• Apple iPad (2019, Wi-Fi, 128 GB)

  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD 10 (9th Gen, 64 GB)

  • How We Tested

  • Which Tablet Operating System Is Best?

  • A Word About Updates and Security Patches

  • Other Tablets We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Our Favorite Tablets of 2020

  1. Best Overall

    Apple iPad (2019, Wi-Fi, 128 GB)

    Pros

    • Excellent build quality

    • Wide assortment of apps to choose from

    • Performs almost as well as more expensive iPad Air 3

    Cons

    • Older processor

    • Base-level storage too low to be useful

    Skip to the full review below
  2. Best Value

    Amazon Kindle Fire HD 10 (9th Gen, 64 GB)

    Pros

    • Large bright display

    • Expandable storage

    • USB-C charging

    Cons

    • No Google Play Store access

    • Interface emphasizes Amazon services

    • Unimpressive app selection

    Skip to the full review below
The Best Tablets
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

We found that the 2019 iPad (128GB) is the best tablet, for most people.

Best Overall
Apple iPad (2019, Wi-Fi, 128 GB)

Released in 2019, the latest iteration of Apple’s base level tablet feels and operates like a tablet that costs significantly more than its retail price. As tested (128GB, WiFi), the 2019 iPad performed nearly as well as the significantly pricier iPad Air 3. Like the iPad Air 3, the 2019 iPad is compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil: useful peripherals which, until recently, were the sole domain of Apple’s expensive Pro line of tablets. Unlike the Microsoft Surface Go, it’s not necessary to purchase an external keyboard and stylus to thoroughly enjoy using the iPad. Its bright, crisp 10.2-inch Retina display is large enough to provide for a generous on-screen keyboard that’s easy to type with. With the introduction of iPadOS, the keyboard also supports swipe typing and can even be resized and positioned to accommodate typing with one hand.

You’ll find no shortage of high-quality apps and games to use with this tablet. If you already own an iPhone, you’ll be delighted to discover that many of the iOS apps that you’ve already invested in, come with a version optimized to work on an iPad, at no extra cost. If you’re new to Apple’s mobile devices, you should know that the iPad comes with Apple’s full suite of free productivity, music, and video production apps. No matter which app you’re using, you’ll find iPadOS makes it easy to multitask, split your tablet’s display up between multiple applications and, thanks to its user-accessible file system, save, shuttle around or send files to the cloud. The 2019 iPad’s aluminum body and glass face weigh-in at one pound, making the device a pleasure to carry around in a bag with you or to hold and use for long periods of time.

If you were hoping to escape Apple’s ubiquitous Lightning port and cables, prepare for disappointment. In order to step up to USB-C connectivity, you’ll have to pony up the dough for an iPad Pro. Unlike Apple’s Pro line of iPads and the past few years of iPhone models, which use facial biometrics for data security, the 2019 iPad still leverages a fingerprint sensor, built into its old-school home button.

During our battery test, the 2019 iPad Air proved capable of torturing me by playing the same video file over and over again for a total of six hours and forty-four minutes. When used for productivity tasks, gaming or surfing the web with its desktop-class Safari web browser (it’ll show you the same content on your tablet as you’d see when using your computer), I was able to get close to eight hours of use out of the tablet before it powered down. You’ll find that the iPad, with its eight-megapixel camera, can take some passable photos, under the right lighting conditions. However, if you own a smartphone that was made in the past few years, you’ll likely get better photographic results (and look less awkward taking a picture) than you will using this tablet. Oh, one more thing: the iPad has a much-sought-after feature that many tablets and smartphones being produced today lack: a headphone jack.

As great as this tablet is, there are a few quibbles to be aware of. First, the less expensive base model of this device comes with a paltry 32GB of on-board memory. With the increasingly large file sizes associated with high-resolution photos and video, audio files and beefy games like Civilization VI, you’d run out of storage space almost as soon as you take a 32GB iPad out of its box. As there is no way to increase the tablet’s storage capacity without a device like the SanDisk Connect, you’re pretty much forced to purchase its more expensive 128GB configuration—which is the one we tested. 128GB is enough space to access files, offline, without having to resort to streaming or downloading them from the cloud. At times when internet connectivity is unavailable, that’s important.

While this tablet’s processor—Apple’s A10 Fusion Chip—is the same processor found in the 2018 iPad, I still found this tablet’s performance to be snappy while conducting all but the most complex tasks. A year-old processor that can still cut the mustard and then some feels like a reasonable trade-off for this iPad’s reasonable price, especially when you consider the fact that Apple’s software update support cycle typically runs five years or more, no matter what your device has under the hood.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality

  • Wide assortment of apps to choose from

  • Performs almost as well as more expensive iPad Air 3

Cons

  • Older processor

  • Base-level storage too low to be useful

The Best Tablets
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

If you're looking for an inexpensive tablet, Amazon's Fire 10 HD is a fine choice.

Best Value
Amazon Kindle Fire HD 10 (9th Gen, 64 GB)

If your tablet budget doesn’t allow for the purchase of an Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab, Amazon’s Fire 10 HD tablet could be the device that you’re looking for. While it’s not made using 100% recycled aluminum, like our main pick, its plastic construction feels surprisingly sturdy and pleasant to hold. Available in multiple colors, the 10 HD is the largest tablet in Amazon’s family of Fire devices. Measuring 10.3 x 6.3 x 0.4-inches and weighing just 17.4 ounces, I found it was easy to forget that it was in my backpack. However, during extended use, it was very easy to remember that the tablet was made of plastic, as my hands became damp with sweat over time, especially while streaming movies from my Plex server or locally stored video—both caused the device’s temperature to noticeably increase. This tablet comes with either 32GB of storage or 64GB. Fortunately, the 10 HD’s storage can be expanded by an additional 512GB, via MicroSD card. It’s nice to have this option, but with such low base storage options, I felt forced to buy a MicroSD card to upgrade the tablet’s storage to make it more useable, thus driving up the price of ownership.

The 10 HD’s display is capable of playing 1080p videos, with reasonably true colors and black levels. However, when used for reading or web surfing, I found the text that the tablet generated to be a little janky compared to the Apple and Samsung devices I tested. But, given the low price of this device, I feel that this issue falls within the realm of acceptability. During battery testing, the 10 HD performed well, offering up seven hours and 18 minutes of continuous video playback. When the time comes to recharge it, you’ll be able to do the job relatively quickly, thanks to the 10 HD’s USB-C port. At this time, the 10 HD is the only device in Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle Fire lineup that supports this charging and data transfer standard.

You should know that while the 10 HD is technically an Android tablet, its deeply modified operating system and user interface make this almost unrecognizable. Some things, such as navigating the tablet’s user interface, will feel somewhat familiar to Android aficionados. However, you’ll find that overall, the tablet’s user interface is deeply focused on making it easy for users to access their Amazon-branded content, such as Kindle books, Audible audiobooks, and Amazon’s Prime Music and Prime Video services. Tempting you to make purchases from the Amazon store also seems to have been a design priority. If you’re deeply invested in Amazon’s content ecosystem or include Alexa in your daily life, these will sound more like perks than a problem. For others, having the company’s content placed first and foremost could make it difficult to enjoy using this device. Additionally, Amazon curates the relatively small collection of apps available to Fire tablet users, with an iron fist. Many of the popular apps that Android users take for granted, such as Google’s suite of free entertainment and productivity applications, aren’t available. This is because Fire tablets don’t come preloaded with the Google Play Store. It is possible to side-load the store onto a Fire tablet, but doing so requires a small amount of device hacking that many users may not be comfortable with.

Pros

  • Large bright display

  • Expandable storage

  • USB-C charging

Cons

  • No Google Play Store access

  • Interface emphasizes Amazon services

  • Unimpressive app selection

How We Tested

The Best Tablets
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

How We Decided Which Tablets to Test

You’ve no doubt seen a lot of ads and recommendations for ‘pro-level tablets’ like the iPad Pro or the Microsoft Surface Pro X. If you’re a creative professional or someone that needs the exceptional amount of power and productivity that these pro-level devices allow for, you already know it and know which one to buy. This guide isn’t for you.

This is a guide to tablets for the rest of us. The tablets in this guide will all do a fine job of allowing you to consume your favorite content—the primary tasks that tablets were designed for. You’ll be able to play games of varying complexity. You can use any of them to stream Netflix, HBO or Disney+. Reading comics, a good book or browsing the Internet? You bet. And, because work happens to us all, sooner or later, I’ve made sure that all of the tablets in this guide can handle light productivity tasks such as word processing and photo editing.

If any of this sounds like something you’re looking for in a mobile device, you’ve come to the right place.

We decided which tablets to call in by looking at how portable they were (larger than an oversized smartphone, but not so large that it's a nuisance to tote) and ensuring each had a minimum amount of storage to effectively watch HD movies, flip through high-resolution photos, listen to music and play games. We also took into account recent releases and which tablets were well-reviewed by our colleagues at sites like The Verge, Macworld, and Tom’s Guide.

The Tester

My name’s Seamus Bellamy. I’m Reviewed’s Updates Editor and a HUGE ultra-portable device nerd. If fits in a pocket, takes up next to no space in my backpack and allows me to get work done on-the-go, I’m all over it.

I’ve been using tablets since 2010, when I purchased the first iPad and a Motorola XOOM. Back then, tablets weren’t capable of much, but I saw their potential and stuck with them. Over the past decade, I’ve written about tablets and tablet-related accessories for The Wirecutter, MacLife Magazine, Macworld, Maximum PC, The Globe and Mail, Tab Times and Boing Boing. Hey, look: I’m writing about them here now, too!

The Tests

The best way to test a tablet is to spend quality time using it as you go about your day. So that’s what I did. After loading each of the tablets in our test group up with the apps (when I could find them) I use to do my job or to unwind with, I spent two days with each one to see how thoroughly it pleased or irritated me. Was it pleasant to hold and use for long periods of time? How were its speakers? Did its build quality and design make the tablet feel like a sound investment? These were just a few of the things that I thought about as I noodled with each of the tablets featured in this guide. In addition to taking notes on my subjective experience with each of the tablets, I also paid careful attention to the following tests that Reviewed Senior Scientist Julia MacDougall and I developed:

  • How easy it was to type 300 words using each tablet’s on-screen keyboard
  • How capable each tablet was of editing a DMG or RAW format image in Adobe Lightroom Mobile (if the app was available to download.)
  • How accurate using a stylus, where applicable, was with each tablet, paying close attention to how the stylus performed both as a writing and drawing implement
  • Assessing the quality of streaming video that each tablet was capable of reproducing after watching 10 minutes of YouTube HD video content
  • How easy it was to navigate the Internet using each tablet’s built-in browser
  • Shooting a variety of photos and videos with each tablet to assess the quality of their rear-facing cameras
  • Repeatedly playing the same locally stored HD movie (in this case, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) with each tablet’s volume and display brightness set to maximum and all background services running (Bluetooth, WiFi, etc.) to assess how long the tablet’s battery would last

Which Tablet Operating System Is Best?

That’s a matter of personal taste. Some people adore iOS for its simplicity of use, relative stability, security, and the long-term free operating system and security updates that Apple provides. Others dig Windows 10 because of an almost endless variety of desktop and (considerably fewer) tablet applications that can be run on the platform. Android is lauded by those who appreciate the ability to customize most aspects of their tablet’s user experience and for how easily files can be transferred between Android devices and a Windows 10 computer. Although Android falls short by not offering all of its smartphone apps for its tablet.

Given the relatively steep purchase price of most tablets, it’s best to consider which OS and app ecosystem is best suited to meet your needs.

A Word About Updates and Security Patches

There’s a lot of clever, inquisitive hackers out there who intentionally or unintentionally could do your digital life a great deal of harm. Where tablets are concerned, the best way to maintain your personal privacy and secure your device is to download operating system updates and security patches as soon as they become available. Unfortunately, not all tablet manufacturers roll these updates out in a timely manner. Apple is known for releasing timely security patches as soon as they can in the wake of a vulnerability being discovered in iPadOS. You can also expect to see free yearly updates to your iPad’s operating system that improve the tablet’s stability, provide new features and, on occasion, a boost in speed. Despite being one of the few companies in the world still producing high-quality Android tablets, Samsung has traditionally proven slow on the update uptake. The Galaxy Tab S5e, which was released in the April 2019, came out of the box with Android 9 (aka Android Pie) as its operating system. At the time that this guide was written, Samsung had not provided its users with a clear road map if or when an upgrade to Android 10 would become available. In short: when choosing a tablet, be sure to check on the level of support and, how often that support is doled out, that your potential purchase will enjoy.

Now, let’s talk about support cycles.

As soon as a computer of any kind, tablets included is released, it’s already obsolete: manufacturers are always working on the next, best device to lure consumers into buying their wares, even if they don’t need them, year after year. When shopping for a tablet, you should look for one made by a company with a history of supporting their hardware for a long time. Once again, Apple is a fine example of this. The latest version of their tablet operating system is still compatible with the iPad Air 2: a tablet that was released in 2014. With that sort of software support, chances are that your tablet’s battery will need to be replaced before it stops getting OS updates.

In the Android world, things are not always so bright: Many companies offer a modified version of Android to tablet users that comes, in addition to Google’s apps and services, their own selection of apps—for better or worse. As such, when the latest version of the Android operating system is released, companies that skin or other ways modify the OS on their tablets will have to do some additional work to ensure that the extra features their version of Android offers, will be compatible with the latest iteration of the update. Sometimes this work is done quickly so that the users of the company’s tablets can enjoy their device’s new features and updated security. In other instances, the updated OS may not ever be made available. It’s a good topic to research before forking over your hard-earned money for a new tablet.


Other Tablets We Tested

Apple iPad Air (2019, Wi-Fi, 256 GB)

The iPad Air 3 is very much like the 2019 iPad, only more so. With its A12 Bionic chip with 64‑bit architecture and Embedded M12 coprocessor, it has enough horsepower under its hood to ever-so-slightly outclass our main pick in day-to-day tasks such as web browsing, email, and gaming. In the case of the latter, you might notice that the 2019 iPad takes a little more time to load complex games like Civilization VI, but we’re talking seconds here, not minutes. For more complex tasks such as video editing, creating multi-layer drawing files in Procreate performing complex image edits in image in Adobe Lightroom mobile, the Air 3 is noticeably more responsive than its lower-tier sibling. I like to think of it as a slightly less fancy, more budget-conscious iPad Pro. While having the sort of power that the Air 3 provides is nice, it’s more than most people will need to be happy and, costs more than you need to pay to land yourself an outstanding tablet. This fact is driven home by the fact that the base model of the iPad Air 3 comes with 64GB of onboard storage. In order for most people to feel that they have adequate storage space for their high-resolution photos, video editing projects and other files that are difficult to work with if they live in the cloud, it’s necessary to step up to the Air 3’s only other storage option, 256GB—a pricey proposition.

If you do opt for an iPad Air 3, in addition to the faster processor and acres of onboard storage, you’ll also find its 10.5-inch, laminated (meaning that the display is mated directly to the glass that protects it, with no air gap between the two layers) display to be much crisper and more immediate than the display on our main pick, which, while great, is not fully laminated. The Air also comes equipped with Apple’s True Tone display technology, which changes the color temperature of what you’re viewing on the display to make on-screen content look its best, no matter the lighting conditions (although you’ll want to turn this feature off if you’re doing any photo editing.) As with our main pick, the Air 3 comes with a built-in smart connector that’ll allow you to use Apple’s keyboard cover. It’s also compatible with the Apple Pencil. It’s worth noting that if you prefer a smaller tablet to use for reading, gaming and the like, the latest version of Apple’s iPad mini comes armed with similar specs to the iPad Air 3, in a more compact package.

Overall, the iPad Air 3 is a fine tablet. I own one myself. However, as its capabilities are so similar to our main pick, the 2019 Apple iPad, and given the fact that it costs significantly more, it makes it difficult to recommend this device to most people.

Pros

  • Straddles the space between the basic iPad and an iPad Pro

  • Lightweight

  • Can be used with Apple Keyboard Cover and Apple Pencil

Cons

  • Too little storage in base model to be useful

  • No USB-C port

  • Stepping up to 256GB of storage is expensive

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 (128GB)

There aren’t many companies making high-end Android or Chrome OS tablets these days—even Google abandoned their 2-in-1 Pixel Slate tablet, earlier this year. Despite this, Samsung decided to go all-out with the Galaxy Tab S6. It’s a tablet designed for use by pro users, with a price tag that makes it competitive with a mid-range iPad Pro. Unfortunately, it’s plagued with a number of problems, both of Samsung’s and Google’s making, which make it hard to recommend.

Weighing in at a mere 14.82 ounces, the Tab S6 is a pleasure to carry around and hold throughout a typical workday. The thin bezels that surround its vibrant 10.5-in Super AMOLED screen, which makes high definition video content and games look fabulous. However, I found that when using the Tab S6, its screen bezels were thin enough to sometimes stray onto the display, which led to my accidentally clicking on in-app items, making for some undesired touch input. Unlike either of the iPads featured in this guide, the Tab S6’s base configuration comes with 128GB of storage space, which is enough for most users to shuttle around their offline content. You’ll find that background processes and your favorite apps run smoothly, thanks to its 6GB of RAM and speedy Snapdragon 8150 chipset. For most space and more speed, it’s possible to upgrade to an 8GB/256GB configuration. No matter which one you choose, Samsung makes it possible to add up to 1TB of additional storage space via microSD card. If that’s not enough storage space for you and you loathe using cloud-based services, as I do, the tablet’s USB-C port allows for high-speed data transfers to and from external storage devices. It’s no slouch in the battery department, either. During our battery life test, it lasted nine hours and 31 minutes before powering down.

Now, let’s talk about the bad stuff.

The Tab S6 comes with a stylus, which I found to be accurate and fast while taking notes or doodling. It’s designed to clip magnetically to the back of the Tab S6, when not in use. If only it would stay there: a number of times during testing, I found it at the bottom of my backpack, unattached to the tablet. In one terrifying instance, I thought that I had lost it altogether in the three inches of snow that was blanketing the ground between the cabin I’m living in for the winter and the main lodge building, some 200 feet away. I was relieved and irritated to find that the stylus had detached from the back of the tablet just inside the lodge’s front door, where I had been putting on my hat and boots.

Samsung insists that this is a tablet designed to take on productivity tasks: a fact backed up by the desktop-like UI provided by its DeX mode. DeX is Samsung’s Windows 10-like user interface which allows you to drag windowed versions of your tablet apps around on your Tab S6 or a larger display, as if you were using a computer or laptop—provided the apps you use to get things done are compatible. Unfortunately, in order to use DeX, you’ll need to invest in the Tab S6’s pricey keyboard-and-trackpad case, which drives up the price of this tablet considerably. For less complicated tasks, such as writing email or chatting on Slack with your co-workers, you could use the device’s on-screen keyboard. Unfortunately, doing so makes for an unpleasant experience. Despite it having the same display size as the iPad Air, I found that the keyboard’s layout, key spacing, and aesthetic made it difficult to comfortably type on without making a considerable amount of mistakes. That a tablet with such base issues comes with such a high price tag is hard to qualify, especially when there are less expensive, more capable options to choose from.

Finally, tablet apps: the Google Play Store doesn’t have a lot of them. While many popular programs such as Microsoft Word, Adobe Lightroom, and Call of Duty Mobile are ready to download, other apps that I rely on when I introduce Android into my workflow are only available as smartphone apps. The tablet’s operating system scales the size of these apps up to accommodate the size of the tablet’s display, but it’s a poor substitute for native tablet apps, the likes of which our less expensive main pick has in spades.

Pros

  • Beautiful display

  • Fast and Responsive

  • Expandable memory up to 1TB

  • Stylus included

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Few high-quality tablet apps available from Google Play Store

  • Stylus falls off tablet too easily

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e (64GB, WiFi)

If you prefer to invest in a well-built Android tablet with a large display, the Galaxy Tab S5e is likely your best bet.

Like its more expensive sibling, the Galaxy Tab S6, the Tab S5e has a super crisp 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display that makes watching videos, reading or playing games a pleasure. That its display is much the same as the Tab S6 means that the on-screen keyboard the Tab S5e offers is just as miserable to work with. It is possible to buy a keyboard case from Samsung, but doing so will drive up the price of owning this device. I tested the 4GB/64GB, WiFi version of this tablet, which, as its storage can be affordably upgraded to a maximum of 512GB, I recommend as the one to get. That said, there is also a 6GB/128GB version of the Tab S5e, which provides a bit of a speed and storage boost. If you’re buying this tablet for gaming, investing the extra money could pay off in a better play-time experience.

Of all of the tablets I tested for this guide, the Tab S5e had the most impressive battery life: it was able to replay video content at maximum brightness and maximum volume for a total of 10 hours and 22 minutes. It should be noted, however, that the tablet’s video app crashed twice while doing this. My assumption is that the processor was being taxed by the constant load being put upon it: a conclusion I came to after observing that, during playback, the Tab S5e became quite hot to the touch. When the time comes to juice up its battery or transfer data from a laptop or external drive, the task is accomplished via the tablet’s USB-C port.

As with Any Android tablet, owners of the Tab S5e will find that there aren’t as many tablet-optimized apps as they may have hoped for.

Pros

  • Impressive battery life

  • Beautiful display

  • Expandable storage

Cons

  • Poor on-screen Keyboard

  • Crashed occasionally during testing

Microsoft Surface Go (128 GB, 8GB RAM, WiFi)

The Surface Go is a fabulous little computer for anyone looking for a lightweight, well-built device designed to handle productivity tasks and some very light gaming. Unfortunately, it’s a lousy tablet.
I’ve owned a Surface Go (8GB/128GB) for over a year now. It excels handling word processing, email, scheduling and when using Photoshop Classic, can even manage a bit of photo editing. If an application can be installed on Windows 10, it can be installed on the Go. However, with the device’s low-powered Intel Penguin Gold Processor 4415Y, don’t expect any fancy apps to run terribly well, if at all. It’s possible to load Fallout 4 on the Surface Go, for example. But with the game’s graphics and draw distances turned down to the bare minimum, it’s laughably unplayable. And, as with most low-to-mid-powered Windows 10 devices, having more than a handful of Google Chrome tabs opened at once will slow the Go to a crawl. All of this feels acceptable, given the device’s 10-inch display, 1.15-pound weight, and reasonable battery life. When using it to type and edit during a typical workday, I can squeeze up to 6.5 hours of use out of its battery. While running my battery test with the device’s display brightness and volume jacked up to maximum, the Surface Go was only able to manage four hours and 40 minutes of playback time—not bad, but not great, either. In order to use the Surface Go as a wee laptop, be prepared to pay around $200 beyond the price of the tablet for a Surface Go Type Cover (although less expensive alternatives can be had) and Surface Pen.

It’s when you attempt to use the Surface Go as a tablet, instead of a traditional laptop-style computer, that things go downhill, fast. Over the past few years, Microsoft has made a significant effort to turn Windows 10 into a mature, easy-to-use operating system for personal computer users. Unfortunately, this usability doesn’t extend to the OS’s touch computing interface. Navigating the Surface Go’s various menus and programs can be frustrating to tap and swipe away at with your finger. Multitasking is hit-and-miss in tablet mode. As an owner of this device, I was deeply disappointed to find that Microsoft’s offerings of tablet-centric applications from The Microsoft Store are meager and, in many cases, kind of terrible.

Pros

  • Well made

  • Lightweight

  • Good for productivity tasks, with keyboard

Cons

  • Terrible tablet interface

  • Few tablet-specific apps to choose from

  • Requisite accessories are expensive

Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4" (64 GB)

Not everyone wants a large tablet with a generously sized on-screen keyboard for getting work done while they’re on the go. If you don’t already own a smartphone with a large display like the iPhone 11 Pro Max or Samsung’s Note 10 Plus, the 8.4 inch Huawei MediaPad M5 could be of interest to you.

I found that while it only weighs 11.5 ounces, its aluminum body made it feel almost as sturdy as the Samsung and Apple tablets reviewed in this guide. While it’s 8.4-inch IPS LCD display couldn’t match the clarity, color and inky blacks offered by our main pick, I didn’t find watching videos with the M5 to be unpleasant. After a few minutes of watching the video file used for our battery test, I scarcely noticed the lower resolution. Speaking of videos, the M5 managed to run our video playback battery test for five hours and 47 minutes before giving up the ghost. The M5 doesn't include a headphone jack, but a USB-C headphone adapter is included with it. Otherwise, audio playback can be enjoyed through a set of stereo speakers. I felt that the audio produced by the M5 lacked bass, but that’s not surprising to discover in a device of this size. I tested the 4GB/64GB version of this device, which can, via a microSD card, be upgraded with an additional 256GB of storage. Because of its small display size, most users will end up typing on the M5 as they would with a smartphone—all thumbs, all of the time, for better or worse.

Unfortunately, I found M5’s Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity to both be a little sketchy—intermittent disconnections for both were pretty common during the two days I spent using it. Upon doing a little online digging, I found that this is an issue that other users had experienced as well. You should also know that Huawei’s track record for updating their hardware with new software isn’t great. The M5 was provided with an update to Android 9, earlier this year. Whether or not we’ll see future updates to the tablet’s operating system is anyone’s guess.

Pros

  • Compact size makes it great for reading

  • Expandable storage

  • Fingerprint security scanner

Cons

  • Provides a smartphone-like user experience

  • No headphone jack

  • Tinny audio

Amazon Kindle Fire 7 (9th Gen, 32 GB)

With its low price, sturdy build quality and reasonable feature set, the Amazon Fire 7 tablet is cheap enough to give as a gift at your office Christmas party and has enough feature set to make being gifted it feel like a win.

As its name suggests, this tablet comes equipped with a seven-inch display. Don’t expect any high-definition miracles here: it’s only capable at outputting 720p content, at best. The Fire 7’s onboard storage options—16GB or 32GB—are insufficient for most people to do much of anything outside of stream content. If you plan on using this device to host local audio, video or other files, you’ll need to invest in a microSD card for a little digital breathing room. The Fire 7 can use MicroSD cards up to 256GB in size. That this tablet is made using plastic instead of aluminum and glass doesn’t mean that it’s any less durable than many of the premium tablets out there. During testing, I found its build quality to be acceptable. With its low price and rugged construction, it could be a fine choice for parents with little ones that need to be connected to the Internet, on the cheap.

Unfortunately, when it came to using the Fire 7, even for the most mundane tasks, I found it to be irritatingly slow. This is no doubt due to the fact that it ships with 1GB of RAM and a pokey Quad-Core 1.3GHz processor. You’ll find no stereo sound here: in order to keep costs low, Amazon designed this tablet to come with a single speaker, taking much of the joy out of watching movies on it or kicking back with a few tunes. Finally out of all of the tablets reviewed for this guide, the Fire 7 is the only one that charges via MicroUSB: an older, more fragile connection technology, which charges and transfers data at a much slower rate than USB-C can.

Pros

  • Inexpensive

  • Sturdy build quality

  • Expandable storage

Cons

  • Sub-par display

  • Mono sound

  • Charges via MicroUSB

Meet the testers

Séamus Bellamy

Séamus Bellamy

Updates Editor

@SeamusBellamy

Séamus Bellamy is Reviewed's Updates Editor and resident expert on travel-related technology.

See all of Séamus Bellamy's reviews

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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