We all love going on holiday, but not everyone wants to totally disconnect while doing so. Whether you want to get creative while on holiday or simply need to keep up with your favorite TV shows, bringing one of the best tablets for travel can be a great way to stay connected.
Sure, we all pack our smartphones, but sometimes those tiny screens just don’t cut it. That’s where our list comes into the picture. We’ve been reviewing tablets since 2008, so we’re confident we can recommend something for you. Whether it’s a high-end Apple tablet or a budget Android device, we’ve got you covered no matter your destination.
The Best Tablets for Travel: An Overview
- Best overall: Apple iPad Air (on Amazon*). The Apple iPad Air is an excellent travel tablet with a great display, fantastic CPU performance, and Apple’s typical high-quality fit and finish. The iPad Air will do everything you need a travel tablet to do and then some.
- Best premium iOS tablet: Apple iPad Pro 11” (on Amazon*). Power users who need a ton of storage and an ultra-smooth high-quality display will want to get the iPad Pro 11”. It’s a true laptop replacement tablet, albeit with a price to match.
- Best premium Android tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 (on Amazon*). Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9 is a brilliant high-end Android tablet. It has a fantastic AMOLED screen, snappy performance, and IP68 water resistance, but the price may be hard to swallow for some.
- Best mid-range tablet: Apple iPad (10th generation) (on Amazon*). Apple’s basic iPad is a classy tablet with good performance at a reasonable price. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great mid-range option for the average user.
- Best mid-range tablet with pen: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE (on Amazon*). The Samsung Tab S9 FE is a solid Android tablet that offers good performance for its price. It has a good IPS display, IP68 water resistance, and an S Pen for sketching and taking notes.
- Best value tablet: Lenovo Tab P11 Gen 2 (on Amazon*). Lenovo’s Tab P11 Gen 2 is a great option if you want a large 120 Hz display without breaking the bank. Its mid-range MediaTek processor means it’ll do a good job in most apps, too.
- Best 8-inch tablet: Apple iPad Mini (on Amazon*). Apple’s 8-inch iPad is a compact powerhouse. It has enough processing power for even the most demanding iPadOS apps and a good display, all in a package that’ll fit in a jacket pocket or sling bag.
- Best budget tablet: Lenovo Tab M9 (on Amazon*). The Lenovo Tab M9 is an affordable tablet that squeezes a 9-inch screen into an 8-inch form factor. It’ll serve you well if you want a basic tablet for watching videos and browsing the internet during holiday downtime.
Best Tablets for Travel: All Details
If you want to know more about our picks, this section is for you. We’ll go into more details about each of our selections and link to hands-on reviews if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of each tablet.
Apple iPad Air: Best Overall
The Apple iPad Air 5 is a fantastic premium tablet. It's cheaper than the iPad Pro but offers the same super-fast Apple M1 processor. We get a premium metal body, good speakers, a fingerprint scanner, two keyboard options, and the fantastic Apple Pencil 2. The 10.9 inch LCD screen is a good one but a bit darker than the Pro and supports 60Hz only.
Apple’s iPad Air is an excellent tablet and a brilliant option for those seeking a travel tablet for the holidays. We’d go so far as to say it’s likely the best iPad for most users, with its excellent display, blazing-fast M1 chip, and reasonable price.
The iPad Air boasts Apple’s M1 processor, which powered the 2020 MacBook lineup. It may not be the newest Apple Silicon processor, but it’s still an amazing laptop-grade performer even a few years on. Apple complements the M1 chip with 8 GB of RAM and 64 or 256 GB of storage.
The iPad Air’s 10.9-inch 2360 x 1640 Liquid Retina display isn’t quite as high-end as the Mini-LED and AMOLED models of pricier tablets. However, it still looks impressive and is great for content consumption. Its 500-nit peak brightness also makes it great for outdoor use, so you can lounge around in the sun while still using your iPad Air for videos or browsing the internet.
As you might expect, this high-performance CPU, great display, and typical Apple build quality don’t come cheap. The base model Apple iPad Air costs around $600, and you only get 64 GB of storage. That’s certainly usable, but those who demand more storage are looking at an extra $150 to bump it up to 256 GB. Worth it? We’ll let you be the judge.
Apple iPad Pro 11”: Best Premium iOS Tablet
Apple’s iPad Pro 11” is the tablet to get if you’re a power user demanding the best. It’s a very pricey tablet, but you’ll want to consider the iPad Pro 11” if you need a laptop replacement-tier tablet for your holiday.
The Apple iPad Pro M2 is the best tablet you can buy right now. It's more powerful than all competitors, has two very pretty 11-inch and 12.9-inch displays, as well as a premium built. We get great premium features like the good Apple Pencil 2, fantastic keyboard covers, facial recognition, and good speakers. However, compared to its predecessors, almost nothing has changed.
The iPad Pro 11” packs Apple’s M2 processor paired with 8 or 16 GB of RAM, broadly on par with all the current MacBooks. Storage is also impressive, starting at 128 GB and maxing out at 2 TB. So you’re getting laptop-class specs and performance in a tablet, putting the iPad Pro 11” miles ahead of the competition. Want a tablet for heavy photo or video editing? This is it.
Games and content will look great on the iPad Pro 11”s 2388 x 1688 Liquid Retina display. It’s a vibrant and accurate display that’ll impress all but the pickiest users. It also has a 120 Hz refresh rate, which ensures smooth animations and scrolling. Add a four-speaker setup into the mix, and you have a great tablet for content consumption and even creation.
Of course, that’s the minimum you’d expect from a tablet that starts at around $800. The Apple iPad Pro 11” isn’t a general-purpose tablet for the average user. But if you need laptop-rivaling power in a tablet, there isn’t anything else worth considering.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9: Best Premium Android Tablet
Most consumers likely associate Android tablets with mid-range and value-oriented offerings, but Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9 bucks that trend. It’s a high-end Android tablet experience, albeit with a price to match.
The highlight of the show has to be the Galaxy Tab S9’s 2560 x 1600 AMOLED 2X display. It’s a stunning 120-Hz and HDR10+ capable screen that’s incredible for content consumption. You get vibrant colors, deep blacks, and enough brightness even in direct sunlight.
The Galaxy Tab S9 powers its top-notch display with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, which you can complement with either 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage or a higher-capacity 12/256 GB setup. Either way, you’ll get great performance from the Tab S9 that beats all Android tablets.
Samsung ships the Galaxy Tab S9 with the S Pen, a nice bonus for those who like to draw or take notes while traveling. Another great travel-friendly feature is the Galaxy Tab S9’s IP68 dust- and water-proofing. While we don’t recommend you swim with it, the Tab S9 should be perfectly safe for use at the pool or seaside.
All of this goodness doesn’t come cheap, however. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9 sits firmly in Apple territory, with the 8 GB version costing around $800. But that’s the price you’ll have to pay if you want the best tablet in the Android ecosystem.
Apple iPad (10th generation): Best Mid-Range Tablet
Apple’s basic iPad may not impress as much as the higher-spec (and pricier) iPad Air and iPad Pro, but we think it’s still a solid option in the mid-range. It’s great for anyone who wants the sleek Apple tablet experience at a relatively affordable price.
The 10th-generation iPad “only” has Apple’s older A14 Bionic chip, which we last saw in the 2020 iPad Air. You also only get 4 GB of RAM here, with the option of either 64 or 256 GB of storage. So, on paper, it’s quite a ways behind the higher-end Apple offerings.
The Apple iPad 10 is faster than all Android tablets. Especially compared to its predecessor, it offers a better and more modern design, a bit lager and bright 10.9-inch display, as well as a new and good keyboard cover. Overall, it's a great tablet but it does have a bunch of downsides. The screen is not laminated and I noticed a jelly effect. You can get it with the first-generation Apple Pencil. However, for that one to work you have to buy an extra adapter which is ridiculous. And, sadly, the price has increased.
That said, you most likely won’t notice a huge difference in daily use. It’s more than fast enough for the average user and can play most games without issue. It’ll also still outclass most Android tablets.
One area where the 10th-generation iPad falls flat slightly is the display. The 10.9-inch 2360 x 1640 display is non-laminated and has no anti-glare coating. So you’ll notice reflections in brightly lit environments, which can get annoying. The non-laminated design also creates a noticeable gap between the glass and the display.
There are other quibbles, too. For example, the 10th-gen iPad only supports the first-gen Apple Pencil and needs a USB-C to Lightning adapter to go along with it. There’s also the fact that it only supports the new $250 Magic Keyboard Folio and won’t work with other Apple iPad keyboards.
So, the Apple iPad 10th generation isn’t the best choice for productivity or creativity. But it’s a great option if you want a sleek tablet for consuming content.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Best Mid-Range Tablet With Pen
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE is a cut-down version of the premium Tab S9 that targets the mid-range market. It’s a downgrade from the Galaxy Tab S9, but the S9 FE is still a solid tablet that will tick many boxes for most users.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE is currently the best mid-range tablet with a pen. We get a pretty good overall package here with a high-resolution 10.9-inch 90Hz IPS display, a great design, latest software with long updates, and the S Pen, which is included. The S9 FE has many premium features such as a fingerprint reader, good speakers, and a water and dust-resistant body. It would be even better if the processor was more powerful. So, it's not a perfect gaming tablet.
- Premium design
- IP 68 certification
- Pretty 90Hz display
- Fingerprint reader
- Up-to-date software
- Good speakers
- S Pen is included
- Good keyboard cover
- Performance just average
Samsung uses an in-house Exynos 1380 processor for the Tab S9 FE, which the company pairs with 6 GB of RAM. It’s not the fastest setup, but it’s nappy enough for daily use and light gaming. You only get a 128 GB storage option with the Tab S9 FE, but it comes with a MicroSD slot that supports up to 1 TB cards.
The display is a solid 2304 x 1440, 10.9” IPS panel. It runs at a maximum of 90 Hz and has decent contrast and vibrant colors. It also has a fully laminated construction, unlike Apple’s 10th-gen iPad. So, you won’t see any unsightly gaps between the glass and the display here.
Other welcome features include a bundled S Pen for notes and sketching. Add to that Samsung’s excellent Notes app, and you have a great tablet for jotting down any great ideas that come to mind while you’re on holiday. The Tab S9 FE also has IP68 water- and dust-proofing, making it a perfect poolside companion.
Samsung’s Tab S9 FE isn’t spectacular, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a solid mid-range product at a good price, perfect if you want a travel tablet that won’t break the bank.
Lenovo Tab P11 Gen 2: Best Value Tablet
Lenovo’s Tab P11 Gen 2 is a great option if you don’t want to spend a ton of money on your travel tablet but still want a sizeable 120-Hz display. It has to make sacrifices in other areas to tick that particular box, but they may just be sacrifices you’re also willing to make.
Let’s start with the screen. The Tab P11 Gen 2 has an 11.5-inch IPS display that runs at 120 Hz with a 2000 x 1200 resolution and 400 nits of maximum brightness. It has vibrant colors and reasonably deep blacks for an IPS panel, offering an enjoyable content consumption experience overall.
The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 gets fantastic results in my review. It offers a great 10.2-inch OLED screen, powerful hardware, lots of storage, as well as a solid pen and good keyboard cover. I also like its long battery life, its loud speakers, and the productivity mode with external screen support. However, while it's supposed to get two major updates, it probably won't be updated as long as the flagships from Samsung and Apple.
Lenovo equipped the P11 Gen 2 with an eight-core MediaTek Helio G99 processor. The base model comes with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, rising to 6 GB and 128 GB at the top end. It’s not high-end hardware, then, but it’s adequate considering the P11 Gen 2’s price and target audience. It’ll do perfectly for everyday tasks such as web browsing, Netflix, and light productivity.
Conversely, gaming isn’t the Tab P11 Gen 2’s strong suit. It’s acceptable, but hardcore gamers will want to spend extra on a higher-performance tablet. The cameras are also sub-par. Not ideal, sure, but neither of these should matter if you’re simply looking for a value-conscious tablet that doesn’t skimp on the all-important screen.
Apple iPad Mini: Best 8-Inch Tablet
Apple’s iPad Mini proves you don’t have to sacrifice size to get a fast, high-performance tablet. The iPad Mini is easily the best-performing 8-inch tablet, making it a brilliant travel companion when you want to pack light.
The Apple iPad Mini 6 is the best 8-inch tablet on the market today. It offers a premium design, is more powerful than every Android tablet, supports the Apple Pencil 2, and ships with up-to-date software. We get premium features like great speakers and a fingerprint scanner. Sadly, the otherwise excellent 8.3-inch screen has a jelly effect which is a bit of a bummer.
- Premium design
- Very powerful
- Good speakers
- Fingerprint scanner
- Apple Pencil 2 support
- Up-to-date software
- Display has jelly effect
- No phone capabilities
This most recent iPad Mini features a new 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display, running at 2266 x 1488. The combination of a reasonably high resolution and small dimensions means that content looks incredibly crisp on the iPad Mini. It also goes up to 500 nits of brightness, which is excellent for outdoor use. However, the display suffers from a jelly scrolling effect, where one side of the screen updates slower. Not everyone will notice this issue, but it’s there.
Of course, if you want a lot of CPU power in a small package, then that’s just something you’ll have to live with. Apple’s six-core A15 Bionic chip powers the iPad Mini, combined with 4 GB of RAM and either 64 or 256 GB of storage. Sure, it’s not a power user’s dream like the iPad Air or iPad Pro, but that’s still a good enough setup to handle almost anything you can throw at it without issue.
All this goodness comes in at just 297 grams, so it’s effortless to bring with you anywhere. It’s small enough to fit in a large jacket pocket or a sling bag, too, so you’ll never be caught without your iPad wherever you go on your holidays.
Read: Apple iPad Mini Review
Lenovo Tab M9: Best Budget Tablet
Budget Android tablets are often uninspiring and unexciting, but Lenovo’s Tab M9 is an exception. It’s a 9-inch tablet with the dimensions of an 8-inch one, offering extra screen real estate without taking up much extra room in your bag.
The Lenovo Tab M9 is better than other up-to-date and widely available 8-inch Android tablets on the market right now. Sure, with 9 inches, it's a bit bigger, but not much. It's fast enough, the display is quite bright and the battery lasts long. Sadly, there's no high-end competitor running Android right now.
The screen is a standard IPS panel that runs at 1340 x 800, with the 400-nit brightness and viewing angles typical to affordable tablet IPS displays. It’s not a bad screen, but its extra diagonal size leads to slightly poor text sharpness. That said, you’ll likely appreciate the additional room when watching Netflix.
Lenovo opted to go with thinner-than-usual bezels on the Tab M9, which means it’s only slightly larger than the average 8-inch Android tablet. Unless you need a tab that’ll fit into your back pocket, we think the screen-to-size ratio makes the Tab M9 the best Android tablet in this size range.
As you may expect for the price, the Tab M9’s internals aren’t anything to get too excited about. You get a MediaTek Helio G80 processor with 3 or 4 GB of RAM, depending on your storage choice. 32 GB models get 3 GB, while the 64 and 128 GB models get 4 GB of memory. You can expand the storage via the MicroSD slot.
If you can live with not having a fingerprint reader or earpiece, the Lenovo Tab M9 is a great compact Android tablet. It doesn’t have that much competition, either, so it’s likely your best choice for a small travel tablet if the iPad Mini doesn’t float your boat.
Read: Lenovo Tab M9 Review
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