The best tablets of 2016 are all about combination, with most offering a decent keyboard and desktop-style experience to sound the death knell for laptops.
From Apple’s larger iPad Pro to Android’s Google Nexus and Samsung tablets, there’s a lot of choice out there. And it’s more than just iOS 10 and Android Marshmallow devices (with Android Nougat updates coming soon too), unlike the best smartphones – Windows makes an appearance too.
The iPad Air 2 is still a good choice
Unbeatable app selection
Until the iPad Pro 9.7, this was the best tablet in the world. Even though it has been replaced by Apple, it’s still a brilliant tablet that has further raised the bar for the rest of the competition in terms of build quality, features and performance. The best part is this is now cheaper thanks to the release of the iPad Pro 9.7. Apple’s range of tablet-optimised apps and a slick user interface makes the iPad Air 2 extremely versatile while also being incredibly easy, and enjoyable, to use.
The tablet that can replace your laptop
Larger, sharper screen
Vastly improved Type Cover
Built in kickstand
Can a tablet really replace your laptop or home PC? That’s still up for debate, but the best tablet trying to make that happen is the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – and it does a fine job with the full blown version of Windows 10, an integrated kickstand and optional keyboard attachment. Great for for creative professionals, students and everyday folks alike.
Compact, portable and powerful
Great battery life
Very thin and light
Tablets don’t have to be big and cumbersome, and the rather clumsily named Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is testament to just that. It’s not Sony’s best tablet – that goes to the Z4 further up the page, but it’s super-slim profile, waterproof chassis, bright display and solid line up of specs means it’ll comfortably slip in your bag and won’t baulk at the first sign of rain. However, it’s a little older now, so be warned that it won’t be getting all the Android updates you might hope for.
A perfect all round Android tablet
Great value for money
Stock Android experience
Originally a rather expensive Google-branded tablet, the Nexus 9 has now dropped so much in price it’s the best value tablet out there. There’s a whole load of power, stock Android and a high res screen making it a great all-round tablet at a very affordable price – and it’s still getting the latest Android updates.
Apple’s biggest slate isn’t its best, but it’s not far off
The iPad Pro won’t be for everyone due to the size and cost, but for those it does appeal to (and can afford it) you’re unlikely to find a better tablet for your needs. Whether its graphics, multi-tasking or providing a pseudo-Mac experience when you’re away from the office the iPad Pro is capable of so much. Even the Pencil – hilarious name aside – is an impressive tool for a particular niche. For pro, this is the best tablet out there and more than capable of replacing a laptop.
Lighter, faster, waterproof… a real iPad Air 2 rival
Improved lightweight design
Keyboard dock included
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is the best option for PS4 owners as it allows you to stream games from your console direct to the tablet when you’re in another room of your house. Link up your PS4 controller to the Z4 Tablet and you’ll be gaming in bed, in the kitchen and on the toilet. The included keyboard dock in the box also makes for a great stand.
The best small-screen tablet
Touch ID finger scanner
Building a small form-factor PC no longer requires a huge power sacrifice. In fact, the Fiji-based Sapphire Radeon R9 Nano is short enough to squeeze into the tiniest of mini-ITX cases – compromise be damned. And, for an AMD GPU of yesteryear, it’s pretty efficient too, boasting 4GB of next-gen HBM memory with the same number of texture units and ROPs as the full-size Fury X. Sure, the clock speed is 5% lower, but because the power envelope drops to just 175W, you won’t need a hardy power supply to boot.
A top notch iPad rival
Thinner, lighter design
Rare expandable memory
There are plenty of reasons to invest in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 – especially if you’re after a top Android tablet. This is the best tablet that Samsung has ever produced – it’s both reading and web surfing-friendly, has a sensational Super AMOLED screen, and you can pick it up in 8-inch and 9.7-inch variants. Almost impossibly thin, pumped full of power and with a slicker interface it gives the best iPads a real run for its money.
This is the best Android tablet
Plenty of power
Google’s Pixel C is simply the best Android tablet. It has it all: a fantastic display, heaps of power and a premium design. Plus, for those willing to splash the cash, the keyboard is a great accessory. It’s not quite a laptop replacement, but for those in the market for a premium Android tablet – look no further.
A brilliant tablet that brings power to portability
Pencil and keyboard support
The best tablet you can buy right now is the iPad Pro 9.7 – the smaller screen with powerful innards is the best combination on the market.
While there are plenty of brilliant Android tablets around at the moment, the newest iPad offers a lot of the power of the larger iPad Pro, along with the Smart Keyboard and Pencil support, but brings it in a much more bag-and-palm friendly size. Oh, and those four speakers are just brilliant too!