Tablets are versatile tools that can be used for everything at school, work or home. Whether you’re checking email, managing finances, testing your art skills or casually browsing YouTube and watching videos, a tablet can do it all. Finding the best tablet isn’t hard, either, but knowing where to start can be overwhelming, and that’s where CNET’s testing and reviews can help.
Let’s start with Apple, which updated its entire iPad lineup in 2022. Along with faster processors across all of the latest models, Apple introduced the 10th-gen iPad with an entirely new design. However, the updated look and features come with a higher price, so Apple is still selling the ninth-gen iPad as its least expensive option.
Elsewhere in Best Tablet Land, Microsoft debuted a new Surface Pro 9 model in the fall of 2022. Meanwhile, Android tablets are available in a wide range of sizes and prices from the value-packed Amazon Fire tablets to Samsung’s top Galaxy Tab models that are strong competition for Apple’s iPad Pro.
In the value segment, Amazon’s Fire tablets remain the best tablet option for cheap and kid-friendly models. But if you’re looking for something that’s good for productivity and entertainment there’s an affordable Chromebook that blurs the line between laptop and tablet.
What’s the best tablet?
The ninth-gen iPad from 2021 is the best tablet that we continue to recommend, despite the availability of newer iPad models. That’s mainly for its features and reasonable price. If you’re definitely going with an iPad, though, we strongly recommend you check out the entire iPad lineup because there might be a better option for your needs.
Not interested in an iPad? Our other top picks for the best tablets 2023 has to offer right now are below. All offer ways to get popular apps, but you’ll want to check that your must-have apps are available on the device before buying (don’t look for Fortnite on the iPad through the App Store, for instance). We included budget tablet and premium tablet options, as well as laptop-replacement devices at prices in between, including Android tablet and Apple iPad options. We even threw in tablet PC and Chromebook options. All of these products (or previous versions thereof) have been fully reviewed or anecdotally tested by CNET editors.
We’ve always appreciated the entry-level iPad for its affordable price. Last year’s entry-level model is less expensive than the newer 10th-gen iPad, and is still very functional: Its older A13 chip and Lightning-charger-equipped, Touch ID home button design all feel somewhat out of date but work fine. This iPad’s screen size is perfect for everyday work and fun, there’s an auto-zooming front-facing Center Stage camera, and unlike the 10th-gen iPad, the first-gen Apple Pencil doesn’t need a dongle to work. It’s still compatible with a range of keyboard cases, too.
Apple’s 2022 iPad Pro refresh added a more powerful M2 chip, faster Wi-Fi 6E and optional 5G connectivity, and a new Pencil 2 “hover” feature that activates the display when the stylus is in close range. Not many apps take advantage of hover, though, and the rest of this iPad design is the same as the previous model. The iPad Pro lineup are still the only models with faster 120Hz variable refresh rate displays, a step-up Mini LED HDR display on the 12.9-inch model, Face ID and depth-sensing lidar cameras and a faster Thunderbolt 4 port. If you don’t mind that the front-facing camera isn’t landscape-oriented yet like the 10th-gen iPad’s — and you have the money to burn — this is the most advanced model, but it doesn’t get you any closer to being a Mac.
The Galaxy Tab S8 Plus is essentially the Android equivalent to Apple’s iPad Pro. Samsung’s DeX interface gives it an edge for productivity if you’re looking for a more laptop-like feel from the tablet. It’s built around a beautiful 12.4-inch, 2,800×1,752-pixel Super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate for smoother-looking visuals. Samsung also includes one of its great S Pens, so you’re ready to start sketching and taking notes right out of the box. The tablet can also double as a wireless display so you can extend your Windows laptop’s screen space on the go.
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Apple refreshed the iPad Mini this year with an A15 processor, which is faster than the iPad Air’s A14. Now that the 10.2-inch model has caught up (almost) to it in terms of specs, it’s tough to swallow the fact that this smaller 8.3-inch model has a higher price — though it should be available at a discounted price during the holiday season. Some folks love this model as a smaller, lighter mobile device option that’s well-sized as an upscale ebook reader.
Amazon continues to make the best inexpensive tablets for media consumption. The Fire HD 8 is the middle of the lineup, hitting a sweet spot for price and performance. The 2022 model sports a thinner, lighter design, a faster processor and an hour more battery life (13 hours vs. 12) than its predecessor. It’s definitely a good low-cost option for streaming video, reading ebooks and web browsing, but we still recommend waiting to pick it up when it’s discounted, which Amazon regularly does. We also recommend spending an additional $20 for the Plus version, which adds 1GB of RAM, wireless charging and a 9-watt power adapter.
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The 10-inch Amazon Fire HD tablet is faster and better than the 7- or 8-inch Fire tablet, and it’s still a pretty low $150 (or less). For the Amazon Fire HD 10, there are two storage options, 32 and 64GB. The Amazon Fire HD tablet also charges its battery via USB-C now. A Plus version of the tablet adds wireless charging, 4GB of RAM and a soft-touch finish.
While there are several imitators, the Surface Pro continues to offer the best detachable two-in-one PC experience. The 2022 version jumps from an 11th-gen Intel CPU to a newer 12th-gen one and moves to a slightly faster type of RAM. There’s also a 5G version that switches from Intel to a Microsoft/Qualcomm ARM-based chip for faster mobile wireless with long battery life. Unfortunately, unless you get a bundle, the keyboard and active pen are still separate purchases. Also, the Surface Pro 8 is still around and worth considering, especially because it’s at a better price.
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 is an awesome little 11-inch ChromeOS tablet with a detachable keyboard and touchpad. It’s a good pick if you’re looking for an affordable ultraportable device to get some work done on the go, sketch or jot down notes in class, or do simple stuff like email, web browsing, gaming, reading and streaming video.