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, so rest assured none of those are in the below round up.
Should I buy a tablet now or wait for Black Friday?
Black Friday is one of the biggest sales events of the year, and in 2019 takes place on 29 November. We're already seeing some great consumer tech deals and expect them to continue right into January, with Black Friday deals followed by Cyber Monday deals, Christmas deals, Boxing day deals and then we've got the January sales.
That's both good and bad, of course, because how do you know that a product won't drop in price the very next week? The truth is you can never be entirely sure, but we're now close enough to the main event that many retailers have already begun their Black Friday sales. Of the big UK retailers, Currys has started its Why Wait? sale, guaranteeing that products won't drop any further in price for Black Friday, while Amazon has a range of Black Friday Countdown deals, with its main event starting on 22 November.
They aren't the only ones, and we've been busy hunting down the best tablet deals so that you don't have to. While prices may go down further for Black Friday, some discounts will also end sooner, so unless you're sure that a product will be discounted it's always best to take a deal at face value: if you think the product is worth that amount of money, go for it. Sometimes it doesn't pay to hold out for something that will never happen.
Below we've provided some buying advice on what to look for in a tablet: even if the products we round up here are not discounted, you may find similar products at much lower prices - and if our #2 or #3 ranked product is discounted, that be enough for you to consider it over the #1 tablet.
Your buying guide to the best tablets in 2019
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?
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.
The prices listed below for each product in this feature are updated automatically, and include the latest early Black Friday deals and sales.
- Reviewed on: 3 October 2019
It might not be hugely different from the previous entry-level iPad but Apple has yet again created a tablet that's very hard to complain about. There's no big need to upgrade if you have the older 9.7in model but if you don't then there's a lot to love here.
Apple has made the screen is larger, added a Smart Connector, made improvements to the software with iPadOS and more.
The cheapest iPad in Apple's doesn't have a laminated display and ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate which you'll find on Pro models. However, we can't expect these things without a higher price and blurring the lines to those premium models.
This is a great all-rounder tablet and a particularly good buy if you want to make the most of Apple Arcade.
Read our Apple iPad 10.2in (2019) review.
- Reviewed on: 31 May 2019
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 Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e review.
- Reviewed on: 22 April 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 9.7in, 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 Apple iPad Air (2019) review.
- Reviewed on: 14 November 2018
The 11in iPad Pro is the best Pro yet, and probably the best iPad ever but it comes at a price. And unless you really need the features afforded by the Smart Keyboard and 120Hz display then you'd be better off with the regular iPad.
But for creatives or those who want to use the iPad Pro as a laptop then this is the best option, it just comes at a high price. It has Face ID, amazing build quality, great battery life and a new Apple Pencil that's better than ever.
You can also opt for the 12.9in model, reviewed here.
Read our Apple iPad Pro 11in (2018) review.
- Reviewed on: 3 October 2019
If you're looking for a Windows 10 tablet you could do a lot worse than the Surface Pro 6. The necessary Type Cover still isn't included in the price, so budget for this as well as the Surface Pen if you need them.
Now in matt black, the Pro 6 is a powerful and versatile Windows tablet that is a great portable option if you want a tablet that is as good as a laptop with full Windows 10. It's a shame there's no USB-C port, as can be found on the Surface Pro 7, but otherwise we can fully recommend it.
Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 6 review.
- Reviewed on: 15 July 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 Apple iPad mini (2019) review.
- Reviewed on: 23 November 2018
Although the Tab S4 is the same price as its predecessor, there's not a huge amount that's new here. And it's a shame not to find the latest processor.
A larger 10.5in screen rivals the smaller iPad Pro and Samsung's DeX software is built-in to provide PC-like functionality. Samsung's aim is to replace your laptop but that's only doable if your usage is pretty basic.
This is no doubt one of the best Android tablets around but will be overkill for many, both in price and features. Unless you're completely anti-Apple, the iPad 9.7 for 2018 is a comparative bargain at £319.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review.
- Reviewed on: 12 July 2019
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 Amazon Fire HD 8 2018 review.
- Reviewed on: 15 July 2019
As was our verdict on the MediaPad M3: the M5 is an above-average tablet which is a good alternative to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab range and the iPad mini. The iPad mini is is less of a great deal these days. It costs a lot because you can only get it with 128GB of storage.
If your budget is more like £300/US$300, it's a struggle to recommend the MediaPad M5 when the 2018 iPad 9.7 has a headphone socket, support for the Apple Pencil and - well - it's an iPad running iOS.
Read our Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4 review.
- Reviewed on: 12 July 2019
The HD 10 is Amazon's biggest tablet, and it's one of the best-value 10in tablets under £200. It has a decent Full HD screen and a good amount of storage for the money. Hands-free Alexa is handy too.
If you can live with the more limited selection of apps compared to what you'll find in the Google Play Store on an Android tablet, it’s a good deal.
Read our Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) review.