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Updated: 20 May 2022

Tablets and iPads: which brands offer the best security support?

Check how long a new tablet will stay secure with our free tool, and find out what to do if you're at risk.
Martin Pratt
Someone using a tablet, putting password into tablet

Our research has discovered that some tablet manufacturers support their devices for as little as two years.

Tablets are computers. And, just like computers, they're vulnerable to security attacksThat's why tablet manufacturers roll out regular software updates to improve your tablet's security and give it the best chance of fending off viruses, malware and spyware.

How long each tablet is supported for varies significantly, depending on the manufacturer. 

In this guide you can use our free tool to see how long your tablet, or one you want to buy, will receive security updates. Plus, you can follow our expert advice to help mitigate any risks.

Android, iPad, Windows, Amazon: there's no shortage of tablet brands to choose from before you even consider what size and spec you want. Use our guide on the best tablets to make sure you don't overpay for more features than you need.

Which? tablet security tool

To help you find out if a tablet you own is supported, and to give you an idea of how long a tablet you’re looking to buy will still receive security updates, use our tablet security tool, below.

If you find that a tablet you own is no longer supported, you should consider replacing it when you can. Use our tablet reviews to help you find the right model for your budget.

Enter the name of a tablet you’re interested in to filter the results:

We regularly update this tool as new tablets are released and older models lose support.

Keep reading for more information about typical update policies for different tablet brands. 

Amazon Fire tablets and security updates

  • Typical support duration At least four years after the tablet is last available on Amazon
  • Popular tablets no longer supported Kindle Fire 8 6th gen (2016), Kindle Fire 10 5th gen (2015)

Amazon runs its security updates programme based on the date a tablet was last on sale on its website. Fire tablets are typically refreshed yearly and Amazon discontinues the previous model, which means that an older model still on sale has at least four years support remaining at this point.

There’s a good second-hand market for these devices, and they’re popular options for kids due to their low cost. So bear the age of the product in mind before you buy.

Find out which Amazon tablets are worth buying – see our expert Amazon tablet reviews.

Apple iPad support periods

  • Typical support duration Five to seven years
  • Popular tablets no longer supported iPad 4 with Retina Display (2012), iPad Mini 3 (2014), iPad Air 1 (2013)

Apple supports its iPad tablets for at least five years from launch, which is one of the longest support periods and in line with its iPhones.

It means iPads are a solid option if you're after a second-hand or refurbished tablet.

Check our iPad reviews to see if the standard, Mini or Pro iPads are right for you.

Lenovo tablet support periods

  • Typical support duration Two to years

The situation is a bit more complicated with Lenovo. While it does have a security update page, very few models are listed. Based on what’s there, we can estimate two to three years' worth of support is about typical for a Lenovo tablet. This means they don’t tend to have long lifespans.

Lenovo tablets can be fairly cheap, but there are plenty of expensive, high-end ones too, and you'd expect to be able to use them safely for more than three years. You should be particularly wary if you’re shopping for a second-hand or refurbished Lenovo tablets, so check our tablet security calculator before you buy.

Lenovo has one of the widest ranges of tablets, with models catering to different budgets and needs. Use our Lenovo tablet reviews to see if you'd be better off with a basic seven-inch model or an advanced laptop replacement.

Microsoft tablet support periods

  • Typical support duration Four years 
  • Popular tablets no longer supported Surface Pro (2013), Surface Pro 2 (2013)

Surface tablets get four years of software support from launch and sometimes more. Four years is the minimum, though, and Microsoft's support website does say it could support Surface tablets for longer. In these instances it will specify when the last update point will be, so you'll know exactly when your tablet will stop getting them.

Microsoft makes powerful, versatile tablets that are viable alternatives to laptops. Check our Microsoft tablet reviews to see which one will best suit your needs. 

Samsung tablet support periods

  • Typical support duration Four years for models since 2019
  • Popular tablets no longer supported Galaxy Tab S3 (2017), Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2016), Galaxy Tab E 8.0 (2016)

Samsung has a bit of a mixed history in offering consistent security update policies, but this changed recently when it announced it will be offering at least four years of updates for Galaxy products released since 2019. 

That means you’ve got peace of mind when buying a newer model. However, if you’ve been hanging on to an old Samsung tablet for a while, you could still be using an unsupported device.

Samsung is one of the biggest tablet brands. Its tablets range from low-end small-screen models to high-end iPad Pro alternatives. Check our Samsung tablet reviews to see which type of tablet is best for you.

What to do if your tablet is no longer supported

If our tool tells you a tablet you own is no longer supported, you may not be in any immediate danger, but you should consider buying a new one when you can. Check our tablet reviews – where you can find a good tablet for a little over £50. 

In the meantime, follow the tips below to mitigate any risks. All of these are simply good practice for using a tablet. So even if your model is currently supported, they're useful to bear in mind.

Avoid apps from unofficial app stores

Most of the apps that end up on a tablet are from the official app stores – that's the Google Play store for Android tablets, the Apple App Store for iPads, and Amazon Fire tablets have their own app stores, too. You should avoid downloading apps from anywhere else.

There has been a history of some apps needing to be added in different ways that require downloading something from a browser and circumventing the app store to get them working. There's a reason the app store exists, though. Manufacturers responsible for these enormous catalogues of apps verify the ones that appear on them, so they shouldn't be stuffed with nefarious software intending harm to your tablet.

If you're thinking of downloading from somewhere other than the official app store of your device, you should carefully consider whether it's worth it. If it's a free version of an app, it's likely to be dodgy. Plus, there are many copycat apps ready to stuff your tablet with viruses or ads, which look identical to ones on the app store. 

We'd strongly recommend you don't download these apps, particularly if your tablet isn't getting security updates.

How to spot a dodgy app on the app store

The dedicated app stores get rid of the majority of dodgy apps, but some slip through the net. They often don't stick around for long as Apple and Google get their acts together and take them off, but there's still a window of time when they can be downloaded.

It's not always easy to see which apps you should avoid, but they often take the form of accessories or customisation tools, such as wallpapers, video or photo editors, file managers, games and tools like a QR reader or torch.

When choosing an app, look for one that has plenty of reviews and has been on the app store for a while.

Keep track of app permissions

Whenever you download an app it will ask for a range of permissions, not all of which make sense. Don't download it if you don't feel comfortable giving an app permission to access a specific part of your tablet. You'll sometimes be able to refuse some permissions and still use the app. 

Here's some information on each permission:

  • GPS Some apps, such as Google Maps, need to know your location in order for them to work properly. If you take your tablet out with you, having an app knowing where you are at all times is a big deal. Some apps will give you the option to only have access to your location when you're using them.
  • Calendar The app will be able to access your calendar and add things to it. Sometimes flight apps will add flight times to your calendar or an app may add gig or theatre times. Calendars are fundamentally private, so don't give an app access to all your personal appointments unless you're sure it needs it.
  • Microphone If an app accesses your microphone, it can listen to you at all times. If you can't see any reason why an app should need to use your microphone, then don't use it.
  • Photo/Media/Files Any app where you can upload files would need access to this – a photo editor, for example. But only download it if you think an app should need access to your private files.

Giving an app access to something might seem harmless, but once an app has its greedy mitts on your permissions it can use them just like you can. A dodgy app with access to your personal files, microphone and location can use anything it finds to make money from you. For example, subscribing to premium-rate app services, maliciously deleting your pictures, or stopping your device from working altogether.

Do I need antivirus for a tablet?

If your tablet isn't getting security updates, we would strongly recommend getting an antivirus app.

Otherwise it's not a bad idea to have some extra software safeguarding your tablet, but that shouldn't make you complacent either. The best way to avoid malware is to follow the advice we've outlined in this guide.

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How much should you spend on an antivirus app?

There are plenty of free antivirus apps available, or you can pay upwards of £20. We've picked out a few popular apps from recognisable companies.

They are available for free or you can pay for extra features.

  • Avast does regular scans to find threats and vulnerabilities. It protects against malicious apps and infected links.
  • Bitdefender automatically scans any apps you install, and you can also run scans from your phone to find malware.
  • McAfee gives you a 'media vault' to keep your pictures private, and its threat-scanning detects unsecured wi-fi hotspots. 

Read more about antivirus software, and why it's important, in our guide to mobile antivirus software.