Like many other tech products in 2020, tablets have seen a resurgence and demand's been going through the roof. With Apple at its head, shipments reached their highest levels in years—up 54% year over year.

Not only are tablets more powerful today, but the displays are better, and we can enjoy features on mainstream models previously reserved for more expensive flagships. Whether you need a new tablet for work or study, content consumption, web browsing, or for your kids, this buying guide has got you covered. From high-end to budget, iOS or Android, here are our picks of the best tablets.

The Best Tablet for Most People

Apple iPad 10.2"- Late 2020

Great | Differentiating Features
Unbeatable combination of price, performance, and features.

Good | Most Have It
A12 Bionic is a noticeable upgrade over predecessor's A10 SoC.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Bezels remain chunky. Lacks the power of Air and Pro models.

The Apple iPad comfortably retains the tablet crown, despite the vast improvements made by Android- and Windows-based tablets over the last few years. While several options are available at various price points, the $329 iPad is our pick as the best for most people.

This 8th generation iPad has minor differences over the 2019 model, but it's definitely worth the money if you're upgrading from an older iPad. The two tablets are nearly identical, the biggest changes are the newer version's slightly lighter weight and the upgrade to the faster Apple A12 Bionic SoC. It also has the same MSRP: $329 for 32GB and $429 for 128GB.

The fantastic 2160 x 1620 Retina display remains, offering 500 nits of brightness and the same 264 PPI as the iPad Pros. It does lack the 120Hz refresh rate of the more expensive models, but the iPad is colorful, crisp, and great for content consumption of all types. The stereo speakers at the bottom offer good audio output and there's also a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The upgrade to Apple's 7nm A12 Bionic SoC offers improved CPU and GPU performance compared to the 10nm A10 Fusion in the iPad 2019. It's not the state-of-the-art A14 Bionic found in the iPad Air and iPhone 12 series, but there's plenty of power here with good efficiency.

Elsewhere, the 8MP rear/1.2MP selfie cams and 10-hour battery are unchanged; there's support for the first-gen Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard Folio case. It comes with Touch ID, it hasn't upgraded to USB-C from the Lightning port like its siblings, and a 20W charger is included. You also get iPadOS -- the most complete tablet OS available -- with a brilliant combination of price, performance, and features make this an easy top choice.

Willing to spend a little more: iPad Air 4 (2020)

If you want something with a bit more grunt than the standard iPad but don't need the iPad Pros' feature set, the iPad Air is an excellent middle ground. At $599, it's not as affordable, but it offers many of the Pros' best features at a more reasonable price.

Some of the Air's advantages over the standard iPad include an all-screen design without a home button (Touch ID is built into the power button), four speakers, a 10.9-inch 2360 x 1640 Liquid Retina display, 12MP rear camera, and 2nd-gen Apple Pencil support. It also has USB-C charging, a minimum 64 GB of storage, and sports the more powerful A14 Bionic, all wrapped in a thin and light design. If you're happy to pay a bit more, the iPad Air 4 is a top choice. Shame about the lack of a 120Hz screen and Face ID.

Best of the Best

Apple iPad Pro 11" - 2020

Great | Differentiating Features
Amazing performance. 120Hz refresh rate display. Face ID. Solid camera array. LiDAR scanner.

Good | Most Have It
Impressive battery life.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Expensive. Still not a direct laptop replacement. Pencil and Magnetic Keyboard sold separately.

The iPad Pro 11-inch remains our top pick as the best tablet you can buy, even if it's nearly as expensive as a good budget laptop. We're expecting new iPad Pro models to arrive soon, and they're rumored to feature Mini-LED backlighting, M1-level performance, and Thunderbolt connectivity. Until then, the iPad Pro 11 remains at the top of the pile, and that includes the elevated sticker price (starting at $850-900).

This iPad certainly earns its Pro moniker: the 8-core, A12Z Bionic chip is a powerhouse, allowing you to burn through the most processor-intensive games and apps without a hitch. Apple goes so far as to claim it’s "faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops," something we'll learn eventually when Arm-based Macs make it to market. In the meantime, by some measures, they may be right as this SoC is very well suited for this kind of device and it does get killer battery life.

Arguably, the most noticeable update to the iPad Pro in this generation is added support for the new magnetic Magic Keyboard that features a floating design and cantilevered hinges to support viewing angles of up to 130 degrees, plus all the updates to the software side to make this ever closer to becoming a laptop replacement (a decent attempt for casual users).

Other updates for this 4th-gen 2020 release include spec bumps to 128GB of base storage, 6GB RAM and Wi-Fi 6 support. The square camera module resembles the iPhone 11, which gets you a 12MP wide lens, 10MP ultrawide and a new LiDAR scanner for "AR experiences" (largely unused as of writing).

The iPad's ProMotion display boasts of a buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate, which makes scrolling through web pages a joy. There's also Face ID and narrow bezels that make this a svelte and well crafted slate. You also get a USB-C connector instead of Lightning, so you can charge your iPhone using the iPad, and there's the Apple Pencil -- sold separately -- which attaches magnetically to the side, it's very responsive and delivers a very polished user experience.

While the large 12.9-inch Pro is great, it's overkill unless you intend to do a huge amount of typing and multitasking. The 11-inch version will likely be the better choice for most people -- the fact it’s $200 cheaper is also a bonus.

Buying the Pro’s optional Smart Keyboard isn’t going to make it a straight laptop replacement, because of both hardware and software limitations, but then again it's also the software that differentiates and makes the iPad the best on this form factor. For lovers of slates, there’s none better.

Best Productivity Tablet

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Great | Differentiating Features
Windows productivity on a 10th-gen Intel Ice Lake CPU. One of the best non-iPad tablets.

Good | Most Have It
Gorgeous display and long battery life.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Few changes over last-gen model. Cover and keyboard cost extra.

Like the iPad Pros, we're expecting the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 to arrive sometime in 2021 and take the tablet productivity crown. Until then, the Surface Pro 7 remains our top choice.

The Surface Pro 7 update was minor, adding support for USB Type-C and Wi-Fi 6, but no Thunderbolt 3. It packs Intel's 10th-gen 10nm Ice Lake-U series processors, internal storage is slightly faster, and battery life is improved. The biggest performance improvement you might notice, however, could come from the integrated Iris Plus graphics.

Pretty much everything else in the Pro 7 is unchanged from the previous version, including the same solid case with kickstand that allows it to be used at different angles. The design has been altered little since the Surface Pro 4, but Microsoft might want to say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The gorgeous, 12.3-inch IPS display uses the same 3:2 aspect ratio (2736 x 1824) we’ve come to expect from Surface devices, making it great for productivity work. You also get an 8-megapixel camera on the rear and a 5-megapixel cam on the front for Windows Hello. And while the top-specced machine can cost close to $2,000, the Core-i5 model can be found for as low as $800 retail.

This is an excellent choice for productivity on the go or when you need a solid tablet. The downside is that, like iPads, buying the excellent Type Cover keyboard and stylus costs extra. Showing a clear sign that it's soon to be replaced by a Pro 8 model though, we've seen plenty of deals in recent weeks that have the base model + keyboard bundle going for as little as $599.

Best Android Tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+

Great | Differentiating Features
Simply the best Android tablet out there, iPad Pro-beating screen, S-Pen included.

Good | Most Have It
Sleek design, good battery life, cameras, and speakers.

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Android on tablets still in the shadow of iPadOS. Performance can't match Apple's flagship. Pricey.

Much like the smartphone business, Apple's main rival in the tablet market is Samsung (well, and Microsoft). The Galaxy Tab S7 Plus has been hailed as the best Android slate ever built, and it's easy to see why. We've opted for the Plus model of the Galaxy Tab S7 as its got a few advantages over the smaller version. On paper, Samsung's device is more than a match for the iPad Pros, partly thanks to its 12.4-inch (2800 x 1752, 266ppi) 120Hz, 16:10 display.

The Galaxy Tab S7 Plus uses a Super AMOLED panel rather than the LCD tech found in the Pros. This makes content look fantastic, with vibrant, gorgeous colors and perfect blacks that are ideal for outdoor viewing. It's even got an in-screen fingerprint reader similar to those found on modern phones.

Another advantage over the iPad Pro is that Samsung's stylus is free in the box rather than requiring another $99 outlay.

Storage starts at a larger 128GB, and it comes with a USB-Type C port, 6GB of RAM, four speakers, and a 5G option. Camera-wise, you get an 8MP front-facing camera alongside a 13MP snapper and a 5MP ultra-wide at the rear.

Internally, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Plus (starting at $849.99) boasts the Snapdragon 865+, a powerful SoC though it lags behind the iPad Pros in terms of overall performance. Battery life is an impressive 8 hours and 51 minutes, but you still have to deal with the disappointing software. Android on tablets has come a long way in recent years, and you do get DeX mode, so compatible apps work in windowed versions, but iPadOS remains superior. With its unmatched screen and sleek design, you will not find a better Android tablet than the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus.

A solid alternative: Galaxy Tab S6

Last year's winner, the Galaxy Tab S6, remains a great option for fans of Android tablets. It also comes with a Super AMOLED screen, S-Pen, and several other features that make its successor so great. While not as powerful as the Tab S7 range, you can find the Tab S6 for a few hundred dollars cheaper.

A non-Samsung option: Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

Samsung dominates Android tablets the way it does phones, but that doesn't mean there aren't alternatives, such as the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro. Lenovo rivals the Tab S7 by featuring a gorgeous OLED screen (11.5 inches, 1600 x 2560, 263 PPI) that comes with HDR10 support, four loud stereo speakers, and impressive battery life. It also starts at a wallet-friendly $399. Unfortunately, the Snapdragon 730G and cameras are a bit underwhelming.

A Budget Option

Amazon Fire HD 10

Great | Differentiating Features
Can't find better at this price, good screen, speakers, and battery life

Good | Most Have It
USB-C

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Cameras aren't the best, very Amazon-focused, limited apps

It's a case of buyer beware when purchasing a budget tablet; there are plenty of sub $200 or even $100 slates available that aren't worth your time. But Amazon's Fire HD 10, which runs the Android-based Fire OS, remains a good option at $150 for the 32GB storage model, though you might want to pay the extra $15 to remove the lock-screen ads.

With a crisp, bright screen and fairly loud speakers, the Fire HD 10 is a cost-effective device for those who use tablets sparingly for content consumption, or if you want something cheap for your kids, and it’s even more useful if you have a Prime subscription. The Fire 10 features hands-free Alexa, allowing it to work in the same way as Amazon’s many Echo devices. But you can only access Amazon’s App store, so no Google services -- unless you’re willing to sideload them.

In this latest iteration, the Fire HD 10 has added a USB-C port, powered by a 2GHz quad-core CPU and 2GB of RAM. The display measures in at 10.1-inch (1920 x 1200, 224 ppi) and you get 32GB or 64GB of onboard storage that’s expandable by another 256GB via microSD, all of which is nice for that low price point.

Good for kids: Lenovo Smart Tab M10 HD (2nd-gen)

For something a little different that's around the same price, check out Lenovo's Smart Tab M10 HD (2nd-gen), which starts at $140. Its big selling point is the Google Assistant Ambient Mode that turns the Android tablet into a smart display when dropped into the included dock.

Lenovo's tablet is well-built for the price and is especially suitable for young children thanks to Google Kids Space. The feature works with Google's Family Link to show a colorful interface packed with child-friendly games, videos, books, and apps. The tablet is slightly underpowered, has a lower resolution than the Fire HD (1280 x 800), and the battery life could be better, but the Smart Tab M10 HD is a viable alternative to Amazon's product.

Paying a little more: Samsung Galaxy Tab A7

While the previous two tablets offer great value for money, paying a little extra will get you something even better: Samsung's Galaxy Tab A7 (around $229).

The Tab A7 comes with everything you need from a content consumption-focused tablet; the 2000 x 1200 (224 PPI), 10.4-inch screen is vibrant and colorful, the speakers and battery life are excellent, and the build is sturdy.

Samsung's tablet also comes with features you'd expect to find only on high-end models, including facial recognition and USB-C charging. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 processor and 3GB mean the A7 isn't on par with the entry-level iPad, and the camera isn't great, but it's also a lot cheaper than Apple's slate.

Masthead credit: Daniel Romero