new iPad models likely to arrive around October, while new Android slate may launch towards the end of August/start of September at IFA 2018 in Berlin.

We rank tablets based on multiple factors, including performance, battery life and screen quality, with price playing an all-important role in the final verdict.

With all that in mind, below we've put together a list of the top ten tablets you can buy right now. Bear in mind prices and availability may change from time to time depending on where you live, and we'll be sure to update this guide when more tablets come out.

  • Best Android Tablet: US / UK | Best Cheap Tablet: US / UK

iPad Pro 10.5

iPad Pro 10.5

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch is best for anyone who wants a serious tablet upgrade, even though the cheaper iPad 9.7 remains good enough for most people.

Apple's iPad Pro 10.5 has standout features that give it a productivity boost, including Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard compatibility. With iOS 11 on board this tablet is even a suitable laptop replacement for certain consumers.

The new ProMotion screen adds an impressive layer of fluidity to daily use and the smaller bezels means you're getting far more display in a footprint not much bigger than the iPad Pro 9.7.

It's an iPad for the professionals – but also one that media munchers will adore using.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 10.5

New iPad (2018)

For most people on a budget, the best tablet you can buy right now is the new iPad (2018). Much like the 2017 edition, you'll get okay internals, a crisp 9.7-inch display and a lower price tag than all of the iPad Pro models.

Inside there's an A10 Fusion chipset, which won't blow away the iPad Pro models, but this one comes with Apple Pencil support, which brings it a touch closer to the top-end products in the iPad range.

You've got the choice of either 32GB or 128GB of storage, but there's no 256GB option, which is worth bearing in mind if you wanted to pack this tablet full of media to take away and watch or play with when you're on the go.

Everything about the new iPad (2018) adds up, and while it may not come with the top-end features of the iPad Pro it's so much cheaper that many people who just want to browse the internet and watch movies are going to be suitably happy with this.

Read the full review: New iPad (2018)

iPad Pro 12.9

This is the biggest and, to some, represents the best iPad that Apple makes. It's fast, powerful and a visual treat thanks to its fluid ProMotion screen with lots of feedback. That makes it ideal for multitasking and the Apple Pencil.

Of course, that Apple Pencil, the Smart Keyboard Cover and new 512GB size all cost more than most people want to pay. 

It also has the same specs as the 10.5-inch version. This makes the iPad Pro 12.9 ideal for media professionals who want to be productive and entertained by a giant iPad display.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

You're not going to find a better, more full-featured Android tablet than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. 

It has a HDR screen for the ultimate contrast ratio, four speakers that sound as good as those on all the iPad Pro models and there's an S Pen stylus that's included in the box. You won't get a free keyboard cover though, which if you buy on top of the tablet helps make it a good on-the-go productivity tool.

The HDR-enabled 9.7-inch screen is also pretty useful, given that there are a lot of services out there using the improved quality – you can now get Netflix in premium color and brightness quality, for instance.

The price tag could be a stumbling block, but if you're looking for the best Android has to offer in tablet form the Galaxy Tab S3 is the slate for you.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

iPad mini 4

The best 7-inch tablet at the moment is definitely the iPad mini 4. If you like the look of Apple's new iPad 9.7 (2018) and the iPad Pro range, but find them a) too big, b) too expensive or c) both, then you're in luck as the diminutive iPad mini 4 gives you the best of Apple's tablet world in a form factor that's not only beautiful, but highly portable.

It lacks the Pro features of a keyboard or Pencil support (the latter would be really nice to have on this smaller display), but overall it's got a decent screen upgrade and more than enough power to enjoy every day.

Read the full review: iPad mini 4

Microsoft Surface Pro 

Can a tablet really replace your laptop or home PC? That's still up for debate, but the best tablet trying to make that happen is the Microsoft Surface Pro. We’re surprised Microsoft has refrained from calling this the Surface Pro 5, as it's a big upgrade on the 4 – although it is rather expensive, like many tablets in this list.

It does a fine job with the full blown version of Windows 10, an integrated kickstand and optional keyboard attachment. 

Great for for creative professionals, students and everyday folks alike, this is a top choice and one of the best Windows laptops we've reviewed.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro

Asus ZenPad 3S 10

With an iPad-like design, the Asus ZenPad 3S 10 is something of a direct rival to Apple's best tablets if you want something with an alternative operating system.

The screen is sharp and bright, and the power is decent – if not a well-known chipset running things. It's worth noting it's running Android Nougat software though, and Asus has yet to tell us if or when it'll get the latest Android Oreo upgrade.

The battery life and build quality aren't quite up to Apple's standards, but then again, neither is the price – a good option if you want a larger screen for less.

Read our full review: Asus ZenPad 3S 10

New iPad (2017)

It may have now been replaced by the higher tech new iPad (2018), but the 2017 edition of Apple's iPad product is still a great buy and if you don't want to spend much it's a great choice for your next tablet.

You don't get to use an Apple Pencil with this slate, but it comes with a crisp 9.7-inch display and punchy A9 power. You can't buy it directly from Apple anymore, but we've still seen it on sale from third-party retailers in certain areas around the world.

There's no 16GB model, with this iPad kicking things off at a more reasonable 32GB, and if you need more space you can always opt for the 128GB variant.

Read the full review: iPad (2017)

Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4

The Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4 has been one of our favorite Android tablets ever since its debut in early 2018, and it's an especially great slate if you're looking for a multimedia option that can be held in one hand.

It has a brilliant-looking 8.4-inch screen, a fashionable slim design and booming Hi-Fi stereo speakers. 

Plus the price for this one is low and makes it one of the more affordable options on this list. Take a look at this Huawei tablet if you're looking for an all-round impressive Android device.

Read the full review: Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

With the Yoga Tab 3 Pro, Lenovo has delivered a fairly unique Android tablet that includes a projector inside and has generally strong multimedia skills. 

Its large 10.1-inch screen is one of the bigger ones on our tablet list, but while it's great for multimedia consumption, that projector and all of the other components make this a weighty option. 

We're also not a fan of the sometimes glitchy UI. It's Android, but Lenovo's flavor of Android. But you're not going to get a more convenient tablet and projector combo anywhere else.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

Tablet apps

As with today's best smartphones, applications play a big role on tablets – once you've decided which of these tablets is right for you, check out our top app lists so you can get your fill of Temple Run, update your friends on Facebook and read the latest news, all on a bigger screen.


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