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Best tablets in South Africa

Best tablet 2020
(Image credit: Apple)

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 rumors 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

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

Pencil clips on, finally
Insane amount of power for a tablet
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

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

Huge screen
Tremendous processing power
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

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

Bigger screen than previous models
Works with Smart Keyboard
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

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

Brilliant-looking laminated screen
Cheapest Smart Keyboard iPad
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

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

Perfect portable size
Surprisingly powerful specs
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

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

Beautiful AMOLED display
S Pen as standard
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

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

Great speakers
512GB version
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

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

Robust design
S Pen as standard
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

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

Improved Surface Pen
Integrated kickstand
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

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

Great screen quality
Neat thin and light design 
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.