Top tablets for 2021
Such is the dominance of Apple’s iPad you’d be forgiven for thinking this is the safest choice in the tablets market.
However, there are plenty of competitors, and with them come a wider range of prices, sizes and styles than Apple has to offer, and no shortage of quality. In this guide we take you through the best iPad alternatives that run Windows, Android and Amazon Fire OS.
While the iPad range is limited to just four current-generation devices, two of which cost over £500, in the world of tablets as a whole there are dozens of choices.
One of the biggest reasons you’ll want to pick something that isn’t an iPad is simply price, so we’ve made sure to include plenty of budget options. We’ve also looked at Windows tablets that can double up as laptops, so you only need one device for all your work and play needs.
Why choose an iPad alternative?
There are three main alternatives to iPads, which run different operating systems:
- Android: This has the biggest variety of devices, but they vary wildly in quality.
- Windows: Runs on most of the world’s laptops, and feels very similar on a tablet. Works best with a keyboard.
- FireOS: A special version of Android made by Amazon for its own-brand tablets. Simple to use and best if you’re just looking to consume content and not much else.
Best Android tablets
Below we round up some of the best Android tablets we’ve tested - and you don’t need to spend the earth for a high-scoring model, they cost from around £100.
Best Windows tablets
Windows tablets tend to be more expensive than Android, because they typically perform more like laptops than tablets. Indeed, almost all Windows 10 tablets are designed to slot into a keyboard dock.
Best Fire tablets
Amazon Fire tablets come in at a much lower price than most of their rivals. They’re cheap and sometimes cheerful, and while they’re never offer the pinnacle in speed, they’re designed for consuming content and not for doing work.
How much should I pay for a tablet?
As the chart below suggests, the very best tablets cost £400 or more. But if you look at the cheaper end of the scale, you’ll see a dense grouping of models that cost less than £200 that all score somewhere in the 60s and 70s, making them perfectly reasonable buys. Windows tablets have lots of other features and it costs a lot more to find one that does well in every area.
Tablet review score vs price
So if you have a tight budget, it’s worth considering that not all cheap tablets are created equal. Our lab test experts look at every detail of each tablet they test to find out which stand out from the crowd, plus we don’t take price into account, so it’s not uncommon to find a tablet that performs equally as well as one that’s half the cost or less.