Lucky enough to be bagging yourself a brand new tablet for Christmas? Or are you hitting the Boxing Day sales in hope of grabbing a bargain? We’ve seen the release of some of the most advanced devices this year, boasting everything from supercharged specs to larger-than-life constructions and there’s more competition than ever. To take the headache out of the hardware, here’s our definitive guide to the best five tablets on the market right now, including which one will suit your style.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 – 9.7”
If you’re a photographer looking for an accompanying tablet, or you just love high quality photo and video content, this is the tablet for you. Just as we saw on the Galaxy Tab S, the updated model features a stunning screen – rich, vibrant colours are offset against deep, inky blacks, making for enhanced visual content. At 264 pixels-per-inch, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2’s screen is as sharp as the Apple iPad Air 2.
If the Apple iPad Air 2 isn’t for you – whether that’s because you’d prefer the 32GB storage for your money, or you’re more a fan of Android – the S2 makes for a compelling alternative. The thinnest tablet yet, Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S2 c+omes in at just 5.6mm thick and weighs 389g, outdoing Apple and Sony’s competition. Interestingly, Samsung have swapped their traditional widescreen (as seen on the original Galaxy Tab S) for a screen which is squarer – not to mention that it comes in at 9.7”. Finished with slick bezels and a metallic edges, this tablet has been purposely directed at challenging the iPad Air.
The Galaxy S2 consistently outperforms its competition in benchmark tests too, proving its the perfect all-rounder, much like the Apple iPad Air 2. Ideal for anybody interested in dealing with high quality images, from photo to video content.
Apple iPad Mini 4
A tablet which improves on its predecessor in almost every way, the Apple iPad Mini 4 is a return to form for Apple, after the iPad Mini 3 failed to impress. Whilst the iPad Mini 3 was a good tablet, it wasn’t the upgrade from the iPad Mini 2 that people were expecting – so true, in fact, that Apple have discontinued the 3rd generation Mini entirely.
Possibly the best quality hardware you can buy in an almost pocked-sized design, the Apple iPad Mini 4 feels just as premium as the rest of Apple’s current range. Down to 299g in weight with extra thickness shaved off, the tablet is thin, light and ultra-portable. It’s easily the best tablet on the market in this size, and it flaunts similar specs to its big brother, the iPad Air 2.
Perfect if you’re after the tablet that does it all, in true Apple fashion – especially if you’re already an iOS fan and like a variety of applications in a particularly portable size.
Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro
Whilst this isn’t the tablet for the everyday commuter that values portability at the heart of their device requirements, the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro is the perfect choice if you’re after an all-in-one entertainment system that promises to impress. We won’t lie – this tablet is pretty heavy, but it’s also one of the most creative in terms of its design. An example is in the tab’s intelligent stand, which is embedded into the casing and offers a variety of viewing angles to choose from.
Android tablet manufacturers generally rely on producing cheap and cheerful tablets, as it’s difficult to create a model that can compete with the lucrative iPad (despite how simple it is for smartphones). This is where the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro is so impressive, as its design and media capabilities are a world away from other Android-based models.
Boasting a 2k screen and impressive battery life (Lenovo claims up to 18 hours worth), this tablet is a must-have if your device needs to run high-definition TV shows and video content.
Sony Xperia Tablet Z4
Persistently achieving exceptionally high ratings in its reviews, the Sony Xperia Tablet Z4 is an impressive tablet that proves itself as the first from Android that genuinely challenges the iPad. Weighing in at an incredible 389g for the WiFi-only model, this super-slim Sony tablet makes the Apple iPad Air 2 feel heavy by comparison. Whilst that’s likely down to the soft-touch plastic casing, you shouldn’t be worried by the lack of metallic hardware as this is one of the most premium looking tablets on the market.
At 299ppi, the stunning screen on the Xperia Z4 boasts higher resolution than both the iPad Air 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2. Razor-sharp images, impeccable colour and impressive brightness levels make this screen nothing short of outstanding. Sony’s ‘Triluminous’ tech aside, the dual front-facing speakers and host of applications (including ‘Remote Play’, which connects the Z4 as a second screen for PS4 gamers), make this tablet exceptional.
At £499 for the 32GB WiFi-only model, this tablet doesn’t come cheap but it’s an excellent tablet that integrates well with lots of tech. Perfect for gamers or music-lovers, who want an immersive sound and video experience.
Google Pixel C
Designed and built exclusively by Google, this tablet is a new venture for the company, as previous Google slates have been made by the likes of ASUS and HTC. This time round, Google took full control over its manufacturing, moulding the device specifically around Android 6.0 Marshmallow. With a 10.2-inch display and premium build, the Google Pixel C has established itself as a true high-end tablet, and it far exceeds the capabilities of the Nexus 9.
With an Anodized aluminium finish and the iconic Chromebook light bar proudly displaying Google’s signature colours, the tablet is clearly high-end, however it’s tech is just as impressive. Whilst we’ve discussed it’s main specifications before, from it’s OS to display and optional keyboard (see here), its the USB-C port that’s worth mentioning here. Enabling you to charge the Pixel C, transfer data to and from it and even charging another device when you’re without a suitable power outlet, this new technology is transformative.
In a slim, compact shell with optional Bluetooth keyboard, powerful battery life and lightning fast performance, this is a solid slate that is perfect for those wanting to replace their traditional desktop with a modern, portable experience.
So, there you have it. That’s our round-up of the top 5 tablets on the market right now. From design-led slates to those with impressive quality visual content, there’s a tablet here for everyone. Whilst we’ll always champion the mighty Apple iPad Mini 4, we’re particular fans of the Sony Xperia Tablet Z4, and the Lenovo Yoga Tab Pro 3 is distinctive in its creative design. Whichever you’re lucky enough to receive this Christmas, you’ll be in for a treat.
Now, you might have noticed that we haven’t included one of Amazon’s line-up of Fire tablets, most notably the Amazon Fire HD 8. Between hidden extras in Amazon’s content and ad-blocking costs, and all-round poor specifications, we couldn’t viably include it as one of the best on the market. It’s not that the tablets are necessarily bad, it’s jut that you can get more for your money with another Android-based model – as seen with some of the impressive options above.
That being said, the 7-inch Amazon Fire is an excellent choice if you have a particularly low budget, or if you’d like to get something suitable for the kids. At just £49, you can’t really go wrong with a slate this cheap.