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, 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.
Your buying guide to the best tablets in 2018
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.
Should I buy an Android, Windows or iOS tablet?
Apple iPads run Apple's own iOS 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.
- Reviewed on: 10 May 2018
The iPad 2018 isn't perfect but it's the best all-rounder money can buy at the moment. At £319 it balances affordability with design, specs and features.
It doesn't have a laminated screen or the latest processor, but this won't matter for the vast majority of users. The fact is, the iPad can do a bit of everything and adding Apple Pencil support means you no longer need to splash out on an iPad Pro.
There's very little to dislike here.
Read our Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2018) review.
- Reviewed on: 9 April 2018
There's no doubt the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is the best Android tablet to be launched in years. If you're looking for a high-end device to rival the iPad Pro running Google's software then this is it.
However, it's not without downsides. The price will be too high for many and doesn't include the Keyboard Cover, the software isn't the best for a tablet and that glass back isn't the best choice for multiple reasons.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 review.
- Reviewed on: 17 July 2017
There's a lot to say about the 10.5in iPad Pro, but in short, we think you'll love it. It's a delight to use for a huge variety of tasks thanks to its power, design and great screen size, but it comes at a price. For future-proofing, you'll likely want to opt for the 256GB Wi-Fi model at £709 at least, and when you add accessories like the keyboard into the mix you're getting very close to shelling out £1,000, and for that you could buy one of Apple's laptops.
We'd recommend considering how much you think you're realistically going to use the iPad Pro. Do you love using a touchscreen? Are you a designer or illustrator who'll benefit from its compatibility with the Apple Pencil? Do you need a device that's incredibly portable? Do you need lots of power for gaming or graphics-intensive apps? Do you have lots of disposable income?
If the answer to more than one of those questions is yes, then you might fit perfectly into the target market for the iPad Pro. For everyone else, a laptop or cheaper iPad is likely to suffice.
Read our 10.5-inch iPad Pro review.
- Reviewed on: 28 March 2018
The new Surface Pro is a superb 2-in-1. It’s beautifully built and performs well. The screen is excellent and even the speakers sound good. However, it’s very expensive, especially when you add the cost of the Type Cover and – if you need one – the Surface Pen.
Few should opt for the base model, and you’ll pay a heck of a lot more for a Core i7. Ultimately, while a fantastic device, it’s hard to recommend the Surface Pro unless money is no object.
Read our Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review.
5. iPad mini 4
- Reviewed on: 25 September 2015
The iPad mini 4 is now only available in 128GB so starts at a higher price of £419. That makes it one of the most expensive small tablets around but it's still one of the best. It's got a great screen, excellent build quality, top battery life and Apple's wealth of apps. You won't be disappointed if you can afford it.
Read our iPad mini 4 review.
- Reviewed on: 30 June 2016
There is a great deal to like and rave about the Surface Pro 4. The design is thinner and lighter for starters. The screen is awesome, there's plenty of power available, the new Surface Pen is better and the Type Cover is a vast improvement on the last one. However, the design is inherently awkward at times, it's more expensive that a lot of laptops and the Type Cover, which you'll pretty much need, isn't included lowering the value.
Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review.
- Reviewed on: 18 July 2017
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is undoubtedly a brilliant device and for some could be a laptop replacement, in which case the price would be more easily justified. You'll likely want to splash out on the Smart Keyboard and possibly the Pencil too, so bear in mind that they are optional extras.
Although it's an excellent device, the 10.5-inch iPad will appeal to more people due it's more manageable size and price.
Read our iPad Pro 12.9in review.
- Reviewed on: 5 April 2018
The Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 ticks a lot of the right boxes. It’s affordable, well built and plays back video to an exceptionally high standard.
You need an Amazon Prime membership to fully enjoy it, but this isn't necessary if you're buying the Kids Edition as that comes with a year's subscription to Fire for Kids Unlimited.
Overall, it’s an incredibly priced media consumption tablet that exemplifies Amazon’s dominance in the low-end market, and it's just as good for adults as kids.
Read our Amazon Fire HD 8 review.
- Reviewed on: 1 August 2018
When an iPad costs just £20 more, you might have a hard time choosing the Tab 3 Plus instead. But if you do, you gain some advantages over Apple's go-to tablet.
The Tab 3 Plus has a built-in stand, excellent Dolby Atmos speakers and a bigger and slightly higher resolution display. If you don't mind the slightly odd design in portrait mode then this may be enough to sway you.
It's one of the best tablets you can buy if you're addicted to Netflix, and is great for reading magazines, books and surfing the web. Just don't expect many software updates past Android Nougat.
Read our Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Plus review.
- Reviewed on: 4 April 2018
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.