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, 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, so rest assured none of those are in the below round up.

Your buying guide to the best tablets in 2018

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.

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 iOS 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.

Best Tablets 2018

1. Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2018)

Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2018)
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 10 May 2018

The iPad 2018 isn't perfect but it's the best all-rounder money can buy at the moment. At £319 it balances affordability with design, specs and features.

It doesn't have a laminated screen or the latest processor, but this won't matter for the vast majority of users. The fact is, the iPad can do a bit of everything and adding Apple Pencil support means you no longer need to splash out on an iPad Pro.

There's very little to dislike here.

Read our Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2018) review.

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 9 April 2018

The Tab S4 might be the newer model, but we feel the Tab S3 is actually a better buy. It's still available and now yours for a much cheaper price.

Samsung's newer device might have bigger screen and built-in DeX software with the aim of replacing your laptop, but that won't be the case for most users. Largely, the tablet is still similar with much the same design and features like quad speakers.

If you're looking for a high-end Android tablet, then the Tab S3 is still our pick of the bunch.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 review.

3. 10.5-inch iPad Pro

10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 17 July 2017

There's a lot to say about the 10.5in iPad Pro, but in short, we think you'll love it. It's a delight to use for a huge variety of tasks thanks to its power, design and great screen size, but it comes at a price. For future-proofing, you'll likely want to opt for the 256GB Wi-Fi model at £709 at least, and when you add accessories like the keyboard into the mix you're getting very close to shelling out £1,000, and for that you could buy one of Apple's laptops.

We'd recommend considering how much you think you're realistically going to use the iPad Pro. Do you love using a touchscreen? Are you a designer or illustrator who'll benefit from its compatibility with the Apple Pencil? Do you need a device that's incredibly portable? Do you need lots of power for gaming or graphics-intensive apps? Do you have lots of disposable income?

If the answer to more than one of those questions is yes, then you might fit perfectly into the target market for the iPad Pro. For everyone else, a laptop or cheaper iPad is likely to suffice.

Read our 10.5-inch iPad Pro review.

4. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 22 August 2018

Although the Tab S4 is the same price as its predecessor, there's not a huge amount that's new here. And it's a shame not to find the latest processor.

A larger 10.5in screen rivals the smaller iPad Pro and Samsung's DeX software is built-in to provide PC-like functionality. Samsung's aim is to replace your laptop but that's only doable if your usage is pretty basic.

This is no doubt one of the best Android tablets around but will be overkill for many, both in price and features. Unless you're completely anti-Apple, the iPad 9.7 for 2018 is a comparative bargain at £319.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review.

5. Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 28 March 2018

The new Surface Pro is a superb 2-in-1. It’s beautifully built and performs well. The screen is excellent and even the speakers sound good. However, it’s very expensive, especially when you add the cost of the Type Cover and – if you need one – the Surface Pen.

Few should opt for the base model, and you’ll pay a heck of a lot more for a Core i7. Ultimately, while a fantastic device, it’s hard to recommend the Surface Pro unless money is no object.

Read our Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) review.

6. iPad mini 4

iPad mini 4
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 25 September 2015

The iPad mini 4 is now only available in 128GB so starts at a higher price of £419. That makes it one of the most expensive small tablets around but it's still one of the best. It's got a great screen, excellent build quality, top battery life and Apple's wealth of apps. You won't be disappointed if you can afford it.

Read our iPad mini 4 review.

7. iPad Pro 12.9in

iPad Pro 12.9in
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 18 July 2017

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is undoubtedly a brilliant device and for some could be a laptop replacement, in which case the price would be more easily justified. You'll likely want to splash out on the Smart Keyboard and possibly the Pencil too, so bear in mind that they are optional extras.

Although it's an excellent device, the 10.5-inch iPad will appeal to more people due it's more manageable size and price. 

Read our iPad Pro 12.9in review.

8. Amazon Fire HD 8

Amazon Fire HD 8
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 5 April 2018

The Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 ticks a lot of the right boxes. It’s affordable, well built and plays back video to an exceptionally high standard.

You need an Amazon Prime membership to fully enjoy it, but this isn't necessary if you're buying the Kids Edition as that comes with a year's subscription to Fire for Kids Unlimited.

Overall, it’s an incredibly priced media consumption tablet that exemplifies Amazon’s dominance in the low-end market, and it's just as good for adults as kids.

Read our Amazon Fire HD 8 review.

9. Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Plus

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Plus
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 1 August 2018

When an iPad costs just £20 more, you might have a hard time choosing the Tab 3 Plus instead. But if you do, you gain some advantages over Apple's go-to tablet.

The Tab 3 Plus has a built-in stand, excellent Dolby Atmos speakers and a bigger and slightly higher resolution display. If you don't mind the slightly odd design in portrait mode then this may be enough to sway you.

It's one of the best tablets you can buy if you're addicted to Netflix, and is great for reading magazines, books and surfing the web. Just don't expect many software updates past Android Nougat.

Read our Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Plus review.

10. Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4

Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 4 April 2018

As was our verdict on the MediaPad M3: the M5 is an above-average tablet which is a good alternative to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab range and the iPad mini. The iPad mini is is less of a great deal these days. It costs a lot because you can only get it with 128GB of storage. 

If your budget is more like £300/US$300, it's a struggle to recommend the MediaPad M5 when the 2018 iPad 9.7 has a headphone socket, support for the Apple Pencil and - well - it's an iPad running iOS.

Read our Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4 review.