Best tablets in 2023: iPad, Android & more
Tablet purchases in 2023 are getting harder to pick and sift from the bad to the good. That’s why we’ve put together this handy list of the best tablets to grab this year.
An odd creation in the last few years, the tablet sort of answered a question that never got asked. A middle device between laptops and phones. Sure enough, we’re a decade on and now we have a whole generation who didn’t know there was a time before they existed.
The portable, large form factor touchscreen devices are often just assumed to be either a Samsung tablet or an iPad from Apple. However, there’s more out there that could theoretically do exactly what you need, without being limited to a singular brand.
Of course, there are no bones about it. The current lineup of M1 iPads, and M2 versions, are the best out there.
Apple iPad: The king of the tablets
The iPad is, for all intents and purposes, completely spectacular. From the Air to the Pro, and now the Mini, we essentially recommend the whole lineup as of right now.
While the regular iPad has seen a meager upgrade to a new form factor, the Apple Bionic CPU inside is still a killer piece of hardware that will keep you chugging along for a long while yet.
Our top recommendation for getting into iPads right now though is to go for the latest Air or above. While the iPad Mini is a solid little tablet, with smart compatibility with the Apple Pencil 2, we will almost always recommend the Air.
It’s the great in-between of having the raw power from the M1, but still a comfortable one-size-fits-all mentality. The Pro, obviously, has a delightfully massive screen. However, unless you’re really going to be using it in a professional setting, there’s no need to go all out.
Since the slight regime change from inside Apple – mostly since old guard staff have left in the last few years – the company’s vision for the iPad has begun to change.
Can the iPad replace a laptop?
Outside of the cringe-inducing “What’s a computer” campaign, Apple has begun to tie in more of its decision-making into creating a between space once again. Whereas they created the market space for a tablet, to begin with, the need for something that’s not quite a laptop, not quite useless in any setting, is where the iPad appears to be.
Yes, it’s incredibly expensive, but we also recommend the Magic Keyboard case for your iPad. Having the option to unhinge the iPad from a work position to a play or creative position in a split instant is surprisingly freeing.
It’s also a solid case, and the included touchpad works obscenely well on an all-touch device. While it won’t replace your laptop, it makes for a killer sidekick, especially if you’re in the Apple ecosystem already.
The iPad can be used in ‘Sidecar’, which extends it to another monitor for your Apple Mac devices and having it completely tied in with your iOS lifestyle, makes it doubly pleasurable if you’re subscribed to Apple Arcade. Play a game on the train home, only to then immediately hop over and play it more comfortably on the couch.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8: A-List tablets
Samsung’s tablet output is a little hit-and-miss. Their lower-end range is certainly budget-friendly, but a little incapable of keeping up with the advances that Android brings with it.
Meanwhile, the flagship range is routinely refreshed with huge or minor improvements each year. There’s no in-between, it’s either an off-year or an on-year.
Not that someone on the S7 needs to upgrade to the S8, but if you’re just jumping in for the first time to the Samsung tablet family, it’s probably best to go with the latest version.
The S8 is split into three different versions: the S8, S8+, and the S8 Ultra. Of course, the regular S8 has some features pulled back from it, making the in-between S8+ almost the better, default option to go with.
Aside from some differences in internal specs, the Galaxy S8 tablet will actually perform fairly similar across the board, all of them featuring the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Whether you want a bigger, better screen or more RAM, seems to be the choice here.
Where Samsung’s tablet benefits over the enclosed Apple iPadOS, is Android. Android is a lot freer to experimentation, or choices in what you do with it. You might find that alternate stores like the game-centric TapTap, or even Samsung’s own store are better fits for your needs than Google Play.
There’s also the full functionality similar to the iPad, with just that bit better support for multitasking. Android’s options to split the screen into various windows operate much better than Apple’s Stage Manager and screen splitting.
Microsoft Surface: The dark horse
With Apple and Samsung, as well as Google, all focusing on bringing things to a more streamlined affair, Microsoft is hellbent on making Windows in tablet form.
After the miserable death of Windows 8 and its helpful Metro user interface (yes, the blocky squares had a name) and Windows Phone 7 essentially drowning, you’d think that Microsoft wouldn’t be on this list of tablets.
However, the Surface devices, are surprisingly excellent. With a humorous release schedule of being just one step behind the curve of the latest specs, it no longer matters if you’re after a decent portable device from the Surface 8 onwards.
11th-generation and 12th-generation Intel chips line the insides, giving excellent performance. While it’s usually best paired with the keyboard and case combination, being able to use Windows in tablet form is actually pretty good now, with Windows 11. It’s still a little finicky in terms of contextual menus, but after a couple of hours or so with the device, you’ll get the hang of it.
It also means you get access to their great stylus, which unlocks the creative potential of programs like the Adobe Suite and various other programs that you’d usually need an external touch monitor or mouse interaction to use.
Chromebook tablets: Often forgotten
As with the other options above, the need for the in-between is often served with a tablet that hooks into a keyboard and case of some kind. Google’s Chromebook line is expansive, often filled with terrible spec’d devices sold at an, unfortunately, inviting low cost.
However, ChromeOS is undoubtedly one of the better choices to go for if you want some kind of freedom. Most tablet devices that run it will be able to support the new cross-platform support for Android apps, as well as the bounty of tools available to those on ChromeOS.
The thing is, choosing a decent replacement for the often-lauded Google Pixel Slate is tough. From the consensus around the web though, the HP Chromebook X2 11 is the next best thing. It’s a 2-in-1 laptop, but come on, it’s a tablet with a keyboard case.
ChromeOS with some Android apps makes this the ultimate tool for those in love with Google’s operating systems. You have this excellent panel backing up any entertainment you want to enjoy, while also getting a full workstation for those assignments or jobs.
It’s also not too expensive in the grand scheme of things, thanks to it using the last-generation Snapdragon chip. It’ll give you great performance in tonnes of games and apps, without ever feeling too sluggish once we reach a certain point in time.
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