Best tablets for students 2022: work and play on the go

Man carrying tablet under arm
(Image credit: JAME BOLL via Shutterstock)

The best tablets for students do a great job of letting those in education leave their laptops at home by offering a flexible experience that can’t be replicated on other technology.

Gone are the days of tablets being siloed away somewhere between your phone and computer. They’re now incredibly powerful, with impressive processing power rivalling their bulkier, more traditional counterparts. That’s before getting into the apps on offer across various app stores, whether you pick an iPad from Apple or an Android device.

On that note, it’s worth mentioning that many of the options on this list are from Apple, and that’s down to a few reasons. For one, the company offers an iPad in each price bracket, right from the base $329 model, all the way up to the iPad Air and iPad Pro which feature the same processor as MacBooks. The iPad is also impressively versatile these days, with support for Apple’s own keyboard and trackpad.

Still, if you’re not keen, we have plenty of Android options too, as well as an excellent Windows hybrid. Keep on scrolling to see our collection of the best tablets for students in 2022.

However, if you decide it’s a laptop you’re after instead, then our best laptops for students and best MacBooks for students lists will help guide you.

Best tablets for students

iPad Air M1

(Image credit: Apple)
Light and powerful, this is the best student tablet around.

Specifications

Price: $599/£569
CPU: Apple M1
Storage: 64 GB/256 GB

Reasons to buy

+
Desktop class chip
+
Very close to iPad Pro but significantly cheaper
+
Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard support

Reasons to avoid

-
Measly base storage

The iPad Air M1 makes the argument that anyone thinking about spending considerably more on an iPad Pro may not need to after all.

The recently overhauled, slimline tablet offers a 10.9-inch display that has a 2360 x 1640 pixel resolution and a 12 MP camera on each side. Most importantly, it features Apple’s M1 chip, also found in some MacBook models, meaning it has impressive battery life and more power than you’d ever really need in a tablet.

Add in Apple Pencil support and the ability to connect it to the Apple Magic Keyboard (sold separately) and you’ve got a very solid tablet option that’ll handle notetaking, content creation, and video calls with ease.

The only real issue is the 64 GB storage at the low end, which can be increased up to 256 GB for $150 more.


iPad Mini (2021)

(Image credit: Apple)
The best small tablet on the market.

Specifications

Price: $499/£479
CPU: Apple A15 Bionic
Storage: 64 GB/256 GB

Reasons to buy

+
Best small tablet around
+
Apple Pencil support
+
Perfect size for scribbles and notes

Reasons to avoid

-
Base storage could be better
-
No Magic Keyboard support
-
No M1 means some iPadOS features missing

Apple left the iPad Mini untouched for years, but the 2021 redesign was worth the delay. Overhauling the outer design to more closely match the iPad Pro, it now offers an 8.3-inch screen with thin bezels that means it remains impressively compact – you can fit it in a back pocket of a pair of jeans, for example.

The iPad Mini has an impressive battery life, so if you snap the Apple Pencil onto the side you’ll be able to enjoy hours of taking notes, drawing diagrams, or creating arty masterpieces. It’s also got a fingerprint sensor built into the power button, so it’s nice and secure.

This mini marvel also packs two 12 MP cameras, but is too small for the Magic Keyboard – so you’ll need to connect a Bluetooth one (although that’s going to be considerably cheaper). It also doesn’t have an M1 chip, so features like Stage Manager in iPadOS 16 won’t run, but at this screen size, it’s unlikely to be a major issue.


iPad Pro M1 in portrait position

(Image credit: Future)
The most powerful student tablet you can buy.

Specifications

Price: $799/£676.66
CPU: Apple M1
Storage: 128 GB/256 GB/512 GB/1 TB/2 TB

Reasons to buy

+
Two screen sizes
+
M1 chip
+
Incredible display on the 12.9-inch version

Reasons to avoid

-
High cost
-
No, really, it costs the same as a MacBook

The iPad Pro M1 takes everything about the iPad Air and builds on it, but whether the differences are worth the significant jump in price are likely to be down to personal preference.

Available in an 11-inch and a 12.9-inch option for $1,099 (opens in new tab)/£999 (opens in new tab), both offer Apple’s M1 chip (like the iPad Air) but start at 128 GB of storage. You’ll also get FaceID for unlocking the device, as well as a faster USB-C port for data, storage, and docking stations. Both support up to 120 Hz refresh rates, too.

Speaking of displays, arguably the biggest boon of the 12.9-inch version is its incredible Liquid Retina XDR display which makes it an incredible viewing experience for movies and TV shows. Plus, it features 10,000 mini-LEDs to improve contrast and highlights.

Again, though, the price for all of this is high, and that’s before factoring in an Apple Pencil or a Magic Keyboard.


Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

(Image credit: Samsung)

4. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+

The best Android tablet for students.

Specifications

Price: $899.99/£849
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset
Storage: 128 GB

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing battery life
+
AMOLED display
+
Expandable storage

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Samsung has been the de facto Android tablet manufacturer for a little while, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ shows just why that is. The 12.4-inch AMOLED screen is bright and beautiful, and it includes the S Pen stylus, too.

The Qualcomm chipset is powerful, but Samsung has also added a huge 10,090mAh battery to ensure it can go for hours and hours while also offering quick charging when it’s out of juice. There’s also a microSD card, so you can add up to 1 TB of storage relatively cheaply, too.

Add to that an ultra-wide camera capable of 4K recording and access to the Play Store for downloading apps for work and play, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ could be the perfect tablet for you.


Microsoft Surface Pro 8

(Image credit: Microsoft)

5. Microsoft Surface Pro 8

The best tablet/laptop hybrid option for students.

Specifications

Price: $1,099/£999
CPU: Intel Core i5
Storage: 128 GB

Reasons to buy

+
A very capable laptop/tablet hybrid
+
Windows 11 compatible

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Not strictly a tablet

While many tablets can feel like you need to compromise or cut corners somewhere to make them work for you, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is very much a laptop first and a tablet second – but that makes it incredibly capable.

In laptop mode, it’s a powerful 13-inch computer with a tactile keyboard and touch screen, as well as having support for a stylus (sold separately). As a tablet, it still runs Windows 11 so you’ll has access to the Microsoft Store, and becomes a great media consumption device, too.

If you’re looking for more than a tablet, you’ve found it, but it can cost over $1,000. Thankfully it’s regularly discounted, and we’ve seen as much as $300 off in recent weeks.


iPad (2021)

(Image credit: Apple)
Apple's cheapest iPad.

Specifications

Price: $329/£334
CPU: Apple A13 Bionic
Storage: 64 GB/256 GB

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable but with a big screen
+
Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support
+
USB-C charging

Reasons to avoid

-
Dated design with home button
-
Camera is only 8 MP

While not known for affordable tablets, Apple’s base iPad has steadily gotten better while hovering at around the $329 mark. It’s also considerably cheaper than any other iPad on this list.

Offering iPadOS (although it won’t have some newer features) and the same chip found in the iPhone 11, it supports Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, and has a great 10.2-inch display that’s great for watching content or making notes.

It also comes with Touch ID for secure authentication and so you can easily use Apple Pay.


Amazon Fire 10 HD

(Image credit: Amazon)

7. Amazon Fire 10 HD

The best cheap tablet for students.

Specifications

Price: $179.99/£149.99
CPU: Octa-core 2.0 Ghz
Storage: 32 GB/64 GB

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Great battery life
+
Alexa support

Reasons to avoid

-
App store leaves a lot to be desired
-
Frequently on sale

The most affordable tablet on this list, the Amazon Fire 10 HD is a solid option for anyone hooked into the retail giant’s ecosystem already thanks to Alexa support right out of the box.

The latest version keeps much of what worked so well before, but adds to it with a speed boost thanks to extra RAM. It’s still not the fastest tablet around, and starts with just 32 GB of storage, but at least the latter can be upgraded with additional microSD storage.

The biggest issue is that Amazon’s own brand of OS doesn’t feature Google apps, so if you’ve come to rely on Drive, Docs, Sheets, and the like, you’re out of luck. Plus, you have to spend an extra $15/£10 to get the lockscreen without ads.


Microsoft Surface Go 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

8. Microsoft Surface Go 2

The best Windows 11 tablet for students.

Specifications

Price: $399.99/ £
CPU: Intel Pentium
Storage: 64 GB

Reasons to buy

+
Tablet/laptop hybrid
+
Windows 11 compatible
+
Decent price for the storage

Reasons to avoid

-
Again, not strictly a tablet

Not to be confused with the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2, this tablet hybrid is akin to the Surface Pro’s little brother. Offering a 10.5-inch touchscreen on a tablet that weighs just 1.2 lbs, it’s a solid option thanks to its faster processor and ten-hour battery life.

While the keyboard cover isn’t included, it does offer a great typing experience, and you can expand the storage, too. That flexibility, coupled with the versatility of Windows 11, can ensure that the Surface Go 2 is just as capable as a tablet or as a laptop.

Are tablets best for students?

This is a complex question as there’s absolutely no denying that tablets have come an incredibly long way in the last few years. Previously seen as an awkward “halfway house” between phones and computers, advances in both hardware and software have been keenly felt in almost every effort over the last couple of years.

On the hardware front, more efficient processors mean a sizeable increase in battery life, while screen technology like OLED and AMOLED are brighter, more legible canvases to work on. Then there are more advanced styluses, which, while not mandatory, can be ideal in the right workflow – digital artwork, for example.

Tablet operating systems also continue to improve, with an increased emphasis on input/output, be that through additional options for connecting peripherals like card readers and docking stations, or full external display support.

So, tablets are closer than ever to being laptop replacements, but can they truly be considered as such? It’s a tough call, because so many apps and systems are so entrenched in Windows/macOS that professional apps don’t seem likely to make the jump anytime soon. As an example, Microsoft’s own Access application for database management, and Apple’s Final Cut Pro aren’t available on Windows or Apple tablets respectively.

Tablets also have some way to go when it comes to file management, although the emergence of systems like Google Drive, Dropbox, and similar cloud platforms have mitigated that somewhat.

It essentially comes down to the type of work you’re likely to be doing on a tablet on any given day.

Lloyd Coombes freelance tech and fitness writer for Live Science. He's an expert in all things Apple as well as in computer and gaming tech, with previous works published on TopTenReviews, Space.com, and TechRadar. You'll find him regularly testing the latest MacBook or iPhone, but he spends most of his time writing about video games at Dexerto.com. He also covers board games and virtual reality, just to round out the nerdy pursuits.