Best tablets 2019: big, small, budget and premium

Best tablets Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?’s round-up of the best tablets you can buy in 2019.

Tablets are bigger than smartphones (just) but less capable than laptops (just). If you’re thinking of buying one, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

What screen size do you want? Bigger-screened tablets make films, photos and TV shows look more impressive and are better suited to gaming, but they’re heavier, less portable and usually more expensive.

Which operating system are you after? Android is more open than iOS, but it’s not quite as slick or simple an ecosystem. Or are you happy with Amazon’s FireOS? Members of Amazon Prime might well be, but if you rarely shop at the retail giant, you’ll likely find it unsuitable and downright irritating.

How much storage do you need? Android devices usually come with slots for memory cards so you can add in extra storage, which could be useful if you’ve an extensive library of films, music and photos.

The best tablet for you will come down to how you want to use it. If you’re gaming, you’ll want one with tons of power and long battery life, while if you’re only sending the occasional email, you can save yourself some money and get yourself a cheaper model.

We’ve rounded up the best 2019 tablet choices so you can find your perfect partner. With models big and small, cheap and pricey, there’s sure to be something that fits your needs.

1. Apple iPad Mini (2019)

Under-the-skin improvements make the latest Mini even better than before.

SPECIFICATIONS

Display: 7.9in | Resolution: 2048×1536 | Processor: A12 Bionic | Front camera: 7MP | Rear camera: 8MP | Operating system: iOS | Storage: 64/256GB | Dimensions (HWD): 20.3×13.5×0.6cm | Weight: 300g

Reasons to Buy

Bright, punchy and vibrant

Lots of dark detail

Crisp sound

Reasons to Avoid

Blacks could be deeper

Speaker placement

Apple’s dinkiest iPad actually offers the highest pixel-per-inch density of all of its tablets, meaning the screen looks even more gorgeous than the rest of the iPad range. It’s bright and punchy, with distinctive highlights and plenty of detail in the shadows. The image really pops, making it a joy to watch. The sound is tops too, boasting bags of dynamism and detail. For a small tablet, it makes a big impression.

Read the full review: Apple iPad Mini (2019)

Best tablets 2019: big, small, budget and premium

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

If you’re onboard with Amazon’s ecosystem, the HD 10 offers a brilliant experience at a budget price.

SPECIFICATIONS

Display: 10.1in | Resolution: 1920×1200 | Processor: 2GHz | Front camera: 2MP | Rear camera: 2MP | Operating system: FireOS | Storage: 32/64GB internal, up to 512GB external | Dimensions (HWD): 26.2x16x1cm | Weight: 504g

Reasons to Buy

Better camera

Faster processor

Decent sound

Reasons to Avoid

Very Amazon-focussed

Improving on a previous What Hi-Fi? Award-winner was always going to be a tall task, especially without raising the price. But Amazon has cracked it with the latest version of the HD10. So what’s new? There’s a faster processor, a more powerful front camera, USB-C charging (rather than micro-USB) and support for higher-capacity microSD cards. Add that to the same winning usability, plus decent audio and visual performance (for the price), and you’ve got yourself a stone-cold bargain.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

Best tablets 2019: big, small, budget and premium

(Image credit: Apple)

3. Apple iPad 2018 (32GB)

More creative than ever, and still with exemplary picture and build quality.

SPECIFICATIONS

Display: 9.7in | Resolution: 2048×1536 | Processor: A10 | Front camera: 1.2MP | Rear camera: 8MP | Operating system: iOS | Storage: 32/128GB | Dimensions (HWD): 24x17x0.8cm | Weight: 469g

Reasons to Buy

Excellent, balanced picture quality

Added HDR support

Punchy, natural sound

Reasons to Avoid

Slight sound and vision upgrades

HDR isn’t transformative

Despite being a little long in the tooth, this is still a stellar tablet for AV fans. It’s compatible with Dolby Vision, making TV shows and films looks that bit brighter, punchier and more colourful. The built-in speakers are insightful and sound from a decent pair of headphones is very good indeed.

Read the full review: Apple iPad (2018)

Best tablets: big, small, budget and premium

4. Amazon Fire 7 (2017)

Those on a budget can’t really go wrong with the Fire 7

SPECIFICATIONS

Display: 7in | Resolution: 1024×600 | Processor: 1.3GHz | Front camera: VGA | Rear camera: 2MP | Operating system: FireOS | Storage: 8/16GB (plus up to 256GB microSD card) | Dimensions (HWD): 11.5×19.2x1cm | Weight: 300g

Reasons to Buy

Warm colour palette

Price

Good battery life

Reasons to Avoid

Unsophisticated picture

Tinny speakers

Poor camera

If you’re on a tight budget, Amazon’s tablets are always worth a look. At just £50, the Fire 7 is exceptionally good value – as long as you don’t expect mind-blowing AV quality, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Amazon has given this model a warmer colour palette, making for more realistic skin tones, and as long as you don’t go nitpicking for detail and contrast ratios, it’s perfectly watchable (especially for kids’ cartoons, which we suspect will be its main use). The sound is nicely balanced and suitably detailed, too. And because it’s an older model, its already cheap price is now discounted. Buy buy buy! 

Read the full review: Amazon Fire 7 (2017)

Best tablets: big, small, budget and premium

5. Apple iPad Pro 10.5in

Powerful, great to use, and capable of excellent video.

SPECIFICATIONS

Display: 10.5in | Resolution: 2224×1668 | Processor: A10X Fusion | Front camera: 7MP | Rear camera: 12MP | Operating system: iOS | Storage: 64/256/512GB | Dimensions (HWD): 25×17.4×0.6cm | Weight: 469g

Reasons to Buy

Powerful sound

Impressive display

Unparalleled performance

Reasons to Avoid

Price

Overkill for pure multimedia

Content creators will want an iPad Pro – this is a machine made for creating, while the standard iPad is built for consuming. As such, it’s a little over-powered if all you want it for is watching movies and playing the odd game. Not that you’ll have a bad time – far from it. The screen is ridiculously sharp and bright, and at this size, films are an absolute treat. It sounds pretty great too, balancing dialogue with the soundtrack nicely and automatically adjusting for the best sound depending whether it’s in portrait or landscape mode. Sure, you don’t need one. But if you can afford it, why wouldn’t you?

Read the full review: Apple iPad Pro 10.5in

Best tablets: big, small, budget and premium

6. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2018)

You’ll have to pay a lot more to do better.

SPECIFICATIONS

Display: 8in | Resolution: 1280×800 | Processor: 1.3GHz | Front camera: 2MP | Rear camera: 2MP | Operating system: FireOS | Storage: 16/32GB (plus up to 400GB microSD card) | Dimensions (HWD): 12.8×21.4x1cm | Weight: 363g

Reasons to Buy

Lots of features

Alexa Voice Control

Decent picture

Reasons to Avoid

Limited audio and video playback

Runs quite slow

This tablet was great value at its original price, so now it’s available for less, it’s an absolute steal. Like other Amazon tablets, its bright colour schemes are more cheap and cheerful than sleek and sophisticated, but that’s no bad thing if you just want a tablet for occasional use around the house (or to let the kids run wild with). Its screen has a natural palate and plenty of detail to get your teeth into, while audio playback is pretty decent for casual listening. Another great value tablet from Amazon.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 8 (2018)

Best tablets: big, small, budget and premium

7. Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 8in

A few minor bugbears aside, the Yoga Tab 3 is a budget tablet worth considering.

SPECIFICATIONS

Display: 8in | Resolution: 1280×800 | Processor: 1.3GHz | Front camera: n/a | Rear camera: 8MP (rotatable camera) | Operating system: Android | Storage: 16GB (plus up to 128GB microSD card) | Dimensions (HWD): 14.6x21x0.7-0.3cm | Weight: 466g

Reasons to Buy

Clever, flexible design

Good stereo speakers

Decent camera

Reasons to Avoid

Screen lacks fine detail

A little heavy for gaming

This might be a budget tablet, but it feels much more expensive than it is. The spine is much thicker than the rest of it, with good cause – it houses a rotatable 8MP camera that can be positioned to be rear- or front-facing. There’s also a metal kickstand to help prop it up in its many poses (it’s not called Yoga for nothing). The screen might lack a bit of detail, but the sound more than makes up for it, with plenty of expression and balance on offer.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 8in

Best tablets: big, small, budget and premium

8. Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

This Galaxy Tab is good, but not quite out of this world.

SPECIFICATIONS

Display: 9.7in | Resolution: 2048×1536 | Processor: 2.15GHz | Front camera: 5MP | Rear camera: 13MP | Operating system: Android | Storage: 32GB (plus up to 256GB microSD card) | Dimensions (HWD): 23.7×16.9x6cm | Weight: 429g

Reasons to Buy

Sophisticated stylus

Good battery life

Crisp picture

Reasons to Avoid

Android is a bit clunky

Overblown colours

Sound could be better

This premium tablet comes with the S Pen, which is Samsung’s stylus. Images on screen look so sharp you could cut yourself on them, while motion is handled with aplomb. The only slight niggle with the screen is colour reproduction, which tends to be more bold than natural. But you get superior sound, which you can tweak to your heart’s content, and played right, you’ll get noticeably more detail and dynamism from music. Dolby Atmos also comes as standard.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3