Best tablets: 10-6
What’s the best tablet for 2015? Today’s latest tablets compared and rated – constantly updated.
Each of our top picks this year, possess more versatility than earlier collections. Tablets for work by day have to now also be tablets 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 2015 than in years past.
It’s a difficult process divining which place each of these excellent tablets should occupy in our list, so we take into account multiple elements including performance, battery life, screen quality and more.
Price plays a minor part, as does age: a tablet that’s been replaced by a sequel will tumble down the rankings as you can get all the great features on a better slate.
If none of the top 10 tablets here take your fancy then head on over to our tablet reviews pages, where you’ll find in-depth reviews for many more models.
Let us know your thoughts on the top 10 (and whether you think we’ve got the order wrong) in the comment box below.
10. Lenovo Yoga 10 HD+
Lenovo’s tablet with a cylindrical spine makes our best tablets list because it’s one of the most versatile Android mid-range slates at 10 inches.
The Yoga 10 HD+ features the company’s patented stand that’s great for watching movies and doing work. The kickstand can be tucked away in an instant for a typical tablet design.
Best of all, that unique form factor facilitates functionality. The cylinder battery tops the charts among the Android tablets we have tested.
The 1920 x 1200 pixel screen resolution is one of the many improvements Lenovo has made to its best tablet for 2015, though it doesn’t quite compare to the sharpness of the iPad Air 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S.
If you are looking for a 10-inch Android tablet, you can do worse than the Yoga 10 HD+, but if its key features are not important to you, devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 come in at a similar price.
As a combined Android tablet for media consumption and a bit of work, the Yoga is appealing, boasting front-facing stereo speakers that enhance media consumption and a stand that works well with a Bluetooth keyboard connected.
If you fancy using it on the go, the LTE model isn’t much more expensive and changes the value proposition quite a bit. At the end of the day, you won’t find an Android tablet with better battery life right now.
9. iPad Air
Apple’s pencil-thin tablet was spectacular a year ago and it’s still one of the top tablets to own even though it’s been usurped by the newer iPad Air 2.
It’s no slouch in performance thanks to the, one-step-behind, A7 processor. Its 9.7-inch screen boasts the exact same 2048 x 1536-pixel resolution at 264 ppi as the Air 2, though the screen isn’t fully laminated and misses out on an antireflective coating.
Considering the ipad Air 16GB model is $120 less expensive than the comparable Air 2, it really depends how much you value that layer of laminate, 1.4mm of thickness and 34 grams.
With the iOS 8 update installed, the ipad Air is a solid tablet that offers a decent alternative to the newer model.
"It’s not just Apple’s best tablet, it’s the only tablet you should be considering if you’re keen on a larger screen." That’s what we said in the verdict of our in-depth iPad Air review. While the Galaxy Tab S is a brilliant tablet, the Air just took things to the next level.
It may not quite be a match for the iPad Air 2, but the original iPad Air is still one of the very best tablets around and it’s not even among the most expensive any more.
8. Google Nexus 7
The smallest tablet worth buying right now is the 7-inch Nexus 7 that came out in 2013. It’s a small tablet that made big improvements over the Nexus 7 2012.
Even at just 0.57 lbs. (260g), it packs reasonable specs like a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and either 16GB or our suggested 32GB of internal storage.
The ASUS-made Nexus 7 just fits into the pockets of non-skinny jeans, unlike its successor – the larger Nexus 9, which has a boxier 4:3 aspect ratio.
Nexus 7 is 16:9, meaning its widescreen 1920 x 1200 display (323 ppi) is ideal for everything from movies to games.
If you’re considering a tablet now and are already dabbling in the Android ecosystem, we see no reason why shouldn’t take the plunge with a Nexus 7, especially if you don’t like the size (or price) of the Nexus 9.
If you haven’t invested at all with Android, you’re still in a good place to start. You could check out the iPad mini 2, which is advisable for those who have racked up a lot of App Store purchases, but it’s still not as affordable as the Nexus 7.
7. Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2
From small to really, really big, the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 maximizes the display size spectrum among tablets, and too big for some people is just right for others.
The specs don’t compromise either. A 2.3GHz quadcore processor, 3GB of RAM and S Pen make it productive for business as well as digital artists who values bright screens.
As the biggest tablet we’ve reviewed, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 comes up short on build quality due to the larger chassis. But that’s offset by the expanse of screen to play with.
Its big screen and S Pen make the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 an extremely useful productivity tool – if you’re a fan of the Note range, there’s very little on the market that is better and Samsung seems to be successfully convincing the world that the S Pen is still relevant to today’s gadget fans.
6. iPad mini 2
There’s hardly a gap between the iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3 features, and that’s reflected in our best tablets of 2015 list, as both of Apple’s mini slates are right next to each other.
What’s the difference? Aside from the Touch ID, gold colour and the lack of a 32GB model, the iPad mini 2 with a Retina display is identical, all the way down to iOS 8.
There’s actually one other major difference: the mini 2 is more than $100 cheaper than the mini 3. Most people will live without the fingerprint sensor on a tablet for that saving. Plus, you’re more likely to find an iPad Mini 2 at a discounted price.
The iPad mini 2 is almost flawless in so many ways. The rich App catalog mean it’s a device that will grow with you, and the 64-bit A7 chip and Retina display are certainly future-proofing users from an outdated device.
Yes, it’s older, but it’s still a very usable device and offers access to a brilliant ecosystem for a lot less cash than before.
Number 5: iPad Mini 3
5. iPad mini 3
One space up on the best tablets comparison and one generation newer among the iPad mini series. That’s how much the iPad mini 3 hasn’t changed.
A touch ID fingerprint sensor replaces the normal home button and Apple’s offering a new gold colour option to match that new iPhone 6 or iphone 6 Plus of yours.
Seeing as they are the only two differences, there isn’t much left to add.
The iPad mini 3 isn’t a bad tablet. It’s got a great OS, new features and is still attractively designed. It’s just that all these features are available on the mini 2 for a lot less money.
Touch ID is a nice feature, but it’s not enough to recommend this tablet. This year, it hasn’t matched the Air 2 in tech spec, yet the price hasn’t dropped. And you can get nearly all the good features cheaper on the iPad mini 2.
Buy the iPad mini 2, or wait a few months and see if Apple Pay and Touch ID-enabled apps start to roar in popularity unless you really want to make sure you’ve got the best iPad mini on the market.
Number 4: Nexus 9
4. Nexus 9
Fresh of the HTC assembly line is the Nexus 9 tablet that is Google’s best attempt to answer the iPad Air 2. It’s successful in a number of ways.
Its 8.9-inch IPS LCD display, for example, sports a QXGA-level 2048 x 1536 resolution, but a bit of backlight bleeding around the edges keep hampers its full potential.
It doesn’t matter that the Nexus 9 32GB screen is fractionally smaller than the similarly priced iPad Air . It’s bigger than the Nexus 7 and smaller than the Nexus 10 – just right for productivity on the go.
Nexus 9’s 4:3 aspect ratio is better for reviewing documents and web surfing than watching 16:9 movies with letterboxing, though the sound is excellent with HTC BoomSound speakers.
It’s the best tablet running Android 5.0 Lollipop, though that won’t last long once the Samsung Galaxy Tab S gets the forthcoming update.
Android 5.0 Lollipop gives Google’s slate a software facelift, even though the hardware construction isn’t exceptional. Material Design sets the right tone and lockscreen notifications and priority mode add overdue functionality to make this a very usable tablet.
If you’re looking for a naked Android tablet, the Nexus 9 performs well and comes with some really premium touches to make it one of the best around.
Number 3: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
3. Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
Sony’s done it again in the tablet world, making an amazing large-screened device, and while it hasn’t nabbed the top spot, it’s still delivered a jolly good tablet.
The Xperia Z2 Tablet – so named to tie in more neatly with the phone version – brings a massively uprated Snapdragon 801 CPU, 3GB of RAM and an all-new Live Colour LED screen that brings vibrancy and contrast to what you’re watching.
Video is also improved thanks to the dual front-facing speakers, meaning you can ditch the headphones when watching and still get a decent experience.
Like its predecessor it’s also water and dust resistant, so dinner spills and reading ebooks in the bath are aren’t a problem.
If you’re invested in the Sony ecosystem, you could do a lot worse than the Xperia Z2 Tablet, as it comes fully-loaded with access to Sony’s music, movies and Playstation platforms. Well, you have to download an app to properly get gaming, but we’ll overlook that for now.
There’s an IR blaster on top to make this a great tablet for controlling the TV, and the speed and sheer weight (or lack thereof) make this a real sofa-friendly choice.
Considering you’ll be paying top dollar for this 10.1 inch tablet the screen could be sharper, but overall it is a nifty well packaged slate.
Number 2: Samsung Galaxy Tab S
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S
Samsung has put a lot of effort into creating something that rivals the ipad, a strategy has put them on the back foot – launching the Tab Pro in January, and then replacing it a few months later with the Galaxy Tab S.
But, apart from annoying anyone that’s already bought into the Tab Pro range, this strategy has finally yielded a brilliant tablet in the shape of this Super AMOLED-shod Tab S duo.
Available in both 8.4- and 10.5-inch screen sizes, Samsung has taken a great OS and fused it with the best tablet display on the market, creating something pretty special.
The battery life is great, the screen has to be seen to be believed (and is excellent for media and internet viewing, which is really the point of a tablet) and the price is on a par with the rest of the industry. Well done, Samsung.
Why isn’t the Tab S at the top of the tree? Samsung’s eternal problem returns to bite it: the design is still too flimsy, although having two sizes does help mitigate this problem.
Android still struggles to be a truly powerful tablet OS yet as well, which means the apps are still poor compared to iOS on larger screens.
The difference between the Tab S and the Xperia Z2 Tablet is minimal – it really comes down to design and extra features, but if you’re not wedded to the idea of owning an Apple tablet these two are the choices you should be looking at.
Number 1: Apple iPad Air 2
1. Apple iPad Air 2
The iPad Air was an incredible achievement and yet somehow, remarkably, Apple has topped it with the iPad Air 2.
It’s significantly thinner and lighter. 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 something to criticise, there are no significant flaws.
In the time since the original iPad Air launched everything else has struggled to match it and yet, since then, 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.
The iPad Air 2 is a spectacular achievement. Faster, better looking and more feature packed than ever, it’s the slate to beat and we suspect it will be for a while yet.
With a starting price of $500 it’s moderately expensive, especially since you’ll really to want to spend more and get a larger storage size to get the most out of it, but it’s worth every penny.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Microsoft has positioned its Surface Pro 3 as a "MacBook-killer" more than a tablet, but it’s really a laptop-tablet hybrid that deserves recognition here as well as the best laptops list.
While we said tablets maximize the mobile experience, most aren’t true laptop replacements. Microsoft’s entry fills both roles, and for the most part it’s up to the task.
Surface Pro 3 has a whole lot of power, an impressive display and a useful Type Cover for when you need to get some serious work done. It’s got the muscle to compete with the best ultrabooks and the portability and ease of use to be an iPad Air 2 alternative.
It’s not perfect. The battery life is weak and it’s pricey, but if you want one device to fill both roles then this is the best option out there.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is an impressively powerful and versatile device. There’s a sense that it’s a jack of all trades, master of none, but it’s the best hybrid around and that’s reason enough to consider it if you don’t want or can’t afford both a tablet and an Ultrabook.
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
Samsung is no stranger to tablets, in fact the South Korean giant has flooded the market with more slates than we know what to do with and the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is arguably the best of them.
It’s clad in slightly underwhelming plastic like most Samsung devices. For a high end machine this is disappointing, but once you experience its tremendous power and amazing screen it’s a short-lived disappointment.
In fact there’s very little else to dislike about it. This is a top tier slate through and through and it’s versatile enough to comfortably be used for work or play.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 might not have the premium build of the iPad Air or the waterproof credentials of the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet but in most other ways it’s just as high end and it slightly undercuts them too.
More: Best tablet apps
As with today’s best smartphones, applications play a big role on tablets – once you’ve decided which of these tablets if 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.