Don't know the difference between an iPad and a Samsung? Use this tablet buying guide to guide you toward the perfect device.
If you’re shopping for a new tablet, you have to ask yourself more than, "What is the best tablet to buy?" Finding the right device is abouting find the right device for you, determining how you'll be using it and which specs matter most. To help pick the right model for your needs, use this tablet buying guide, which zeroes in on five great tablets for you to consider:
Arguably the most-popular type of tablet is Apple’s iPad. Sleekly designed with impressive camera and video specs, the iPad has been called a “top-notch consumer tablet” by CNet in 2018, while Wirecutter flatly declared “the iPad is the best tablet.” That said, there are a few different types of iPads, briefly:
iPad: Any iPad with a name like “iPad 4” or “iPad 6” is the standard iPad, which has a 9.7-inch screen. Apple is currently making 6th generation iPads, but you can find used or refurbished older-generation iPads, which can be excellent tablets at a budget price.
iPad Pro: These are typically larger iPads (up to 12.9-inches), with a better video camera (4k vs. 1080k on the 6th generation iPad), a USB-C connector, and other improved specs.
iPad Air: The iPad Air at one point replaced the 4th generation iPad as Apple’s entry-level 9.7-inch tablet; while Apple no longer makes the iPad Air, you might see refurbished or used devices for sale.
iPad Mini: As the name implies, the iPad Mini’s main difference is that it’s smaller than the standard iPad, with a 7.9-inch screen.
Great for: Anyone who wants compatibility with other iOS products; anyone searching for excellent video and camera capabilities.
Introduced a few months after the iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab has been updated and improved over several models.. While the current model is called the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, you might see refurbished versions the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 (introduced in 2014), the Tab A, or the Tab E.
One of the top Android tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is considered a good all-purpose option at a reasonable price. For instance, CNet called the Tab A a “solid budget tablet that excels in giving you the most bang for your buck.” Features vary from model to model: some (like the Tab 4) come with an HD touch screen; others (like the Tab A) come with a quad-core or octa-core processor to run your apps smoothly. These come in a variety of sizes, from 7-inches up to 10.1-inches.
Great for: Anyone who primarily wants to use their tablet to watch TV, movies, or YouTube; anyone looking for a quality Android-based tablet without breaking the bank.
Introduced in 2012, Microsoft Surface tablets offer “hybrid” options. The term “hybrids” means they can be used as both tablets or as laptops. (These might also be called “2-and-1 PCs.”) As hybrids, Microsoft Surface tablets have either a detachable keyboard, or a keyboard that can be folded back behind the screen. While there are six types of Microsoft Surface devices, to simplify for your search, we’ll focus on just three:
Surface: These are the entry-level Microsoft tablet hybrids, a 2-in-1 detachable designed to go head-to-head with the iPad. Screen size is around 10.8 inches. Some can support the “Surface Pen” stylus.
Surface Go: The Surface Go was introduced in 2018 and is a little bit smaller (10-inch screen) than the standard Surface. TechRadar in its review said “it’s tough to beat this gorgeous machine” and that “Microsoft knocked it out of the park.”
Surface Pro: Usually a cut above the entry-level Surface, the Surface Pro is a detachable 2-in-1 with higher resolution, a bigger screen (either 12 or 12.3-inches), a faster processor, and more storage capacity.
Great for: Anyone who’s most comfortable using Microsoft 10; anyone looking for a productive tablet for work, anyone also looking to buy a laptop.
Marketed in tandem with the LG G series of smartphones, LG G Pads are a series of Android-based tablets that come in four basic sizes: 7-inch, 8-inch, 8.3-inch, and 10.1-inch. These boast LCD screen and at least 1 GB of memory. In its review of the LG G Pad III 8.0, TechAeris noted its excellent battery life, sustaining for up to 10 hours
Great for: Anyone who has an LG G series smartphone and likes it; anyone who values longer battery life.
If you’re wondering, “what is the best tablet to buy for my child to use,” you might consider a Lenovo Tab. Offering some of the most affordable tablets out there, Lenovo’s Tab series is designed to be easy-to-use and kid-friendly. These Android tablets typically come in either 7-inch or 10.1-inch displays, and some come with parental tools to block inappropriate content from kids.
Great for: Anyone looking for a budget tablet, or anyone looking for a “beginner” tablet that’s easy to use, anyone looking for something their kids will enjoy (without splurging)