Some years ago, the average forum dweller would have your head for even admitting you sometimes game on tablets. However, the perception of what a tablet can and should do, has changed quite a bit. Tons of great indie titles run on modern tablets, while game streaming services are slowly coming into play as well. If you’re looking to buy yourself a tablet which also has you playing games on the couch or on the go, you’ve come to the right place.
Of course, you can always rack up better results by building a gaming pc, but tablets offer great mobility, as well as solid ease-of-use. They prove to be excellent additions to most living rooms, as well as travel suitcases. We’ve got a couple of different categories below, from more value-oriented ones to some premium picks with high-end results. Without further ado, these are some great gaming tablets, anno 2021…
First of all: there will never be a perfect tablet for everybody. It’s more about finding the right for you personally, as well as your preferences. If you’re coming in blind, you might be overwhelmed by the vast array of different options. Therefore, it might be helpful to define what it exactly is you want out of a tablet.
It’s all about trading off certain features, as well as possibilities. To get you started on what you want — and what definitely not — the following factors might help you decide better.
The first thing you should decide on, is what operating system your next tablet will run. These days, the options narrowed down to mostly Android, iOS, and Windows 10 — all of them with their own pro’s and cons.
If it’s simply the biggest library of solid gaming titles you seek, Windows 10 should be your go-to, as it can have a crack at basically anything Steam or other services might offer. If it’s mostly about cost-effective mobility and ease-of-use, Android’s got you covered. This will also run a lot of different titles, although a big chunk of them might be ports intended for mobile phones. Both Windows and Android run a vast array of other applications, as well as possibilities for game streaming.
iOS is a solid contender for anyone who already’s into Apple’s ecosystem. The tablet synchronizes perfectly with iPhones and Macs, while offering the same slick style, and a rather premium feel. It’ll come at a higher price point, but the performance is no joke, with Apple Arcade offering an entire roster of curated games for the system(s) — sometimes even with exclusivity for the Apple platforms.
The physical size of the tablet has a massive impact on your entire experience. Yes, a larger tablet is usually better in this regard because you have more screen to work with. But on the other hand, a larger tablet is also heavier and more difficult to hold. If you ever intend on holding it with one hand, that’s pretty much impossible with anything over 10″ screen size.
Sizes and shapes can also create variations in battery life. A smaller body simply means a smaller battery, although this is usually eleviated by having smaller, and less brightly lit screens. It mostly comes down to the amount of weight you are willing to carry around — as well as any tablet covers you might want to stick on.
Last but not least, you should certainly consider the price of the tablet you’re getting. With just about any operating system, it’s usually worth it to spend a bit more, in order to get a more well equiped SoC (System on a Chip), and an overall better experience with that. Don’t worry: if you don’t understand any of those specifications, we will talk you through some of their meanings as they pass by.
A pricier tablet doesn’t always have to be better than a cheaper model. Some tablets might have great graphical chips, but cut costs in (screen) size or extended connectivity. Some expensive models focus on a slick feel and excellent ease-of-use, yet prove less versatile in gaming capabilities. Don’t knock on a tablet for being cheap or costly: a solid product is defined by what it can do — not how much it costs.
And of course, we also suggest some cheaper, but still excellent tablets, in our recommendations below.
Samsung’s current flagship, the Galaxy Tab S7+, is the absolute best tablet you can get if you’re looking for an Android model. Yes, it can be rather expensive, but it comes with a few things you won’t find anywhere else.
Its 12.4” Super AMOLED display comes with a 2800×1752 resolution (266 PPI — pixels per inch), which looks incredibly sharp and vivid. But to make things even better, it also support 120Hz refresh rates, which results in an extremely smooth experience when you’re gaming, or just browsing through apps.
The actual performance is mostly defined by the Snapdragon 865+ octa-core chip, as well as its roomy 8 GB of RAM. There might be high-end smartphones out there topping those specifications, but this machines makes for some comfortable gaming on the go, should you feel like that.
Pair this with up to 256 GB of storage and a microSD card slot, and you’re really getting top-of-the-line everything here. It also has a modern design with slim bezels and comes with Samsung’s excellent S Pen. It might not be particularly useful in most games, but turns the Galaxy Tab S7+ (as well as other Galaxy Tabs) into versatile machines for productivity and creativity too.
As is the current norm for higher-end devices, the Galaxy Tab S7+ comes with a USB-C port, making for quick charge-up times and many additional add-ons. If it’s the best Android tablet you are looking for, you might want to start your browsing over at Samsung’s offering.
If it’s a more affordable pick you’re looking for, Lenovo has you covered with their Lenovo Tab P11. This 11” tablet comes with Android 10 and a midrange octa-core SoC to keep things running smoothly. Considering its price and up to 15 hours of use time, that’s quite a package.
Inside is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 662, paired with 4 GB or 6 GB of RAM, and up to 128 GB of internal storage. This should keep most modern Android games performing well, while not a highly competitive levels. At this price, we find it hard to complain, though. A microSD slot makes sure you never run out of storage for games or media.
The display comes in at a rather nice 2K resolution (at 212 PPI density), which is more than sharp enough. Refresh rates top out at your standard 60Hz, but by running on a IPS panel, you get some amazing color depth in return. The thin bezels and sturdy build give the tablet a more premium look, even though it runs
Things are pretty easy if you’re looking for a flagship Windows tablet. Microsoft itself has you covered with their Surface line-up, that seem to dissolve the barrier between laptops and tablets. The Pro 7 might have released some time ago, but it still offers a solid 12.3” tablet with powerful hardware, as well as great flexibility.
The Surface Pro 7 comes in many different variations, ranging from different 10th Gen Intel dual-corse and quad-cores. RAM can run up to 16 GB and storage can range from 128 GB to 1 TB SSD’s. The lightest model is more of a versatile indie machine to game on, with heavier hitters granting you ample headroom to run tons of pc games in.
Screen-wise, we’re talking a razor sharp 2736 x 1824 resolution (267 PPI) on 60Hz. Especially with the addition of a Surface Pen or Surface Dial, this device doubles as a solid creative tool for graphic designers or other demanding professionals. When in regular use, a full battery nets you about 10.5 hours of use, which is not all too shabby, considering how powerful the Surface Pro 7 can be.
Even though Apple offers some pretty great tablets, few will get you the gaming experience you’ll enjoy with the iPad Pro. Even though it might be a ‘last year’ model, this is still an extremely powerful tablet, with one of the best user-experiences out there. It comes with either a 11″ or 12,9″ Liquid Retina display, with the latter also having slightly longer battery life.
Not only is the Liquid Retina display extremely sharp (both performing 264 PPI), but it also features ProMotion, meaning a 120Hz refresh rate. Hectic multiplayer titles might not always maintain that framerate, but lighter games and regular internet use is all extremely smooth on the eyes. Extremely thin edges really drive that sleek approach of the iPad Pro home.
Performance is top-notch, thanks to Apple’s own A12Z Bionic chip. The iPad Pro claims to perform on “a modern laptop level” with its 64-bits architecture, although the two aren’t quite comparable. The A12Z offers some great results in creativity, productivity, and even some games, but it still lacks the native gaming support that even dirt cheap Windows device deliver.
Apple also includes up to 1 TB of storage, a crisp quad-speaker setup, as well as great cameras on both sides. From every angle, this is a rather pricey tablet, but it’s also very much worth it, if you want that premium Apple experience.
When your kids are asking for a gaming tablet, Amazon’s Fire HD 10 Kids Edition might just be your best choice. To begin with, this tablet is built like a tank, and it comes in what Amazon calls a “kid-proof case”. This means that it’s rugged, and it will take a lot of effort to damage it. And even if your kid succeeds in breaking it, Amazon grants a 2-year worry-free guarantee to replace it, no questions askes.
Hardware-wise it might deviate from higher-end tablets, but Amazon still gets your kids gaming with ease. The Fire HD 10 comes with a solid MediaTek octa-core and 2 GB of RAM, as well as 32 GB of storage, which is expandable with up to 512 GB microSD cards. It will not run Fortnite at dazzling speeds and fidelity, but it’s more than enough for most smartphone-esque games, as well as multimedia purposes.
The Fire HD 10 gets its name from its screen size: a 10.1″ Full HD panel (on 224 PPI), bursting out of an IPS panel. It’s smooth enough, but targets itself more towards a vivid viewing experience, with deep colors and contrast. Gaming on this resolution might drain battery life rather quickly, but it’s good for about 12 hours of pure video entertainment. For charging, Amazon opted for a USB-C for these models, which further adds to its sturdiness and ease-of-use.
Huawei has consistently been making some great budget tablets, yet isn’t afraid to aim a little higher from time to time. The MediaPad M6 marks one of those times, as this tablet is solid contender for great performance in a smaller package. If its bite-sized gaming you’re looking for, this might be your go-to.
The neat IPS display, even though measuring 8” diagonally, comes with a 2560 x 1600 resolution (280 PPI). This is incredibly sharp, and offers some great fidelity when gaming or watching movies. Additions like Harman/Kardon tuned speakers and a still hefty 6100 mAh battery deliver further comfort on the go. Up to 128 GB of internal storage (expandable through microSD cards) ensures you can always bring enough entertainment along with you.
A Kirin 980 SoC serves as the main engine for the device. It’s not exactly par with higher-end Qualcomm chipsets, but it nets you ample performance. With a speedy octa-core design and 4 GB of RAM, the MediaPad M6 can run quite a few games, as well as easily multi-task smaller applications. The big downside lies with its somewhat outdated Android 9.0, although Huawei offers its own operating builds, based on Android 10.
Samsung doesn’t necesarily want to be ‘the Apple on Android’ with their tablets, as proven by their more affordable models. The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is exactly what its name entails: a rather lightweight addition to Samsung’s strong tablet line-up. Although selling at a lower price, it still packs quite a punch within the mid-range.
The display is a 10.4” TFT panel with a 2000×1200 resolution (224 PPI), on your standard 60Hz refresh rate. Although running on older TFT-technology, it makes for some great colors, as well as touch capabilities. It comes with a Samsung S Pen included, making it a nifty tool for quick note taking or sketches.
Considering performance, Samsung opted for their own Exynos 9611 octa-core SoC, with a solid 4GB of RAM. It won’t outrun the newest Snapdragon models, but Samsung is no newbie in baking their chips — this will easily run more demanding mobile games and indie titles. Internal storage can be either 64 GB or 128 GB, with microSD support up to 1 TB. In the meantime, a 7040 mAh battery grants the system regular use of about 12 hours.
Design-wise, it’s a rather slick and nifty machine, although it lacks the quad speakers found on pretty much every other Tab S tablet. The audio it does produce, is still tuned by AKG, and supports Dolby Atmos. Although the final product might not have all factors to make it truly premium, this tablet is still quite the gadget.
If anything, we hope this list of recommendations steers you in the right direction. Again: these picks aren’t definitively better or worse than other models — we tend to suggest a broad array of solid models, so you can get your bearings in this sometimes confusing sector of technology.
Is there any other information you might need, or do you feel like our list is missing some other great models? Be sure to let us know! Just hop on over to the comment section with any questions or additions, and we’ll get right back to you.