There are plenty of people out there who say tablets are dead. iPad sales are down and innovation is pretty low year-to-year.
The problem is that analysts, tech companies, and consumers often hope new product line launches like tablets or smartwatches will have as big of an impact on the market as smartphones did. The truth about tablets though is that because they aren't used as nearly as frequently as smartphones do, people just don't have the need to update them every year. So yes—tablets are down in sales, but they also aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
If you're out for a tablet right now, you're looking out a lot of great tablets from 2015 and early 2016, including the new products from companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google. Here are our recommendations for what's out there right now.
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10. iPad Air 2 - $499: The iPad Air 2 came out originally in late 2014 and has been our mostly highly recommended tablet ever since. Apple decided to skip out on giving it an update in 2015 (instead opting to introduce the iPad Pro), leaving us wondering what Apple was going to do next with it's iPad Air line. We are now looking at a new springtime release date for the iPad Air 3 rather than the traditional October release, means the Air 2 will most certainly be getting a price reduction soon.
Normally, the iPad Air 2 would top our list. It's got a great design, new multitasking abilities thanks to iOS 9, and apps galore. But with the Air 3 coming in March, we'd suggest waiting a month or so if you can.
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9. Nexus 9 - $399: The Nexus 9 was also released in late 2014, but is still the latest tablet in the Nexus line. It's still a good way to get a stock Android tablet that is sleekly-designed and performs well. More importantly, you can now get the device for $399, or even cheaper if you can find it discounted online somewhere. The updates to Nexus tablets are a bit slower than Apple's or Samsung's, so we're not expecting to see an update to the Nexus 9 this year.
We are, however, probably going to see a new Nexus 7 later this year. So if you're willing to spring for a smaller (and probably cheaper) tablet, you may want to consider waiting for a new Nexus 7.
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8. Pixel-C - $499: When we found out that Google was getting serious about designing and manufacturing its own tablet, there was plenty of reason to be excited. From the exterior, there's everything to like about the Pixel-C: the intuitive magnetic hinge, the beautiful aluminum chassis, and the great display. As an Android tablet alone, the Pixel-C is a great higher-end option.
However, the product suffers from a lot of performance issues, especially involving the keyboard, which lags and stutters like crazy. Furthermore, stock Android just does not do much at all with keyboards in the realm of productivity. All that to say, the Pixel-C is beautiful device, just don't plan on actually using the keyboard attachment all that much.
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7. Galaxy Tab S2 - $339-$499: The first great Samsung tablet was the Tab S, which showed that Samsung was finally serious about making an iPad competitor. The Tab S2 takes everything that was good about that tablet and ups the ante even further with its full metal body and cheaper starting price, the Tab S2 9.7 is a good way to go in a year when it's been over a year and half since we've gotten an iPad Air update.
It comes in both 9.7-inch ($399) and 8.0-inch ($349) form factors, so you'll probably be able to find one that fits what you're looking for. I'll probably never be a fan of Samsung's proprietary Android skin, but if that doesn't bother you too much, the Tab S2 is a pretty good option.
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6. Dell Venue 10 8000: You might be surprised to see the Venue 10 8000 higher on the list than the Pixel-C. They are both great convertible Android tablets, but with the Venue 10, you get much better bang for your buck. With a pricetag of just $399 for the base model, the Dell Venue 10 7000 is a pretty amazing value.
On its own it looks a little lopsided, but the 10-inch tablet has a unique magnetic hinge that seamlessly fits into the optional keyboard. It'll cost you an extra $130, but the keyboard is spacious and responsive—definitely worth the cash. Even without the keyboard, the Venue 10 8000 is just a great Android tablet at the perfect price point.
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5. iPad Pro - $899: The new iPad Pro has a number of things working against it. First off, it's hardly a "Pro" device, which has made plenty of annoyed at the name. It's also more expensive than what most people are probably willing to pay for something that still runs iOS. Though it exists in the world in-between tablets and laptops, the iPad Pro is still primarily a tablet, unlike something like the Surface Pro 4, which runs much more like a traditional ultrabook (which is why it doesn't appear on this list).
Despite it's problems, with the new multitasking features introduced in iOS 9 and the new Apple Pencil, the iPad Pro is still a great product—but for a pretty niche audience. It's not going to replace a traditional computer, but if you have a desktop or iMac are looking for something that will double as a laptop on the go, the iPad Pro is an expensive, but beautiful device.
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4. Nvidia Shield Tablet K1: Tablets under $200 don't have a great reputation, but there have certainly been exceptions over the years. Last year's big exception was the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet K1, which comes at a mind-blowing $199 and is still an absolute steal.
Not only does this tablet have the unique selling point of being a gaming tablet that stream directly from your PC using GeForce Now, it's also a high-quality Android tablet in its own right. This 8.0-inch tablet is our go-to budget tablet, especially if you just happen to be a gamer.
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3. Surface 3 - $399: I've always been a fan of Microsoft's Surface Pro line, but the lighter Surface products have always struggled to impress and find their sweet spot. This a true hybrid product, but for the purposes of distinguishing between laptops and tablet, the Surface 3 falls into this list and really stands out.
It's impressively powerful to set up and use as a productivity device, as well as a tablet you can just recline and watch videos with. If an affordable Windows tablet is what you're looking for, the Surface 3 is really the only tablet you should be seriously considering.
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2. Dell Venue 8 7000 - $299: Dell isn't usually the first company you think of when you think of tablets, but it is doing a great job of changing that. The Dell Venue 8 7000 is a fantastic Android tablet with a really unique bezel-less design, full aluminum body, impressive performance, and a super high-res display.
The jaw-dropping design is sometimes more for looks than practicality, but that doesn't stop this affordable ($299) slab from also being the best Android tablet out there. This thing also takes really great photos, which is often an afterthought for tablets.
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1. iPad mini 4 - $399: We awarded the iPad mini 4 as the best new tablet of 2015 for good reason. Because Apple skipped over an iPad Air update last year, the new iPad mini 4 quickly became the go-to iPad to own. Furthermore, the iPad mini 3 from 2014 was one of the biggest disappointments in recent Apple memory.
But with the iPad mini 4, Apple gave us the update we all wanted from its 7.9-inch iPad line: a Retina Display, a thinner (and lighter) design, and an updated 64-bit chip. For those looking for a smaller, content consumption tablet, the iPad mini 4 is simply the best one you can buy.