Tablets and, more importantly, modern mobile operating systems have grown powerful enough to support games that are much more graphics intensive than those basic ones, say Tetris. Chances are, you may have a better gaming experience on a tablet than you’d on a console or PC, considering how portable tablets tend to be.
Both Play Store and App Store stay populated with some of the best mobile games and it is unlikely that you wouldn’t find a game of your liking. Though, you must understand that Android and iOS games aren’t always comparable to those AAA console titles.
Now that we’re all set, you can have a look at the best gaming tablets in 2020.
Best iPads for gaming
Apple’s App Store probably has the widest variety of for-iPad apps and games and you shall never have a dearth of good games to play. These are the best Apple iPad models that you can game on.
iPad Pro 2020
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.
Performance is only one aspect of gaming, and several other parts contribute to your overall expeirnece 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. With that, 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. You can consider repurposing your existing Pro for gaming, which may be a more reasonable thing to do.
Read: Our iPad Pro 2020 Review
iPad Air 2019
For most users, the recently launched 10.5-inch iPad Air makes more sense than the Pro model. As seen in our comparison, the device stays neck and neck with the iPad Pro in most cases and costs an astonishing $350 less. Plus, you’ll have access to the same robust game ecosystem that the Apple App Store offers across the board.
You’re still getting a fairly long battery life and a dependable performance using the A12 Bionic processor that also powers the newest iPhones. The performance will not be an issue at all while you may find its design outdated especially when put directly against the new iPad Pro. Apple also didn’t include a pair of stereo speakers, though the ones included stay unrivaled in quality.
Read: Our iPad Air 2019 Review
iPad Mini 2019
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 and it is 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 announced alongside.
The company updated its display to offer many premium features that were previously found only on costlier tablets, making it better suited for gaming. Apple’s A12 Bionic silicon also powers the Mini for you to have the same fluent experience as the Air. What’s disappointing is its design that hasn’t changed much since the first generation and it now tends to look bland.
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.
iPad 6 (2018)
It was surprising to see Apple launch an iPad in the sub-350 USD price range last year and that too without making as many compromises. The 2018 Apple iPad deploys a quad-core A10 Fusion processor that surely isn’t the best in the business, especially after more than a year of its launch, but is quite capable to support casual gaming.
Yet again, the App Store comes into play that has a ton of apps specifically optimized for tablet experience and it’s unlike any other ecosystem. Though its display is absolutely fine to look at, it isn’t laminated which may irritate a few with eagle eyes. It offers a good battery life and has that good-old Touch ID fingerprint scanner.
Read: Our iPad 6 (2018) Review
Best Android Tablets for Gaming
On the Android side of the space, you will have a plethora of options to choose from, letting you buy the right hardware based on your needs. Below mentioned are some of the best Android-powered tablets that you can buy.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
Samsung recently announced the Galaxy Tab S6 with an upgraded set of internals that makes it the best Android tablet for gaming. The octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is an excellent performer offering the best-in-class performance. It allows you to easily sail through any graphics-intensive game available for the Android platform. A spacious 10.5-inch display makes the gaming experience even richer along with its four-speaker setup.
In our ongoing review, the Galaxy Tab S6 performed flawlessly with popular games like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile. We found the battery to last for up to 15 hours in our standard testing. Our Galaxy Tab S6 review should go live soon. The tablet is also great for casual gamers who work on their tablets during the day and game a bit before hitting the bed. Samsung has positioned it in the premium segment and gaming alone isn’t enough to justify its high price.
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.
Huawei MediaPad M5 8
Part of last year’s premium tablet lineup from Huawei, the MediaPad M5 8 is a compact device that easily fits in your palm and also the needs for a gaming tab. The then top-tier HiSilicon Kirin 960 powers the slate so performance should never be an issue, even while playing graphics-intensive games. Its Harman/Kardon speakers sound good and a fingerprint reader is also present.
Over at the front, there is an IPS panel measuring 8.4 inches diagonally with a QHD resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. We found the display to be quite good in our review and so was its battery life. Having said that, the lack of a headphone jack could feel limiting if you do depend on a wired headset.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
The mid-range Galaxy Tab S5e is the first tablet to launch under Samsung’s Tab S5 series for 2019 and it does have that premium feel you might come to expect from the high-end series. It comes with the trademark Samsung AMOLED display that is surrounded with thin bezels and a pair of stereo speakers is also included for richer sound.
Its software is on point this time with the inclusion of the latest Android 9 Pie-based One UI. It makes use of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chipset which is fine for day-to-day use and some casual gaming but playing mobile games with heavy graphics load wouldn’t be as pleasing of an experience.
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.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2019
For all those note-taking champs out there, the 2019 Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 comes with an S Pen built-in, which is the most convenient implementation of a stylus. Not only for taking notes, but the 8-inch tablet should also be good enough for some light gaming sessions. It has a good FHD display but its single speaker isn’t the best.
It is powered by an octa-core Exynos 7885 chipset that should support light to medium-level gaming quite easily, while high-end games could run at lower graphics settings. It comes preloaded with Android 9 Pie-based One UI that packs a lot of new features. Its battery life is something that could’ve been better.
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.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 2019
In the lower end of the spectrum, the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 2019 stands as a strong contender and it even topped our latest list of best budget tablets. Samsung has used a new Exynos 7904 octa-core processor that proved to be surprisingly good in terms of performance in our review. You could easily play a high-end game at slightly lower graphics settings.
A 10.1-inch IPS display sits on its front with minimal bezels around. It gets a full HD resolution which is good enough for a display of this size. However, the RAM capacity of 2GB in its base model is far too limiting if you plan on playing a heavy game or do multitasking.
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.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)
According to our experience, the Fire HD 10 (2019) offers respectable performance for its class. On top of that, you get a large full HD display, and the tablet has good battery backup. We tried playing a bunch of popular games, and we were left impressed with the experience. 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. Coming back to the tablet, it has a list price of $149 that’s tough to argue with, considering the value it offers. We recently 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.
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.
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