Top 10 Best Tablets for College Students [2021]

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Whatever your reason for purchasing a tablet, they are undoubtedly a highly useful piece of kit for any modern student. 

There are several things to consider before you part with your cash, so take some time to do your research. This article is a great place to start. It outlines the Top 10 Best Tablets for College Students. 

We will summarise 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. 

Preview
Most Affordable
Fire HD 10 Tablet (32 GB, Plum, With Special Offers) + Amazon Standing Case (Plum) + Nupro Screen Protector (2-pack) + 15W USB-C Charger
Our Top Pick
Apple iPad mini (Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Silver (Latest Model)
Best Day-to-Day
Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 10.4 Wi-Fi 64GB Gold (SM-T500NZDEXAR)
Best Overall
2020 Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, Wi-Fi, 256GB) - Space Gray (4th Generation)
Title
Fire HD 10 Tablet + Amazon Standing Case
Apple iPad mini
Samsung Galaxy Tab A7
New Apple iPad Pro
Prime Status
-
Battery Life
12 hours
10 hours
8-9 hours
10 hours
Star Rating
Price
Price not available
$384.99
$229.00
$999.00
Most Affordable
Preview
Fire HD 10 Tablet (32 GB, Plum, With Special Offers) + Amazon Standing Case (Plum) + Nupro Screen Protector (2-pack) + 15W USB-C Charger
Title
Fire HD 10 Tablet + Amazon Standing Case
Prime Status
-
Battery Life
12 hours
Star Rating
Price
Price not available
Details
Our Top Pick
Preview
Apple iPad mini (Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Silver (Latest Model)
Title
Apple iPad mini
Prime Status
Battery Life
10 hours
Star Rating
Price
$384.99
Details
Best Day-to-Day
Preview
Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 10.4 Wi-Fi 64GB Gold (SM-T500NZDEXAR)
Title
Samsung Galaxy Tab A7
Prime Status
Battery Life
8-9 hours
Star Rating
Price
$229.00
Details
Best Overall
Preview
2020 Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, Wi-Fi, 256GB) - Space Gray (4th Generation)
Title
New Apple iPad Pro
Prime Status
Battery Life
10 hours
Star Rating
Price
$999.00
Details

Most Affordable Tablet: 

In terms of affordability it has to be the Amazon Fire HD series. Each device in the Fire HD collection are brilliantly affordable. They run all the essential apps from Kindle and Zoom to Netflix and Spotify.

Most Portable Tablet (Our Favorite):

The iPad mini is one of the smallest, quality tablets on the market. It is the middle ground between tablet and smartphone. It’s size means that it slips easily into your bag or a large pocket, making it perfect for transporting to college lectures. Furthermore, it’s high-spec and the compatibility with other Apple tech is unbeatable.

Best Tablet for Day-to-Day: 

Looking for something that functions well, has everything you need, and is priced fairly.  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 12.9inch option is a great choice for creative art and design students who need to run large apps or use it to draw like a digital sketchbook.

1) Apple iPad 

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. 

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2) Apple iPad Air 10.9

The iPad Air offers a slightly larger and better quality screen  compared to the standard iPad. 

It also holds an A14 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 colours as opposed to the 3 standard colours 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. 

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3) Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch

The iPad Pro is a serious piece of kit and professionals in many industries opt for the Pro because of its power. It’s A12Z 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. 

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4) Apple Ipad Mini

Talking of easy to transport! The iPad Mini is slap bang in the middle of smartphone and tablet. We love its transportability but have a feeling that the small screen might become a little limiting not to mention tiring on the eyes. 

Although it is the smallest in the iPad collection at 7.9 inches in size, it is not actually the cheapest. The standard iPad beats it on price but with the rest of their spec pretty much the same, the decision between the Mini and the standard iPad pretty much comes down to your preference on size. 

One thing we will say, if you intend on using your iPad to read and annotate text books or academic papers then a larger tablet may be a better choice.  

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5) Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet 

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. 

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6) Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus tablet

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 come 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. 

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7) Acer Chromebook Spin 311 Convertible Laptop

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 systems 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 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. 

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8) Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 with Keyboard Cover

We love the Galaxy Tab S7 with keyboard cover! The sleek keyboard book cover adds protection and enhances the user experience. 

The keyboard makes typing much easier and more enjoyable plus when closed you would hardly notice that the keyboard was there. It certainly doesn’t impact the tablet’s portability. 

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 you tech together in one place. 

Powered by android, it has a diverse compatibility, allowing you fast and effortless connectivity and use. 

So, if you are a student that travels and want 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 whilst using it, it is priced accordingly. 

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9) Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 10.4

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. 

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10) Microsoft Surface Go 2 – 10.5″ 

The Microsoft Surface is a high-spec tablet at a mid-range price. 

The fact it has been designed by Microsoft ensures spotless compatibility with Office programs. So whether you need to make presentations in Powerpoint or write essays in Word or perhaps you need to keep track of your spendings in Excel, this can all be done through your tablet.

The Microsoft accessories that are compatible with this device, such as the keyboard, mouse and pen are all equally as sleek and transportable as the tablet itself.   

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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. 

Price

Tablets range in price widely. You can find some great budget options for as little as $150. Or you could opt from 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. 

Final Thoughts

We have listed what we believe to be the Top 10 Best Tablets for Students in 2021 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! 

Author Profile

Marko is a music and tech enthusiast living in Europe. He's a fan of gadgets, rock n' roll, and all things education.

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