Picking the best tablet for students can be challenging for parents (or for students themselves). You'll want one that's equally handy for scribbling notes in class and streaming movies after class, with enough power to be productive but at a low enough price that you can afford it. Our favorite overall pick that checks nearly all boxes is the Galaxy Tab S7 FE, which has the S Pen included, has plenty of RAM for fast performance, and sports a beautiful display for procrastinating.
Best overall: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Space to work
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE is the tablet equivalent of what Samsung did for its phones with the Galaxy S20 FE, and that is to offer a well-made product with solid performance at a lower price. It's a strategy that worked out very well for the company's smartphone and translated perfectly to its tablets — and that means that students can reap all the benefits.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab S7 FE sports a 12.4-inch high-definition display with support for HDR10+ for excellent color reproduction. This means that whether researching for a project or drawing on the screen with the S Pen, it'll all be crisp and give you plenty of space to work. To make sure that there's no lag in getting things done, the Tab S7 FE is powered by the Snapdragon 750G. So not only is there plenty of horsepower for the tablet, but it's also 5G capable, so you can work from anywhere.
The large 10,090mAh battery will let you keep working for hours, and when it's time to power back up, the 45W charger will get the tablet back up and running in no time. When it comes time for watching a video, the dual-speaker setup with Dolby Atmos will ensure everything sounds great. There are also two cameras, and the front camera is great for video calls while also acting as security for face unlock.
You can get the Galaxy Tab S7 FE with either 4GB, 6GB, or 8GB of RAM and 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB of storage. You can always expand it with up to 1TB with a microSD card regardless of which storage option you go for. With multiple color options available and the features to help students work and play, the Galaxy Tab S7 FE is a sure winner.
Upgrade pick: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus+ 12.4-inch Android tablet
Best tablet to get all of your work done and some play
If you need a tablet capable of handling almost any task, then you don't want to look past the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus. You'll also be happy to know that Samsung includes an S Pen with every purchase, so you don't have to fork over extra cash for extra productivity.
Under the hood, the Tab S7 Plus sports either 6GB or 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of expandable storage. This combines with the Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset, the 2020 flagship chipset that also appeared in the Galaxy S20 lineup. While no longer cutting-edge tech, it still has the power and smarts to enable Samsung DeX Mode, which turns your Tab S7 Plus into a desktop-like experience. Playing around on what is essentially a desktop on a 12.4-inch display is an extremely portable experience that you won't want to leave behind. It's also rated for up to 14 hours with media playback so that you can use it all day.
While you won't have to pay extra for the amazing S Pen and those features, you will want the full package. Unfortunately, this means extra dough upfront to get the Samsung Keyboard Cover or another Bluetooth keyboard to stay productive during classes.
Best Apple tablet for students: iPad Air 4 (2020)
iPad Air 4 (2020)
Despite our site focusing on all things Android, our laudatory iPad Air 2020 review shows that we're not afraid to acknowledge when Apple knocks it out of the park. While not as large or powerful as the recent iPad Pro 2021, the iPad Air 4 has impressive performance for demanding creativity apps at about half the price.
It has a lightweight, thin-bezel design with five metallic color options, Touch ID built into the power button, and two powerful speakers. Its 2360x1640 LCD only hits 60Hz (compared to 120Hz on the Tab S7+), but it hits 500 nits of brightness with anti-reflective coating, perfect for using in direct sunlight or for late-night binges. Its A14 Bionic chipset — also found in the excellent iPhone 12 — produces incredible performance speeds that surpass the Snapdragon 865 Plus found in the Tab S7+. You can even add cellular data if your school's Wi-Fi network isn't reliable.
Add in iPadOS — better optimized in general than Android tablet apps — and USB-C charging, and the iPad Air 2020 has very few downsides. You'll have to pay a good chunk for extra storage since the 64GB base variant really isn't enough. And as is the case with many Apple products, its battery life is only so-so, with about an eight-hour average just out of the box in our tests. Still, it's great for students and non-students alike.
Best mid-range value: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 10.4-inch
Save a few bucks with an excellent tablet
With the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, the company opted to replace the S5e that previously had been one of our favorite value tablets. With this new tablet, you'll get a familiar, lightweight, sleek design, along with the solid specs you would expect from a Samsung tablet.
Samsung has equipped the S6 Lite with 12 hours of battery life, along with a microSD card slot, making it a perfect tablet for storing classwork or media files. The company also unveiled an updated S Pen, which sports a new design, a finer tip, and improved latency than the S Pen found with the standard Galaxy Tab S6. All of this makes for an impressive Android tablet, packed with loads of features and more to do almost anything for you.
With a 10.4-inch screen and just 4GB of memory, it's a more compact model that'll work great for scratching out notes and streaming Netflix but isn't built for laptop-level efficiency. But as it sells for less than half the price of the S7+, it's a much better choice for students planning to do most of their work on a laptop anyway. There's no point in overpaying for features that most students won't need.
Considering that the Tab S6 Lite is aimed at the value market, some corners had to be cut. Going back to media consumption, Samsung included two AKG-tuned speakers instead of the four found in its sibling, the Tab S6. Plus, the microSD card slot can only use up to a 512GB card, while other tablets offer support up to 1TB.
Best Chromebook tablet for students: Lenovo Chromebook Duet
10.1 Lenovo Chromebook Duet 2-in-1
2-in-1 Chromebooks like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet work well for parents or students looking for a tablet designed with a detachable keyboard in mind, letting it double as your laptop once you're back to your room or dorm. The Duet is one of the best Chromebook tablets for students by far thanks to its epic battery life, included productivity accessories, bright display, and very reasonable price.
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet sports a 10.1-inch display with 400 nits of brightness, enough that it'll remain visible in direct sunlight. It has a 7000mAh battery that could last you several days on casual use or about 10–12 hours with constant use. It doesn't have the most power with its 4GB of RAM or its MediaTek Helio P60T processor, but Chromebooks like the Duet are designed to handle most Chrome OS apps without using much power.
You'll slot on the attachable keyboard and type notes during class, then pull it off and enjoy relaxing with your favorite media apps. Because Chrome OS is fully designed for both touchscreens and laptops, it'll work well in either context. Unlike many of our other picks, it lacks a microSD card slot, so you'll have to make do with just 64GB-128GB of storage; that should be plenty if your notes, homework, or creative projects can be stored in the cloud.
If you want affordable, portable power for your school laptop, you can also check out the best student Chromebooks.
Best cheap tablet for students: Samsung Galaxy Tab A7
Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 10.4 Wi-Fi 32GB
Better than its price would suggest
Many of the perks that made the Galaxy Tab A7 our best cheap Android tablet pick also apply to why students will love it. It has a hefty 7,040mAh battery that'll never die on you in class, plus USB-C charging so it can quickly jump back up to full capacity. It has quad speakers that'll make movie nights a blast and drive your roommate nuts. At just barely over a pound (476g) with a 10.4-inch display, it's lightweight enough for its size to make holding it while note taking easy. Oh, and it works with an S Pen; you'll need to buy it separately, but previous Tab A models weren't compatible at all.
We're huge fans of the design. Most budget tablets like the Fire HD 10 and base iPad have thick, uneven bezels, while the Galaxy Tab A7 looks more uniform and attractive, particularly thanks to its aluminum finish. And alongside the USB-C port, we also think students will appreciate the headphone jack and 1TB-capable microSD card slot.
Its Snapdragon 662 chipset and 3GB of RAM aren't particularly powerful but certainly respectable for its price range. While some students will miss the quick fingerprint scanner you get with the Tab S7+, there is at least facial recognition for a quick unlock. And its 2000x1200 display, while not as vivid as the S7+ AMOLED, does give you a slight upgrade on 1080p displays.
Really, the only reason to wait on the Galaxy Tab A7 is that the Tab A7 Lite is out soon and may offer some new perks that the older A7 lacks.
Best Amazon tablet for grade school students: Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus (2021)
Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus (2021)
Fire up your productivity
With its new 2021 tablets, Amazon focused on making them more "productive," selling a Productivity bundle that includes a snap-on Bluetooth keyboard, Microsoft 365 subscription, and 1TB of cloud storage alongside the new Fire HD 10 Plus. Our reviewer was very impressed with the new tablet as an alternative to cheap 2-in-1 Chromebooks for getting work done.
You can buy the standard Fire HD 10 or the Plus for $30 extra, which gives you 4GB of RAM instead of 3GB and enables wireless charging. Since the tablet is already so affordable, we'd recommend choosing the Plus, which gives scrolling and typing some extra smoothness and responsiveness. You can now split-screen apps to be productive while streaming your video app of choice, and that extra memory will come in handy then. It can even double as an Echo Show if having a smart display appeals to you.
Otherwise, the Fire HD 10 Plus hasn't changed much from its 2019 predecessor. It still has a 1080p display that gets bright but isn't particularly pretty. It still runs a version of Android 9 that doesn't incorporate the new advances and improvements in Android since then, and you can't access Play Store apps unless you sideload them; that makes your app options much more limited than if you used a traditional Android tablet. Despite the new productivity branding, some students may simply enjoy it as a cheap way to enjoy streaming apps.
Also, if the "students" you're shopping for are children or pre-teens, Amazon sells a Kids Pro edition with similar performance, excellent parental controls, and fun apps geared towards kids.
Best for college: iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)
Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2021)
Pro specs, pro price
If price is no object, the iPad Pro 2021 is the undisputed best tablet for students who can transition later into a creative business tool for their first jobs. But price is an object for most students, and its power could be overkill for many students who only need a browser and word processing apps. We'd recommend this specifically for students who will regularly use creative software or for those who plan to use their tablet as a de facto laptop as well.
Its 12.9-inch mini-LED display has 2,500 local dimming zones for some incredible color fidelity, plus 600 nits of brightness that rises to 1000 for HDR content. It has a great selection of creative iPadOS apps like Adobe CC that run with no delay or hiccups on the M1 chipset. The new 12MP ultrawide selfie camera will track and zoom in on your face for video calls with family or classmates. The optional 5G connectivity will ensure you have no trouble connecting to Wi-Fi anywhere. And its TrueMotion 120Hz panel and four powerful speakers make it well suited for enjoying games and media during students' relaxation time.
You can attach the excellent Magic Keyboard for productivity or use the Apple Pencil for taking notes and sketches, both of which make working on a tablet seamless. The obvious problem is that the iPad Pro 2021 already costs a premium at the base model; buy the 12.9-inch model and add in these vital accessories, storage upgrades, and 5G support, and you'll spend somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000 for the whole package. That's a major investment, but the iPad Pro lives up to the name for students who want a "professional" tablet.
Best for young students: Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)
Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet (2020)
Get some reading done without the books
As with the Fire HD 10, the Fire HD 8 is also not designed to be a powerhouse tablet. This is for those who want to read some content on the go, don't want to take up a bunch of real estate in their bag, and want to save even more money than the already cheap 10-inch model.
Amazon Alexa is built in and gives you everything the smart assistant offers in terms of a voice assistant and more. This includes Alexa Skills, which can be installed to help you find the right answers during study sessions. Plus, it's lightweight and portable with its 8-inch display, so you can take advantage of the built-in Kindle app to get some reading done without carrying books.
On the other hand, multitasking may be problematic with the Fire HD 8's 2GB of RAM. Unfortunately, there is also only 32GB or 64GB of storage, leaving you to rely on a microSD card for any heavy lifting on the storage side. You'll also be using Fire OS, which is based on Android but isn't exactly the same. It provides quick access to Amazon services and streaming apps while opting for the Amazon App Store over the Google Play Store.
There are quite a few different Android tablets to pick from, especially if you're a student. Of course, use-cases are different for everyone, but our favorite Android tablet is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE for almost every situation. It has plenty of power for multitasking and to get some work done, but best of all, Samsung includes an S Pen in the box, allowing you to take notes wherever along with using the S Pen's features.
You can take advantage of the new Samsung DeX Mode for more of a desktop-like experience when you pick up Samsung's Keyboard Cover. Since the processor is 5G-enabled, the tablet can take advantage of the fastest network speeds. Going from class to class and not needing to rely on spotty Wi-Fi can be a real game-changer.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Andrew Myrick is a regular freelancer at Android Central and iMore. He has been a tech enthusiast ever since the original iPhone was released and continues to flip-flop between devices. You might as well hook him up to an IV filled with coffee to get him through the day. If you have any questions, you can find him on Twitter, and he'll get back to you.
Michael Hicks got his tech start in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars before expanding to all things tech. When he's not gaming or reading SFF novels, he writes for Android Central on everything from laptops to soundbars, home security to fitness watches.
Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.
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