Many students now prefer handy tablets to clunky laptops for practical reasons. Whether it’s for surfing and researching on the web, reading e-books, writing homework, or simply procrastinating – many scenarios make a tablet the ideal companion during studies.
Thanks to the optionally available keyboard cover, typing is almost as good as on a conventional notebook. The stylus also makes it possible to quickly write notes and offers opportunities to be creative when drawing or to mark certain sections of text as if with a Sharpie. Tablets are no longer just entertainment machines for Netflix or gaming.
Microsoft Office and other useful apps for productive work are now available for most devices. If you want to be sure that all relevant programs for your studies run on the tablet, you should choose one with Windows – like the Microsoft Surface Pro 9.
Our best tablets list includes top picks for university students with a focus on great keyboard and pen support. We feature both high-end and budget-friendly options.
If you plan to use apps like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator Draw, or Procreate as a graphic design student, the tablet’s performance is crucial. However, if you only intend to use the device for browsing and research, a cheaper option with less powerful hardware may be suitable.
Best Tablets for College Students: An Overview
- Best tablet for students overall: Apple iPad Pro M2 (at Amazon*). Apple’s premium tablet models are leading the current market. They come in either an 11-inch or 12.9-inch display with 120 Hz and support the Apple Pencil 2, which is particularly useful for drawing, note-taking or highlighting text. Additionally, the available keyboard covers are great for productivity. These tablets contain the most powerful hardware in the market and are installed with the same M2 chip as the current MacBooks. This makes processing tasks such as picture rendering in Lightroom or video rendering in LumaFusion much faster than the Surface Pro 9.
- Best iPad Pro alternative: Apple iPad Air (on Amazon*). The iPad Air offers an almost equivalent experience to the iPad Pro. It has slightly less power than the Pro models, but this is hardly noticeable in reality during practical use. This tablet also supports the Apple Pencil 2 as well as an optionally available keyboard cover. The 10.86-inch screen of the iPad Air is a bit darker compared to the iPad Pro and only offers a refresh rate of 60Hz, instead of 120Hz like the iPad Pro. Especially due to its slim dimensions and low weight, the iPad Air is an ideal university companion.
- Best Android tablets for students: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9+ and S9 Ultra (at Amazon*). The tablets have great displays and come with Samsung’s S Pen, which is included when you purchase them. Additionally, they both have an optional keyboard cover that’s very good. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9+ has a 12.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED display that has a resolution of 2800 x 1752 pixels and a 120 Hz refresh rate. The 8 Ultra has a 14.6-inch screen with a resolution of 2960 x 1848 pixels and 120Hz as well. Samsung promises to provide four major Android updates for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series and will offer security updates for five years.
- Best Windows tablet for students: Microsoft Surface Pro 9 (at Amazon*). The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 may seem like a typical tablet, but it’s actually a Windows PC that can run all desktop versions of Windows programs. However, it’s more expensive than a similarly equipped laptop. The device boasts a high-quality screen and optional keyboard and Surface Slim Pen 2. However, it’s not as powerful as the iPad Pro or Apple iPad Air in terms of performance.
- Best mid-range tablet for students: Apple iPad 10 (at Amazon*). Despite its affordable price, the entry-level iPad performs well. It also comes with the option to add a keyboard cover and use the Apple Pencil. The only downside is that the display is not laminated. This can slightly affect the feeling of working directly on the display with the Apple Pencil, but it’s not a major issue for everyday use.
- Budget Alternatives for Galaxy Tab S9 and Tab S9+: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE and S9 FE+. If you have your heart set on Galaxy Tab S9 series but do not want to break a bank the you have worthy alternatives in the form of Tab S9 FE and Tab S9 FE+. You won’t get a 120Hz AMOLED panel but still get 90Hz 1440p LCD screens. The Tab S9 FE is 10.9 inches while the Tab S9 FE+ measures 12.4 inches with S-Pen included in the bundle for seamless note-taking.
- Cheap alternative for students: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook (on Amazon*). The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook is great because it includes a keyboard cover. It costs around $450 and has a good screen with a resolution of 2000 x 1200 pixels and 60Hz. It’s also convenient for students because it has the desktop version of Chrome. The tablet will receive updates until 2030, but it only has Android 9 and doesn’t have a strong performance.
Tablets for University Students: All Details
Let us now take a closer look at the devices.
Apple iPad Pro: Best tablet for students overall
Students who have a bit more budget at their disposal and want the best of the best should take a look at the iPad Pro. It supports the high-quality Apple Pencil 2, which costs $149 and is ideal for drawing and taking notes. The optionally available keyboard cover – called “Magic Keyboard” by Apple – is also on a very high level in terms of quality and offers a comfortable typing experience. However, it is not a bargain. The cost of the Magic Keyboard is higher for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro at $299 compared to the 11-inch iPad Pro which costs $249.
The Apple iPad Pro with 12.9 inches has a large and high-quality mini-LED display. It offers a resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels, 264 ppi, and 120 Hz. The mini-LED technology allows the tablet to achieve great contrast levels, vivid colors, and deep black levels. It is comparable to OLED displays in terms of quality. SDR content is shown on the display with a maximum brightness of 600 nits. With HDR content, peak brightness of up to 1,600 nits becomes possible thanks to the mini-LED technology. The screen is fully laminated.
Please be aware that the modern mini-LED technology is only available in the 12.9-inch screen version of the iPad Pro. The 11-inch iPad Pro is equipped with a regular LCD screen which is not as bright and does not offer the same level of contrast and blackness as the 12.9-inch version, although the screen quality is still impressive.
The Apple iPad Pros’ four speakers provide excellent sound. In our battery test, the iPad Pro achieved a runtime of 6 hours. For the test, we played an HD YouTube video at maximum brightness in a continuous loop.
The tablet is available with Wi-Fi 6E and also comes with an optional 5G version. The Apple iPad Pro uses the M2 chip, which is present in the current Apple MacBook Pros and provides excellent computing power for running demanding applications. It is currently the most powerful tablet available on the market.
The iPad Pro also has great build quality, Face ID facial recognition, good cameras including a LIDAR sensor, and a very good overall package. Students looking for a high-quality tablet with an excellent display and the best computing power on the market are well served by the Apple iPad Pro.
Also Read: Apple iPad Pro M2 12.9-inch review
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ and Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra: Best Android Tablets for Students
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series is a great choice for students. They have excellent displays, robust hardware, and solid software, making them the best Android tablets available on the market. It is great that the S Pen is already included. Samsung also offers optional, high-quality keyboard covers that are fun to work with.
The Galaxy Tab S9+ features a 12.4-inch display, while the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra comes with a huge 14.6-inch screen. Both tablets use a Dynamic AMOLED display with a refresh rate of 120Hz, which provides excellent contrast, color, and deep blacks. The Galaxy Tab S9+ offers a resolution of 2960 × 1440 pixels, while the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra delivers a resolution of 2960 x 1848 pixels. Both displays are fully laminated. We think that the Galaxy Tab S9+ and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra have the best displays on the market. The four integrated stereo speakers also sound good. They also include IP68 rating for water and dust resistance which makes them even better to carry around without worrying much about accidental spills.
The tablets offer a Widevine level of L1. Thus, you can watch Netflix and other streaming services in 1080p on both devices. The tablets also support HDR 10. Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series offers Wi-Fi 6E. In addition, there are 5G versions of the tablets. In our battery test, the Galaxy Tab S9+ and S9 Ultra both achieved up to 11 hours of runtime. For the test, we played an HD YouTube video at maximum brightness in an endless loop. Samsung’s top models boast several benefits including advanced features such as a fingerprint scanner, superior camera quality, excellent build materials, and powerful hardware. These devices are also known to be the fastest Android tablets available in the market.
The Galaxy Tab S9+ and Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra now run Android 14, and the devices are supposed to get a total of four major Android upgrades as well as five years of security updates. Students who prefer Android over iPadOS or Windows will make a great choice with the Galaxy Tab S9+ and Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra thanks to strong hardware and great S-Pen and keyboard support.
Also Read: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 review
Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Best Windows tablet for students
The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is a superior choice in the Windows tablet market due to its stylish design and convenient kickstand. Additionally, Microsoft offers the optional Surface Pro Signature Keyboard for approximately $150, which is ideal for writing. The Surface Slim Pen 2 is also available for purchase for around $100.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 has a 120 Hz display, which is of high quality. It is powerful enough for most study-related applications and can even handle CPU-intensive apps like Adobe Photoshop. You can also use it for moderate gaming. The device has a high-quality camera, which is perfect for video calling. The screen resolution is 2880 x 1920 pixels with a 3:2 aspect ratio. Moreover, the display has high contrast, saturation, and brightness.
The advantage of Windows is that you have access to all Windows programs without restrictions, just like you are used to from a PC. However, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is quite expensive compared to a conventional laptop with the same equipment.
The basic version of the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 with 128 GB SSD costs $1099. In return, the SSD is replaceable, which can prove to be handy in everyday use. In terms of hardware performance, however, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is inferior to the iPad Air and iPad Pro.
Students who want to make sure that all relevant programs run on their tablet and enjoy full Windows compatibility should take a closer look at the Microsoft Surface Pro 9.
Also Read: Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review
iPad 10: Best mid-range tablet for students
If the performance of your tablet is what matters most to you, then we recommend the iPad 10, which supports the Apple Pencil 1 and a keyboard cover. The Pencil and the cover are great. However, it is a bit inconvenient that you need an adapter for the iPad 10 since it has a USB-C port, while the Apple Pencil 1 only has a Lightning port. It would have been more elegant if the iPad 10 was directly compatible with the Apple Pencil 2. However, the Apple Pencil 2 is only compatible with the current iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro models. Apart from the adapter, however, this is not a big problem since the detection of pressure levels and tilt works equally well for both models. However, you have to do without the tap function and charging via induction in the Apple Pencil 1.
Going by the Geekbench 5 test results, the iPad 10 is even more powerful than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series. Thus, students get a great performance for relatively little money with the iPad 10.
The design – which looks a bit outdated – and the screen has to be cut back. The screen is also not laminated. Thus, it can sometimes feel like you do not touch the screen directly when working with the Apple Pencil. However, this hardly bothers in everyday use. Otherwise, the iPad 10 scores with a flawless build and good cameras. Apple offers the tablet in versions with 64 GB and 256 GB storage capacity. If you want to use a lot of apps for your studies, we recommend buying the 256 GB variant.
Also Read: iPad 10 review
Budget Alternatives for Galaxy Tab S9 and Tab S9+: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE and S9 FE+
The Galaxy Tab S9 FE comes with a 10.9-inch display featuring a resolution of 2304 x 1440 pixels. It delivers a high pixel density, resulting in sharp and crisp visuals. The larger Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ boasts a 12.4-inch display featuring a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. The pixel density here is exceptionally high, ensuring that everything on the screen appears sharp. You also get official accessories like a keyboard cover from Samsung. You can enhance your setup by spending some extra bucks.
In contrast to iPads, the Tab S9 FE series comes with an S-Pen stylus included in the bundle. The stylus is great for taking notes on the go and also for drawing. The Exynos 1380 may not be as powerful as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 on the Galaxy Tab S9 but it still delivers more than satisfactory performance on normal usage. For students, the Exynos 1380 can easily handle multitasking and other tasks without breaking a sweat. It is also powerful enough to tackle demanding games like Call of Duty or PUBG.
An 8000mAh battery backs the Galaxy Tab S9 FE while the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ has packs a bigger 10,090mAh battery. In our tests, we found the batteries on both tablets power-efficient that can easily go on for an entire day on moderate usage. You also get 45W fast charging on these tablets.
The Galaxy Tab S9 FE and Tab S9 FE+ run Android 13 OneUI 5.1 out of the box, and just like Tab S9 series, they will also be receiving 4 years of major Android OS upgrades.
Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook: Cheap alternative for students
The tablet is available for under $500 including the keyboard and is thus the ideal device for price-conscious students. As the name of the tablet suggests, the desktop version of Chrome is already preinstalled on the device. It is also great that it is supposed to be provided with updates until 2030. The Chrome browser allows you to install the same extensions as on a normal PC, which can be especially useful when studying.
Chrome was originally a desktop-only operating system. Thus, it can also be operated flawlessly on the tablet with a mouse and keyboard. In addition, you can install Android apps on the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook and access the Google Play Store. This means that you can use the majority of Android apps and games on the IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook. However, please note that most Microsoft Office apps cannot run on the tablet. Nonetheless, Chrome offers suitable alternatives.
You will have to make concessions in terms of performance. The device has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor and either 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of internal storage. The 10.1-inch display is also rather mediocre. It offers a resolution of 2000 x 1200 pixels and the playback of Netflix and other streaming providers is not possible in HD. This is only possible in the Chrome browser.
The battery life of 5.5 to 6 hours is also not impressive. For our test, we played an HD YouTube video in an endless loop with the brightness set to full. If you primarily want to use your tablet for writing tasks at university and do not want to spend a lot of money, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook could be the right choice for you.
Also Read: Lenovo Duet 3 Chromebook Review
Apple iPad Air: Best iPad Pro alternative
If you’re a student who likes the iPad Pro but can’t afford it, consider checking out the iPad Air. This tablet is highly capable, supports the great Apple Pencil 2, and offers two great keyboard options. The iPad Air is equipped with the same M1 chip as the iPad Pro but is priced slightly lower. With this chip, it outperforms any Android tablet currently available. The iPad Air has an attractive design, good cameras, and a fancy LCD display with 60Hz, as well as up-to-date software.
It’s a shame that the base version of the iPad Air only offers 64GB of storage. This might be too little for students who want to use many large apps on their tablets. Overall, the iPad Air is a great choice for college due to its very good performance, chic display, and excellent keyboard and stylus support.
Also Read: iPad Air review
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