10 best tablets

From super-light devices to those which double up as a laptop, we assess the competition

We've tested the latest releases to find you the best tablets on the market ( Apple )

The tablet is the great substitute to the laptop, offering greater portability because it's thinner and lighter than most proper computers, a touchscreen interface and, in some cases, a million or more apps to choose from.

Though there were tablet computers before 2010, it was the arrival of the Apple iPad which changed everything. At first, it was seen as primarily a device for media consumption such as watching movies, playing games and following recipes, say. But it quickly became a laptop alternative when keyboards and later styluses were developed.

Everything changed with the arrival of the iPad Pro, which has just been updated with an especially powerful processor and upgraded design. It has software which has been developed to include file management and split screen capabilities to be pretty much as versatile as a laptop.

There are several main operating systems to choose from in tablets: Apple's iPads use iOS, Google's Android system is on tablets from companies like Samsung and Huawei. Google is also about to release its own tablet, called the Pixel Slate, using Chrome. Microsoft's Windows is on tablets as well as

PCs, from brands like HP and Microsoft itself. Finally, Amazon has a special version of Android which it uses on its tablets. Amazon tests all the apps before allowing them onto its platform.

Apple iPad Pro: From £769, Apple

Operating system: iOS 12
Screen size: 11in, 12.9in
Storage capacity: 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB​
Wi-fi or wi-fi and 4G? Both available

The newly released iPad Pro is easily the best tablet yet, from any brand. This latest model comes in two screen sizes and is the first iPad to use Face ID – there's no fingerprint sensor on the new iPad Pro. As a result of removing the fingerprint button, the tablet has a full-screen front which is sumptuous and attractive – and also means the overall size of the tablet is reduced compared to most other models. Note that these are the first iPads which do not have a headphone socket, nor do they come supplied with headphones.

The iPad Pro is extremely thin and light, even the larger model. It packs in an advanced processor which delivers great performance, even if you are a creative with specialised needs. The Smart Keyboard Folio and Apple Pencil (version 2) are sold separately but are both brilliant – the keyboard is comfortable to use and makes the iPad Pro a very effective laptop alternative. An earlier iPad Pro with fingerprint sensor and a 10.5in display is also available.

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Microsoft Surface Go: From £379, Argos

Operating system: Windows 10
Screen size: 10in​
Storage capacity: 64GB, 128GB​
Wi-fi or Wi-fi and 4G? Wi-fi

Microsoft's 10-inch tablet is its most portable yet. Like other tablets in its Surface range, it has a fold-out kickstand that works well whether for watching video, angled right back for note-taking or to use as a laptop with an optional keyboard accessory. There's a stylus called the Surface Pen, also sold separately. It sounds good, with decent volume and a decent amount of bass. Like the iPad Pro, the Surface Go comes with facial recognition, used to log in to Windows. The Go is reasonably fast and very enjoyable to use, and is great for taking on your travels.

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Amazon Fire HD 8: From £79.99, Amazon

Operating system: Amazon Fire OS
Screen size: 8in​
Storage capacity: 16GB, 32GB​
Wi-fi or Wi-fi and 4G? Wi-fi

Amazon's tablets are astonishing value, not least because the company sells them at break-even prices. The Fire OS is designed to show you any Kindle ebooks you might own, and if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you can watch programmes and movies from there on here. Amazon tablets are well-made and fun to use. The HD 8 comes in four colours: black, canary yellow, marine blue and punch red.

Amazon's popular virtual personal assistant, Alexa, is on this tablet and responds when you call her name to answer questions, set calendar appointments or tell you a joke. The 8-inch screen is good quality and unlike some tablets, you can expand the memory by adding a microSD memory card. The price includes special offers, that is, an advert shows when you turn it on. You can get rid of this at any time, including when you buy it, for an extra £10.

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Apple iPad: From £319, Apple

Operating system: iOS 12
Screen size: 9.7in
Storage capacity: 32GB, 128GB​
Wi-fi or Wi-fi and 4G? Both available

The entry-level iPad is the best-value iPad Apple has ever made. The display is not huge at 9.7 inches, and it lacks the Face ID of the latest Pro models, but it is highly capable and a dream to use. For most people, this is the best iPad you can buy. It is fast and effective and comes in a range of colours.

This year's model is the first to be compatible with the Apple Pencil (it's the first-generation model, not the new one that works with the new iPad Pro), which adds a whole new interaction. The same software as is on the pricier Pro means you can do almost as much to use the iPad as though it were a laptop in terms of multitasking and file management.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S4: £599, Currys

Operating system: Android
Screen size: 10.5in
Storage capacity: 64GB​
Wi-fi or Wi-fi and 4G? Wi-fi only

This is a high-end Android tablet and it feels and looks luxurious. A real standout is the display – unlike others here it uses an OLED screen not LCD which looks bright, vivid and detailed, one of the best tablet screens anywhere, making it especially good for watching movies. Another rarity is that the smart stylus, called the S Pen, comes as standard. It's thin and light, though be careful of smudging the glass back, it's a fingerprint magnet.

There's an iris scanner to identify you, which works well, though not as well as on the iPad Pro. Samsung has a system called DeX which lets you connect the tablet to a monitor, add a keyboard and mouse and use it as though it's a computer. This means you can have multiple windows open on a bigger display.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 6: From £879, Microsoft

Operating system: Windows 10
Screen size: 12.3in
Storage capacity: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB​
Wi-fi or Wi-fi and 4G? Wi-fi only

Like a regular PC, you can configure the specs on this sixth-generation Surface Pro in detail. As well as storage capacity, there are options for RAM and even the processor, so you can choose something exactly as powerful as you need it to be. This doesn't come cheap, just as the top-of-the-range iPad Pro isn't a budget proposition. It has a big, bold screen (only the 12.9in iPad Pro has a bigger display of the tablets on test) and comes with the trademark Surface kickstand and optional keyboard cover.

Other options include a cool fold-flat Surface Arc mouse and Surface Pen stylus. Because it runs Windows, this really does become a full-on PC when the keyboard cover is attached, complete with trackpad. It's slick and powerful, and light enough to take anywhere.

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Amazon Fire HD10: From £149.99, Amazon

Operating system: Amazon Fire OS
Screen size: 10.1in
Storage capacity: 32GB, 64GB​
Wi-fi or Wi-fi and 4G? Wi-f only

If you like the idea of a capable tablet at a low price but want something a little bigger than the Fire HD8, this 10-inch tablet is excellent value. The display isn't as high-resolution as the iPad but still looks good. The processor is more than fast enough for video playback and games. There's no dedicated keyboard or stylus, so this is arguably a tablet better suited for consumption first and creation second. Of course, Amazon's voice assistant Alexa is included and this was the first Fire tablet with hands-free Alexa (she responds when you speak her name from across the room).

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Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro: £419.99, Amazon

Operating system: Android
Screen size: 10.8in
Storage capacity: 64GB​
Wi-fi or wi-fi and 4G? Wi-fi only

Unlike most of the tablets here, this has a widescreen display which makes it good for watching movies, especially. Audio is good, here, too, though the iPad Pro with its four speakers edges it. It comes with a stylus which is effective and versatile, thanks to two buttons which add extra features. You can divide the screen in two for multi-app use. It looks good and is fun to use.

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Amazon Fire 7: From £49.99, Amazon

Operating system: Amazon Fire OS
Screen size: 7in​
Storage capacity: 8GB, 16GB​
Wi-fi or Wi-fi and 4G? Wi-fi only

If you're happy with a smaller screen on your tablet, this seven-inch model from Amazon is the best budget tablet of all. The screen is good, though not as high resolution as the other Fire tablets here. The tablet is light and, of course, at this size it's the ultimate in portability. Like the other Amazon tablets here, it has an expandable memory slot so you can add to the (very basic) 8GB or 16GB built-in storage.

This tablet is ideal as an ebook reader thanks to its size (though if that's all you want it for, an Amazon Kindle is better). It has Alexa hands-free, but only when the tablet is connected to the mains or the screen is on, otherwise you have to press a button to awaken the virtual assistant. Looks good, too.

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The Verdict: Best tablets

The best tablet, by a country mile, is the iPad Pro thanks to its super-speedy processor that outdoes most laptops, brilliant interface and beautiful design. If you like the design but don't need the power, the regular iPad is brilliant value and works like a dream. And if it's a low price that is most important, the Amazon tablets are all very keenly priced and offer strong performance. If Windows is the most important thing, because you want to run any program you like on it, then the Microsoft Surface Pro is hard to beat.

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