While there are nowhere near as many tablets to choose from as smartphones, there is still a large number, and a lot of factors to consider.
Do you want iOS, Android or Windows? Do you want it more for productivity or entertainment? Do you want a big screen or small? And how much are you prepared to spend?
Whatever your answers to those questions there’ll be a tablet for you, and your best option is likely one of the ten in this list, which covers every major category.
Among the best tablets you’ll find the flagship iPad Pro 9.7, the classy Pixel C and the powerful Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Read on to find out where they rank, and whether they’re right for you.
The iPad Mini 2 is getting on a bit, but it’s still one of the best compact slates you can buy, and now it’s cheaper than ever, making it the closest thing to a bargain you’ll get from Apple.
With a 7.9-inch screen it’s small by tablet standards, but still far bigger than a phone, and at 1536 x 2048 it’s sharp too, while Apple’s trademark premium build quality is intact, with the Mini 2 wrapped in a slim metal shell.
Apple’s keeping the slate updated, so it’s running the latest version of iOS, and it has full access to the enormous selection of apps and games on the App Store.
The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 isn’t the biggest name in tablets, but it deserves its share of fame, as it’s gunning for the iPad with a premium metal build that’s exceptionally slim at just 7.2mm.
It’s also got the same size and resolution screen as the iPad Pro 9.7, specifically a 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 one, for a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch.
And with a hexa-core processor plus 4GB of RAM there’s no shortage of power, while up to 64GB of built in storage and a microSD card slot for cards of up to 256GB means there’s plenty of space for apps and media too.
The ZenPad 3S 10 has stereo speakers and Hi-Res audio support as well, so it’s a top choice for enjoying movies, games and music on.
For a time, Sony was arguably the biggest name in Android tablets, and probably still would be now if it hadn’t been so long since we’d got a new one.
But the Xperia Z4 Tablet still stands out as a great slate, with a water and dust resistant build and an optional keyboard accessory, so you can use it like a laptop.
This Android slate also has a long-lasting 6000mAh battery, so it’s a good choice if you’re planning to be away from a charger, and there’s a super sharp 10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 display.
The processor, while not brand new anymore, still provides plenty of power too, as it’s a Snapdragon 810 one, which not so long ago was top of the range.
The iPad Air 2 was and is a remarkable slate. In fact, at launch it was hard to fault it, and it’s only due to technology advancing in the last year or so that this isn’t at the top of our list.
It’s slim, stylish and light at just 437g, which is part of the reason for the name, and makes it ideal to just throw in a bag and carry everywhere.
The 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 display is just as sharp as the latest iPad’s, and the battery will last you through a full movie marathon. Plus, there’s plenty of power from Apple’s A8X chipset, and a fingerprint scanner, to keep it secure.
Like Sony, Samsung hasn’t released many tablets lately, but then the Galaxy Tab S2 would be hard to top.
The highlight here is its brilliant 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 display – that’s an iPad size and resolution, but the Tab S2 uses Super AMOLED for far richer colours than Apple’s LCD displays.
The Galaxy Tab S2 is also incredibly slim and light, at just 5.6mm thick and 389g. The processor isn’t quite top-end and the build quality can’t quite match Apple’s (though it’s not far off), but if you want a slim, light tablet with a vibrant screen this is the one to go for.
And if you want something smaller there’s also an 8.0-inch model, with almost exactly the same specs.
The iPad Mini 4 is Apple’s latest compact slate, and it’s also the company’s best. In fact, it’s the best small tablet from any company.
It’s got all the core features you’d expect from an iPad Mini, including a crisp 7.9-inch screen and a premium metal build, but it’s also powerful, thanks to its Apple A8 processor, and it has flagship features like a Touch ID fingerprint scanner.
Plus, of course, it runs iOS 10, giving you access to the best selection of tablet apps and games around.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is almost more of a laptop than a tablet, given that it runs Windows 10, comes with a keyboard and has seriously beefy specs, including up to 16GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7 processor and 1TB of storage. But it is a tablet, with a 12.3-inch 1824 x 2736 touchscreen.
It’s lighter and more portable than most laptops too, and with an option stylus accessory it can be as good for drawing as typing.
This is clearly a slate designed with productivity in mind, whether that’s work or art. But it’s versatile enough to be used for almost anything that a tablet or laptop could feasibly be used for.
The Pixel C is the latest Google-branded slate and it’s a truly premium offering, with an aluminium shell, a slim 7mm thick build and a detachable keyboard.
That last point makes it great for productivity, but it can also be used without the keyboard if you want to keep it light and portable.
And the Google Pixel C has an almost unbeatably sharp screen for a tablet of this size, as there’s a 10.2-inch 1800 x 2560 display with a pixel density of 308 pixels per inch.
It’s also very powerful, thanks to an Nvidia Tegra X1 chip and 3GB of RAM, while up to 64GB of built in storage means there’s plenty of space.
And, being a Google slate, this runs Android as it was intended, with no bloat. It’s on the latest version too – Android 7 Nougat.
The iPad Pro 12.9 is almost as much of a beast as the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, as it has a massive 12.9-inch display and loads of power, including 4GB of RAM – which is twice as much as any other Apple slate.
But it’s also a thing of beauty, with a stylish metal build, and it’s as great for media as productivity, thanks to four stereo speakers.
While no keyboard comes with the slate, there is an optional one that you can buy, as well as an Apple Pencil, all of which makes this the biggest, most versatile and almost best Apple tablet as well as one of the best tablets full stop.
The iPad Pro 9.7 doesn’t have as much RAM as the iPad Pro 12.9, and its screen is smaller, but it’s still very powerful and far more portable.
It also has many of the same features, including stereo speakers and optional keyboard and stylus accessories. Plus, it has a long-lasting battery and a True Tone display, which automatically adjusts the white balance depending on your environment.
It’s the most well-rounded of any Apple slate, and with style and power to spare, plus iOS 10 on board, the iPad Pro 9.7 also beats any Android or Windows tablet.
So there you have it, the ten best tablets money can buy. There’s the affordable and compact iPad Mini 2, and the iPad-challenging Asus ZenPad 3S 10, followed by the water-resistant Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet and the light and powerful iPad Air 2.
Next, there’s the even lighter Galaxy Tab S2, which also has a brilliant screen, and then the iPad Mini 4 – which is the best compact slate around.
In 4th place there’s the powerhouse Surface Pro 4, in 3rd the polished Google Pixel C, in 2nd the massive iPad Pro 12.9 and in first, of course, the iPad Pro 9.7.
And although the iPad Pro 9.7 tops this list, if you’re in the market for a new tablet any one of these could serve you well – just choose the one with the specs and features that most appeal.