Best tablet 2021

What is the best tablet you can buy?

Tablets are one of tech’s most versatile purchases. You can use them to watch films, send emails, browse the web or even make music. If the size of your phone screen just doesn’t cut it and you don’t want a laptop, then a tablet is the perfect companion.

There are many great tablets out there – iPads are obvious choices – but there are several we’d recommend for you depending on your budget, needs and taste in design. And of course, there are many terrible tablets out there, but rest assured – none of those features in our ranked chart.

Best Tablets 2021

2. iPad 10.2in (2020) – Great for productivity

Apple iPad 10.2in (2020)

It might look the same as just about every iPad from the past few years, but Apple has again created a tablet that’s very hard to complain about.

There might not be enough here to tempt owners of the seventh-gen iPad, but there’s a lot to love here if you’re coming from an older iPad or want to dip your toe into the iPad experience for the first time. 

Apple has made the 10.2in screen brighter this time around and, most importantly, upgraded the ageing A10 to the A12 Bionic, offering significant performance gains compared to 2019’s iPad and most Android tablets on the market.

iPadOS is also maturing, offering a suite of tablet-focused features like Scribble that really elevate Apple’s tablet range above the competition, even at such a cheap price point. The only complaint? The 32GB of storage on the entry-level option – we’d recommend going for the larger 128GB variant, if possible.

Storage aside, this is a great all-rounder tablet and a particularly good buy if you want to use an Apple Pencil.

Read our full Apple iPad 10.2in (2020) review

3. iPad Pro 12.9in (2020) – Great for artists

iPad Pro 12.9in (2020)

Apple’s newest 12.9in iPad Pro is among the most powerful tablets on the market right now, with the new A12Z chipset beating just about every competitor in benchmark tests, but it’s also one of the most expensive options in our chart.

The huge 120Hz 12.9in display is great for graphic design work, watching movies and browsing social media, but it’s not until you pair it with the Magic Keyboard that the Pro’s real potential becomes clear.

This is one of the few tablets that can truly serve as a laptop replacement, albeit a very pricey one. It’s Apple’s best tablet, but if you’re not going to get full use out of the large display and powerful internals, you’d probably be better off with a standard iPad or the latest Air.

Read our full iPad Pro 12.9in (2020) review

4. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ – Best for Android

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+

Samsung’s most accomplished tablet to date, the Galaxy Tab S7+ nails the fundamentals with its display, performance and design, whilst also boasting exciting embellishments in the form of excellent stereo speakers and a solid in-display fingerprint scanner.

You also get a decent set of cameras and the impressive S-Pen stylus in the box, but the software is a bit of a letdown. Many apps on the Google Play Store simply aren’t optimised for Android tablets, so you just get scaled-up clones that wast screen real-estate and lack additional functionality.

While such quirks won’t likely be a dealbreaker for most people, when you consider how polished iPadOS is by comparison, the Tab S7+ does become a little harder to recommend.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ review

5. Lenovo Tab P11 Pro – Great for entertainment

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is a great choice for media-lovers, thanks to its superb display, solid quad-speaker setup and respectable battery life.

The additional flexibility afforded to users by the dedicated keyboard cover and the Lenovo Precision Pen 2 widen the Tab’s appeal too.

If it weren’t for the fact that it feels a little underpowered and the UI quirks that we ran into during testing, this would be an immediate alternative recommendation to the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S series.

Read our full Lenovo Tab P11 Pro review

6. Apple iPad Air (2019) – Great value

Apple iPad Air (2019)

While the 2020 model ups the ante, the 2019 Air is still a fast machine with a large, well-specced screen, long battery life and an attractive (if old-fashioned) design. Traits like the characteristic Home button and the inclusion of a headphone jack will be seen as plus points by many.

It’s still a good value slate considering all those goodies mentioned, while those on a tight budget will be better served by the iPad 10.2in, and the Pro model is probably better for a creative professional.

Read our full Apple iPad Air (2019) review

7. Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – Best for Windows

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

The Surface Pro 7 is a powerful tablet that doubles as a decent laptop if you opt for the Type Cover case, although trying to actually use it in your lap is a challenge not many will succeed with.

The improved internals and upgraded graphics are where the Pro 7 really shines. It’s certainly more powerful than the Pro X, and it’s a massive jump forward from the Surface Pro 6 too. It’s still not a gaming laptop, mind you, and cheaper standard laptops can offer more in terms of raw power, however, you’ll lose that versatile design by going that route.

If you’re going to get the use out of the portability and flexible nature of this 2-in-1, then the Pro 7 is worth considering, that said, there are more powerful laptops at a similar price, if processing grunt is key.  

Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 7 review

8. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite – Very versatile

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is definitely more of a basic productivity and entertainment slate, rather than a laptop replacement, but that means its talents lie in its featherweight design, its affordability and as a brilliant tool for note-taking.

That said, it’s not the only contender in the mid-range tablet space with Samsung’s own Galaxy Tab S5e still trumping the S6 Lite in a few key areas, albeit at a greater cost overall.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite review

9. Apple iPad Mini (2019) – Most compact

Apple iPad mini (2019)

The iPad Mini proves that this form factor is still desirable and useful, even in an age of larger smartphones. With the A12 processor at an affordable base price, Apple’s smallest tablet is a tiny powerhouse of a computer. 

Yes, the design is eight years old but with the addition of Apple Pencil support and with decent battery life, Apple has breathed new life back into the iPad Mini. Not everyone wants or needs to spend £1,000+ on an iPad Pro.

Read our full Apple iPad mini (2019) review

10. Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020) – Best for kids

Amazon Fire HD 8 (10th gen)

Amazon refreshed its 8in Fire tablet for 2020, with more memory and wireless charging, which in turn enables Amazon Echo Show mode; so you can summon Alexa and check the weather with your voice.

While performance isn’t markedly different from the previous Fire HD 8, this model will last longer and we’d say the addition of the wireless charging dock is wholly worthwhile if you’re considering picking one of these slates up.

Read our full Amazon Fire HD 8 (10th gen) review

Your buying guide to the best tablets in 2021

While Apple has something of a hold on the tablet conversation, there are great Android alternatives from Samsung, Huawei and Amazon. And if you need a tablet with full Windows, Microsoft is there for you with Surface.

Should I buy an Android, Windows or iOS tablet?

If you’re on a tight budget, you should be reading our best budget tablets roundup. And if you’re looking for a tablet for your child, check out our best kids’ tablets article.

But if you want the best, you’ve got four main choices: an iPad, an Android tablet an Amazon Fire tablet or a Windows tablet.

Apple iPads run Apple’s own iPadOS operating system which is widely regarded as one of the best out there. It’s easy to use and app makers usually make it their first choice, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find what you’re after.

If you have an iPhone, then it’ll also be very familiar. 

This is valuable when you buy accessories that require apps – mainly smart home or fitness gadgets – as you may not be able to control these from a Windows tablet.

In most cases, apps are made available on Android as well as iPads, but not always. Android tablets can be cheaper than iPads, but there are some Samsung models which cost the same or are more expensive.

Windows tablets come in both cheap and expensive guises, but it has the advantage of being able to run the same programs you use on your laptop or PC – not just as many finger-friendly tablet apps as you’ll be used to on your phone or on an iPad.

And that’s why most Windows tablets come with a keyboard or offer it as an option: they’re really a hybrid of a laptop and tablet. But as you’ll find out in most of our Windows tablet reviews, this is rarely a case of getting the best of both worlds. One exception is the Surface Pro from Microsoft.

The fourth option is Amazon’s Fire tablets. These are based on Android but are locked into Amazon’s system: you won’t find any Google services or apps on them so bear this in mind. But they are very affordable.

And your neck muscles will thank you if you invest in an affordable tablet stand to improve your posture and reduce neck strain.


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Best UK Smartwatch Deals for May 2021

Smartwatches are getting better every year. They can now last for more than a day on a single charge, track your workouts, take calls, play music and more.

Some dish out notifications and tell you when it’s going to rain, while others can function untethered from your phone completely.

Best Smartwatch Deals

Here are the very best deals we’ve come across. For more smartwatch deals, see our dedicated deals page

What smartwatch should you buy?

There are two types of smartwatch frameworks you’ll likely encounter. One – like the Apple Watch – features a colour touchscreen with apps, while the other combines an analogue watch with smart features. These are semi-smart or hybrid watches and typically use less battery since they’re not required to power a full-face display. You can find in-depth buying advice on smartwatches in our round-up of the best smartwatches available right now.

The Apple Watch is still the dominant force in the smartwatch market but many smartwatches from the likes of Motorola and Fossil run Wear OS, while Samsung’s run its own Tizen UI.

Make sure you consider whether or not your phone is compatible with the smartwatch you’re after; the Apple Watch only plays nice with iPhones and most Wear OS watches require your phone to be of a certain age and running a certain version or later of iOS/Android.

There are also designer smartwatches that often run Wear OS from brands like Diesel, Armani and Tag Heuer. They are often very expensive, so if you have your eye on one it’s a good idea to look out for discounts.

Smartwatch Deals: Is pay monthly worth it?

Seeing as smartwatches work hand-in-hand with your smartphone, many phone retailers and network carriers let you split the cost of a cellular-capable smartwatch over your pay-monthly phone plan. Of course, these deals work to finance the device, so it’s worth weighing the long-term costs against the upfront costs.

Alternatively, while some plans let you share your phone’s network and contract, there are still other plans which get you separate unlimited data allowances for your Apple Watch (and other select LTE-capable watches).

EE and Vodafone are the two networks that carry the likes of the Apple Watch and Samsung’s latest smartwatches on cellular. You can often get the device for £0 upfront. See Vodafone’s Apple Watch plans here and EE’s plans here.

Similarly to buying a new phone on a monthly plan, however, you do end up paying more at the end of the contract, but if you prefer to pay in small increments instead of all at once, this may be a better option.

Where to find smartwatch deals

Amazon often has some of the biggest discounts on smartwatches and other tech but it’s always worth shopping around if you don’t see something you like in our selection here.

If you find that you’re missing out on Amazon’s Lightning deals, which run for just a few hours and offer limited stock, we’d recommend signing up for Amazon’s 30-day free trial of Prime, which will get you access to deals 30 minutes before everyone else. Plus, you’ll get free next-day delivery with the Prime trial, as well as access to Prime Instant Video and more.

Sign up for Prime now to make sure you’re ready.

Beyond Amazon, here are a few of the best places to check for bargains:

Smartwatch accessories

Of course, the smartwatch itself is only part of the equation. You may also want to use a different strap from the one provided or freshen the look if you’ve been using the same strap for a while.

This might be especially relevant to Apple Watch users with the plethora of band choices available (here’s how to change your Apple Watch band). Though the Apple store may be an obvious place to find straps for your Apple Watch, you would be hard-pressed to find any bands for less than £49/$49.

You can find alternatives on Amazon for less than £10/$10, though make sure you’re buying it for the right watch casing size. Gearbest is another place where you can find Watch bands of various designs but at more affordable prices.

Best smartwatch deals today

1. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 (45mm)


From: Amazon

Was: £419

Now: £319  (£100 off)

Samsung’s latest smartwatch may have only launched at the tail end of 2020 but the Galaxy Watch 3 is already seeing price cuts online, including its biggest reduction on Amazon yet at £100 off.

2. Apple Watch Series 6 (44mm, GPS)


From: Amazon

Was: £409

Now: £369  (£40 off)

Amazon has £21 off all other colours, but the Product Red (44mm) option now has £40 off! Currys is offering the same model for £388.

3. Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro


From: Amazon

Was: £299.99

Now: £199  (£100.99 off)

The most premium and powerful member of Huawei’s Watch GT 2 series, the GT 2 Pro boasts a refined design, hewn from luxurious materials that include titanium, ceramic and sapphire glass. On Amazon if also currently benefits from over £100 off the RRP.

4. Apple Watch Series 3 (42mm)


From: Amazon

Was: £359

Now: £227  (£132 off)

Apple’s most affordable Apple Watch is now even cheaper, thanks to this Amazon deal on the 42mm casing size of the Series 3.

5. Huawei Watch GT 2 (46mm)


From: Amazon

Was: £249.99

Now: £149.99  (£100 off)

Huawei’s capable Watch GT 2, which arrived at the tail end of 2019, can be had with £100 off, in one of its biggest Amazon price cuts yet.

6. Samsung Galaxy Watch (46mm, LTE)


From: Amazon

Was: £359

Now: £248.50  (£110.50 off)

Knock over £110 off the larger 46mm casing variant of Samsung’s still-excellent Galaxy Watch wearable (with LTE connectivity) in this latest Amazon deal.

7. Amazfit GTR


From: Amazon

Was: £159

Now: £109  (£50 off)

Save £50 on the affordable-yet-stylish Amazfit GTR in this great Amazon offer. Note: Price reduction varies by finish/colour, so make sure to double-check the pricing on the version you want before buying. Read our Amazfit GTR review for more.

8. Samsung Galaxy Watch (42mm)


From: Amazon

Was: £279.99

Now: £259  (£20.99 off)

The small and stylish 42mm variant of the Samsung Galaxy Watch is up for grabs with £20+ taken off the asking price on Amazon. Check out our review for more insight into why it’s still such a great smartwatch.

Note: Different finishes come with different reductions in price, make sure to check before buying the finish you most like.

9. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active (40mm)


From: Amazon

Was: £229

Now: £113.06  (£115.94 off)

Pick up the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active from Amazon with over 50% off the RRP. Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch Active review for more.

Note: Different colours may enjoy different reductions, so double-check pricing before you purchase.

10. Fitbit Versa 2


From: Amazon

Was: £169.99

Now: £141.99  (£28 off)

Bag some money off Fitbit’s impressive Versa 2 fitness smartwatch.

Note: Different colours may enjoy different reductions, so double-check pricing before you purchase.

11. Huawei Watch GT 2e


From: Amazon

Was: £159.99

Now: £99  (£60.99 off)

The fitness-focused Huawei Watch GT 2e boasts premium features like sleep, stress and SpO2 monitoring, as well as sporting a bright 1.39in display, swim-proofing and an eye-catching design.

Right now available with a sizeable discount on Amazon.

12. Huawei Watch GT


From: Amazon

Was: £199.99

Now: £89.95  (£110.04 off)

With the Huawei Watch GT 2 line well-and-truly out and on sale, the original GT smartwatch – complete with Lite OS – can now be had with a significant discount (over £110 off) on Amazon.

Should I wait until Amazon Prime Day?

Amazon Prime Day is officially taking place earlier than usual for 2021, with the event kicking off sometime in June (Amazon is yet to confirm an official date).

Those who’ve partaken in Prime Day in the past will know that the Amazon event actually spans multiple days and is exclusive to Amazon Prime subscribers (who also benefit from other perks, like faster delivery, unlimited cloud storage and access to Amazon Prime Video streaming).

With no guarantee how long the deals currently listed here will run – or whether this year’s Prime Day deals will provide better discounts – if you’re enticed by a deal that’s currently on offer, we suggest not lingering on it too long.

Learn more in our guide to Amazon Prime Day.


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Lenovo IdeaPad 3i 14 review

Great budget laptops can be hard to come by and while Lenovo has made some of the best in the past, can the latest IdeaPad 3 14in keep up the trend? Find out in our full review.

Buying a laptop is confusing enough but these days many manufacturers offer Intel and AMD powered options. While I’ve tested the Intel model, hence the 3i in the name, the regular IdeaPad 3 is also similar but has an AMD processor.

It’s the ‘81W’ either way but as with any laptop, check the specs of the SKU you’re looking at to make sure it’s got what you need. Much will be the same, but performance and battery life will differ from the Core i3 I’ve tested.

There are also 11.6- and 15in IdeaPad 3 laptops available but I’m testing the 14in here.

Design & Build

Lenovo has always made nice looking laptops, regardless of the price and this new IdeaPad 3 is no exception. It certainly doesn’t look like a budget laptop with its brushed aluminium lid and keyboard surround.

The underside and screen bezel are both plastic but the build quality is good and it’s nice to see an interesting colour with my review sample arriving in a stylish dark Cherry Red. There’s also an attractive Abyss Blue option, too, along with Platinum Grey and Business Black.

It’s not a particularly thin laptop at 20mm and even the taped corners don’t hide this much. It’s hardly unusual for a laptop this price and it’s a reasonable weight at 1.6kg.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i webcam

Lenovo says the IdeaPad 3i has narrow bezels around the screen, but I wouldn’t describe them like that, especially at the bottom where it’s huge with not even a logo to break it up. On the plus side, there’s a physical privacy shutter on the webcam, but the camera itself is low quality at just 0.3Mp (not even 720p).

The main downside I’ve found with the design is the front edge is a little sharp so is uncomfortable on the palm of the hand when using the trackpad.

Keyboard & Trackpad

A wobbly keyboard and shoddy trackpad are not usual finds on a budget laptop but Lenovo has done a good job here.

The chiclet keyboard is well spaced out and there’s a dedicated function row at the top and the keys are a good size, apart from the usual up and down arrows. The typing experience is good with a nice balance between soft and crisp, with a nice amount of travel. The keyboard is not backlit though.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i keyboard and trackpad

The trackpad is solid, a reasonable size and nicely responsive so I have no complaints here. It’s way above average for a cheap laptop.

Screen & Speakers

The 14in display offers a Full HD resolution and an anti-glare coating which works well. While Lenovo lists an IPS panel as an option, you’re likely to find a lower grade TN screen on most models.

That’s what I’ve tested here and it’s a common thing to keep costs down. While the screen is fine, it’s nothing more than that with a limited brightness of 189 nits tested with a SpyderX. It means that you’ll probably just leave it on 100% all the time and will be ok for indoor use if you’re not in direct sunlight.

The TN panel means viewing angles are not great so you may spend a while getting the lid in the right position. Colour reproduction is also nothing to write home about with just 64% of sRGB and 47% Adobe RGB.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i screen

If this doesn’t sound like enough for your needs, then seek out the IPS model – although I can’t see any for sale in the UK.

Lenovo promises ‘crystal clear’ sound from the IdeaPad 3i thanks to Dolby Audio. That’s pushing it a bit far, but this laptop does sound better than most budget laptops. The two 1.5W speakers are mounted on the front edge of the underside giving good projection and there’s a decent amount of power, too.

However, don’t expect anything amazing and the sound quality is lacking in bass and has a tinny, slightly harsh profile.

Specs & Performance

I’ve tested the IdeaPad 3i which gets you an Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor along with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. However, you can get a cheaper model with an Intel Pentium Gold if you’re ok with less power.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i SD card slot

As mentioned at the top, there are also IdeaPad 3 (no ‘i’) models with AMD processors and there’s more choice here with Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 chips all available. The Ryzen 5 model gets you double the RAM and SSD storage while keeping things under £500.

You might not feel the need to spend extra, though, as the Core i3 sample I tested works perfectly well for day-to-day tasks with the fans rarely kicking in. The main limitation is the RAM so you’ll quickly run out of memory for things like Chome tabs meaning they will often have to reload when you click them.

You can see how the IdeaPad compares with similarly priced rivals in our benchmark tests below such as the Acer Aspire 5 and Avita Liber V.

Lenovo ships all of the IdeaPad 3 models (Intel or AMD) with Windows 10 S. This is the basic version that limits you to apps in the official store. If you want to download and install something from the web or similar then you’ll need to unlock it to full Windows.

That’s easy enough and free and I’ve had no issues using the laptop like this.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i ports

When it comes to connectivity, there’s no USB-C but the IdeaPad 3i does have a number of ports to offer including a headphone jack, full-size SD card slot, HDMI and a traditional barrel charger.

There are three USB-A ports, one of which is a slow 2.0 version while the other two are faster USB 3.1 (Gen 1).

Battery Life

The IdeaPad 3i doesn’t have much to offer when it comes to battery life, with a 35W cell able to last for up to nine hours according to Lenovo.

Using the laptop to write this review, along with other work like email and web browsing plus a 45-minute video call, it lasted for four hours. This was with the screen at 100% brightness which I needed to use it without squinting.

It kicked into battery saving mode after three hours and doesn’t charge quickly either, getting to only 26% from dead in 30-minutes.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i battery life

Price

The IdeaPad 3i start at a very reasonable £349 if you’re ok with the Intel Pentium model and Currys PC World has it for £329 right now.

A ‘web price’ for the Core i3 model I tested is £429 but both Lenovo and Currys PC World sell it for £379 as standard. It’s a good value for money figure if you’re needs aren’t too demanding.

If you need more power then there are AMD IdeaPad 3 options with a Ryzen 3 at £399. The sweet spot is the £479 Ryzen 5 model which comes with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

You can also opt for a Ryzen 7 with a 512GB SSD but with a basic screen still and a £579 price tag, you’re better off elsewhere with rivals such as the Honor MagicBook 14 or Microsoft Surface Laptop Go.

Lenovo doesn’t officially sell the 14in model in the US, although you can get the Ryzen 5 model on Amazon for $529. You can get the larger IdeaPad 3 15in on the official store starting at $449.99, or $375.24 after multiple savings.

The budget market is a tough one so check out all your options in our best budget laptop chart.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3i power button

Verdict

The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i is a good budget laptop with many of the usual downsides that come with getting a model at the cheaper end of the market.

What the laptop gets right is a stylish design with good build quality, plus decent components, keyboard and trackpad – all for a reasonable price.

However, the screen is limited when it comes to brightness and viewing angles and battery life is poor. As is the quality of the webcam, even if it does have a privacy cover.

If you’re going to be using it indoors without leaving mains power for too long, then the IdeaPad 3i will suit you fine at a good price. However, look elsewhere if you’re wanting to use it out and about in brighter conditions and without access to mains power.

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