There are several things to consider before purchasing a tablet for college, so take some time to do the research. And to help you out, we’ve reviewed all of the most prominent and best tablets for students on the market and here, we present our picks for the 5 best tablets for college students plus a few more very good options.
In terms of affordable tablets, it’s important to note the relationship between price and quality. If you’re really bent on getting the most affordable option, the Amazon Fire HD is definitely your best bet though they are some higher-end options around here as well.
We will summarize some of their best functions and features in relation to how they can help college students. And, hopefully, provide you with a starting point from which to make your decision.
5 Best Tablets for College Students – Our Picks
Often when we think of tablets we think of Apple iPad and its variations. So we will first consider the iPad.
The 10.2-inch retina display screen offers crystal clear visuals, so if you are a student that intends on watching series and movies in your downtime this device is a great choice.
It is available with 32 GB and 128 GB storage and comes in, wifi or wifi + cellular versions. The advantage of the wifi + cellular version is that it makes the tablet even more usable on the go. With a data plan, you can stream, download and surf the web without the need for wifi connection and save you from the hassle of downloading content before you leave a wifi zone.
Apple is renowned for its ease of use across other Apple devices, so if you own an iPhone or a Mac be assured that your devices will talk to each other effortlessly.
The iPad Air offers a slightly larger and better-quality screen compared to the standard iPad.
It also holds an M1 chip making it faster to respond and more powerful. The added power comes in handy if you are into video editing or need to regularly transfer files.
The standard memory sizes are 64 GB or 256GB which will allow you to store more books and resources on your device.
If aesthetics win you over, then we should mention that the iPad Air comes in 5 different colors as opposed to the 3 standard colors of the iPad.
One thing we love about all the tablets in Apple’s range is the option to connect to the Apple pencil. The pencil means you can make handwritten notes and write in any text field. So if you are a more traditional student who prefers to put pen to paper this may appeal to you.
However, do note that Apple pencils are not included and require an additional purchase. Something to consider when budgeting.
The iPad Pro is a serious piece of kit and professionals in many industries opt for the Pro because of its power. Its amazing M2 chip allows you to run software from Microsoft Office and Adobe Suite. This means that if you choose to connect your iPad Pro to a keyboard you effectively have a device that is almost as capable as a PC.
As a student, is it worth the price tag? Well, that depends on what you study. Many college students who are studying various arts or design will need a device powerful enough to run design software.
But, if you are intending to use the iPad Pro for regular purposes then you may find that you can’t warrant the hefty price tag.
We should also mention the size. This iPad Pro is 12.9 inches, huge by tablet standards. And if you are planning on using it to create digital art you may find the size very useful. However, the iPad Pro is also available with an 11-inch screen for those of you who are looking for something powerful but easier to transport.
Made by Amazon the Fire HD 10 is incredible value. It has 12 hours of battery life for reading and browsing the net which beats the iPads and has a 1-year warranty to match them.
We like the fact it is compatible with Kindle Books allowing you to easily download your college texts, highlight important paragraphs, and annotate them with notes.
Also, if you have already made friends with Alexa, then you might be interested to know that she is enabled on the Fire tablets too.
One thing we aren’t a big fan of when it comes to Amazon devices is the fact that as standard, they come with Ads configured. This means that no matter what you do to avoid the powers of persuasive advertising it is always going to be there lurking on your device. And, cheekily, if you wish to remove those pesky Ads then you must pay more for the without Ads version of the tablet.
Other Great Tablets We Reviewed
A smaller version from Amazon now. The Fire HD 8 is not much bigger than your average-sized book which makes it super for reading on the go.
Its standard 32 GB storage is generous enough but if you require more storage there is a 64 GB device or the option to insert a microSD card.
Like its larger counterpart that we mentioned above, it is compatible with all the major apps that an average college student would need. Netflix, Prime Video, Spotify, Zoom, Audible, etc.
Another nice benefit is that the wireless charging dock comes stand is included, allowing you the comfort of resting your tablet while you use it.
The Amazon Fires are cheap and function well for the basics but if you need a device to complete anything but the essentials then these are probably not for you.
Not strictly a tablet but we had to include the Acer Chromebook and we will explain why.
Google Apps are fast becoming the most widely used system in education. Google Drive, Google Classroom, Gmail, Google Meet, and the list goes on. The Chromebook is powered by ChromeOS which is designed to help these apps run effortlessly and smoothly.
This Chromebook is tablet sized at 11.6 inches and has 32GB storage similar to many standard tablets.
The great thing about the Chromebook is that it functions both like a laptop and a tablet. The screen is a touchscreen providing you with quick and easy navigation without the need for a mouse. It is permanently attached to the keyboard, making it easier to take notes in class. But, you can also fold the screen back completely to use and hold the screen just as you would a tablet.
We love the Galaxy Tab S7 S7 Android tablet! Amazingly, the S7 comes with the S pen included, great if you prefer scribbling down handwritten notes or you need to draw on your tablet. The keyboard case also contains a convenient space for you to store your S pen, keeping all your tech together in one place.
Powered by Android, it has diverse compatibility, allowing you fast and effortless connectivity and use.
So, if you are a student that travels and wants to make the most of your time by writing essays on the go, this tablet-keyboard combo is a top choice.
One thing to consider is that the S7 is a high-spec tablet. So, while you will be able to achieve a lot while using it, it is priced accordingly.
If it is Samsung you love, don’t be put off by the expensive Galaxy Tab S7. The Galaxy Tab A7 can be picked up for a much more affordable price!
Minus the S pen and with a little less storage and RAM, the A7 comes in at a budget-pleasing price. If you don’t need these as additional features then the A7 will fill all your requirements.
The slim, lightweight design allows you to slide it into your bag without it weighing you down or taking up space.
It has a fast-charge USB-C port which means that if you are in a rush to make class, a quick last-minute charge will give you enough battery power to last a few hours.
Another reason why the GalaxyTab A7 makes our Top 10 list of best tablets for college students in 2021, is the fact they have joined up with Spotify and Youtube Premium to offer 6 and 2-month free memberships respectively. Great for students trying to reduce their outgoings.
Okay, this isn’t the most affordable option on our list, and it may seem somewhat extreme to some people; however, students that want to have both their laptop and their tablet in a single piece of hardware will be more than satisfied with this model. It’s a machine powerful enough to run Windows, while also having all of the tablet functionalities that you’d want.
If you want a tablet that can be a great platform for presentations while also being an easy option for snuggling and watching Netflix; you won’t go wrong with the Surface Book 3. Though you do need to keep in mind that it’s primarily a laptop, but one that can convert to a tablet at a moment’s notice.
What this means is that its â€œtablet” screen comes with a tactile keyboard, a decent trackpad, and a surprisingly high-quality 13.5-inch screen. Thankfully, the battery time is more akin to a tablet than a laptop, meaning you’ll be able to use it for a long time before needing to charge it again; in part, that’s due to the fact that the screen and the keyboard have separate batteries.
Seeing as you’re looking for tablets, you’re probably wondering how its tablet functionality looks. And with that in mind, you will be delighted to know that it allows you to detach its screen with extreme ease. Unfortunately, unlike the Microsoft Surface Go 2, it doesn’t include any kind of kickstand, so you’ll need to prop it up yourself with something else.
Also, there is no stylus originally included in the package, so you’ll probably need to buy it separately if you’re studying graphic design or you just want to make some sketches from time to time. If we’re being completely honest, Windows is still not the best OS for tablets compared to Android or iOS; but the double laptop functionality more than makes up for that.
It will serve you perfectly fine as you watch movies and read anything on it while also giving you the entire laptop experience in one device.
For smaller budgets, we have a great option from Lenovo and it’s certainly a great one for students who are on an extremely tight budget – considering the fact that it’s our cheapest option! You get a ten-inch Full HD screen, so it’s definitely spacious enough and you won’t find a better IPS screen for this kind of money; the contender being the more expensive Tab S6 Lite.
In terms of its display, the Lenovo M10 Plus is a good contender. Unfortunately, there is no stylus coming with this tablet, but you’re more than welcome to use one that you’ve bought yourself separately.
The manufacturing build of this tablet is sturdy enough considering its low price point the boxy form factor certainly reminds of higher price points. Also, its slim profile and lightweight design make it easy to use with a sleeve or a tablet bag; increasing its durability even further without feeling like you’re lugging around anything heavy.
Naturally, most students will be interested in what’s going on beneath the hood as well. And here, the MediaTek Helio octa-core processor manages to make the most of the admittedly lower-grade 2GB of RAM. However, if you don’t intend to do anything hefty with it and leave that stuff for your laptop the tablet will be more than capable of handling basic multitasking.
Also, if the 2GB of RAM seems somewhat underpowered, you can buy the somewhat pricier 4GB RAM version though it’s still far more affordable than other market contenders. Whichever variant you get, you’re looking at a great 10-inch budget tablet that most students will be perfectly happy with!
Most Affordable Tablet:
In terms of affordability, it has to be the Lenovo Tab M10. Acceptable power and features at a can’t-be-beat price, especially if you are on a tight budget and can live with the stylus pen (unless you purchase separately).
Best Tablet for Day-to-Day:
Looking for something that functions well, has everything you need, and is fairly priced. It has to be the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7. It is a great choice for day-to-day college student use!
Best Tablet If You Need A Little Extra:
Pricey but powerful! The iPad Pro performs like a PC. The 12.9-inch option is a great choice for creative art and design students who need to run large apps or use them to draw like a digital sketchbook.
Before we wrap, let’s discuss the most important considerations for students:
Compatibility and Ease of Use
Although nowadays most tech companies make sure their devices are somewhat compatible with other operating systems, there are still some features that inevitably work smoother when your tech partners up. This could be something you need to investigate before making a decision.
Size and Portability
Tablets are designed to be transported easily however, they still range in size. From mini 8-inch screens to 12-13 inches of tablet tech. The difference is significant. So consider what you need your tablet for vs the portability. If you need your tablet for drawing and design, the larger screens might be more useful, or if you prefer to read from a device small enough to fit in one hand then perhaps the mini versions are enough. The most common in-between size of around 10-11 inches is usually a great compromise for students wanting to watch movies or take notes.Â
Tablets range in price widely. You can find some great budget options for as little as $150. Or you could opt for something more sophisticated which could cost up to $700/ $800 dollars. The most important thing is to weigh up how you are going to use your device. Is it worth spending a lot of money on a professional tablet with tonnes of storage? Equally, does $150 get you enough in terms of functionality?
If you are on a tight student budget these are the questions you should ask yourself and answer honestly.
5 Best Tablets for College Students FAQs
Should I buy a tablet as a student?
This depends on the kind of stuff you want to do with a tablet for purely classroom use, the tablet is definitely your best option for note-taking, along with an external small keyboard. However, a lot of your main work like writing papers and essays will require a laptop; that’s why you should also think about one of those hybrid convertible models from above.
Should I buy a laptop or tablet?
You’re not going to like the answer here, but it’s both. Realistically speaking, you don’t want to carry around a laptop to all of your classes, but you also don’t want to work on a small screen all the time while you’re writing and studying. Anything more than social media or checking your email will require a laptop for prolonged use; plus, laptops have more internal storage.
If you want to be as efficient as possible, you’re going to need both of those devices.
5 Best Tablets for College Students – Final Thoughts
We have listed what we believe to be the Top 10 Best Tablets for College Students for 2021-22 and we hope that our list is helpful to you when it comes to making your decision.
But before you do it is most important to really consider how you will be using your tablet. Make a list of these reasons, explore the apps and programs available, and check their compatibility.
If you have the option to go to an electronics store do so. Try them out for size, see which operating system you prefer, and explore how they function.
Oh, and one final suggestion; once you do invest in your lovely new tablet consider getting a protective case!