Tablets have already started gaining their lost glory over the past year, and they’ve only grown much more powerful in this period. With some high-end tablets like the iPad Pro, you can expect laptop-class performance on a device that is feather-light and easily fits your backpack. Even for mobile gamers, tablets have started making much more sense with their additional display estate and the performance headroom for a fraction of the price of a comparable smartphone.
From basic games such as Tetris to those graphics-intensive ones, modern tablets can handle anything that you can possibly throw at them without breaking a sweat. And the best part is that the recent resurrection has ensured that you have access to many more choices, even on the Android side.
Now that we’re all set, you can have a look at the best gaming tablets in 2021.
Best Gaming Tablets: An Overview
This is a brief introduction to some of the best gaming tablets in our books.
- Best overall: Apple iPad Pro (on Amazon*). The two new iPad Pros represent the best of iPads — or even tablets. Available in 11- and 12.9-inch screen sizes, both iPads come with beautiful LCD panels that support a high refresh rate. The A12Z processor beating inside them is by far the best processor for any kind of high-graphics task, including gaming. You’re definitely going to enjoy your time gaming on either of these devices.
- Best upper mid-range option: Apple iPad Air (on Amazon*). With the new iPad Air, you get most features of the Pro but without that sky-high price. A refreshed design, latest-gen processor, and the support for the second-gen Apple Pencil make it a great all-rounder. For gaming specifically, you can expect nothing short of exceptional performance, thanks to the same A14 chip found inside the latest iPhones. Not to forget, it also comes with a nice 11-inch display paired with stereo speakers.
- Best Android tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 & S7+ (on Amazon*). If there could be one Android tablet offering the best gaming performance, it has to be Samsung’s new Tab S7 series. The company even made them available in two screen sizes this time around, allowing you to get the biggest screen size for even more immersive gaming. You can’t forget the fact that both models also come with stereo speakers that further add to the experience.
- Best Android flagship on cheap: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 (on Amazon*). Despite being a generation old, the Galaxy Tab S6 still holds its might in the tablet space for being among the most powerful machines in its category. It gets all the bells and whistles of the Samsung flagship, but you can now get all those features at a substantial discount. And it’s got an excellent AMOLED screen, too, which the newer Tab S7 lacks.
- Best small-sized device: Apple iPad Mini (on Amazon*). Apple’s new Mini tablet may be small in size, but it packs a punch when it comes to performance. It gets the same core as much pricier iPads of its time, making it an ideal small-sized tablet for gaming on the go. The iPad Mini could easily be a worthy update for smartphone gamers looking for an upgraded visual experience without having to shell out a lot.
- Best budget tablet: Apple iPad 8 (on Amazon*). This is the cheapest iPad in Apple’s lineup, but it’s by no means a slouch. Often available for under $300, what you get is top-notch, class-leading performance, even for hardcore gamers. And you get to enjoy all that on a much larger 10.2-inch display. Most users, who want to game quite a bit, will be more than satisfied with this tablet, and much of that credit goes to its low price.
- Great upper mid-range option: Lenovo Tab P11 Pro (on Amazon*). Thanks to a Snapdragon 700-series chip, Lenovo’s Tab P11 Pro is a capable performer — one that can even help you game a bit. It tries to give you a wholesome experience, with an array of features, such as a high-res OLED display and quad speakers. The best part about it is the excellent battery life, using which you can game for a long time.
- Great mid-range option: Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e (on Amazon*). There was no flagship Galaxy Tab S5 in 2019, but the mid-range Tab S5e was nothing short of a premium tablet from Samsung. It came with some of the best features that Samsung is known for, and then some. You get excellent software support from the company, while the device itself is a good performer, despite its age. It still holds its own among its diehard fans for various reasons.
- Great budget alternative: Lenovo Tab P11 (on Amazon*). This mode is probably for those looking to hold something like its Pro sibling but without having to spend a whole lot of money. With the standard Tab P11, what you get is a decent Android budget tablet that has got a lot to offer, including a quad-speaker setup, a nice 11-inch display, and support for stylus and keyboard. Plus, you’ve got enough power for some casual gaming.
- Best cheap tablet: Amazon Fire HD 10 (on Amazon*). Amazon’s largest tablet makes for a good device if you want to hand it to your children to keep them busy. The Fire HD 10 comes loaded with a fine set of features for its asking price. It comes loaded with a lot of Amazon services that come together to make a rather complete product that both your children and you are going to like.
Best Gaming Tablets: In-Depth Look
Now let’s talk a bit more in detail and tell you exactly why these tablets fit the bill.
Be it an online multiplayer or a heavyweight offline game, iPad Pro offers perhaps the best hardware to tackle any kind of game made for tablets. While this latest-gen Pro series would be a pretty expensive gaming machine, you’re in for a top-notch performance that remains unparalleled in the tablet world — and we aren’t exaggerating that bit. With more than enough RAM and various storage options for installing big games, we’re sure you’re going to have a pleasant gaming experience that is free of any hiccups.
And you just can’t overlook the fact that Apple’s App Store has a much richer selection of games that are optimized very well for its tablet fleet. On top of that, with a subscription to Arcade, the iPad allows you to play several premium games for a single monthly fee. If there’s one iPad made to make use of all this optimally, it has to be the iPad Pro.
Still, performance is only one aspect of gaming, and several other parts contribute to your overall experience as well. Thankfully, Apple’s high-end models pack some of the best-tuned LCDs on the market, and their 11- and 12.9-inch sizes should meet everyone’s needs. These tablets also come with a quad-speaker setup, which produces a sound that is both clear and loud. You’ll often find yourself sticking to the built-in speakers instead of going for headphones or external speakers.
Though at that kind of price, you cannot get an iPad Pro just for gaming — for that much money, you’d be better off getting a dedicated gaming rig or console. You can consider getting the Pro only if your primary use is going to be something else, like office work, and would also like to game on it in your free time.
Read: Our iPad Pro 2020 Review
It was kind of expected that the iPad Air will be the next tablet to follow in the footsteps of the iPad Pro in terms of design. With the new design, there’s no doubt that the new Air is the tablet to get in the upper-mid-range segment, regardless of the platform. And the fact that Apple went for colorful back makes the device much more exciting than any other iPad currently on sale.
As for its gaming performance, we can safely say that the iPad Air is an excellent tablet for gaming or any other task for that matter. It lacks the Pro’s bells and whistles, but its more reasonable price makes it more approachable for many.
You get a top-notch A14 chip that takes care of everything, from day-to-day performance to all your graphics-intensive multiplayer games. And the experience is truly immersive, thanks to that 11-inch display and stereo speakers. It also brings along all the benefits of iOS, including its fantastic app and game ecosystem, to the table.
This semi-Pro iPad Air could easily be your work machine — though a bit expensive one if you factor in the high prices of the first-party accessories. Speaking of which, it’s the only tablet outside the iPad Pro line to support the second-gen Apple Pencil, and you can even use that floating keyboard attachment with it.
For extended gaming sessions, the Air isn’t likely to die anytime soon. In our test, the battery lasted for about 6 hours, which is on par with the iPad Pro. The entire package comes out as an excellent value at its launch price, and the value proposition gets even better if you’re able to snag a decent discount on this newest iPad model.
Read: Our iPad Air Review
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 & S7+
Making it clear right off the bat: The Galaxy Tab S7 and S7+ are the best tablets you can buy on the Android side, period! The duo offers the most advanced set of features and internals, and its superiority becomes apparent right from the exterior. Flat sides and back make for a premium touch and feel, while those thin bezels have been taken straight from the predecessor.
Samsung may have used an LCD panel on the standard S7 model, but it continues to be a very good panel for everything, including gaming. You won’t be disappointed with either QHD panels if you plan on playing a lot of games, or anything else for that matter. The screens offer excellent sunlight legibility and even support stylus input. Your decision should be based on which size you want and would be comfortable carrying around — and not their quality.
Android tablets give you the flexibility to pair just about any gaming accessory that you can find under the roof, and there’s a good chance it’d be compatible with this Galaxy tablet. If your tablet choice is the Tab S7+, you’d be better off getting a dedicated controller, which frees your hands and takes your gaming experience up a notch.
We said right in the beginning: there is probably no match for the Tab S7 line on the Android side when it comes to sheer performance. Using the Snapdragon 865+, these tablets can handle anything that you can throw at them. There’s ample RAM, storage, and even battery life to support your extended gaming sessions or even your office work.
Speaking of which, The Tab S7 devices are also fantastic productivity machines as well. You can attach the Book Cover Keyboard to make it a perfect work machine that supports the Samsung DeX productivity suite. This is truly an all-rounder tablet from Samsung that checks nearly all the right boxes.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
It was the Galaxy Tab S6 that kick-started the design overhaul of Samsung’s tablet line and even inspired its follow-up. So, you’re surely not going to feel like you’re on an older-gen tablet, at least for a couple of years to come. And that doesn’t apply just to its looks but also extends to every other aspect of the device.
Samsung recently took a massive lead in the software department by extending the software support to three years, even for its older devices. That is good news for your tablet’s longevity while also ensuring that your tablet feels fresh for several years down the line.
Thanks to the use of a top-tier Snapdragon 855 processor, the Tab S6 will have enough performance headroom to handle most apps, including heavy games, even as it completes its standard life cycle. In our review, the Galaxy Tab S6 performed flawlessly with popular games like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile. It’s also great for casual gamers who work on their tablets during the day and game a bit before hitting the bed.
With the Tab S6, you get the same excellent AMOLED screen that Samsung devices have always been known for. In this area, this 2019 tablet one-ups its follow-up Tab S7 from last year, though you won’t get the high refresh rate option. Nevertheless, what you do get is an AKG-tuned quad stereo speaker setup that produces fabulous sound output, and we actually loved them in our review.
You can expect the Tab S6 to take up a multitude of jobs, both at your home and office. It’s a great media consumption machine, while you can instantly turn it into your device for office video calls with a kickstand attachment or do some work with the keyboard accessory. Samsung has also perfected the S Pen on this tablet, and it works just as it should.
Apple chose to refresh its smallest tablet for 2019, and gaming on its 8-inch display is a far superior experience than on a cramped smartphone screen. It’s also compact enough to carry around in your jacket pocket. Despite being priced closer to Apple’s entry-level iPad 2018, the iPad Mini 2019 comes with hardware that is akin to the iPad Air model announced alongside.
The company updated its display to offer many premium features previously found only on costlier tablets, making it better suited for gaming. Unlike the cheapest iPad, the Mini uses a more premium display that doesn’t have any air gaps between the top glass and the panel itself. It’s a high-res screen that now also supports Apple’s True Tone for matching the display temperature to your surroundings.
As for the performance, Apple’s A12 Bionic silicon powers the Mini for you to have the same fluent experience as the 2019 Air. To date, there aren’t many Android tablets in its range and size that can even come close to the A12 Bionic’s performance, let alone matching it. If small-screen gaming is your thing, then there’s no better option than this iPad Mini. That should remain true hopefully until Apple itself comes out with an iPad Mini follow-up.
Gaming or not, the iPad Mini won’t disappoint you one bit. We ran extensive tests on the tablet, and it passed with flying colors, even for some demanding apps like LumaFusion. Considering how well optimized games are for iPads, you should expect nothing short of the best from the Mini. The only disappointing thing is its design that hasn’t changed much since the first generation, and it now tends to look bland.
If gaming on the iPad Mini isn’t your primary purpose, you’ll be pleased to know that the tablet also supports the first Apple Pencil. It’s an excellent stylus, barring its weird charging situation, which even supports pressure sensitivity and integrates pretty well with several Apple apps.
Read: Our iPad Mini Review
This one is pretty interesting. Apple updated its cheapest tablet with a much more potent A12 Bionic processor, which, despite being a couple of generations old, offers top-notch performance for all kinds of tasks. It’s frankly impossible to find an Android tablet this capable in the same, or even slightly higher, price bracket.
Apple’s in-house A12 chip is far more powerful than the A10 processor of the predecessor, and this upgrade directly affects your gaming experience. You’re essentially getting the same kind of performance as the last-gen iPad Air, which is quite a big deal. In our experience, almost all popular games ran at their maximum graphics settings without any issue whatsoever.
While the new 10.2-inch display is of good quality, it’s still not laminated, like the more premium iPads, so the display gap may be slightly visible, especially on the white variant. Plus, being the cheapest iPad, Apple hasn’t given it a design refresh, though some may prefer it just because of the added convenience of the front-facing Touch ID sensor.
As always, the tablet’s build quality is excellent and offers you enough gripping area for playing games. You always have the option to use a compatible game controller. Even though its speakers aren’t stereo, the quality is good enough to have a fine experience. If that’s not enough, it’s one of few iPads to still have the headphone jack, while pricier options have ditched it altogether.
Just like the previous model, you still get the option to use an Apple Pencil (first gen), and the fact that you’ve got pogo-pin connectors for attaching a keyboard makes the tablet a whole lot more useful. You are unlikely to find a better offering for its cheap price (which is often discounted heavily).
Read: Our Apple iPad 8 Review
Lenovo Tab P11 Pro
Lenovo has tried to give you a premium feel with its Tab P11 Pro, thanks to a sleek-looking metal back and a front that resembles many high-end tablets from Samsung and Apple. The device is super thin at under 6mm and even weighs under 500 grams. What it means for you in real life is that the device will be pretty easy to handle and carry around.
The Tab P11 Pro isn’t designed around gaming; it’s aimed at professionals who want to get some of their office work while on the go. It’s got a stylus and a keyboard attachment that make the device much more versatile at the things it is capable of doing.
Despite that, you can still do some gaming on this machine if you aren’t too into mobile gaming. It won’t disappoint you if you keep your expectations in check and maintain an optimum graphics quality per game that the processor can handle. Paired with up to 6GB of RAM, the Lenovo slate can handle almost any game available on the Play Store, and it performed pretty well with popular titles like PUBG Mobile and Fortnite.
For general entertainment, the P11 Pro should meet your needs perfectly well. It’s got a giant QHD screen and comes with a quad-speaker setup comparable to the Galaxy Tab S7 and not too far from the iPad Pro’s speakers.
While all that is nice, what we liked the most was the tablet’s battery life. In our standard test, the tablet performed better than almost every other tablet out there with over 10 hours of continuous usage, leaving us much impressed. If you’re looking for something that lasts you quite a while between charges, the P11 Pro from Lenovo is the way to go.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
When the Galaxy Tab S5e first came out, we thought it was the best tablet for most people looking for options on the Android side. And that hasn’t changed for the most part. The excellent combination of a beautiful AMOLED screen and a four-speaker setup made it one of the better choices for media consumption, even better than some iPad models from back in the day.
It uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipset, which is fine for day-to-day use and casual gaming but playing mobile games with a heavy graphics load wouldn’t be as pleasing of an experience. You can still use it to play some casual games or even high-end ones but only after optimizing the in-game graphics settings.
Samsung made this device around productivity and included necessary connectors to snap the first-party keyboard to get started with your work instantly. The Tab S5e was a perfect all-rounder if you wanted something around its price. It continues to be a decent product and makes for a good buy, granted if you can find one.
The tablet can still last you a while considering Samsung has upped the ante by supporting its recent devices with the latest Android updates for much longer than ever. While the tablet came running Android Pie, it has already got newer Android versions, and you can expect more updates to follow in the future, too.
Among other similarly priced Samsung tablets, where the Tab S5e lacks is that it doesn’t support stylus input. It’s a trademark feature for many Galaxy tablets, but it’s not available here. However, Samsung has made up for that deficiency with a bunch of other features, including the support for DeX and long battery life.
Lenovo Tab P11
The Lenovo Tab P11 is more of a general-purpose tablet than a gaming machine, but that doesn’t mean you cannot game on it. The device is decently speced to let you take a break from work and catch up with a casual game that you’ve been obsessed with; it could be Angry Birds or anything else.
Most games will work as expected on this tablet, and you’re going to enjoy yourself quite a bit. However, if you plan on playing many high-end games, you may have to lower the graphics settings to have a decent playing experience. You can even configure the tablet with 6GB of RAM to maximize the gaming performance if you think you’ll be gaming quite a bit.
It’s a good thing that Lenovo decided to have top-quality build quality, using metal for the back. This makes the P11 look much more premium than it’s actually priced at, and that’s a good thing. We also liked its display, which is quite sharp for its size and great for general entertainment and gaming.
For those looking for something with a big screen that could be useful for writing a doc file or finishing up a presentation while on their way to the office, Lenovo makes a keyboard accessory. It makes the tablet far more useful than just for watching YouTube videos and gaming. There’s also an optional stylus, which gets the job done well, but it’s certainly doesn’t match even Lenovo’s own premium options.
There’s also another issue, particularly with cheaper Lenovo tablets. While the company does ship its tablet with a fairly recent Android version, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get any future updates to keep up with other brands.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)
According to our experience, the Fire HD 10 (2019) offers respectable performance for its class. We tried playing a bunch of popular games, and we were left impressed with the experience. Games like Call of Duty worked surprisingly well, and there isn’t much to complain about. We got our hands on the newest 10-inch tablet from Amazon, and our review includes a dedicated gaming test, in case you prefer having more details.
The only issue with this Fire tablet is that the pre-installed app store isn’t loaded with games like the Play Store is. The good thing here is that you can easily install Google’s rich app store on any Fire tablet, and we’ve got a handy guide for doing this, which you can find here.
With its latest model, Amazon made a significant number of changes, including one to the screen, which made it much more pleasing than any of its predecessors. Since Amazon controls the entire experience from end to end, the tablet was able to deliver a fantastic battery life. That also helps the company to release regular software updates to make your experience better continuously.
It has a list price of $149, which is tough to argue with, considering the value it offers over any other tablet in its range. You’re able to use it as an Alexa screen if you ever want to, making it far more useful than any other standalone tablet.
While the tablet is made out of plastic, it has a big advantage. Many Fire tablet owners buy them for their kids, who aren’t always as careful with these devices as adults. The good news is that these Fire tablets are pretty sturdy and have proven to withstand falls from small heights. So, you can have complete peace of mind when handing the tablet to your young one.
Some Interesting Alternatives
Many of us aren’t hardcore gamers and want to engage in casual gaming, maybe as a stress buster. For such players, a specced-out tablet isn’t a necessity, and a basic machine with basic features can adequately suffice. Here are some options that you can consider if you need something along those lines.
iPad 7 (2019)
From the inside, the Apple iPad 7 (2019) hasn’t changed a lot from last year, mainly because of the recycled A10 Fusion processor. Regardless of that, the performance continues to be excellent, given how well iOS is optimized for Apple hardware. Its gaming performance isn’t all that different from its predecessor, but the handful of changes that it comes with should make a difference.
For one, the new $329 iPad comes with an increased RAM capacity of 3GB versus 2GB on the iPad 6. While RAM doesn’t directly impact gaming performance, it’ll allow you to hold larger games in memory without them restarting when multitasking. Its battery life tablet continues to be good enough to last you for several hours of gaming. The best part about it is definitely the software and the wide range of iPad-specific games available for it.
Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab
As it’s the case with this sub-list, the Yoga Smart Tab isn’t ideal for playing a graphics-intensive game, thanks to an entry-level Snapdragon 439 processor. At best, the chipset can support anything from basic to medium-level games without any hiccups. The reason we included this machine on this list is just because of its excellent battery life and speakers. If you’re into light games and want to play them for an extended period and with a wholesome sound.
Our review of the tablet details how impressive its speakers are, which take advantage of the tablet’s unique barrel design. The Yoga Smart Tab has a built-in kickstand that will come handy if you prefer using a controller, plus we also found its display to be great. If these two aspects aren’t on top of your checklist, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 2019 is still your best bet. Do note that the Lenovo tablet doesn’t support HD playback on Netflix, though the company can fix it with a quick software update.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
With the Tab S6 taking the pole position, last year’s Galaxy Tab S4 slipped slightly to quickly grab the second spot. It shares the same 10.5-inch 2K AMOLED display of its successor which has garnered praise time and again from the industry. Your gaming experience is also supported by a pair of stereo speakers for a richer audio. Samsung updated its 2018 flagship tablet to Android 9 Pie-based One UI recently, bringing it on par with newer models.
Google Play Store is home to a number of popular mobile games which will be better enjoyed on a larger display of the Tab S4. Not only that, the tablet is fully functional as a work device, thanks to its support for S Pen, external keyboard, and the cherished DeX mode. However, you must know that the device uses a Snapdragon 835 processor, which is now two generations old.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
With the new Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, Samsung did a lot of things right, like adding support for the S Pen and keeping the stereo speaker pair despite maintaining a low-price tag. However, in terms of gaming, the device is best suited for casual gamers who maybe want to relieve some stress in their short work break. Light games work remarkably well on this big screen, while for heavier ones, you might need to lower some quality settings to have a smoother playback.
The Exynos 9611 chip that Samsung has used was once a flagship-class processor, but it’s now a tad old to keep up with modern games. You should know its limits and understand what you’re getting into with the Tab S6 Lite. However, its other features like the LCD screen and speakers won’t disappoint you, and you’ll likely have an enjoyable experience. This machine should be your productivity screen first before being considered for gaming. If gaming is a priority, then last year’s Tab S5e is still a better bet.
Lenovo Tab M10 FHD Plus
The Lenovo Tab M10 FHD Plus should be your pick if you’re looking to get a gaming tablet for under $200. The device uses an octa-core MediaTek processor that turned out to be a great performer in general. But when it comes to gaming, the tablet can be considered mediocre at best. But for the price you’re paying, it’s got more than enough oomph to keep things running pretty well for the most part. Plus, that 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage have enough room to prevent any bottlenecking.
We tested it with graphics-intensive games, including Call of Duty, PUBG, and Asphalt 9. They all ran but at lower graphics settings. Visually, the game may not look as detailed, but it otherwise played well through and through. You’ve got to make some compromise to keep the prices low. The Tab M10 FHD Plus could be a great tab for your young kids, who will likely not play such high-end, not to mention mature games. Most casual games should run pretty well on this device.
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