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Best tablets in South Africa for 2021

Best tablet 2020
(Image credit: Apple)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

A good tablet should be able to function as a really useful tool - as a portable entertainment machine, workday productivity powerhouse or slate for your creative endeavours ; it may even work like a huge phone or a small laptop.

If you're looking for a great tablet you're in the right place. Here we've collected a list of the 10 best tablets you can buy.

Choosing the right tablet for you is a complicated job as a good slate acts as a powerful laptop replacement for work, entertainment, and everything in between. It has to do all that while remaining easy to carry around, look good and offer strong battery life.

Luckily, we've been able to try all the products you'll find below and rank them in terms of their features, how fast they are, the price, the display quality and much more.

Expect this list to change regularly. The Microsoft Surface tablet, considered a genuine iPad competitor, has only just launched in South Africa, and now there's rumours of a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 that may enter this list soon. 

Below you'll find our ranking of the very best tablets, and hopefully you'll be able to find a slate that is suited to you. If you're looking for a tablet-like device that can be used for working on, check out our pick of the best 2-in-1 laptops.

Best tablets at a glance:

  1. Apple iPad Pro 11 (2018)
  2. Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)
  3. iPad 10.2 (2019)
  4. iPad Air (2019)
  5. iPad Mini (2019)
  6. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
  7. iPad Pro 10.5 (2017)
  8. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
  9. Microsoft Surface Pro
  10. Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e

iPad Pro 11 (2018)

(Image credit: Apple)

1. iPad Pro 11 (2018)

The best tablet you can buy right now

Specifications
Weight: 468g
Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm
OS: iPadOS
Screen size: 11-inch
Resolution: 2388 x 1668 pixels
CPU: A12X Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
microSD slot: No
Battery: 7,812mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Pencil clips on, finally+Insane amount of power for a tablet
Reasons to avoid
-Software limits laptop experience-Pencil and keyboard expensive extras

The iPad Pro 11 is the best tablet you can buy today. It's expensive for sure, but it's Apple's most powerful tablet and furthers the 2-in-1 design ethos if you spring for the keyboard cover folio. 

It has a laptop-like experience in design and performance, and the new Apple Pencil magnetically clips onto the frame of the new iPad Pro. With superb speakers and a great new screen-to-body ratio, it's hard not to fall in love with the finely crafted hardware design. 

However, there are setbacks for the iPad Pro 11 that you should be aware of. iPadOS is better than previous versions of Apple's tablet software when you're trying to multitask and perform laptop-like tasks, but it is far from perfect.

Another strictly mobile challenge: it doesn't have a headphone jack. If you want the standard 3.5mm jack in a computer-like device, you'll want to spring for an actual computer or some other tablets.

Everything about the iPad Pro 11 makes it the best tablet experience if you're looking for an Apple-made slate - you'll just need to swallow the high price and keep in mind that it's not a true laptop replacement.   

Read the full review: iPad Pro 11

iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

(Image credit: Apple)

2. iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

The best big tablet around right now

Specifications
Weight: 632g
Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm
OS: iPadOS
Screen size: 12.9-inch
Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels
CPU: A12X Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
microSD slot: No
Battery: 9,720mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Huge screen+Tremendous processing power
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life could be longer-Face ID isn't perfect

The iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) isn't the very best tablet but it's not far off with its huge 12.9-inch screen. We haven't ranked it in the top spot mostly down to its extraordinarily high price.

Its like a giant digital canvas that fills your needs whether you need a personal workstation, easel, portable cinema, book-shaped loudspeaker, music mixing desk, or a range of other functions.

However, it's also extremely expensive, and doesn't feel like such a step up from the iPad Pro 11 (2018) as its higher price would suggest.

With it's unrivaled processing power, massive display, snappy operating system, and the fact you can use it with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, it's definitely a tablet you should consider if you've got money to burn – but you can do better if you're on a budget.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

iPad 10.2 (2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

3. iPad 10.2 (2019)

The best tablet for the average consumer

Specifications
Weight: 483g
Dimensions: 251 x 174 x 7.5mm
OS: iPadOS
Screen size: 10.2-inch
Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels
CPU: A10 Fusion
RAM: 3GB
Storage: 32/128GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: Up to 10 hours
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 1.2MP
Reasons to buy
+Bigger screen than previous models+Works with Smart Keyboard
Reasons to avoid
-Older iPads are cheaper-iPad Air better for sketching

For the average person, the iPad 10.2 is arguably the best choice for a tablet right now. It may not be the most powerful tablet on sale, but it's incredible value.

The iPad 10.2 replaces the very similar iPad 9.7 (2018) that featured a slightly smaller display - you can probably work that out from the names - but sports relatively similar spec for an affordable price. This isn't as high-tech as the iPad Pro models above, but it's still a remarkably useful tablet.

It comes with iPadOS right out of the box giving you all the latest features you'd expect from a tablet, plus it works with Apple Pencil and there's a Smart Keyboard you can also use to make this a productivity device.

It also has the same luxurious metal unibody as the rest of Apple's iPad range, though notably it's ever-so-slightly thicker than the other models of the tablet range at 7.5mm.

Battery life on this iPad is strong, it doesn't cost as much as a lot of other products in this list and it comes with a capable chipset powering it too. It's hard to go wrong if you're looking for an everyday tablet that doesn't have to sport the very best power and features.

Read the full review: iPad 10.2 (2019)

iPad Air (2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

4. iPad Air (2019)

The middle iPad

Specifications
Weight: 456g
Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm
OS: iPadOS
Screen size: 10.5-inch
Resolution: 1668 x 2224 pixels
CPU: A12 Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB
microSD slot: No
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant-looking laminated screen+Cheapest Smart Keyboard iPad
Reasons to avoid
-Uses the 1st Gen Apple Pencil-Traditional design doesn't wow

If you're looking for a good compromise between Apple's new Pro tablets and the base iPad 10.2, this is it. It's compatible with Apple's excellent Smart Keyboard Cover and priced right for students looking to take notes on a powerful laptop.

It does have Apple Pencil compatibility like all of Apple's newer tablets, but it's not the best tablet for artists. 

The Pro versions support Apple Pencil Gen 2 with extra gesture features and magnetic charging. This iPad Pro 10.5 sticks with the older Gen 1 Pencil and has just two speakers instead of four. But everyone should be fine with the fast A12 chipset.

Read the full review: iPad Air (2019)

iPad Mini (2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

5. iPad Mini (2019)

The best (and only) small tablet on our best tablet list

Specifications
Weight: 304g
Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1 mm
OS: iPadOS
Screen size: 7.9-inch
Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels
CPU: A12 Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: 5,124mAh
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Perfect portable size+Surprisingly powerful specs
Reasons to avoid
-Bezel-heavy design-Uses the older Apple Pencil

Apple doesn't have a foldable phone, but if it did it might look something like the iPad mini 2019 when unfolded. It hasn't really changed since the last version almost four years ago, but it doesn't need to: we love the small size.

You can flip open the smart cover, scribble some notes, and toss it in a bag without too much worry. 

Yes, the design is a little dated and there are thick bezels outlining this screen, but the price is right for a portable tablet with a lot of power. You really shouldn't consider buying any other small tablet on the market (notice: it's the only one on our best tablet list).

Read the full review: iPad mini (2019)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

(Image credit: Samsung)

6. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

The best Android tablet available now

Specifications
Weight: 420g
Dimensions: 244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 10.5-inch
Resolution: 1600 x 2560 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 855
Storage: 128GB/256GB
microSD slot: Yes
Battery: 7,040mAh
Rear camera: 13MP + 5MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful AMOLED display+S Pen as standard
Reasons to avoid
-Samsung's One UI not perfect-No headphone jack

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is the best Android tablet available now – it's the newest slate from Samsung's Tab S line, and it comes with all the cutting-edge features you'd expect for such a premium device.

There are two rear cameras, which is impressive for a tablet, as well as a high-end processor and best-in-class AMOLED display, so it's a useful piece of kit. It also comes with an S Pen stylus for notes, doodles or sketches, and you can buy a smart keyboard for a laptop-like experience.

There are a few issues with the Galaxy Tab S6, like the lack of a headphone jack and an iffy user interface, but if you're looking for the best tablet and don't want an iPad, this is your best bet.

Read our full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

iPad Pro 10.5

(Image credit: Apple)

7. iPad Pro 10.5

This former flagship tablet is still one of our favorites

Specifications
Weight: 469g
Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm
OS: iPadOS
Screen size: 10.5-inch
Resolution: 1668 x 2224
CPU: A10X Fusion
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: 8,134mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Great speakers+512GB version
Reasons to avoid
-Screen adds a lot of expense-iOS still isn't a good laptop replacement

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch is one of the best tablets for anyone who wants a serious upgrade, even though the cheaper iPad 10.2 remains good enough for most people.

Apple's iPad Pro 10.5 has standout features that give it a productivity boost, including Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard compatibility. With iPadOS on board this tablet is even a suitable laptop replacement for certain consumers.

The new ProMotion screen adds an impressive layer of fluidity to daily use and the smaller bezels means you're getting far more display in a footprint not much bigger than the iPad Pro 9.7.

It's an iPad for the professionals - but also one that media munchers will adore using.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 10.5

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

(Image credit: Samsung)

8. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

Cheaper, and still quite great

Specifications
Weight: 476g
Dimensions: 244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 10.4-inch
Resolution: 1200 x 2000 pixels
CPU: Exynos 9610
Storage: 64GB/128GB
microSD slot: Yes
Battery: 7,040mAh
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 5MP
Reasons to buy
+Robust design+S Pen as standard
Reasons to avoid
-Can be a little sluggish-Some issues with S Pen

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a cheaper version of the Galaxy Tab S6 that you've read about above, and rather than offering a smaller tablet it instead loses a couple of high-end specs to keep the price down.

Samsung hasn't included a top-end chipset or the greatest cameras here, but it's far more affordable than a lot of the other options you'll find on this list.

If you're sure an Android tablet will do what you need it to, Samsung products are some of the very best on the market and you'd be hard pressed to go wrong with opting for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

Microsoft Surface Pro

9. Microsoft Surface Pro

The Windows tablet that can replace your Windows laptop

Specifications
Weight: 768g/770g/784g
Dimensions: 292 x 201 x 8.5mm
OS: Windows 10 Pro
Screen size: 12.3-inch
Resolution: 1824 x 2736
CPU: Intel Core m3, i5 or i7
RAM: 4GB/8GB/16GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
microSD slot: Yes
Battery: up to 13.5 hours video playback
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 5MP
Reasons to buy
+Improved Surface Pen+Integrated kickstand
Reasons to avoid
-No Surface Pen in package-Not as powerful as some rivals until Core i7

Can a tablet really replace your laptop or home PC? That's still up for debate, but the best tablet trying to make that happen is the Microsoft Surface Pro. We’re surprised Microsoft has refrained from calling this the Surface Pro 5, as it's a big upgrade on the 4 - although it is rather expensive, like many tablets in this list.

It does a fine job with the full blown version of Windows 10, an integrated kickstand and optional keyboard attachment. 

Great for for creative professionals, students and everyday folks alike, this is a top choice and one of the best Windows laptops we've reviewed.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e (Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e

Solid specs and handling for a little less

Specifications
Weight: 400g
Dimensions: 245 x 160 x 5.5mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 10.5-inch
Resolution: 2560 x 1600
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 7040mAh
Rear camera: 13MP
Front camera: 8MP
Memory card slot: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Great screen quality+Neat thin and light design 
Reasons to avoid
-Not competitively priced-Underwhelming storage

Another triumph for Samsung's S series is the 5e which pips the excellent S6 Lite for both processing power and features, but that comes at such a massive price premium that it ends up ranking below it in our overall standings. 

The 5e is has a superb Quad HD AMOLED screen, a quad speaker system and a large 7040mAh battery packed into a body standing just 5.5mm thick and weighing just 400g  (that's thinner and lighter than the iPad 2018 and with a bigger screen). It does face unlocking, of course, but it also does fast fingerprint authentication through a sensor cleverly concealed in the power button. It all adds up to a genuinely high end Android experience, but costs a lot less than top end Samsung's S6. 

Read the hands-on review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e

Tablet apps

As with today's best phones, applications play a big role on tablets – once you've decided which of these tablets is 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.