Tablets are one of tech’s most versatile purchases. You can use them to watch films, send emails, browse the web or even make music. If the size of your phone screen just doesn’t cut it and you don’t want a laptop, then a tablet is the perfect companion.
There are many great tablets out there – iPads are obvious choices – but there are several we’d recommend for you depending on your budget, needs and taste in design. And of course, there are many terrible tablets out there, but rest assured – none of those feature in our ranked chart.
Note that if you’re thinking about buying an iPad from this list, you might want to wait. Apple has announced a new iPad Air for 2020. We’ll add this in as soon as we’ve had it in for review.
Best Tablets 2020
1. iPad 10.2in (2020)
It might look the same as just about every iPad from the past few years, but Apple has again created a tablet that’s very hard to complain about. There might not be enough here to tempt owners of the seventh-gen iPad, but there’s a lot to love here if you’re coming from an older iPad or want to dip your toe into the iPad experience for the first time.
There isn’t much change in terms of design, but Apple has made the 10.2in screen brighter this time around and most importantly, upgraded the ageing A10 to the A12 Bionic, offering significant performance gains compared to last year’s option and most Android tablets on the market.
iPadOS is also maturing, offering a suite of tablet-focused features like Scribble that really elevate Apple’s tablet range above the competition, even at such a cheap price point. The only complaint? The 32GB of storage on the entry-level option – we’d recommend going for the larger 128GB variant if possible.
Storage aside, this is a great all-rounder tablet and a particularly good buy if you want to use an Apple Pencil.
Read our full Apple iPad 10.2in (2020) review
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
We think the Galaxy Tab S5e is the best Android tablet you can get right now. Samsung has brought the excellent screen and quad-speaker system from the Tab S4 and put them in a thinner and lighter design, complete with a more desirable metal build.
If you don’t care about Android or iOS, then the iPad (2018) is a slightly better value buy.
Furthermore, it’s more affordable and the jump to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage isn’t much. The Tab S4 being old does mean it’s had a few price drops but it’s only worth spending the extra if you really need the extra power of its beefier processor.
The Tab S5e is limited a little by the Snapdragon 670 but it’s designed and pitched as an entertainment tablet rather than a laptop replacement -despite the inclusion of DeX – and it does this very well.
Many users will find the lack of a headphone jack disappointing but there’s a dongle in the box and you also have the option to use USB-C or wireless headphones.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e review
3. Apple iPad Air (2019)
The iPad Air is a fast machine with a large and well-specced screen, long battery life and attractive (if old-fashioned) design – the old familiar Home button and particularly the headphone port will be seen as plus points by many. The front-facing camera provides high-quality FaceTime video and selfies, and while the rear camera is less impressive this is a sensible area for a mid-size tablet to cut costs.
Talking of which, £479/$499 (for the perfectly adequate base storage allocation) is good value for all the goodies just mentioned. Those on a tight budget should choose the iPad 10.2in, and a Pro model is probably better for a creative professional, but for most people this is now the best iPad on the market.
Read our full Apple iPad Air (2019) review
4. iPad Pro 12.9in (2020)
Apple’s new 12.9in iPad Pro is among the most powerful on the market right now, with the new A12Z chipset beating just about every competitor in benchmark tests, but it’s also one of the most expensive options in our chart. The huge 120Hz 12.9in display is great for graphics design, watching movies and browsing social media, but it’s not until you pair it with the Magic Keyboard that the potential becomes clear.
It has the potential to be a laptop replacement, but it’s a very pricey one. It’s Apple’s best tablet, but if you’re not going to get full use out of the large display and powerful internals, you’d probably be better off with a standard iPad.
Read our full iPad Pro 12.9in (2020) review
5. Microsoft Surface Pro 7
The Surface Pro 7 is a powerful tablet that doubles as a decent laptop if you opt for the Type Cover case, although trying to actually use it in your lap is a challenge not many will succeed with.
The improved internals and upgraded graphics are where the Pro 7 really shines. It’s certainly more powerful than the Pro X, and it’s a massive jump forward from the Surface Pro 6 too. It’s still not a gaming laptop, mind you, and cheaper standard laptops can offer more in terms of raw power, but you’ll lose that versatile design.
If you’re going to get the use out of the portability and flexible nature of the 2-in-1, the Pro 7 is worth considering, but there are more powerful laptops at a similar price if processing grunt is key.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 7 review
6. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is definitely more of a basic productivity and entertainment slate, rather than a laptop replacement, but that means its talents lie in its featherweight design, its affordability and as a brilliant tool for note-taking.
That said, it’s not the only contender in the mid-range tablet space with Samsung’s own Galaxy Tab S5e still trumping the S6 Lite in a few key areas, albeit at a greater cost overall.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite review
7. Huawei MatePad Pro
The MatePad Pro is a difficult bit of kit to judge. The hardware is impressive: the 10.8in display is detailed, bright and crisp, there’s enough power under the hood to power even the most demanding apps and games and the M-Pencil/Keyboard Cover combo mean you can get creative with how you use the tablet.
The problem, like all Huawei products at the moment, is the lack of Google Mobile Services.
You’ve got the option of using Huawei’s AppGallery and sideloading popular apps, but key pro-level Adobe apps (along with any Google apps) won’t work without access to GMS, regardless of how you install them.
So, while the MatePad is Pro in just about every respect, you might struggle to find Pro-level apps that truly take advantage of the hardware on offer.
Read our full Huawei MatePad Pro review
8. Apple iPad mini (2019)
The iPad mini proves that this form factor is still desirable and useful even in an age of larger smartphones. With the A12 processor at an affordable base price, Apple’s smallest tablet is a tiny powerhouse of a computer.
Yes, the design is seven years old but with the addition of Apple Pencil support and with decent battery life, Apple has breathed new life back into the iPad mini. Not everyone wants or needs to spend £1,000 on an iPad Pro.
Read our full Apple iPad mini (2019) review
9. Microsoft Surface Go 2
The Surface Go 2 is one of the most fun devices Microsoft currently makes, but Windows 10 in this form factor creates a number of trade-offs.
At £399 it’s by far the cheapest Surface PC, but at this price performance is severely compromised. As such I’d recommend stepping up to a Core M3 model, although you’ll pay at least £619 for the privilege.
If that’s a step too far, you’ll probably be balancing battery life with performance. Microsoft’s claimed 10 hours of typical usage is significantly reduced when handling complex tasks or multiple apps simultaneously.
The Go 2 is incredibly thin and light for a Windows 10 PC, but even the jump to a 10.5in screen will take some getting used to if you’re accustomed to a 13in or even 15in laptop.
The unchanged accessories transform the device into a polished desktop experience, but at around £155 for a Type Cover and mouse they represent a significant additional investment. Using the Go 2 as a standalone tablet does show some of the limitations of Windows 10.
There are plenty of enjoyable and even exciting aspects of the Surface Go 2, but anyone considering buying must content with these compromises.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Go 2 review
10. Amazon Fire HD 8 (8th gen)
If you don’t need Google apps on your tablet then this is the best cheap tablet going. It’s worth the extra spend over the Fire 7 for the larger, better screen, unless you’re buying it for your kids in which case the cheaper Fire 7 will do just fine.
And now you can use Alexa hands free, or pair the Fire HD 8 with the clever Show Mode dock to get an affordable smart display for home use. If you want to watch video on Prime and Netflix and not much else then this tablet is a no-brainer.
Read our full Amazon Fire HD 8 (8th gen) review
Your buying guide to the best tablets in 2020
While Apple has something of a hold on the tablet conversation, there are great Android alternatives from Samsung, Huawei and Amazon. And if you need a tablet with full Windows, Microsoft is there for you with Surface.
Should I buy an Android, Windows or iOS tablet?
If you’re on a tight budget, you should be reading our best budget tablets roundup. And if you’re looking for a tablet for your child, check out our best kids’ tablets article.
But if you want the best, you’ve got four main choices: an iPad, an Android tablet an Amazon Fire tablet or a Windows tablet.
Apple iPads run Apple’s own iPadOS operating system which is widely regarded as one of the best out there. It’s easy to use and app makers usually make it their first choice, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find what you’re after.
If you have an iPhone, then it’ll also be very familiar.
This is valuable when you buy accessories that require apps – mainly smart home or fitness gadgets – as you may not be able to control these from a Windows tablet.
In most cases, apps are made available on Android as well as iPads, but not always. Android tablets can be cheaper than iPads, but there are some Samsung models which cost the same or are more expensive.
Windows tablets come in both cheap and expensive guises, but it has the advantage of being able to run the same programs you use on your laptop or PC – not just as many finger-friendly tablet apps as you’ll be used to on your phone or on an iPad.
And that’s why most Windows tablets come with a keyboard, or offer it as an option: they’re really a hybrid of a laptop and tablet. But as you’ll find out in most of our Windows tablet reviews, this is rarely a case of getting the best of both worlds. One exception is the Surface Pro from Microsoft.
The fourth option is Amazon’s Fire tablets. These are based on Android but are locked into Amazon’s system: you won’t find any Google services or apps on them so bear this in mind. But they are very affordable.
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