Updated: Best tablet for 2016: our top 10 ranking

Best tablets of 2016: No. 6 – 10

The best tablets of 2016 have maximized the mobile experience with larger displays, from Apple’s dominating iPad Pro to Android’s-powered Google Nexus and Samsung slates.

And it’s more than just iOS 9 and Android devices, unlike the best smartphones. Windows plays a limited role with its larger laptop-replacements if that’s what you need from Lenovo and Asus.

All of our top picks posses even more versatility. Tablets for work by day, then have to be able to turn into primary sources of entertainment for kids by night, whether they’re 7 or 9.7 or 12.2 inches.

Just as important, they feature wider price ranges, more efficient processors, longer battery life and thinner and lighter designs for the first half of 2016 than years past.

Apple’s iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy and Google’s Nexus tablets get that right more than ever, especially with iOS 10 and Android N launching this year, making these the best tablets even better.

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

10. Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

Taking ‘Netflix and chill’ to the next level

Weight: 665g | Dimensions: 246.9 x 179.1 x 4.6mm | OS: Android 5.1.1 | Screen size: 10.1-inch |Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600 | CPU: Intel Atom quad-core | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB | Battery:10,200mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Integrated projector
Great audio
Heavy
Glitchy interface

The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro is packed full of media-focused features and sports an unique, distinctive design.

There’s a built in stand to take the heft off your hands, while the integrated projector means you can enjoy big screen entertainment away from your TV.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

9. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

The tablet that can replace your laptop

Weight: 766g/786g | Dimensions: 292.10 x 201.42 x 8.45mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size:12.3-inch | Resolution: 2,736 x 1,824 | CPU: Various | RAM: 4GB/8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB |Battery: up to 9 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Larger, sharper screen
Vastly improved Type Cover
Battery life hasn’t improved much
Expensive

Smart iteration is exactly what the Surface Pro 4 needed to finally make good on Microsoft’s mission that tablets can be laptops, and it’s delivered just that in spades.

Microsoft has improved its Type Cover, the resolution and power options under the hood, but the outlay required is steep.

It can work for creative professionals, students and everyday folks alike, but is this finally the tablet to replace your laptop? That’s still debatable, though the Pro 4 has surmounted more of what’s running against it than ever before.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Sony Xperia Tablet Z3 Compact

8. Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Small but perfectly formed

Weight: 270g | Dimensions: 213.4 x 123.6 x 6.4mm | OS: Android OS, v5.0.2 | Screen size: 8.0-inch |Resolution: 1200 x 1920 | CPU: Quad-core 2.5GHz | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 4500mAh | Rear camera: 8.1MP | Front camera: 2.2MP

Great battery life
Very thin and light
Screen sharpness beaten by others
Not incredible value

Sony’s gone a bit crackers in the naming department, but the Z3 Tablet Compact is still a decent device despite the obvious attempts to shoehorn the word ‘tablet’ into the title to align it with the smartphone.

Let’s get the main issue out of the way: the screen isn’t as high res as the competition, and the price isn’t as palatable as some of the other options here.

But that looks past the fact Sony is pretty darn good at making these here tablets. Using its Bravia technology it makes the screen still look sharp and colourful, and the thin design makes the Z3 Tablet Compact easier to hold than you’d expect. Oh, and it’s also waterproof.

Read the full review: Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Nexus 9

7. Nexus 9

Google’s Nexus tablet is bigger in size and price

Weight: 425g | Dimensions: 228.2 x 153.7 x 8mm | OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 8.9-inch |Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Dual-core 2.3 GHz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/32GB | Battery: 6700 mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.6MP

Ideal 4:3 aspect ratio
Stock Android
Pricier than before
Subpar display quality

The Nexus 9 is a weird one – it’s both the replacement for the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10, without really being a sequel to either thanks to the new 8.9-inch screen.

It’s getting on a bit now, but it’s still the most recent Nexus slate and with age comes a price drop, meaning you can now often find it for under $299 if you shop around (it’s still officially $399 from the Google Store). The promise of Android Marshmallow arriving on it in the near future should help keep it fresh too.

Read the full review: Nexus 9

iPad Pro

6. iPad Pro

Apple’s biggest slate isn’t its best, but it’s not far off either

Weight: 713g | Dimensions: 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm | OS: iOS 9.1 | Screen size: 12.9-inch |Resolution: 2048 x 2732 | CPU: Dual-core 2.26 GHz| RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB | Battery:10,307mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Expansive screen
Hugely powerful
Powerfully huge
Battery life could be longer

The iPad Pro is Apple’s biggest and most powerful tablet yet, with a 12.9-inch screen, an A9X processor and 4GB of RAM.

That big screen combined with four great speakers make it a media powerhouse and if you splash out for the Apple Pencil or Smart Keyboard you can get serious work done on it too.

The size and weight won’t be for everyone and the price certainly won’t be, but the iPad Pro is an accomplished slate for everything from gaming and movies, to drawing and typing. It’s not quite a laptop replacement, but it’s the closest you’ll to that this side of a Surface Pro.

Read the full review: iPad Pro

Number 5: Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

5. Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

Lighter, faster, waterproof… this is a real iPad Air 2 rival

Weight: 389g | Dimensions: 254 x 167 x 6.1 mm | OS: Android 5.0 | Screen size: 10.1-inch |Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: octa-core | RAM: 3GB of RAM | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 6000mAh |Rear camera: 8.1MP | Front camera: 5.1MP

Gorgeous display
New improved design
Problematic UI
High price tag

Sony’s Xperia Z4 Tablet is one of the best Android tablets available on the market and it’s one of the few capable of putting up a fight against the iPad Air 2.

It’s got a lovely screen, lightweight design, all the Sony elements you’d look for and the right power combination to keep it on the front foot.

The waterproof design makes it a more attractive proposition over the less robust slates on the market, although the UI isn’t the slickest and the price tag is one of the highest.

Read the full review: Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

Number 4: iPad mini 4

iPad mini 4

4. iPad mini 4

The best small-screen tablet

Weight: 299g | Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 9.1 | Screen size: 7.9-inch |Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Dual-core 1.5 GHz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/64GB/128GB |Battery: 5124mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Brilliant screen
Sleek design
Older processor
No 3D Touch

The iPad mini 3 might have been a disappointment but Apple more than made up for it with the iPad mini 4. With its sleek design, fairly powerful processor and stunning screen it’s everything the mini 3 should have been.

It’s still slightly less powerful than the iPad Air 2 and a lot less powerful than the iPad Pro, but it’s also cheaper than them and it’s one of the highest-spec compact slates around.

So if you want an Apple tablet in a smaller package than is offered by the Air 2 then this is the best in the business and with Touch ID and iOS 9 it’s slick and feature-packed too.

Number 3: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

A top notch iPad rival

Weight: 256g/389g | Dimensions: 198.6 x 134.8 x 5.6mm/237.3 x 169 x 5.6mm | OS: Android 5.1 |Screen size: 8.0-inch/9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Octa-core | RAM: 3GB | Storage:32GB/64GB | Battery: 4000mAh/5870mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2.1MP

Thinner, lighter design
MicroSD card slot
Small specs upgrade
Camera is mediocre

There are plenty of reasons to invest in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 – especially if you’re after a top Android tablet.

It’s reading and web surfing-friendly, while the new 4:3 screen and general size and shape is better suited for most things. Videos work better on its predecessor thanks to the more elongated aspect ratio – but they don’t exactly look bad here.

You can pick the Tab S2 up in 8-inch and 9.7-inch variants, to challenge Apple’s iPad and iPad Mini ranges, with the smaller option being more portable and cheaper.

Almost impossibly thin, pumped full of power and with a slicker version of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface on board, the Galaxy Tab S2 manages to give the iPad Air 2 a real run for its money.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Number 2: Google Pixel C

Google Pixel C

2. Google Pixel C

Best Android tablet around

Weight: 517g | Dimensions: 242 x 179 x 7mm | OS: Android Marshmallow| Screen size: 10.2-inch |Resolution: 2560 x 1800 | CPU: Tegra X1 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP

Fantastic screen
Premium design
Heavy
Keyboard is pricey option

Google’s done it – it’s made the best Android tablet around. The Pixel C has it all: a fantastic display, heaps of power and a premium design.

Okay, it’s not quite got it all – it’s a little on the heavy side and the pricey (yet rather clever) keyboard dock isn’t fully utilised by the Android interface which is made very much for touch and not physical keys and productivity.

The Pixel C just misses out on top spot to the iPad Air 2, which has an even more desirable design and a fleet of tablet optimised applications for a more complete experience.

Read the full review: Google Pixel C

Number 1: iPad Air 2.

iPad Air 2

1. iPad Air 2

Apple has taken the perfect tablet and somehow made it even better

Weight: 437g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 9.1 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution:1536 x 2048 | CPU: Triple-core 1.5 GHz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/64/128GB | Battery: 7340mAh |Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Sleek
Superbly powerful
Volume silencer gone
16GB is too little storage

The iPad Air was an incredible achievement and yet somehow, remarkably, Apple has topped it with the iPad Air 2.

It’s even thinner and lighter than last time around and to a noticeable extent. The screen is better, with more vibrant colours, it’s more powerful thanks to its A8X processor and the battery life holds up just as well. It even benefits from Touch ID and Apple Pay and while these features aren’t as exciting here as they are on phones they’re still nice to have.

In short the iPad Air 2 really is the complete package and while you can always find things to niggle about there are no significant flaws.

In the time since the original iPad Air launched everything else is still struggling to match it and yet Apple has managed to raise the benchmark higher still. Everyone else really has their work cut out if the iPad Air 2 is going to be unseated from the number one spot.

Read the full review: iPad Air 2

Tablet apps

As with today’s best smartphones, applications play a big role on tablets – once you’ve decided which of these tablets is right for you, check out our top app lists so you can get your fill of Temple Run, update your friends on Facebook and read the latest news, all on a bigger screen.

Also consider

If the tablets on this list aren’t enough for you then a) you’re very hard to please, but b) we think we can still help out a little.

We’ve covered the best above, but if you’re after something a little cheaper or just haven’t quite seen the slate for you then one of these might do the trick.

iPad Mini 2

iPad mini 2

A great tablet that now costs a lot less

Weight: 331g | Dimensions: 200 x 134.7 x 7.5mm | OS: iOS 9 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution:1536 x 2048 | CPU: Apple A7 | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 6470mAh | Rear camera: 5MP |Front camera: 1.2MP

New low price
Great looks
Older hardware
Only 16GB of storage

The iPad mini 2 was almost flawless in so many ways when it launched. The rich app catalog meant it was a device that will grow with you, and the 64-bit A7 chip and Retina display were certainly future-proofing users from an outdated device.

Despite being a couple of years old, it’s a decent tablet for the money. Apple is going to keep supporting it for a couple of years and it’s packing the same screen resolution as the current iPad mini 4 (although with inferior technology).

Read the full review: iPad mini 2

Note Pro 12.2

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2

Samsung throws everything into the fledgling maxi-tablet category

Weight: 753g | Dimensions: 295.6 x 204 x 8mm | OS: Android 4.4 | Screen size: 12.2-inch |Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: Quad-core 2.3 GHz | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery:9500mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP

Large, bright screen
Improved Samsung UI
Creaky build quality
Unwieldy form factor

The 12.2-inch display is not all this slate has going for it, as the Note Pro 12.2’s 3GB of RAM and quad-core processor give it great performance, while the S Pen becomes truly useful in combination with the slate’s large, bright screen.

It’s an obvious choice for digital artists or anyone else who wants a device they can be productive on, but the bigger screen makes it great just for web browsing and watching videos too.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2

Surface Pro 3

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Is Redmond’s hybrid tablet the laptop killer?

Weight: 790g | Dimensions: 292.10 x 201.42 x 9.14mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size: 12-inch | Resolution: 2160 x 1440 | CPU: Quad-core 1.70 GHz | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/128/256/512GB |Battery: 5676mAh | Rear camera: 1080p | Front camera: 5MP

Sharp display and design
Huge Type Cover upgrade
OK battery life
Runs hot at times

With a whole lot of power, an impressive display and a useful Type Cover for when you need to get some serious work done the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has got the muscle to compete with Ultrabooks and the portability and ease of use to be an iPad alternative.

It’s not perfect. The battery life is seriously weak by tablet standards and it’s a pricey bit of kit, but if you really want one device to fill both roles then this is one of the best options out there.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3

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