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 hoping to help you choose the right one!
In terms of affordable tablets, it’s important to note the relation 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.
1) Apple iPadÂ
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.
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.
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.
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.
5) Amazon Fire HD 10 TabletÂ
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Microsoft Surface Book 3 – Most Powerful Hybrid Option
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.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet
Here is another great hybrid tablet that has been widely used by both business people and students, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet! It’s an excellent choice for anyone who needs to carry around their work or study materials with them, but they don’t want to constantly have a huge laptop on them.
This Duet model provides you with a lightweight, portable tablet that also comes with a small detachable keyboard; allowing you to use it as a laptop as well. There’s a neat magnetic mechanism that serves as an attachment between the tablet screen and the keyboard, so the entire process is pretty seamless.
If you need to do any kind of typing, you just snap the screen into the keyboard and it works immediately; you don’t need to restart it, install any software, or have any kind of hassle. Plus, it’s pretty great in terms of productivity because the battery life is extremely satisfying; you’ll get about 10 hours of battery life when you use it for browsing and typing.
When it comes to the design, it’s nothing to write home about, it’s minimal, elegant, and anything you’d expect from tablets nowadays. The bezels are basically so thin that they’re non-existent, so the screen space is pretty well utilized and the rounded corners remind of the iPad Pro, which is probably something they were trying to emulate.
Once you take a look at the back, you’ll also be glad to see that the aluminum alloy provides decent protection and a metallic feel.
Of course, the design of the tablet won’t be your primary concern as a student, you’ll want to know about its performance as well. And in that department, it doesn’t disappoint; as long as you use it for its intended tasks, such as light entertainment, web browsing, spreadsheets, presentations, and word processing.
Naturally, it won’t be able to satisfy your gaming needs or anything graphic-intensive; but that’s something most people don’t do with tablets anyway. The Duet’s specifications are more than great when we consider its purpose, and most students will be more than satisfied with it. The machine boots up in a few seconds, which is great and the fact that it’s a Chromebook means you get a one-year 100GB Google Drive space for free!
Lenovo Tab M10 Plus – The Cheapest Tablet
Next up, we have another product 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!
Tab S6 Lite – The Best Midrange Option
In many cases, you do not want to go for the most expensive choice; but yo also do not want the very cheapest option either. If that’s the case with you, we’ve got a great midrange option from Samsung, the Tab S6 Lite!
Basically, the tablet aims to retain some of the best stuff found in the Tab S6 without its full price; making for a more affordable version of their flagship product, and thus an excellent choice for students. So, the first thing most students will appreciate is the excellent stylus, the S-Pen from Samsung is pretty much the best stylus you can find, and thus a great inclusion; especially considering the fact that you get it bundled with the tablet.
Apart from the ability to start taking notes right away, the tablet packs a decent punch under the hood as well. The Exynos 9611 octa-core processor isn’ the very best on the market, but you’d struggle to find a better one at this price point.
Samsung’s mid-range processors know exactly what their purpose is, and they manage to do it well, delivering excellent battery life along with a decent level of efficiency. As you’ll see once you fire it up, the S6 Lite offers a substantial level of performance and a very fluid interface.
The One UI created on the basis of Android was designed with a lot of care, which is apparent from its many quality-of-life features. Also, this is one of the rare student tablets on this list that are even capable of some light gaming with the ability to run stuff like Call of Duty or the mobile version of PUBG at a decent framerate; provided you can live with lower graphics settings.
Now, when you consider all of the stuff that this tablet has, you’re probably thinking, what are the drawbacks compared to the flagship model? Well, the screen isn’t nearly as perfect as you’d probably like. Sure, the ten-inch screen provides enough space, but it’s not an AMOLED screen. However, this is pretty much a necessity; Samsung had to cut some corners in order to make an affordable tablet for students, and they’ve definitely managed it with this product.
CHUWI UBook – Most Affordable Convertible
Our penultimate choice is another 2-in-1 laptop-tablet hybrid, however, this is no Microsoft Surface 3; in fact, it’s the cheapest possible convertible model that you can find. Still, the compact form-factor and the solid design make up for some other misgivings you might have with the product and its main appeal is still its extreme affordability.
The specifications of the laptop are nothing much; with a Intel Gemini-Lake quad-core coupled with some 8GB of RAM, it’s not the best we’ve ever seen, but it will get basic tasks done without much fuss. When it comes to other specs, the 11.6-inch display is definitely great, achieving a resolution you’d be satisfied with when it comes to any laptop.
And among the products we’ve seen here, it has one of the best storage offerings with a stunning 256 GB SSD drive; you’ll have nothing, but the most reliable, efficient, and fast storage transfers.
Of course, the fact that this is a convertible tablet means that you can detach it from its keyboard and truly use it as any other tablet. And the keyboard itself boasts plenty of connectivity options, not the least of which being USB Type-C.
As you might have assumed, while all of these specifications are excellent on paper – the manufacturing quality of the CHUWI UBook can’t really hold a candle to brands like Samsung or Microsoft; however, its price may make you rethink your priorities.
Lenovo Yoga Book
Moving on, this Lenovo Yoga Book is definitely one of the more exciting devices you can find today, it allows you to write, type, and make physical notes on its screen directly, or on the part of the device that’s connected to the screen for such purposes.
If you type, the physical part becomes a digital keyboard, allowing you to use all of the word processing software you want. And the design is quite solid, providing a much sturdier feel than you’d expect for such a low price. This is one of the reasons why students that want a tablet not susceptible to wear and tear are more than happy to give a chance to the Lenovo Yoga Book.
The connectivity of the device is decent, but not revolutionary with a MicroUSB port meant for charging, a microSD slot for additional storage, and a 3.5mm jack for earphones.
The inside of the tablet is powered by an Intel Atom x5 processor not the most powerful you can find, but it more than makes up for it by providing you with an awesome battery life; something more important for the average student than processing power. On a single charge, you can get around 12 hours of work done.
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).
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.Â 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.
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?Â
If you are on a tight student budget these are the questions you should ask yourself and answer honestly.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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!