[TechRadar] Updated: Best tablet 2016: The 10 top tabs ranked
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Updated: Best tablet 2016: The 10 top tabs ranked

Updated: Best tablet 2016: The 10 top tabs ranked

Best tablet 2016

Best tablet 2016

UPDATE: Information on a recent firmware update has been added to Microsoft Surface Pro 4 section – details below!

When Apple revolutionised the tablet category with the iPad, it was criticised for being a device designed for consumption rather than creation, despite it clearly being the best tablet around..

Now, years later, the humble tablet has a much more respectable role in people's lives. Thanks to more powerful processors, smarter sensors and intelligent apps, people are using tablets to create everything from music to amazing pieces of art.

And with the arrival of even more powerful devices like the iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface Pro 4, that trend towards creation is only going to grow.

But it creates a new problem. With so many quality devices to choose from, how do you select which device is best for your needs?

Well, we've tried to make it easy for you to do just that with our round up of the best tablets of the moment available in Australia.

It's a difficult process divining which place each of these excellent tablets should occupy in our list, so we take into account multiple elements including performance, battery life, screen quality and more.

Price plays a part, as does age: a tablet that's been replaced by a sequel will tumble down the rankings as you can get all the great features on a better slate.

If none of the top 10 tablets here take your fancy then head on over to our tablet reviews pages, where you'll find in-depth reviews for many more models.

Let us know your thoughts on the top 10 (and whether you think we've got the order wrong) in the comment box below.

10. iPad Air 2

iPad Air 2

10. iPad Air 2

The iPad Air 2 is still a good choice

Weight: 437g | Dimensions: 2240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 9.3 | Screen size: 9.7-inch |Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: IA8X | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/64GB/128GB | Battery:7340mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Sleek design
Incredible app selection
Missing some of the iPad Pro's features

Until the iPad Pro 9.7, this was the best tablet in the world. Even though it has been replaced by Apple, it's still a brilliant tablet that has further raised the bar for the rest of the competition in terms of build quality, features and performance.

The best part is this is now cheaper thanks to the release of the iPad Pro 9.7. Apple's range of tablet-optimised apps and a slick user interface makes the iPad Air 2 extremely versatile while also being incredibly easy, and enjoyable, to use.

Read the full review: iPad Air 2

9. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

9. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

The tablet that can replace your laptop

Weight: 766g/786g | Dimensions: 292.10 x 201.42 x 8.45mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size: 12.3-inch | Resolution: 2,736 x 1,824 | CPU: Various | RAM: 4GB/8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: up to 9 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Larger, sharper screen
Vastly improved Type Cover
Battery life hasn't improved much
Expensive

Smart iteration is exactly what the Surface Pro 4 needed to finally make good on Microsoft's mission that tablets can be laptops, and it's delivered just that in spades.

Though it suffered a rough start in 2016 due to faulty power management, a recent firmware update has apparently revolved that problem entirely, making it one of the finest 2-in-1s on the market.

Microsoft has improved its Type Cover, the resolution and power options under the hood, but the outlay required is steep.

It can work for creative professionals, students and everyday folks alike, but is this finally the tablet to replace your laptop? That's still debatable, though the Pro 4 has surmounted more of what's running against it than ever before.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4

8. Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Sony Xperia Tablet Z3 Compact

8. Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Small but perfectly formed

Weight: 270g | Dimensions: 213.4 x 123.6 x 6.4mm | OS: Android OS, v5.0.2 | Screen size: 8.0-inch |Resolution: 1200 x 1920 | CPU: Quad-core 2.5GHz | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 4500mAh |Rear camera: 8.1MP | Front camera: 2.2MP

Great battery life
Very thin and light
Screen sharpness beaten by others
Not incredible value

Sony's gone a bit crackers in the naming department, but the Z3 Tablet Compact is still a decent device despite the obvious attempts to shoehorn the word 'tablet' into the title to align it with the smartphone.

Let's get the main issue out of the way: the screen isn't as high res as the competition, and the price isn't as palatable as some of the other options here.

But that looks past the fact Sony is pretty darn good at making these here tablets. Using its Bravia technology it makes the screen still look sharp and colourful, and the thin design makes the Z3 Tablet Compact easier to hold than you'd expect. Oh, and it's also waterproof.

Read the full review: Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

7. Nexus 9

Nexus 9

7. Nexus 9

Google's Nexus tablet is bigger in size and price

Weight: 425g | Dimensions: 228.2 x 153.7 x 8mm | OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 8.9-inch |Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Dual-core 2.3 GHz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/32GB | Battery: 6700 mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.6MP

Ideal 4:3 aspect ratio
Stock Android
Pricier than before
Subpar display quality

The Nexus 9 is a weird one - it's both the replacement for the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10, without really being a sequel to either thanks to the new 8.9-inch screen.

It's getting on a bit now, but it's still the most recent Nexus slate and with age comes a price drop, meaning you can now often find it for under $400 if you shop around. The promise of always having the most up to date version of Android running is appealing as well..

Read the full review: Nexus 9

6. iPad Pro

iPad Pro

6. iPad Pro

Apple's biggest slate isn't its best, but it's not far off either

Weight: 713g | Dimensions: 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm | OS: iOS 9.1 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution:2048 x 2732 | CPU: Dual-core 2.26 GHz| RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB | Battery: 10,307mAh |Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Expansive screen
Hugely powerful
Powerfully huge
Battery life could be longer

The iPad Pro is Apple's biggest and most powerful tablet yet, with a 12.9-inch screen, an A9X processor and 4GB of RAM.

That big screen combined with four great speakers make it a media powerhouse and if you splash out for the Apple Pencil or Smart Keyboard you can get serious work done on it too.

The size and weight won't be for everyone and the price certainly won't be, but the iPad Pro is an accomplished slate for everything from gaming and movies, to drawing and typing. It's not quite a laptop replacement, but it's the closest you'll to that this side of a Surface Pro.

Read the full review: iPad Pro

5. Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

5. Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

Lighter, faster, waterproof… this is a real iPad Air 2 rival

Weight: 389g | Dimensions: 254 x 167 x 6.1 mm | OS: Android 5.0 | Screen size: 10.1-inch |Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: octa-core | RAM: 3GB of RAM | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 6000mAh |Rear camera: 8.1MP | Front camera: 5.1MP

Gorgeous display
New improved design
Problematic UI
High price tag

Sony's Xperia Z4 Tablet is one of the best Android tablets available on the market and it's one of the few capable of putting up a fight against the iPad Air 2.

It's got a lovely screen, lightweight design, all the Sony elements you'd look for and the right power combination to keep it on the front foot.

The waterproof design makes it a more attractive proposition over the less robust slates on the market, although the UI isn't the slickest and the price tag is one of the highest.

Read the full review: Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

4. iPad mini 4

iPad mini 4

4. iPad mini 4

The best small-screen tablet

Weight: 299g | Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 9.1 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution:1536 x 2048 | CPU: Dual-core 1.5 GHz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: 5124mAh |Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Brilliant screen
Sleek design
Older processor
No 3D Touch

The iPad mini 3 might have been a disappointment but Apple more than made up for it with the iPad mini 4. With its sleek design, fairly powerful processor and stunning screen it's everything the mini 3 should have been.

It's still slightly less powerful than the iPad Air 2 and a lot less powerful than the iPad Pro, but it's also cheaper than them and it's one of the highest-spec compact slates around.

So if you want an Apple tablet in a smaller package than is offered by the Air 2 then this is the best in the business and with Touch ID and iOS 9 it's slick and feature-packed too.

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

The best iPad rival around

Weight: 256g/389g | Dimensions: 198.6 x 134.8 x 5.6mm/237.3 x 169 x 5.6mm | OS: Android 5.1 |Screen size: 8.0-inch/9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Octa-core | RAM: 3GB | Storage:32GB/64GB | Battery: 4000mAh/5870mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2.1MP

Thinner, lighter design
MicroSD card slot
Small specs upgrade
Camera is mediocre

There are plenty of reasons to invest in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 - especially if you're after the best Android tablet on the market.

It's reading and web surfing-friendly, while the new 4:3 screen and general size and shape is better suited for most things. Videos work better on its predecessor thanks to the more elongated aspect ratio - but they don't exactly look bad here.

You can pick the Tab S2 up in 8-inch and 9.7-inch variants, to challenge Apple's iPad and iPad Mini ranges, with the smaller option being more portable and cheaper.

Almost impossibly thin, pumped full of power and with a slicker version of Samsung's TouchWiz interface on board, the Galaxy Tab S2 manages to give the iPad Air 2 a real run for its money.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

2. Google Pixel C

Google Pixel C

2. Google Pixel C

The best Android Tablet around

Weight: 517g | Dimensions: 242 x 179 x 7mm | OS: Android Marshmallow |Screen size: 10.2-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1800 | CPU: Tegra X1 | RAM: 3GB |Storage:32GB/64GB | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP

Fantastic Screen
Premium Design
Heavy
Keyboard is pricey option

Google's done it – it's made the best Android tablet around. The Pixel C has it all: a fantastic display, heaps of power and a premium design.

Okay, it's not quite got it all - it's a little on the heavy side and the pricey (yet rather clever) keyboard dock isn't fully utilised by the Android interface which is made very much for touch and not physical keys and productivity.

The Pixel C just misses out on top spot to the iPad Air 2, which has an even more desirable design and a fleet of tablet optimised applications for a more complete experience.

Read the full review: Google Pixel C

1. iPad Air 2

iPad Pro 9.7

1. iPad Pro 9.7

A brilliant tablet that brings power to portability

Weight: 437g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 9.3 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution:1536 x 2048 | CPU: A9X | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32/128/256GB | Battery: TBC | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

Great speakers
Pencil and keyboard support
Pricey with accessories
Not as much RAM as larger iPad Pro

The best tablet you can buy right now is the iPad Pro 9.7 - the smaller screen with powerful innards is the best combination on the market.

While there are plenty of brilliant Android tablets around at the moment, the new iPad offers a lot of the power of the larger iPad Pro, along with the Smart Keyboard and Pencil support, but brings it in a much more bag-and-palm friendly size. Oh, and those four speakers are just brilliant too!

The price could be a real obstacle for many, but for anyone needing a touchscreen device that can do some pretty intense computing, this is hard to go past.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 9.7

Essential tablet apps

Best apps

As with today's best phones, applications play a big role on tablets – once you've decided which of these tablets is right for you, check out our top app lists so you can get your fill of Temple Run, update your friends on Facebook and read the latest news, all on a bigger screen.

Also consider

If the tablets on this list aren't enough for you then a) you're very hard to please, but b) we think we can still help out a little.

We've covered the best above, but if you're after something a little cheaper or just haven't quite seen the slate for you then one of these might do the trick.

Note Pro 12.2

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2

Samsung throws everything into the fledgling maxi-tablet category

Weight: 753g | Dimensions: 295.6 x 204 x 8mm | OS: Android 4.4 | Screen size: 12.2-inch |Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: Quad-core 2.3 GHz | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery:9500mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP

Large, bright screen
Improved Samsung UI
Creaky build quality
Unwieldy form factor

The 12.2-inch display is not all this slate has going for it, as the Note Pro 12.2's 3GB of RAM and quad-core processor give it great performance, while the S Pen becomes truly useful in combination with the slate's large, bright screen.

It's an obvious choice for digital artists or anyone else who wants a device they can be productive on, but the bigger screen makes it great just for web browsing and watching videos too.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2

Surface Pro 3

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Is Redmond's hybrid tablet the laptop killer?

Weight: 790g | Dimensions: 292.10 x 201.42 x 9.14mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size: 12-inch |Resolution: 2160 x 1440 | CPU: Quad-core 1.70 GHz | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/128/256/512GB |Battery: 5676mAh | Rear camera: 1080p | Front camera: 5MP

Sharp display and design
Huge Type Cover upgrade
OK battery life
Runs hot at times

With a whole lot of power, an impressive display and a useful Type Cover for when you need to get some serious work done the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has got the muscle to compete with Ultrabooks and the portability and ease of use to be an iPad alternative.

It's not perfect. The battery life is seriously weak by tablet standards and it's a pricey bit of kit, but if you really want one device to fill both roles then this is one of the best options out there.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3

iPad Air

iPad Air

A five star tablet, now with a lower price tag

Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5 mm | OS: iOS 9.1 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution:1536 x 2048 | CPU: Apple A7 | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 16/32/64/128GB | Battery: 8600mAh | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Sleek design
Powerful innards
No Touch ID
Camera features lacking

You've seen the score, and for those keeping tabs you'll realise the iPad Air is TechRadar's first five-star tablet. It's a device with almost no flaws - and even though the iPad Air 2 is out, it still remains one of the best tablets available today.

Read the full review: iPad Air

Microsoft Surface 3

Microsoft Surface 3

A bargain by Surface standards, but still high-end

Weight: 622g | Dimensions: 267 x 187 x 8.7 mm | OS: Windows 10 | Screen size: 10.8-inch |Resolution: 1920 x 1280 | CPU: Quad-core 2.4GHz | RAM: 2GB/4GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery:7480mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 3.5MP

Great build quality
Portable
Not quite a laptop replacement
Average keyboard

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is a beastly device, but it has a similarly beastly price tag. If you can live with a little less power, then you can get an almost as good experience from the Microsoft Surface 3 for quite a lot less money.

A big screen, strong build quality, optional keyboard and Windows 10 on board make this a versatile tablet, but as it lacks the performance grunt of the Pro 3 it doesn't quite feel like a full laptop replacement.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface 3



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