The best tablets for 2022: Which should you buy?


While smartphones are wonderful devices, sometimes you need an even larger display. Tablets are great for working and playing on the go, and the market has become more diverse over the last few years, offering you a variety of options to choose from. But with so many options available, it can be hard to know where to start.

Below, you can find a full rundown of the best tablets of 2022 to suit all of your needs. From heavy-duty workhorses to the tablets for kids, we’ll explore all of your options at a variety of budgets. In short, though, the 2022 Apple iPad Air is the best overall buy if you’re looking for a tablet that’s good at everything. But if that’s not the right pick for you, this list will help you find the right tablet for you.

Looking for some sweet tablet deals? Check out our list of the best iPad deals, and our best tablet deals.

apple ipad air 5 2022 review back flowers

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Apple iPad Air (2022)

Best overall

Pros

  • High-performance M1 processor
  • Slim and light
  • Software suitable for work or play
  • Large, colorful, and sharp screen
  • Wide array of quality accessories
  • Center Stage works well

Cons

  • 64GB storage isn’t enough
  • Battery life disappoints

Why should you buy this? The iPad Air (2022) offers almost everything you’ll get from the iPad Pro, but at a lower price.

Who’s it for? Anyone who wants a great tablet at a good price.

Why we picked the iPad Air (2022):

Sure, it’s not the cheapest tablet around (check out the basic iPad for our best value pick), but at $600, the iPad Air still represents excellent value for money. It looks an awful lot better than a lot of competitors while giving you options that rival the much more expensive iPad Pro tablets. The iPad Air (2022) is our pick as the best tablet you can buy right now, and here’s why.

Performance is a particular draw on this tablet. Apple has slung in the laptop-level M1 chip, the same processor from the 2021 iPad Pro series and the MacBook Air (2020). It’s a monster of a chip, and it’s unlikely to find anything that’ll slow it down, including video editing. Power-wise, this is a tablet with enough power to take on a laptop, and it shows.

This is good, because iPadOS means your iPad Air can do well at being a laptop replacement. The Magic Keyboard is an expensive addition, but it turns your iPad Air into a laptop, and a pretty good one at that. There’s also support for the second generation Apple Pencil, making this a good choice for drawers, typers, and tappers alike.

The design is similarly high level. The slim bezels aren’t too small to grab properly, and the weight and comparatively compact 10.9-inch display mean it’s still comfortable to hold. Sure, it’s the same design as last year’s iPad Air, but that’s because there’s nothing wrong with the look of that tablet. Unfortunately, it does lack the 120Hz ProMotion display from the iPad Pro, and you might notice the lack if you’re used to using a screen with a higher refresh rate. But if you’re coming from a more standard 60Hz, it’s not going to bother you.

The cameras are really quite good for a tablet, and the 12-megapixel front-facing camera is particularly good. Center Stage keeps you in the middle of the frame, even if you move around. While you’re unlikely to be taking a lot of pictures with the rear camera, it’s still got the goods when you need it.

It’s certainly not cheap, but if you can stretch to $600, then this is our overall recommendation for a strong tablet that can handle a wide range of tasks and needs. Want an Android-based equivalent, something a bit cheaper, or something even more powerful? Keep reading for more options.

Apple iPad Air 5 (2022)

Apple iPad Air (2022)

Best overall

hands down the best cyber monday tablet deal today galaxy tab s7 keyboard on table feature image

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus

Best Android tablet

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Beautiful hardware
  • Gorgeous display
  • Great speakers
  • Productivity powerhouse

Cons

  • Keyboard case not included
  • Some software trouble

Why should you buy this? It’s the best Android tablets have to offer.

Who’s it for? Anyone who needs a large-screened tablet with creative, professional, and casual options.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus:

Looking for the best Android tablet out there? Put aside the smaller and larger of its brethren, as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus is the tablet to grab. The 12.4-inch AMOLED display is big and useful, without being as potentially unwieldy as the Tab S8 Ultra’s 14.6-inch display, the frame is made from Armor Aluminum and feels great, and it’s thin and relatively lightweight as well. It’s a premium package, and it certainly won’t disappoint every time you pull it out of a bag or case.

But good looks are only part of what makes this tablet so great — let’s talk accessories. The tablet comes with the Samsung S Pen included, which is stored and charged on the tablet’s rear magnetic strip. It’s a neat little accessory, good for drawing and writing, but for many, the keyboard case will be more useful. Unlike the S Pen, the keyboard case isn’t included, which is a real shame. It’s a good keyboard that avoids the usual trap of mushy keys and a cramped layout, though it’s not the best if you’re wanting to work from your lap, as the plastic is flexible and doesn’t provide a solid base.

Performance-wise, it’s great. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor is powerful and its performance is zippy, especially when paired with the display’s 120Hz refresh rate. Storage options are good too. Options start from 128GB, going up to 256GB. That’s enough storage for most, whether you’re using this tablet for work or play.

Software is probably this tablet’s largest handicap. Unlike iPads and iPadOS, Android tablets haven’t yet had their renaissance moment, and as such, Android just still isn’t built to take advantage of larger screens. Samsung’s desktop PC-like Dex Mode helps a lot, but there are shortcomings Samsung simply can’t build around. Many apps launch into a smartphone-designed interface and simply aren’t designed to work with larger tablet screens.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus

Best Android tablet

apple ipad 9th gen 2021 review leader

Adam Doud/Digital Trends

Apple iPad (2021)

Best value tablet

Pros

  • Great battery life
  • Powerful internals
  • Big upgrade to the front-facing camera
  • Amazing software support
  • Base storage more acceptable at 64GB

Cons

  • Display doesn’t get bright enough
  • Lightning port in 2021
  • Slow Touch ID sensor

Why should you buy this? It’s simply the best value tablet you can buy.

Who’s it for? Anybody who wants a tablet that can handle all the basics, without spending too much money.

Why we picked the Apple iPad (2021):

It’s no longer the latest iPad, thanks to the release of the $450 iPad 2022. But even with that release, the iPad 2021 is still a great value proposition.

It’s the tablet world’s “ol’ reliable” — if you want a tablet without the frills, and at a great price, you want the basic iPad. Don’t take the word “basic” to be an insult, too. The iPad 2021 is an excellent performer, has a 10.2-inch display, long-lasting battery life, and probably the best tablet software you can get. Yes, the design is extremely dated, but get past that, and this is the best value tablet you can buy.

We’ll start with the internal specs. The iPad is, admittedly, equipped with an old processor. But, it’s an old flagship processor, which does make a difference. The A13 Bionic processor was the silicon that powered the iPhone 11 range, and it’s still a powerful piece of kit, despite its age. This processor should be able to easily handle any games you throw at it and should be purring along nicely for years to come. The other improvement is the installation of 64GB of internal storage as standard, giving you a lot more room to play with.

The iPad has also seen a significant improvement in front-facing camera tech. Goodbye paltry 1.2MP lens, hello 12MP lens. Removing a single period has made all the difference, and now the iPad actually has a selfie camera worth doing video calls with, and the auto-framing tech is pretty cool as well. Battery life is also excellent, though that’s less of a worry when most people’s tablets tend to live near outlets anyway.

Best of all, this iPad starts at just $329. That’s an incredible bargain, and there’s nothing on the Android side of the fence that comes close to approaching this tablet in terms of pure value. If you want something capable, but don’t need something with more power than your average desktop computer, then the iPad 2021 is easily the best choice around.

Apple iPad 9th Generation (2021)

Apple iPad (2021)

Best value tablet

apple ipad deals amazon april 2022 mini 2021 review leader

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Apple iPad Mini 6

Best small tablet

Pros

  • Big enough to perform most tasks
  • Compact enough to travel easily
  • Powerful performance
  • Loud speakers
  • USB-C

Cons

  • Screen is not bright enough
  • Too small for content creation
  • No headphone jack

Why should you buy this? You want a great tablet with a smaller footprint.

Who’s it for? Anyone who wants a smaller tablet.

Why we picked the iPad Mini (2021):

It took a while for Apple to update the iPad Mini the last time it got refreshed, and it’s taken a similarly long time to update the iPad Mini’s appearance as well. Thankfully, the wait is at an end, and the new iPad Mini (also known as the iPad Mini 6) has arrived. The new design is now in line with the other premium iPads, meaning the iPad Mini is now finally just a smaller version of the iPad Air and iPad Pro.

It doesn’t match the new iPad Air and iPad Pro where specs are concerned, but it shouldn’t feel like a huge downgrade. The iPad Mini comes with the A15 Bionic processor, and while it’s not the match of the new Apple M2 chip in the more expensive iPads, it doesn’t need to. The A15 will devour any games you’ll want to play, and you’re unlikely to need the oomph the M2 provides for content creation apps, because, well, the iPad Mini is too small to work well as a content processing machine anyway.

Does that make it a bad choice? Absolutely not. It’s supremely portable, stupidly powerful, and an excellent choice if you need something that leverages both of these strengths. The battery lasts around a day and a half of use, so it’s a good choice if you’re taking it out and about, and it also pairs very well with the second-generation Apple Pencil as well.

While the pint-sized iPad isn’t likely to be everyone’s cup of tea, the iPad Mini is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a smaller tablet to carry around. Pair it with a small keyboard and mouse and you’ve got a portable workstation, or just use it for watching videos, reading books, or whatever else you need on the move.

Apple iPad Mini 6 (2021)

Apple iPad Mini 6

Best small tablet

amazon fire hd 8 plus 2022 review  2031

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Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

Best cheap tablet

Pros

  • Low price
  • Good build quality
  • Great battery life
  • Functional for basic tasks

Cons

  • Ad-supported model isn’t worth the savings
  • Absolutely terrible camera
  • Frustrating limitations of Fire OS

Why should you buy this? The Fire HD 8 Plus may be too Amazon-centric for some, but Prime subscribers and Alexa lovers will appreciate its ease of use and great price.

Who’s it for? Amazon enthusiasts on a budget.

Why we picked the Fire HD 8 Plus:

The new Fire HD 8 Plus isn’t an enormous upgrade over previous versions, and it’s extremely heavily locked into Amazon’s ecosystem, but it’s still a great choice if you’re looking for a capable tablet on a budget.

It’s not much to look at, but that’s not a bad sacrifice for a budget device. Large bezels around the 1280 x 800 resolution 8-inch screen do mean it’s a bit less portable than more expensive tablets with thinner bezels, but the display is otherwise fine. The body is made from plastic, which means it’s durable, and it has a textured effect which makes it easier to grip. It has a good selection of ports, too, with a USB-C port for charging, and a 3.5mm headphone jack as well — a rarity these days.

You should temper your expectations where performance is concerned, though. It’ll work great for watching Netflix, browsing the internet, or scrolling social media, but don’t expect this to be a solid productivity device. Teamed up with a Bluetooth keyboard it can work as a word processor, but don’t expect much more than that, or the ability to play the latest 3D games either. The software is a forked version of Android, with no access to the Google Play Store. This means you’ll need to repurchase any apps you own on the Play Store, and you may find some are not available.

The camera is the area hit hardest by the low price, as it is, simply put, awful. There’s a 5MP camera on the back and a 2MP camera around the front, and both are quite terrible. They’re basically only there as a nod to smart device convention, and they’re a feature you should ignore. Even the most basic smartphone is likely to have better cameras than this.

On the plus side, it does offer some impressive battery life, with our results matching the 13 hours of battery life claimed by Amazon. That’s not a bad showing, and it means you won’t be rushing to find a charger all the time. Charging is slow, though, taking up to three hours to fully charge from empty.

The biggest reason to buy this is the price. $120 RRP is a bargain, and you’ll often find that price slashed on Black Friday or Prime Day. Keep an eye out, and you really can get this tablet at an extremely low price, and that justifies the downsides you may find using the Fire HD 8 Plus.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2022)

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

Best cheap tablet

amazon fire hd 8 kids edition review 6

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Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Best tablet for kids

Pros

  • Curated age-appropriate content
  • Generous 2-year warranty
  • Easy parental controls
  • Rugged case
  • Decent battery life

Cons

  • Locked into Amazon ecosystem
  • Some content requires internet access

Why should you buy this? When it comes to parental controls, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is second to none.

Who’s it for? Young kids who need supervision.

Why we picked the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition:

Amazon’s refreshed Fire 8 HD Kids Edition (2020) makes its long-running line of kid-friendly tablets even better, though there’s a disappointing lack of strong competition in this category.

An 8-inch screen with a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution delivers bright and vibrant colors and a thick rubber case around the tablet’s frame cushions against accidental drops. The tablet’s 32GB of internal storage offers enough space for lots of books, games, and other media, and there’s a microSD card slot for expansion if you run out.

When it comes to parental controls, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is second to none. The Fire OS software, a customized version of Android, allows you to manage usage limits, set educational goals, and restrict access to age-inappropriate content. The Parent Dashboard also offers insight into what your kids are doing on their tablets and encourages interaction with discussion questions related to the books your kids are reading.

The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition also includes one year of fee-free access to Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited, a library of more than 15,000 kid-appropriate games, apps, educational content, books, and videos from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and others. Every purchase is backed by Amazon’s two-year, no-questions-asked replacement policy: If the Fire HD 8 breaks, Amazon will replace it.

Simply put, there is no better tablet at this price for young kids who still need parental supervision.

If you want something larger than the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, there’s also a 2021 Fire HD 10 Kids Edition.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Best tablet for kids

microsoft surface pro 9 review 01

Microsoft Surface Pro 9

Best Windows tablet

Pros

  • New colors look great
  • Design and build quality are top notch
  • SQ3 is a solid alternative
  • Type Cover keyboard is excellent
  • High resolution webcam

Cons

  • No headphone jack
  • Upgrades still too expensive
  • Limited performance improvements

Why should you buy this? It’s a strong iPad Pro competitor that runs Windows 11.

Who’s it for? Someone who wants a strong tablet, but with all the conveniences of Windows.

Why we picked the Surface Pro 9:

Apple’s tablets are starting to straddle the line between tablets and laptops, but Microsoft’s Surface line has been doing that for years. The latest model, the Surface Pro 9, is only a small upgrade over previous models, but it’s still amongst the best 2-in-1 tablet/laptop hybrids you can buy.

It’s sleek and modern looking, with the thin bezels introduced with the Surface Pro 8. Unlike last year’s model, the Pro 9 comes in a range of colorways, including the gorgeous Sapphire, and interesting Forest Green. Unfortunately, this iteration has seen the removal of the headphone jack, without much apparent reason why. The Pro 9 isn’t thinner or lighter than previous versions, and neither has the extra internal room given with the removal of the jack seemingly been used anywhere else, which is a big disappointment.

There are a few processor cores available here, and all of them are up to the task of keeping your life running. The SQ3 ARM options offer stronger battery life, while the Intel chips give stronger performance, so it’s down to your personal needs which one is going to be better for you. Battery life lasts around eight and a half hours with the Intel chip, and Microsoft claims the SQ3 will last for around four hours longer — a significant bump, if accurate.

It’s a solid 2-in-1 that works well as an everyday workhorse, but there’s a fairly high barrier to entry. Just the Surface Pro 9 with 128GB of storage will set you back $1,000, and upgrades really push that price up. Still, if you have the money and want a Windows-powered tablet/laptop hybrid, then you can’t get much better than the Microsoft Surface Pro 9.

Surface Pro 9

Microsoft Surface Pro 9

Best Windows tablet


Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch)

Best big-screen tablet

Pros

  • Sleek and modern design
  • Bright, vivid, gorgeous display
  • Wild performance from the M2 chip
  • Apple Pencil hover feature
  • iPadOS 16 is super robust

Cons

  • Stage Manager needs more work
  • Lackluster, awkward front camera
  • Prohibitively expensive

Why should you buy this? The iPad Pro is extremely powerful and offers a huge screen.

Who’s it for? Gamers, creatives, and power users.

Why we picked the iPad Pro (12.9-inch):

There’s a new iPad Pro in town, but the game hasn’t changed. This is still the biggest and most powerful tablet around and it’s perfect for all kinds of uses. Not only is the iPad Pro (12.9-inch) the best tablet for multimedia and gaming, but it’s also the best tablet for drawing. The device offers a nice big edge-to-edge display that’s perfect for watching movies, studying, gaming, and so on. The bezels are slim and the home button has been replaced by Face ID. Apple has also adopted USB-C, which gives you far more to choose from in terms of accessories and peripherals.

The iPad Pro sports one of the biggest and best screens around, with a 2732 x 2048-pixel resolution and Apple’s Liquid Retina XDR display tech, the tablet offers an incredible display experience all around. The Liquid Retina XDR display means that the iPad leverages Mini LED for super deep black levels and tons of brightness, plus there’s a 120Hz refresh rate — making the tablet perfect for games.

This year’s iPad Pro comes with an M2 chip, which the iPad Pro performs about as well as the newest Mac devices. Power users shouldn’t run into the device’s limits, whether you’re commanding armies in Civilization VI or editing an image in Photoshop. The iPad Pro can cope with any game or drawing app you throw at it.

Storage options aren’t as good, though, as it starts at 128GB. It does go up to 2TB, but you have to pay a lot for a large capacity. There’s no microSD card support, too, so unless you’re big into iCloud, the amount of storage you buy is what you’ll get.

Apple claims you’ll get 10 hours of mixed-use from a full charge, which didn’t stack up in our tests. An intense day with over five hours of screen time saw the iPad Pro sink to 16% by the end of the day. A less intense day meant the iPad Pro could probably last a second day, but if you’re using this device for work, expect to reach for the charging cable.

It’s expensive, especially if you need a lot of storage, and there’s no headphone jack, but the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is still your best bet if you’re a power-user that wants the best you can get.

Apple iPad Pro (2022)

Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch)

Best big-screen tablet

Frequently Asked Questions

Which OS is best for you?

If your top consideration is entertainment, and you’re likely to use a lot of apps and games, then we recommend Apple’s iPadOS over Android. There are a lot of polished apps made specifically for the iPad and you have access to all the top subscription services and an extensive content store. It’s also slick and accessible, so anyone can come to grips with it quickly.

Android has a larger selection of free apps and games, though they’re generally less polished, which might be a trade-off you’ll accept. Things are a little complicated by manufacturer UIs, or in the case of Amazon, forked versions of the platform. They can delay Android updates and make the user experience quite different. Amazon’s tablets, for example, run a version of Android called Fire OS and they initially only have access to the limited subset of apps and games that are available in the Amazon Appstore, not the full list that you’ll find in Google’s Play Store.

If you like the idea of accessing the same apps you have on your Windows PC, and you want a business device that ties seamlessly into your Microsoft services, then a tablet running Windows 11 is going to be tempting. It’s powerful, but it’s also relatively expensive to get decent hardware for a good user experience. If you’re not a business user, or you don’t need to run Windows-only apps, it may be overkill.

Can you print from a tablet?

Yes, you can indeed print from a tablet. Check out our guides on how to print from an iPhone and how to print from an Android tablet for all the details you need.

Can you make phone calls on a tablet?

Yes, you can make phone calls on a tablet, but you will need to be connected to the internet. You can either connect to Wi-Fi, which every tablet can do for free or if you need to make calls while you’re out and about beyond the reach of a Wi-Fi network, buy a tablet with cellular support and space for a SIM card. Just bear in mind if you go the SIM card route, you will also have to sign up for a service plan of some kind. Some carriers offer special plans for tablets.

You can use FaceTime on an iPad, but there are lots of good alternative video chat apps that work with Android tablets or iPads. Many of them allow you to make audio calls as well. However, the person you want to call usually has to have the same app. Some apps, like Skype, also allow you to call regular landline or mobile phone numbers, but you’ll generally have to pay per minute or get a subscription. A good app that will work on Android tablets or iPads that gives you a free number for calling, text messages, and voicemail is Google Voice, but it only works in the U.S.

If you’re interested in this option for a business, then you might also consider one of the best VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services.

Can you text on a tablet?

Yes, you can send text messages from a tablet. If you have an iPad then you can use iMessage, which can connect to your phone to send standard SMS messages and iMessages alike. There are lots of great text messaging apps that work on Android or iOS. You could also use Google Voice if you are based in the U.S. as it gives you a free number for calls and text messages.

How we test

The tablets we test serve as our daily drivers, so we use them extensively to put them through their paces. That means watching movies, gaming, testing out lots of apps, reading, working on them, and even taking photos and shooting videos with them (which is impossible to do without looking stupid). We love new, innovative features, but we can also appreciate classic design done well. Ultimately, we look for tablets that will fulfill the needs of most people, so their ability to serve up entertainment is paramount.

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