10 best tablets 2016
The tablet is now a thing – from the days when nobody considered a laptop without a keyboard to be a good thing to today, where a slate full of more power than some games consoles is nestled in bags across the world.
And with that popularity comes the dreaded notion of choice. Do you eschew Apple’s high prices, join the Android brigade and find the best iPad alternative? Or jump on board Cupertino’s lovetrain, and use one of the most popular tablets on the planet?
We’ve made it easy for you and pulled together the best tablets of the moment available in the UK.
It’s a difficult process divining which place each of these excellent tablets should occupy in our list, so we take into account multiple elements including performance, battery life, screen quality and more.
Price plays a part, as does age: a tablet that’s been replaced by a sequel will tumble down the rankings as you can get all the great features on a better slate.
If none of the best tablets here take your fancy then head on over to our tablet reviews pages, where you’ll find in-depth reviews for many more models.
Let us know your thoughts on the top 10 (and whether you think we’ve got the order wrong) in the comment box below.
1. iPad Air 2
The iPad Air 2 is the best tablet around
Weight: 437g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 9.1 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Triple-core 1.5 GHz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/64/128GB | Battery: 7340mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Sleek Superbly powerful Unbeatable app selection
The best tablet out there right now is the iPad Air 2. It’s a brilliant tablet that has further raised the bar for the rest of the competition in terms of build quality, features and performance. If you’re in two minds what to go for, and budget is not a concern – this the best choice. 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. If you’re looking for the best tablet, this is it.
2. Google Pixel C
This is the best Android tablet
Weight: 517g | Dimensions: 242 x 179 x 7mm | OS: Android Marshmallow| Screen size: 10.2-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1800 | CPU: Tegra X1 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP
Fantastic screen Premium design Plenty of power
Google’s done it – the new Pixel C is the best Android tablet. The Pixel C 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.
3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
A top notch iPad rival
Weight: 256g/389g | Dimensions: 198.6 x 134.8 x 5.6mm/237.3 x 169 x 5.6mm | OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 8.0-inch/9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Octa-core | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 4000mAh/5870mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2.1MP
Thinner, lighter design Rare expandable memory Improved interface
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 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 iPad Air 2 a real run for its money.
4. iPad mini 4
The best small-screen tablet
Weight: 299g | Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 9.1 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Dual-core 1.5 GHz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: 5124mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Brilliant screen Sleek design Touch ID finger scanner
The best 7-inch tablet at the moment is definitely the iPad mini 4. If you like the look of Apple’s iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro, but find them a) too big, b) too expensive or c) both? Well you’re in luck as the diminutive iPad mini 4 gives you the best of Apple’s tablet world in a form factor which is not only beautiful, but highly portable.
5. Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet
Lighter, faster, waterproof… a real iPad Air 2 rival
Weight: 389g | Dimensions: 254 x 167 x 6.1 mm | OS: Android 5.0 | Screen size: 10.1-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: octa-core | RAM: 3GB of RAM | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 6000mAh | Rear camera: 8.1MP | Front camera: 5.1MP
Gorgeous display 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.
6. iPad Pro
Apple’s biggest slate isn’t its best, but it’s not far off
Weight: 713g | Dimensions: 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm | OS: iOS 9.1 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2048 x 2732 | CPU: Dual-core 2.26 GHz| RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB | Battery: 10,307mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Expansive screen Hugely powerful Great speakers
The iPad Pro won’t be for everyone, but for those it does appeal to 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’s, this is the best tablet out there and for some it’s more than capable of replacing a laptop.
7. Nexus 9
A perfect all round Android tablet
Weight: 425g | Dimensions: 228.2 x 153.7 x 8mm | OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 8.9-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Dual-core 2.3 GHz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/32GB | Battery: 6700 mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.6MP
Great value for money Stock Android experience Solid performance
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.
8. Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
Compact, portable and powerful
Weight: 270g | Dimensions: 213.4 x 123.6 x 6.4mm | OS: Android OS, v5.0.2 | Screen size: 8.0-inch | Resolution: 1200 x 1920 | CPU: Quad-core 2.5GHz | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 4500mAh | Rear camera: 8.1MP | Front camera: 2.2MP
Great battery life Very thin and light Waterproof body
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.
9. Microsoft Surface Pro 4
The tablet that can replace your laptop
Weight: 766g/786g | Dimensions: 292.10 x 201.42 x 8.45mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size: 12.3-inch | Resolution: 2,736 x 1,824 | CPU: Various | RAM: 4GB/8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: up to 9 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP
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.
10. Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro
Taking ‘Netflix and chill’ to the next level
Weight: 665g | Dimensions: 246.9 x 179.1 x 4.6mm | OS: Android 5.1.1 | Screen size: 10.1-inch | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600 | CPU: Intel Atom quad-core | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB | Battery: 10,200mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP
Clever integrated projector Great audio for movies Strong battery life
The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro has a pretty special party trick – a built in projector. This makes it the best tablet for those who love a movie or TV marathon away from home – or in a room away from the television. And once the credits roll, you’ve got a powerful Android tablet at your fingertips.
As with today’s best smartphones, applications play a big role on tablets – once you’ve decided which of these tablets is right for you, check out our top app lists so you can get your fill of Temple Run, update your friends on Facebook and read the latest news, all on a bigger screen.
Best tablets upcoming in 2016
If you’re not quite ready to part with your cash, then take a look at the slates which will be coming out this year. A few have launched but we’re waiting for them to come in for review before seeing if they make it into the top 10, while others are based on rumours but we feel confident they will arrive in 2016.
Samsung Galaxy TabPro S
Windows 10 where you’d expect Android to be
Weight: 693g | Dimensions: 290.3 x 198.8 x 6.3mm | OS: Windows 10 | Screen size: 12-inch | Resolution: 2160 x 1440 | CPU: Intel Core M | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB | Battery: up to 10.5 hours | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: 5MP
Sleek design Good use of Windows 10 Poor keyboard Plastic design
The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S was unvieled at the very start of 2016 and boasts a great screen, solid build and Windows 10 – but you can’t buy it just yet. It’s an odd device, but one that works better than we expected it to. The keyboard dock isn’t great, with a cramped mouse and keys which aren’t the easiest to type on – but over all Samsung’s made a solid Windows slate.
Weight: 640g | Dimensions: 278.8 x 194.1 x 6.9mm | OS: Windows 10 | Screen size: 12-inch | Resolution: 2160 x 1440 | CPU: 6th Gen Intel Core m | RAM: 4/8GB | Storage: 128/256/512GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 4430mAh | Rear camera: No | Front camera: 5MP
Solid design Keyboard accessory No MicroSDS card slot Only one USB port
Huawei’s first Windows 10 device is a well-designed 2-in-1 that rivals the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and iPad Pro in places. It’s a promising, yet pricey, first 2-in-1 from the Chinese company, managing to feel fresh despite arriving late to the party.
iPad Air 3
Apple’s next flagship tablet
Apple works a bit like clockwork when it comes to launches, so after the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 we fully expect to see the iPad Air 3 launch in the second half of 2016. What will it bring? Well 3D Touch from the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus is bound to make an appearance, it’ll likely run iOS 10 and it could be even thinner and even lighter while also producing more power and lasting longer. We can’t wait!
Sony Xperia Z6 Tablet
The high-end waterproof tablet
Things have gone a bit pear-shaped in Sony’s camp in 2016. After we expect it to launch either the flagship Xperia Z6 or Xperia Z6 Tablet (or both) at MWC 2016, Sony did neither – instead launching the confusing new X series instead. That’s left the talk of the Xperia Z6 Tablet a little up in the air. Will we ever see this tablet? We’re not sure, but eyes are now on IFA 2016 in Berlin this September.
Tips for Sony: what we want to see on the Sony Xperia Z6 Tablet
iPad Mini 5
Thinner, lighter and even more portable?
The popular iPad mini range has won fans around the world, probably due to the fact it’s the cheapest iPad offering in Apple’s range. While the arrival of the iPad mini 5 in 2016 is likely, there’s a small question mark around whether Apple will bother after criticism for its less than impressive iPad mini 3 update. If it does arrive expect more power with a new processor, iOS 10 on screen and the same premium metal body.
What it needs to beat: iPad mini 4