A good tablet is something that should have a long battery life, a respectable selection of apps and services, and be more than just a screen to watch YouTube videos. Apple has dominated the tablet conversation for years with its iPad line, but it’s not the only company with a tablet that’s worthy of making our top tablets of 2020 list.
Below is a list of 11 tablets, in random order, that are designed to fit specific needs and budgets. Whether you’re looking for a cheap device for your kids or something that can effectively replace a computer, there’s a tablet for everyone.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Active Pro is designed to be used and abused. Its IP68 rating and MIL-STD 810G shock/drop resistant rating mean it will survive in a harsh environment, while still giving you access to its Android interface. It even comes with a ruggedized version of Samsung’s S Pen stylus, allowing you to sketch on construction plans, or take notes out in the field without fear of dropping a delicate tablet.
In 2019, Apple updated the design of its base iPad for the first time in a decade, increasing the display size to 10.2 inches and adding support for its Smart Keyboard Cover. With the optional keyboard, you can use the 7th generation iPad to work through your inbox or write a research paper on a device that’s compact and portable. The latest iPad also supports the Apple Pencil for those who want something to jot notes or sketch on.
Amazon’s Fire tablets run the company’s forked version of Android, complete with Amazon’s services baked right in. The Fire HRD 10 is affordable, faster than ever, and doubles as an Echo, with Alexa awaiting your commands. I’ve been testing one for the past few weeks and have been impressed. The Fire HD 10 is perfect for someone who wants to browse the internet, watch videos, or check email without spending a ton of money.
Samsung’s Tab S6 runs Android, integrates with Samsung’s products and services, and includes an S-Pen in the box. Samsung has an optional keyboard accessory for those who want to get some work done, and with expandable storage, those who want to be entertained on the go can store up to an additional 512GB of movies and music.
The Surface Go 2 was a welcomed update to Microsoft’s smallest and most portable 2-in-1 for Windows fans. It uses the same design as the original Go, and will even work with all of the original accessories, including the Type Cover keyboard.
The Go 2 faster internals that provides a better overall experience and performance, but you’ll still want to skip the entry-level model. The combination of slower storage and a slower processor isn’t going to be an enjoyable experience.
The tablet runs Windows 10 in S Mode and limits you to installing apps from only the Microsoft Store, along with a few other security features. But you can opt for the full Windows 10 experience be leaving S Mode and never looking back.
Apple just announced the 2020 iPad Pro, and on the outside, it looks nearly identical to the 2018 model. There’s a new camera array on the iPad Pro line that features a LiDAR sensor to improve augmented reality. On the inside, there’s a new, faster processor that speeds up performance across the board. For someone who wants to push the limits of what an iPad can do, the 2020 iPad Pro is the only choice. With a unique design, USB-C for charging and connecting external storage (as well as up to a 4K monitor), the iPad Pro is as good as it gets when it comes to a tablet. There’s an 11-inch model along with a 12.9-inch model for those who want more space to get more work done.
For someone who needs a really inexpensive tablet to entertain kids or something to keep in the kitchen for quick recipe references, the Fire 7 will get the job done. Don’t expect it to be blazing fast, but it will undoubtedly work for routine tasks or even basic gaming. You can also use Alexa hands-free with the Fire 7, meaning it can double as a makeshift Amazon Echo device. And for $50, it’s pretty attractive.
The Surface Pro X is the like aforementioned Surface Go, only bigger and more powerful. It runs full Windows 10 out of the box but is limited to 32-bit apps. That means unless you rely on CAD software, and some select third-party apps, you won’t have any issues using the Pro X. It has built-in LTE connectivity, a 13-inch display, and is just 7.3mm thin. There’s even a special compartment in the optional keyboard to hide the Surface Pen — it’s pretty cool
The iPad Air is a tablet that straddles the line between the base model iPad and the iPad Pro. It has a 10.5-inch display, along with Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil support. It’s also priced between the two tablets, with the specifications to match. The Air is perfect for someone who wants to push the limits of what the base iPad can do but feels the iPad Pro is overkill.
Amazon’s Fire HD 8 and HD 8 Plus have a new design, a faster processor, and have retained their budget-friendly prices. The HD 8 is the most affordable at $90, but for $110, you go from 2GB of memory to 3GB, and gain wireless charging. There’s even an optional wireless charging stand you can buy that charges the HD 8 Plus while simultaneously turning it into what amounts to be an Echo Show.
You’ll have access to Amazon’s Appstore of apps, all of Android’s apps and services like Prime Video, Kindle, and Music. It’s a heck of a lot of tablet for very little money.
The Surface Pro 7 is a full-fledged 2-in-1 that’s powered by an Intel processor and runs Windows 10 just like any other PC. It includes USB-C and USB-A ports to connect any type of accessory to it and has a battery life of around 10.5 hours. For someone who wants a full-fledge PC in a tablet form factor, it’s hard to beat the Surface Pro 7.
The iPad Mini is the smallest version of the iPad that Apple offers, and for a few update cycles, it felt like it had been forgotten. Earlier this year Apple updated the Mini, adding Apple Pencil support and upgrading its internals. The Mini doesn’t work with Apple’s keyboard cover, but to be honest, that’d feel pretty cramped. But with Pencil support, it does make for a good note or sketchpad.
Samsung took the Galaxy Tab S6, removed a few features and lowered the price, and the end result is the Tab S6 Lite. It’s not the fastest or most capable tablet you can buy, but it’s still a respectable tablet — especially when you factor in that it includes Samsung’s S Pen stylus.