Best tablets to buy in 2018: iPad, Galaxy Tab, Amazon Fire and more

Best tablets to buy in 2018: iPad, Galaxy Tab, Amazon Fire and more
What is the best tablet out there? This is one of the questions that seem easy and straightforward to answer at first, even though it is not. It is a question that doesn't have a universal answer. Some would immediately point at the most powerful options the market has to offer: those with gorgeous displays and immense amounts of processing punch, but also with the steepest prices. Others would rather go for something a bit more balanced: something a bit easier on the pocket, yet still capable of getting the job done. No matter which side you're on, the list below surely contains a tablet that would serve you well. 

Apple iPad Pro 11- and 12.9-inch



Pros

  • Outstanding display quality
  • Broad selection of apps and games
  • Great performance
  • Good cameras
  • Solid battery life
  • Quality built-in speakers

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Apple Pencil costs extra

Back in 2010, Apple defined the modern tablet with the release of the first-generation iPad. Today, the 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablets are not only the best tablets in Apple's roster, but also two of the best tablets money can buy. From the gorgeous, tech-packed display and the loud speakers to the powerful processor and smooth performance, there's a lot to like about the two latest iPad Pro models. And with the rich selection of apps, games, and media available in the App Store, Apple's tablets can be hard to put down. But the best iPads come at a price: $799, to be more precise, if you settle for the smaller model and $999 for the larger, 12.9-inch iPad. Add extra storage, cellular connectivity, and the Apple Pencil, and you could be looking at a figure near the $2,000 mark.   


Apple iPad (2018)


Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Broad selection of apps and games
  • Solid battery life

Cons

  • Apple Pencil costs extra
  • Cameras aren't great

Introduced earlier this year, this budget-friendly iPad model isn't the most powerful. With a price of $299 for students, however, the tablet offers a compelling package of features at a reasonable cost. It also happens to be the first non-Pro iPad to support the Apple Pencil, making it even more suitable for use by students and creative individuals. Sure, the cameras aren't anything to write home about and the speakers can't quite rock the house, but none of that matters when you're getting a great overall tablet experience at a fraction of an iPad Pro's cost. 


Samsung Galaxy Tab S4


Pros

  • Premium look and feel
  • Comes bundled with an S Pen stylus
  • Beautiful and fluid software

Cons

  • Quad speakers sound just OK
  • Hefty build and glass back make it hard to handle
  • Snapdragon 835 instead of the newer and faster 845
  • Iris scanner can be a bit awkward on a tablet
  • Underwhelming cameras

The Galaxy Tab S4 is Samsung's answer to Apple's iPad line. It is similar in size and shape, and when paired with Samsung's keyboard cover (sold separately), it can be used for getting actual work done on the go. Samsung's software plays a key role here. Instead of merely stretching the interface you'd find on a phone, Samsung has loaded the S4 with a proper desktop-like layout optimized for tablet use. There are even goodies like windowed multitasking, which helps if you want to take notes during a video that's playing, for example.

To keep you entertained, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 offers a high-res OLED screen and a 4-speaker setup, although the latter could have been tuned to sound better. And for all your sketching and note-taking needs, there's an S Pen digital stylus in the box. 


Huawei MediaPad M5 series


Pros

  • Nice-looking displays
  • Reasonable pricing
  • Stereo/quad speakers
  • Quick battery charging

Cons

  • Mediocre cameras
  • No headphone jack

It seems like most of today's Android tablets are budget-friendly offerings that don't have much to impress with other than their low price. Still, there are some attention-worthy options out there: with solid specs and reasonable pricing. On that short list is the Huawei MediaPad M5 series. The smallest and lightest tablet in the pack, the 8.4-inch MediaPad M5, could be a great travel companion, while the 10-inch M5 model packs quad speakers for richer audio in games and movies. Priced at $320 and $360 respectively, these two Android tablets deliver plenty of bang for the buck.


Amazon Fire 10 HD 


Pros

  • Super affordable
  • Adequate specs for the price

Cons

  • Displays ads (which can be removed for a fee)

Amazon's Fire tablets have always been great at doing one thing: delivering the basic tablet functionality at a killer price. And indeed, the company can put an Android tablet in your hands for as low as 50 bucks, while the extra-rugged, kid-friendly models start at just $100. But if you're set on buying an Amazon Fire tablet, we'd advise you to go for the Amazon Fire 10 HD. Starting at $150, it easily fits into most people's budgets, and its decent hardware specs make it capable enough to keep you entertained for hours at a time. 

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38 Comments

1. GreenMan

Posts: 2698; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

The iPad 6th Gen. takes the cake. This is about the only tablet in the list (Excluding The iPad Pro) that's going to be relevant even in 2022. And I just absolutely love iOS 11 tailored for tablets with Blackberry Playbook like gestures, extremely fluid performance, dual-screen mutli-tasking and a flagship level SoC that's on par (If not superior) than Snapdragon 845. All that for mere $320. Fantastic! G'Day!

12. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2452; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I think come this September when they release the new iPad Pros that there will be less and less of a reason to jump up in price to get a MacBook. While I do think Apple overprices their iPhones, I am actually baffled and kind of amazed the value you get with the iPad. For the $600 you pretty much get something that can perform like a lot of $1000 laptops (including the MacBook). Note I said “a lot” and not “all”. I have to make sure I bold that because I will probably get a comment saying the Surface Pro is better or X laptop is still better.

13. GreenMan

Posts: 2698; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

The feeling is mutual, Doc.

16. yalokiy

Posts: 1057; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

If you count only single core CPU performance, A10 is ahead. But then, the OS and apps can use multiple cores, and there is also GPU. So in real life, SD845 is about 50% ahead in CPU performance and about the same for GPU. Add to this a screen without any antireflective tech and that's not OGS, cheap cameras, only 2GB RAM and suddenly it's not as tempting anymore.

19. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2452; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Well name a tablet that you can buy for $299 that beats it then? It’s now only $299 and I can’t find any Android tablet that can beat it.

33. yalokiy

Posts: 1057; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

Performance is not everything about a tablet. For some iOS is just too limited. Considering it's not a tablet for work, but for media consumption, screen and audio quality, storage are more important. $300 for 32GB with no option to expand? No thanks. I would rather add a few bucks and get Huawei mediapad m5 10. There are also other Android options that offer better screen&audio quality, expandable storage for about the same price: Asus zenpad 3s 10, Lenovo yoga tab 3 plus.

31. deleon629

Posts: 469; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

I wanna be up-in-arms about your comment but, after having used both tablets for productivity and media consumption for a while, I gotta agree. iPad Pro 9.7/10.5 are tempting buys for anyone looking to do a few things well in contrasts to being told (by MSFT) that you have "eveything but the kitchen sink" in tablet form-factor & its not true b/c of all the bugs.

2. surethom

Posts: 1720; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

The Huawei mediapad M5 10 is a fantastic tablet fantastic display & sound quality the 2 down sides no headphone jack & the display is so so so reflective.

10. libra89

Posts: 2298; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Thank you. I started looking at the mediapads and this is good to know.

3. tedkord

Posts: 17415; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Noting beats the Surface Pro, or other win x86 tablets. Nothing comes close. I recently picked up a Galaxy Tab A 10.1 with S-Pen (only because Samsung owed me $200 for a promotion they screwed me out of, and the $200 credit had a quick expiration - otherwise I'd have waited for the Gear S4). It's fluid and fast. I only use it for media consumption (Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Vudu, Tivo, etc...) and it works perfectly for that.

18. Popop971

Posts: 46; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

"Noting beats the Surface Pro, or other win x86 tablets. Nothing comes close." It really depend on what you do with a tablet. Many people (including me) doesn't need Windows. What we want : apps for our basics usage, great screen, good performance, best battery life as possible. Nearly all tablets are good for apps selection (including windows tablets because of x86 programs). But when I look at the other aspects, I'll take an Ipad over a Windows tablet. Some people think that windows tablets are better because they can do "more". But not everyone wants those extra tools. Ipad has better battery life (especially standby time) and is easier to use. That's enough for many consumer to choose this over a windows tablet.

23. tedkord

Posts: 17415; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

That's called personal choice. That doesn't change the fact that the most powerful versatile tablet on the market is the Surface Pro. No matter what you want to do on Tablet, the Surface Pro can do it, and it can do things the others can't.

26. Popop971

Posts: 46; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

The title of the article is "the best tablet to buy". Sure the Surface or most x86 tablet are more powerful and versatile. But are they the best tablet to buy ? Does some tablets actually "beat them" when it comes to "pure tablet" usage ? Yeah, actually, some does. Consumer choice isn't just about picking the product with the higher specs or options. It's to pick the product that actually suits needs and usage. The Bugatti Chiron is among the most powerful car on the planet. But if I live in a small town, with many speed bumps, turns, narrow roads ... I'll prefer having a smaller, easier to drive, slower but more fuel efficient car. My sister use her old

28. Popop971

Posts: 46; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

*her old 7" galaxy tab 2.0 for facebook, youtube, web browsing, and some games ... What is she going to do with a Surface ? i plan to give her a galaxy tab A or an Ipad mini as an upgrade.

30. deleon629

Posts: 469; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

Being that I use both iOS tablets and the Surface Pro tablets, we gotta admit that the MSFT tablets generally don't deliver on their promises to offer a desktop experience in the tablet form factor. What's worse is, on top of that, they neither have good customer service to at least TRY to compensate for their failed attempts.

4. TechSceptic

Posts: 1156; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

You should rather buy a 2-in-1 than a tablet, they're much more versatile, powerful and superior for actual work and productivity.

20. Popop971

Posts: 46; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

The key words here are "work and productivity.". As long as someone doesn't need to do this on a tablet, there is no need for a 2-in-1. I had a Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S before. And I was barely using it for productivity. After that, I just bought a product for "pure" tablet usage, and I had a way better experience.

5. KashunatoR

Posts: 47; Member since: Jul 21, 2014

Funny how the lack of headphone jack is not a con for the ipad, just for the mediapad... i..PhoneArena at work here :)))

7. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

iPad has an headphone jack.

9. Nick_T

Posts: 186; Member since: May 27, 2011

Both iPads have the jack :)

36. JJLL26

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 04, 2018

Sorry but the iPad Pro 2018 does NOT have a headphone jack. What are you talking about?

6. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

iPad only.

14. japkoslav

Posts: 1518; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

If your priority is media consumption, I don't really see a reason to pick iPad. 4:3, really poor speakers and you know that SDcard thingy is a good point to buy almost anything else.

15. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Poor speakers? iPad Pro and iPad 10.5 Pro comes with 4 stereo speakers best sound tablet when it comes to audio and media. Bro you need to return back you iPad Pro might be need a replacement.

17. japkoslav

Posts: 1518; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

iPad Pro is not best sounding tablet, Yoga tablets are. And I was talking about iPads, not pros. If only thing you do is media consumtion iPad are bad, iPad Pro are on the other hand just a waste of money (for media purposes). + I can't return it, belive me, I would.

21. whatev

Posts: 2333; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

Give it to me then, I’m happy with my iPad and I wouldn’t mind having a spare iPad just in case

24. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

You should try iPad Pro10.5 the best iPad to date. My advice to you sell your iPad Pro and go for iPad 10.5 Pro or wait for next iPad if you want somthing worth it. By the way I used nexus tab and Samsung tabs and I would tell you there’s no tab right now in the market compare it to iPad even in terms of quality leave a lone apps and other staff.

32. japkoslav

Posts: 1518; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

Tried to sell it, literally nobody wants it. And that was with a really decent discount, to my "IT group on FB". I certainly won't sell iPad just to buy iPad :-D are you dumb? I own 4 tablets, iPad Pro is nothing special, well it is the worst OS experience but that does not really count. Might buy new iPad Pro in future, Samsung Tab S4 or that HP Chromebook X2, that looks capable. We'll see if the S4, X2 or iOS 12 is something interesting. My guess is they all will be boring as hell with zero innovations, but who knows I might be wrong.

34. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Alright this up to you buy whatever You like I’m so happy with iPad and I didn’t be happy with nexus and Samsung tab.

11. libra89

Posts: 2298; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

This is actually very timely for me, as I am seeking a tablet to read pdf books and books in general, such as epub and Kindle books. Can't seem to find a reader that supports all of those so a tablet is the best option. Thank you PhoneArena. I'm leaning towards the Huawei MediaPad Lite for size and decent specs.I don't mind the lack of the jack or cameras since it's just for reading.

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