We purchased the The 4 Best Gaming Tablets so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full products reviews.
Anywhere you go, the best gaming tablets can put a vast, growing world of games in your hands. Sure, smartphones allow you to play mobile games on the go, but tablets offer a larger screen, longer battery life, and often more powerful hardware. Because tablets are rarely made specifically for gaming, the devices that handle games the best are often the best tablets in general. You can browse the internet, read documents, type on a keyboard, or draw with a stylus before relaxing with a few games.
When it comes to choosing the best tablet, much like choosing the best smartphone, it usually comes down to iPad vs. Android. Apple’s trailblazing tablet has a clear advantage when it comes to gaming. It’s difficult to argue with the quality and performance of the various iPad models (especially at the higher end). Even so, there are a variety of reasons why you might choose an Android tablet, such as a Samsung Galaxy Tab, or even a Windows tablet.
We’ll walk you through the best of these options and point you in the direction of the best tablet for you.
Best iPad: Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th Generation 2020)
The iPad Pro () could be considered the best of the best if Apple iPads represent the top tier of tablets. The 4th-generation model retains the 12.9-inch screen (with a smaller model at 11 inches) and 2732 x 2048-pixel resolution of the previous generation. That’s a Liquid Retina display with 264 pixels per inch (PPI) and additional motion and color technologies that make your games look crisp, smooth, and stunning.
Oh, and there’s the A12Z Bionic chip, which may be the fastest you’ll find on a tablet, with 6GB of RAM on all models and an 8-core graphics processor, ensuring you’ll be able to run even the most visually demanding mobile games with ease.
This laptop-level performance comes at a high price, so if you’re not set on buying a tablet, you might want to look at other options. However, if you’re looking for a tablet that’s completely dedicated to gaming, the iPad Pro is hard to beat. You can load up on games and play all day with configurations that include up to 1TB of storage space and a battery that lasts about 10 hours.
The four powerful speakers produce excellent audio, and the high-end cameras include a laser-based LiDAR scanner for more immersive augmented reality (AR) applications. A mouse and keyboard were recently added, and you can connect a variety of wireless controllers. It’s just as useful for work as it is for play.
Operating System: iPadOS 14 | Screen Size: 12.9 inches | Resolution: 2732 x 2048 | Processor: A12Z Bionic chip | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB to 1TB | Camera: 7MP front, 12MP/10MP rear | Battery Capacity: 36.71 watt-hour
Best Value: Apple iPad (2020)
Although Apple’s classic, entry-level iPad isn’t as fancy as its more expensive siblings, it’s still a great deal for a powerful piece of mobile gaming hardware. The A12 Bionic processor in the 8th generation tablet can outperform even full laptops and 2-in-1 convertibles, so it won’t have any trouble with graphics-intensive games.
The 10.2-inch Retina display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620 pixels provides crisp, responsive visuals for gaming and plenty of screen space to enjoy the graphics. It’s useful for things like sitting in a tower and sniping enemies from afar in Fortnite.
The iPad () runs on iPadOS 14, Apple’s latest tablet-specific operating system, which makes navigating and switching apps easier than ever before. You can use Apple’s App Store and its vast selection of games, or you can pay a monthly fee to get unlimited access to a variety of titles through the Apple Arcade gaming service.
The 2020 iPad, like the iPad Pro, has a lot more features than just gaming. You’ll be able to squeeze some productivity in between games if you connect a Bluetooth keyboard. It works with the Apple Pencil, so you’ll be able to express yourself with the powerful stylus. You’ll have plenty of time for games, emails, and sketching with a battery life of up to 10 hours. When it comes to storage space, the 32GB model doesn’t provide much, so the 128GB model may be the better option if you plan on downloading a lot of modern games.
Operating System: iPadOS 14 | Screen Size: 10.2 inches | Resolution: 2160 x 1620 | Processor: A12 Bionic chip | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB or 128GB | Camera: 1.2MP front, 8MP rear | Battery Capacity: 32.4 watt-hour
Related: The 5 Best iPad Stands
Best Android: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+
Although Android tablet offerings have traditionally lagged behind Apple’s, Samsung’s latest flagship model is proving to be a serious competitor to the iPad Pro. The premium Galaxy Tab S7+ () is powered by a powerful octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor that is capable of multitasking and productivity as well as high-quality gaming.
The visual experience is perhaps even more impressive than the S7performance—our +’s reviewer found the 12.4-inch, 2800 x 1752-pixel display to be the best screen he’s seen on any tablet. Samsung’s Super-AMOLED technology helps it deliver vibrant, accurate colors and deep blacks, as well as a fast 120Hz refresh rate that keeps up with on-screen action for smooth gameplay.
The Android operating system, which combines with Samsung’s One UI interface for an efficient, modern tablet experience, is most likely one of your reasons for choosing an Android tablet. The Google Play store has a ton of games and apps to choose from, and the S7+ comes with up to 512GB of internal storage to fill (expandable by up to 1TB via microSD card).
Subscribers to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with Android devices can also take advantage of Microsoft’s cloud gaming service, which allows you to stream high-end Xbox games like Halo without having to download them. And, because the S7+ is the first tablet to support 5G connectivity, you can play those games even if you don’t have access to Wi-Fi.
Operating System: Android 10 | Screen Size: 12.4 inches | Resolution: 2800 x 1752 | Processor: Qualcomm SDM865+ | RAM: 6GB or 8GB | Storage: 128GB-512GB (microSD up to 1TB) | Camera: 8MP front, 13MP/5MP rear | Battery Capacity: 10,090 milliamp-hours
Related: The 5 Best E-Readers for Seniors
Best Splurge: Microsoft Surface Book 3 15-Inch
While it isn’t cheap, Microsoft’s Surface Book 3 () (specifically the 15-inch model, though the 13.5-inch model can be just as capable) provides the most impressive tablet experience available. It’s a 2-in-1 hybrid laptop-tablet, and it’s a powerful productivity machine when used as a full laptop with a keyboard.
It has a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, up to 32GB of RAM, and up to 2TB of solid-state storage. It also comes with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card with Max-Q and 6GB of VRAM, giving it a gaming performance that the pure tablets on this list can’t match. Simply put, any tablet or smartphone-grade system-on-a-chip will struggle to compete with a dedicated graphics processor of that caliber.
Only when the Surface Book 3 is docked in laptop mode can you use the discrete graphics card, but when you detach the screen from the keyboard base, you’ll have plenty of options in true tablet mode. When you feel like getting artsy after a long gaming session, you can use the Surface Pen to get incredible stylus quality. Another significant advantage of any Windows tablet is the ability to play full PC video games on Windows machines.
Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Screen Size: 15 inches | Resolution: 3240 x 2160 | Processor: Intel Core i7-1065G7 | RAM: 16GB or 32GB | Storage: 256GB to 2TB | Camera: 5MP front, 8MP rear | Battery Life: 17.5 hours with base
The Final Word
For those looking for an Android tablet, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7+ is a powerful alternative. Its bright, large display makes games look fantastic.