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Best iPad Alternatives: These Tablets Beat Apple (At Some Things)

Which are the best iPad alternatives in 2021? We’ve tested all options with Android, Windows, and Chrome OS. Here are out best picks.

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Apple iPad Air vs. Galaxy Tab S7

Apple holds an upper hand when it comes to tablets. The iPads are known to be the most suitable tablets featuring the best design and hardware. Apple’s dominance in the tablet market becomes more clear when we look at the market share. According to research by Statistica in October 2020, Apple was the leading tablet vendor in the United States, accounting for approximately 64.6 percent share of the market.

Although it feels like Apple has dominated this game, there are still players out there that can challenge it. Of course, iPads are popular, but that does not mean that we, as consumers, have no other choice! Thanks to OEMs like Samsung, Microsoft, and Lenovo, we have got some significant tablets on the market that are good enough to rival iPads. In fact, some of them can also outperform iPads with their cheaper pricing and better hardware under the hood.

If you want to buy a tablet that can serve as an iPad alternative and offers seamless functionality within budget, we have just the right mix of suggestions. Also, these tablets can perform all your daily tasks like browsing, watching videos, video-calls, gaming, document editing, and more. We have listed every type of tablet that we think comes closest to the iPad. Start scrolling to find the best iPad alternatives.

Best iPad Alternatives: An Overview

  • Best iPad Pro & Air Alternatives (Android): Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 & S7+ (on Amazon*). We rate these two as the best alternative for iPad Pro and iPad Air. These two powerful tablets by Samsung pack the right hardware, software, and design to rival Apple. Some of the key specs include an AMOLED screen, an Android OS with an overlay of OneUI, and S-Pen support, and more.  
  • Best iPad Pro Alternative (Windows): Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (on Amazon*). The Pro 7 positions itself as the ideal alternative to iPad Pro. This sleek and powerful offering from Microsoft comes with support for Surface Pen that works seamlessly with document viewing and editing apps like OneNote and image editing in Photoshop. This overall powerful tablet by Microsoft is an all-in-one device that can replace your laptop with its top-of-the-line hardware. 
  • Best iPad 8 Alternative: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (on Amazon*). The S6 Lite is not the latest and greatest on the market, but it certainly presents a strong case for being the best alternative for iPad 8. This Android tablet by Samsung packs decent hardware and software support, but what takes the cake is its seamless support for S-Pen. 
  • Cheaper iPad 8 Alternative: Lenovo Duet Chromebook (on Amazon*). The Duet Chromebook makes for a budget alternative for iPad 8. This offering by Lenovo packs enough bang for the buck. It comes with support for the keyboard and a desktop-class browser, making it the best choice for students who want a decent tablet that can double as their laptop.
  • Best Alternative For iPad Mini: Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3 (on Amazon*). The Active 3 is the best and only alternative for the iPad Mini with an 8-inch display. This Android tablet features a super portable form-factor with powerful hardware and a sturdy design. It’s a rough and tough tablet that can perform under harsh conditions and even has a removable battery. Making the deal even sweeter is the seamless support for S-Pen. 

Best iPad Alternatives: More Detailed Look

Let’s take a more inward look at our top 5 picks for iPad alternatives. We have carefully picked each recommendation. 

Best iPad Pro & Air Alternatives (Android): Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 & S7+

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7/S7+ on* Amazon

Samsung’s latest tablet offering comes with two variants – Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7+. We have reviewed these two tablets and have been bowled over by their respective performances. These two Android tablets make for great Android alternatives for the iPad Air and iPad Pro.

If you’re looking for premium Android alternatives for the iPad Air and Pro, look no further than Galaxy Tab S7 and S7+. Samsung has nailed the fundamentals by including a Super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate on the S7+. You get a sleek form-factor here with support for an S-Pen stylus that gives enough room for your creativity and other professional purposes.

You also get stereo speakers and support for in-display fingerprint scanners like Touch ID. Android powers these tablets with an overlay of Samsung’s proprietary OneUI, which performs effortlessly. There are some minor shortcomings in terms of software compared to Apple’s iPad OS, but that’s something you can move on with, especially when you seek an Android tablet that falls the closest to iPad.

Under the hood, you get Snapdragon 865+ processors on both Tab S7 and Tab S7+. The camera segment is taken care of by a 13MP+5MP dual camera setup on the rear and an 8MP sensor on the front. Another supporting development that favors the Galaxy Tab S7 series is Samsung’s recent announcement that confirmed three years of continual software updates for these tablets. This means you will get to enjoy the latest Android versions for a couple of years.

Overall, the Galaxy Tab S7 series serves as the best Android alternative that you can get for Apple’s iPad Pro and iPad Air. These are also the best Android tablets on the market that bring you the most efficient software optimizations for tablets. You won’t lack the touch of premium if you plan on moving from an iPad to this Android tablet.

Currently, the Galaxy Tab S7 starts at $529, while the Tab S7+ retails at around $750.

Want to know more about these tablets? Check out our reviews of the Galaxy Tab S7 and Galaxy Tab S7+.

Best iPad Pro Alternative (Windows): Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 on* Amazon

For those who want a worthy alternative in the form of a Windows device, the Surface Pro 7 is the best pick. This high-end tablet by Microsoft comes in premium packaging with a sleek body featuring a kickstand. It has a PixelSense screen with a 60Hz refresh rate.

This tablet supports the Surface Pen stylus, which works evenly on the screen, similar to the stylus on iPad Pro. Although Apple Pen takes the upper hand in overall performance as a stylus, the Surface Pen does not lag too far behind. It delivers decent performance that’s good enough for regular functions like designing and editing.

The Surface Pro 7 can also be easily paired with a keyboard for enhanced work functionality. Under the hood, this one comes powered by an up to Intel Core i7 paired with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD.

With its top-of-the-crop hardware and software support, it makes for a worthy alternative for the latest iPad Pro. Being a Windows tablet, the Surface Pro 7 can work effortlessly as your primary device for handling personal and professional tasks.

The price of this tablet starts at $749 for the standard variant.

Want to know more about the Surface Pro 7? Check out our dedicated review for it.

Best iPad 8 Alternative: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite on* Amazon

This mid-ranger by Samsung comes bundled with S-Pen and is a significant alternative for the iPad 8. The pressure-sensitive pen works very well. It is the champ in taking notes and using the stylus for functions like creating and editing documents.

Matching the standards of the iPad, this Android tablet also features a premium design in an all-metal body. It has got thin bezels that give it a sleek look. The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a complete powerhouse with an LCD screen, stereo speakers, Android 10-based OneUI, and Exynos 9611 chipset.

It is an ideal pick for those who want a tablet with decent specs and Android OS with stylus support and budget pricing. The Tab S6 Lite can work seamlessly for your daily browsing and entertainment needs. You can also put it to hard tasks like designing and editing using the S-Pen.

It is definitely a great pick for those who want an iPad 8 but don’t want to switch from the Android ecosystem. With the Tab S6 Lite, they don’t have to compromise on much.

The pricing of the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite starts at $330.

Check out our review for the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite to get a more detailed look.

Cheaper iPad 8 Alternative: Lenovo Duet Chromebook

Lenovo Duet Chromebook test

Lenovo Duet Chromebook on* Amazon

The Lenovo Duet Chromebook is the cheapest alternative to the iPad 8. This Android tablet comes bundled with a back-cover, a keyboard, and supports a stylus. Primarily aimed at offering work functionality for the target demographic like students, this tablet by Lenovo packs a lot of good pointers.

It comes powered by the Linux-based Chrome OS, which is also compatible with Android apps from the Play Store. One of the highlights of the software is that it is more secure than Windows. It means that you can work without worrying about malicious attacks.

Another high point of this device and its software is that it will be receiving continual updates until June 2028, which evenly puts the Lenovo Duet Chromebook among the best conventional alternatives for the iPad 8. Constant software support is what users rarely get when they step out of iOS/iPadOS ecosystems, but Chrome OS bridges that gap.

The Lenovo Duet Chromebook is a lightweight tablet that works just fine for regular tasks like browsing, watching videos, standard gaming, and more. However, it is not meant for heavy work. Also, you don’t get features like a fingerprint scanner or face unlock on this tablet.

Go for this tablet if you don’t want to spend big bucks on the iPad 8 or its Android alternative.

The pricing of the Lenovo Duet Chromebook starts at $220.

Find out more about the Lenovo Duet Chromebook in our in-depth review.

Best Alternative For iPad Mini: Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active3 on* Amazon

There are not many Android tablets on the market that feature a small screen or form-factor like the iPad Mini. But we got lucky with the Galaxy Tab Active 3! This tablet by Samsung is a rough and tough offering that’s high on features and design.

The rugged tablet is ideal for those who are always on the move and need a small-bodied tablet like the iPad Mini but running Android. The Galaxy Tab Active 3 is just what you need. It comes bundled in sturdy packaging featuring an 8-inch screen. Interestingly, this tablet comes with a removable battery, which means you can carry a replacement battery when going outdoors for a long time.

With its top-of-the-charts ruggedness and atmosphere resistance, the Galaxy Tab Active 3 is the best Android tablet for those who are always on the move. It also has built-in S-Pen support that allows enough space for editing and writing. The support comes especially handy when wearing gloves in harsh weather conditions.

The Galaxy Tab Active 3 is the worthiest of alternatives for the iPad Mini. It wraps all the goodness in the same form-factor but has a sturdier body.

The pricing of the Galaxy Tab Active 3 starts at $489.

Find out more about the Galaxy Tab Active 3 and its performance in our in-depth review.

Why choose an iPad alternative? 

You get three primary alternatives for iPads – Android, Windows, and Chrome OS. All these three have one or two devices that make for a good alternative, but they differ in pricing, quality, and support. 

Android: Boasts the widest variety of tablets after iPads and has got several OEM options to choose from. 

Windows: The closest you can ever come to a laptop-like functionality on a tablet. Largely dominated by Microsoft. 

ChromeOS: Comparatively lower adaption rate than the other two but better security than Windows and Android. 

Should I buy an Android, Windows, or iOS Tablet?

iPad vs Galaxy Tab A 2019

The initial part of making a choice depends on your budget; if you are high on budget, you can choose among the most premium tablets offered by each ecosystem. Of course, Apple’s iPad lineup offers some of the best tablets with great software support, but the premium offerings in Android and Windows are also worth noticing. 

Apple iPads feature iPadOS that offers seamless software support without any performance issues. If you are already familiar with Apple’s tight-knit ecosystem of iPhones, the iPads won’t be new terrain for you. You’ll feel like using iOS but on a much larger screen. 

The android ecosystem, on the other hand, works and feels a bit different on a tablet. And we won’t be lying if we say that it still has a long way to go before reaching a similar optimization level as iPadOS on a tablet. But OEMs like Samsung have covered a long distance and managed to make their latest offerings almost as good as iPads when it comes to software optimizations. 

Windows OS is not as popular on tablets like Android and iPad OS. But with the Surface series of tablets, Microsoft has certainly made some strides, and now there’s a dedicated userbase that’s hooked to it. Although it holds a way smaller userbase when compared to the other two ecosystems, it can be very interesting for many. 

And then comes Chrome OS, which can be seen on Chromebook tablets by OEMs like Lenovo. It is an OS by Google that’s meant for laptops and tablets. It is in the starting-up phase but seems to be pretty promising with its Linux-based system. We have reviewed some tablets running Chrome OS, and we think that we will see more brands adapting it for their tablets.

Once you have your budget and choice of ecosystem sorted, you will make a better buying decision. Also, Android tablets can cost much less than iPads, but then there are few tablets like Samsung’s premium range that can cost almost the same, maybe a bit higher. Make your choice with a sound mind. 

How We Test Tablets For Reviews & Guides?

Autodesk Sketchbook

Right from the costliest of tablets to the cheapest, we keep our testing standard the same. We put our heart and soul into churning out the best reviews and buying guides. In our process, we put each device through a slew of tests, and from the results, we can gauge which device stands the best in the segment. 

We evaluate the overall package, including the accessories like the keyboard and stylus. This helps us in dishing out the most reliable information around a device and its compatibilities. We always link our reviews with every buying guide to give our readers the complete picture of how a device performs independently. 

Additionally, we run a series of benchmark tests to find the metrics about the software and hardware performance of the device. This step is the most crucial to find if the device delivers what it promises. We also run several battery tests to evaluate the device from every aspect. 

With this, we conclude our buying guide on the best iPad alternatives in 2021. We hope this guide helps you in making the best buying decision. Let us know in the comments if this guide helped you in choosing the best!



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