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Home / Features / Best premium tablet: top-grade slates for work and play

Best premium tablet: top-grade slates for work and play

From compact slates to powerhouse devices, our buying guide features the best premium tablet you can buy right now

Best tablet computer

It’s rare that today’s tech takes it back to Roman times. Yet here we are, once again using styli to scrawl on tablets. Admittedly, with pixels where wax once was, today’s slates are a little different to the ones Ceasar used at school. And if you’re shopping for a premium tablet in, this is the list you need.

Whether you’re tallying the day’s takings, sketching a portrait of your paterfamilias or kicking back a few of Virgil’s verses, the top contemporary tablets offer an experience far superior to any ancient slab.

From compact slates you can take almost anywhere, to powerhouse devices that rival the latest laptops for performance, the buying guide below features our pick of the top tablets you can buy right now. We’ve covered top-spec options for ultimate productivity, plus a few budget options for easy entertainment – because gold coins can be hard to come by.

Apple iPad Air (5th generation, 2022)

Best tablet: iPad 2022

At a glance, Apple’s latest iPad Air looks identical to its predecessor. That’s no bad thing: you get a sleek, well-built tablet, fronted by a bright 10.9in screen. The display doesn’t benefit from ProMotion smarts, but it does borrow a few other bits from the iPad Pro – chiefly its beefy M1 processor.

For a tablet at this price point, that superlative silicon is a welcome surprise. Paired with 8GB of RAM, you won’t want for power – whether you’re editing designs, setting high-scores or attacking admin. iPadOS still stops short of being a genuine desktop alternative, but pair the iPad Air with an Apple Pencil or Magic Keyboard and it will instantly boost your productivity.

The rear camera is nothing new, but the front-facing lens now benefits from Apple’s Centre Stage smarts, to keep your lovely mug in the middle of the frame. 5G is an option, while USB-C and Wi-Fi 6 ship as standard. More storage would be nice, but its rich software ecosystem means the iPad Air is a top-notch tablet for most people.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

Smart, sleek and slick to use, Apple’s latest slate blazes a trail thanks to powerful M1 silicon inside


Display: 10.9in 2360×1640 LED IPS ● Processor: Apple M1 • RAM: 8GB ● Storage: 64/256GB • Cameras: 12MP (rear), 12MP (front) • Battery: 10 hours • Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, Lightning • Software: iPadOS 15 • Dimensions: 247.6×178.5×6.1mm • Weight: 462g

Apple iPad (9th generation, 2021)

Best tablet: iPad 2021

Apple’s entry-level tablet remains one of the best everyday slates you can buy. With a design that harks back to the iPad 5, it’s not here to innovate: its aluminium shell might seem timeless enough, but the home button and bezels around the 10.2in display are visible reminders of its heritage status.

That said, the 9th generation introduces enough new features to make it a compelling proposition. The A13 chip inside is a good compromise between price and performance, while storage options now start at a more spacious 64GB.

Visually, the addition of True Tone means reactive display adjustments, while Centre Stage smarts ape more expensive iPad hardware by keeping your face automatically framed on video calls. Add a 10-hour battery life and support for the first-gen Apple Pencil and, while it’s not going to set your world on fire, the entry-level iPad does more than enough for most people.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

Dated design aside, power, display and front camera enhancements mean Apple’s entry-level tablet offers outstanding bang for buck


Display: 10.2in 2160×1620 LED IPS ● Processor: Apple A13 Bionic • RAM: 3GB ● Storage: 64/256GB • Cameras: 8MP (rear), 12MP (front) • Battery: 10 hours • Connectivity: 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, Lightning, 3.5mm • Software: iPadOS 15 • Dimensions: 250.6×174.1×7.5mm • Weight: 498g

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

From its size to its power, Samsung’s top-spec tablet does nothing by half. For starters, its AMOLED display measures a massive 14.6in, making it easily the largest slate in this list. It can also be configured with up to 16GB of RAM, ships with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 silicon inside and packs a battery good for 14 hours.

Despite its expansive screen, the Tab S8 Ultra is a surprisingly slender slice of hardware. But don’t let the slim chassis fool you: at 728g, it’s still a robust bit of kit. Brightness can’t match the iPad Pro, but the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra’s AMOLED panel delivers mesmerising depth. The speakers are impressively potent, while a 90% screen-to-body ratio only adds to the immersion.

There’s no escaping that the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra fills a pretty narrow niche – and Android still doesn’t offer the same tablet optimisation as iPadOS. But with a low-latency S Pen in the box and support for a full desktop interface via DeX, this gigantic tablet is perfect for Android power users.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

With a massive screen, solid speakers and power to spare, Samsung’s top-end Tab is the best Android slate you can buy – if your budget stretches


Display: 14.6in 2960×1848 AMOLED ● Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 • RAM: 8/12/16GB ● Storage: 128/256/512GB (expandable) • Cameras: 13+6MP (rear), 12+12MP (front) • Battery: 14 hours • Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, USB-C • Software: Android 12 • Dimensions: 208.6×326.4×5.5mm • Weight: 728g

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)

On paper, the latest iPad Pro echoes previous generations. But a closer look reveals key tweaks. Chief among them is a mini-LED display. It’s still a 12.9in panel with True Tone and ProMotion magic – but it now also benefits from 1000 nits full-screen brightness, peaking at 1600 nits for gorgeous HDR.

Stuffing an M1 chip inside an iPad seems like overkill, but the result for power users is an Apple tablet that never stumbles. Whether editing videos or playing console grade-games, performance is properly impressive. What’s more, the upgrade doesn’t seem to compromise battery life.

The other major change is the front-facing camera, now a 12MP ultra-wide with a 122-degree field of view. The refreshed sensor also benefits from Centre Stage smarts, which intelligently track your face during calls.

The iPad Pro is still a one-port wonder, but the connector now supports Thunderbolt and USB 4 for speedier connectivity with peripherals. If you’re invested in the Apple ecosystem, content with the limitations of iPadOS and happy to shell out serious cash, there’s no better iPad.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

An M1 chip and revamped display make Apple’s flagship tablet even more powerful. This is the top tab around – with a price tag to match


Display: 12.9in 2732×2048 mini-LED ● Processor: Apple M1 • RAM: 8/16GB ● Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB • Cameras: 12MP (rear), 12MP (front) • Battery: 10 hours • Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C • Software: iPadOS 15 • Dimensions: 280.6×214.9×6.4mm • Weight: 685g

Apple iPad Mini (6th generation, 2021)

Styled like an iPad Air that’s shrunk in the wash, the revamped iPad Mini is all screen and all the better for it. A vibrant canvas surrounded by a slim black bezel, it looks great and feels premium. Light at 300g, its smaller-than-A5 dimensions make it a good fit for any satchel.

Despite its dinkier dimensions, you still get a full iPad experience with few compromises. The 8.3in screen doesn’t support 120Hz ProMotion, but it is sharper than any other iPad display at 326ppi. Besides the design, the Mini apes the Air in other ways: True Tone tech, Touch ID in the power button, USB-C connectivity and a 12MP front-facing camera with Centre Stage.

Its 14:9 aspect ratio does mean some apps don’t fill the entire display, but the iPadOS ecosystem otherwise delivers the slick software experience we’ve come to know and love – especially when you use it with Apple’s second-gen Pencil. If you’re shopping for a capable and attractive tablet that’s easier to tote, the 6th-gen iPad Mini should sit top of your list.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

Apple’s refreshed Mini remains a perfectly portable slate. If you have the eyes for its small but sharp display, it’s the compact tablet to beat


Display: 8.3in 2266×1488 LED IPS ● Processor: Apple A15 Bionic • RAM: 4GB ● Storage: 64/256GB • Cameras: 12MP (rear), 12MP (front) • Battery: 10 hours • Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C • Software: iPadOS 15 • Dimensions: 195.4×134.8×6.3mm • Weight: 297g

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus

Dependable without drawing attention, Amazon’s Fire tablets are decent slates with accessible price tags. The Fire HD 10 Plus is no exception, with styling that’s straightforward yet sturdy. Yes, the bezels are chunky and, yes, the buttons could be better placed, but it’s fundamentally a well-built device.

The 10.1in Full HD display isn’t the sharpest out there, but it’s absolutely fine for browsing and streaming on a daily basis. So is the performance: with a quad-core chip and 4GB of RAM, it’s not immune to stutters, but most games are perfectly playable. Battery life is likewise solid at an achievable 12 hours.

Alexa’s on-board, of course, but her real party trick happens when you drop the Fire HD 10 Plus on the optional charging dock: the slate transforms into an Echo Show. Less impressive is the lack of native Google Play Store support, although it only takes five minutes of tinkering to install it yourself. The OS is predictably Amazon-heavy, but the Fire HD 10 Plus is still a lot of tablet for the cash.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆

With a sharp display, punchy speakers and Alexa smarts built in, Amazon’s affordable slate offers a lot for the price – but it takes some tinkering to unlock Google’s Play Store


Display: 10.1in 1920×1200 LCD ● Processor: Mediatek octa-core • RAM: 4GB ● Storage: 32/64GB (expandable) • Cameras: 5MP (rear), 2MP (front) • Battery: 10 hours • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C • Software: Fire OS 7 (Android 9) • Dimensions: 247x166x9.2mm • Weight: 468g

Huawei Matebook E

A laptop disguised as a tablet, the Matebook E is Huawei’s strongest take on a Windows 11 slate. Relatively slender at 7.9mm, it’s also solid at 709g. Styled like an all-screen Android tablet, there’s minimal flourish to the shell itself – which only makes the sizeable 12.6in OLED display pop even more.

The Matebook E’s potential becomes quickly apparent when you pair with a keyboard dock and monitor. With the option to spec it with an Intel Core i7 chip and up to 16GB of RAM, this tablet can be every bit the modern workhorse. With four solid speakers complementing the vibrant screen, it also serves as an excellent entertainment slate.

Other tablets offer better gaming performance for the price, while battery life suffers due to the added demands of Windows 11. Then again, 65W charging means the Matebook E can power up in minutes, while the full-fat interface has fewer limitations than tablet-specific software. Thunderbolt 4 connectivity also unlocks high-speed data transfers and support for a range of peripherals.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆

Offering laptop power in a compact tablet body, this is Huawei’s best slate to date – and one of the top Windows tablets for those who value portability above all else


Display: 12.6in 2560×1600 OLED ● Processor: Intel Core i3/i5/i7 • RAM: 8/16GB ● Storage: 128/256/512GB • Cameras: 13MP (rear), 8MP (front) • Battery: 10 hours • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, USB-C, Thunderbolt 4, 3.5mm • Software: Windows 11 Home • Dimensions: 306x215x146mm • Weight: 709g

Microsoft Surface Pro 8

It’s taken eight generations, but Microsoft has finally made a Surface Pro that’s properly fun. A convincing laptop-tablet hybrid, the addition of Intel XE graphics makes the Surface Pro 8 feel like a mini games machine. It’s almost unreasonably powerful for its size: aided by liberal use of upscaling smarts, it can run demanding titles at respectable settings and frame rates.

Despite being smaller than most laptops, the Surface Pro 8 sounds a lot better. It looks good, too: the 12.3in panel is LCD rather than OLED, but it’s sharp, bright and fluid, thanks to refresh rates which top out at 120Hz. Like a laptop, the bezels are wider on the long edges, but Microsoft’s used this to squeeze in a semi-decent 5MP webcam.

The only major stumbling block is battery life: it’s just OK. With the screen set to 120Hz, it conked out before five hours of video streaming. Dropped to 60Hz, it managed seven – still a long way short of Microsoft’s claimed 16. So the Surface Pro 8 isn’t the best choice if you want a laptop/tablet that can reliable last for a full day, but that’s the price you pay for serious power in a streamlined shell.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆

Top specs might cost a lot, but with meaningful hardware improvements and a major gaming boost, this is the best Windows hybrid tablet to date


Display: 13in 2880×1920 LCD ● Processor: Intel Core i3/i5/i7 • RAM: 8/16GB ● Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB • Cameras: 10MP (rear), 5MP (front) • Battery: 16 hours • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, USB-C, Thunderbolt 4, 3.5mm, Surface Connect • Software: Windows 11 Pro/10 Pro • Dimensions: 287x208x9.3mm • Weight: 891g

Amazon Fire HD 8

A bona fide bargain, the Amazon Fire HD 8 is the best cheap tablet you can buy. It’s capable enough to tackle everyday tasks, offering solid battery life, impressive speakers and reassuring build quality – all tied together with Alexa’s assistance.

There are caveats, of course: screen quality is average, performance mediocre and there’s no longer support for the Charging Dock. If you want an affordable tablet that doubles up as an Echo Show, you’ll need to shell out £20 more for the HD 8 Plus (plus another £40 for the dock).

All the same, the Fire HD 8 remains an excellent deal for Prime members. Stump up for a subscription and you’ll unlock access to a vast catalogue of streaming content, transforming the Fire HD 8 into a portable entertainment hub. If you don’t, you’ll probably be disappointed by its restrictive Amazon interface and limited selection of apps and games.

Stuff says: ★★★★☆

A solid all-rounder at a bargain price, Amazon’s updated Fire HD 8 is the best tablet you can buy for less than £100 – but you’ll need Prime to make the most of it


Display: 8in 1280×800 LCD ● Processor: Mediatek quad-core • RAM: 2GB ● Storage: 32/64GB (expandable) • Cameras: 2MP (rear), 2MP (front) • Battery: 12 hours • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C • Software: Fire OS 7 (Android 9) • Dimensions: 202x137x9.7mm • Weight: 355g

Microsoft Surface Go 3

Want an iPad alternative that works with proper desktop software? In theory, Microsoft’s Surface Go 3 does exactly that. As a reasonably affordable tablet that can run – or try to run – any Windows app, the concept is certainly appealing. But it comes with compromises.

Visually, the Surface Go 3 is inoffensively practical: it’s a slim and light alloy slate with an nifty integrated kickstand. Paired with a Microsoft Type Cover, you get a surprisingly solid, if slightly shrunken typing experience. A 10.5in display fills the front, with relatively thick bezels surrounding it. The panel is sharp, bright and colourful enough, if not as strong as the iPad Pro on any count.

It’s a similar story when it comes to the hardware inside. The Surface Go 3 is fine for everyday tasks, but its dated Intel silicon is designed for efficiency, rather than outright performance. So when it comes to gaming or demanding apps, it’s comfortably outgunned by the iPad Pro. It has a smaller battery, too. There’s still a lot to like about the Surface Go 3 as a package, it’s just begging for more power – or a lower price.

Stuff says: ★★★☆☆

An entry-level slate in a business suit, Microsoft’s practical, portable tablet can run full-fat Windows apps – but would benefit from more grunt under the hood


Display: 10.5in 1920×1280 LCD ● Processor: Intel Core i3 • RAM: 4/8GB ● Storage: 64/128/256GB (expandable) • Cameras: 8MP (rear), 5MP (front) • Battery: 11 hours • Connectivity: 4G (optional), Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, 3.5mm, Surface Connect • Software: Windows 11 Pro/10 Pro • Dimensions: 245x175x8mm • Weight: 544g

Profile image of Chris Rowlands Chris Rowlands Freelance contributor


Formerly News Editor at this fine institution, Chris now writes about tech from his tropical office. Sidetracked by sustainable stuff, he’s also keen on coffee kit, classic cars and any gear that gets better with age.

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