Best Tablets 2017: iPads, Windows and Android Tablet Reviews

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Your buying guide to the best tablets in 2017

The tablet market has slowed down significantly over the past year or so, but a few key models were launched recently. Apple released a new 9.7-inch iPad and a 10.5in iPad Pro, and Samsung updated the Galaxy Tab S2. You can read our review of the Galaxy Tab S3 which is a strong contender. Also make sure you check out the best new tablets coming in 2017 for more.

Which is best: Android, iPad or Windows?

If you’re on a tight budget, you should be reading our best budget tablets roundup. And if you’re looking for a tablet for your child, check out our best kids’ tablets article.

But if you want the best, you’ve got four main choices: an iPad, an Android tablet an Amazon Fire tablet or a Windows tablet.

Apple iPads run Apple’s own iOS operating system which is widely regarded as one of the best out there. It’s easy to use and app makers usually make it their first choice, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find what you’re after.

This is valuable when you buy accessories which require apps – mainly smart home or fitness gadgets – as you may not be able to control these from a Windows tablet.

In most cases, apps are made available on Android as well as iPads, but not always. Android tablets can be cheaper than iPads, but there are some Samsung models which cost the same or are more expensive.

Windows tablets come in both cheap and expensive guises, but although Windows is the ‘worst’ of the tablet operating systems, it has the advantage of being able to run the same programs you use on your laptop or PC – not just finger-friendly tablet apps.

And that’s why most Windows tablets come with a keyboard, or offer it as an option: they’re really a hybrid of a laptop and tablet. But as you’ll find out in most of our Windows tablet reviews, this is rarely a case of getting the best of both worlds. One exception is the Surface Pro from Microsoft.

The fourth option is Amazon’s Fire tablets. These are based on Android but are locked into Amazon’s system: you won’t find any Google services or apps on them.

What do you want a tablet for?

Tablets are great for watching videos and TV, for playing games, reading eBooks, and browsing the web. Sharing photos and catching up via Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest are all great on iPads and Android tabs. And you can catch up on email, too.

They’re not so good if you need to create a newsletter, presentation or write up a report. Printing off a spreadsheet or document can prove problematic if you don’t have a printer that’s compatible with your particular tablet. These things are possible, but you’ll find it’s much easier on a laptop or PC.

Here’s the bottom line: for fun, you need an iPad- or Android tablet. For work, go Windows. But only if you can afford the best.

What size tablet is best?

Best tablets UK 2016 - display size

Tablets come in many sizes ranging from almost smartphone-sized screens up to around 13in. For some, a 7-8in tablet is perfect as it’s big enough to be more comfortable to use than an phone, but small enough to fit into a handbag. 

Larger tablets are better for productivity and tend to have more powerful processors, but are heavier and – obviously – larger and less portable. Look for an IPS or AMOLED screen and avoid anything with a TN screen.

Wi-Fi or 4G?

If you need to get on the internet while you’re out and about with your tablet, you might want to go for one which will accept a SIM card. Not many Android tablets have this option, but all iPads do. Just bear in mind that you’ll pay more for a tablet will a SIM slot and that you’ll need to pay for a data-only SIM.

For most people it’s not worth it: you can use your phone to go online, or set your phone up as a Wi-Fi hotspot so that a Wi-Fi only tablet can get online.

iPads also have their own proprietary charging cable with a ‘Lightning’ connector. This means that you need peripherals that work specifically with the iPad.

Android- and Windows tablets typically connect via a microUSB port which means you can use a standard cable and charger, although some Windows tablets also have full-sized USB connectors which are very handy for attaching a USB flash drive, hard drive or even a keyboard or printer. Reversible USB Type-C is becoming more common, too.

How much storage do I need?

Storage is important, but it’s most important with tablets that don’t have a microSD slot, because no slot means you can’t add more storage after you’ve bought the tablet. iPads don’t have microSD slots, and the same is true for a few Android tablets.

The headline number for internal storage can be misleading. For example an 8GB tablet might have only 5GB of free space available to use: the rest is taken up by the operating system and pre-installed apps. Windows tablets can be the worst for this: a 64GB Microsoft Surface might have as little as 23GB of usable space.

Best tablets 2017 UK – best tablet reviews

1. Apple iPad

Apple iPad

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

3. 10.5-inch iPad Pro

10.5-inch iPad Pro

4. iPad mini 4

iPad mini 4

5. Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)

6. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

7. iPad Pro 12.9in (2017)

iPad Pro 12.9in (2017)

8. Google Pixel C

Google Pixel C

9. Amazon Fire HD 8 2017

Amazon Fire HD 8 2017

10. Huawei MediaPad M3

Huawei MediaPad M3

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