The best tablet for 2019 is Apple iPad. In the current edition, Apple has given its classic not only a faster processor but also the support for the great Apple Pencil. Together with the fair price and the good overall performance, the decision is clear. The Android competition is significantly more expensive for the same quality.
The market for tablets has become manageable – and firmly in Apple’s hands. In addition to the “old master” iPad, there are still a number of interesting alternatives, for example, Huawei, Samsung or Amazon.
We took a close look at the latest tablets and compared them.
The best tablet for most still comes from Apple. With the 2019 update, the iPad finally enters the competition. Thanks to its fast processor, support for the excellent Apple Pencil and a mature operating system with update warranty, the recommendation for the iPad (2019) is easy – especially considering its very fair price.
The iPad Pro (2017) is a good but also expensive upgrade for enthusiasts. It offers a better display, an even faster processor and more RAM. In combination with the separately available keyboard cover, the iPad Pro can even be used as a laptop replacement for some. But you also have to dig deep into your pocket.
Who can not do anything with Apple and the iPad and still wants top performance, for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is the best choice. In addition to very good workmanship and a great display, it provides interesting extras such as a desktop mode and the very good S-Pen. However, it costs more than twice as much as our test winner from Apple.
Significantly cheaper comes the Huawei MediaPad M5. The tablet is excellently processed, sufficiently fast and convinces in the Multimediaeinsatz. The opposite is the slightly overloaded software and the insecure update situation. Nevertheless, in the Android warehouse, the Huawei tablet currently offers the best value for money.
If the budget is tight, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A is the best option. Our favourite in terms of the cheap tablet can also compete in the overall ranking of the current tablet. This is especially true if it is to be used primarily for videos and e-books. In terms of performance lags behind the cheap Samsung representative but the competitors.
Apple did not invent the tablet, but helped it, as with many other product categories, to make a breakthrough and gain popularity. The competition from Android was not long in coming, especially Samsung developed a great ambition to technically match with the iPad.
However, the prophecy that tablets will make laptops obsolete has not been fulfilled. On the contrary: Tablet sales have fallen sharply in recent years. One possible reason for this could be that a tablet is doing its job comparatively long. Apple’s iPads, in particular, are being supplied with software updates for a long time. For example, the iPad Air 1, which was released in 2013, will receive an update to iOS 12 at the end of 2018.
But another reason is that for most people, tablets are not really suitable for productive work. Apple has responded to the development and introduced an expensive Pro line that provides even more power and addresses itself with keyboard cover and stylus at least to a certain professional clientele. But the price of the »normal« iPad has been reduced considerably. The strategy worked: In the last quarter of 2017 and in the first quarter of 2018, Apple reported for the first time in years again rising iPad sales.
Since most Android tablets can no longer keep up. Only in the very cheap segment for less than $348.64, there are still plenty of suppliers of tablets with Android operating system, in the price range of the iPad, most manufacturers, however, leave Apple without a fight the field – with the exception of Huawei and Samsung.
Apple dominates the tablet market almost completely
For some time now, great innovations have been waiting in vain in the tablet market. With their latest, very powerful tablets, Apple and Samsung continue to try to establish the tablet as a laptop alternative for productive work. For the writing of texts or the editing of photos with apps like Affinity Photo, an iPad Pro is actually very good – provided that the separately available keyboard cover and the Apple Pencil are in the shopping cart, what the already juicy price, however, continue into the Height drives. Demanding work that requires multiple programs and easy data sharing can still be done better on the laptop.
For surfing, reading and watching videos, the performance of even two-year-old tablets is quite enough. So, in our view, there is little reason for most people to spend a lot of money on a top model.
We regularly test all the interesting new tablets that come onto the market. Of these, 14 models are currently available, which we listed in the comparison table.
In the test, we are not primarily concerned with technical benchmarks such as computing power or pixel density, but above all on the user experience and the quality of the processing. We test all tablets under real, everyday conditions.
The sixth-generation iPad is currently the best tablet for most people. This is not only due to the good performance and the usual excellent workmanship but also to noticeable improvements compared to the previous year’s model. And then there is the price: Already starting at $405.59, the current iPad has – this is not only for Apple ratios but even in comparison to the competition a real bargain.
With the iPad (2018) Apple announced at a keynote at the end of March 2018, the new sixth generation of his tablet. As with the 2017 refresh of the iPad, optically nothing has actually changed. Inside, there are two key innovations: The iPad 2018 thanks to the A10 Fusion processor depending on the benchmark scenario between 10 and 50 per cent faster than his already decent predecessor.
This means that the iPad is fast enough for any app from Apple’s bulging App Store – including elaborate 3D games. In our test, a completely expanded Springfield in the mobile game of the “Simpsons” flutters just as smoothly over the screen as graphics crashes or even augmented reality games.
The pencil is a real added value – not only for graphic artists
But even more interesting is the support for the Apple Pencil: The approximately € 99 expensive input stylus was previously the more expensive iPad Pro models reserved. But now he also works with the cheap standard model. For people who like to make or draw handwritten notes, this is a terrific innovation. The Apple Pencil is one of the best styles on the market, but so far was just pro-exclusive.
The iPad 2018 comes with iOS 11, which has been updated to version 11.4 by now. In our tests, the iPad ran as usual stable. The end of the year appearing update to iOS 12 is guaranteed, but Apple typical, the iPad (2018) for many years to be supplied with new software – a real plus over the Android competition.
In terms of retina display has not changed much compared to last year. It still convinces with a sharp presentation and realistic colours but reflects more than the iPad Pro. Something of a pity is that Apple has stayed at a size of 9.7 inches (24.6 inches). In direct comparison, the additional two inches of the iPad Pro actually make a noticeable difference when surfing and working out. Nonetheless, the razor-sharp iPad display can still be seen in the sixth generation and leaves a large part of the alternatives behind.
The touchscreen responds well to the 2018 model again, even beyond the pen input. The Home Button still comes with a fingerprint sensor. A face unlock like the current iPhone X does not exist, but that also applies to the iPad Pro.
The memory of the new iPad is, as with all iPads, still not expandable, but that’s no surprise at Apple. The basic version comes with 32 gigabytes of memory, a variant with 128 gigabytes is available for a fair $104 more. The investment is worthwhile in our opinion at the latest when many games or offline videos from Amazon, Netflix and Co. are on the iPad.
Display and equipment as usual excellent
In addition to the internal memory, you have the choice when it comes to LTE. The new iPad is available as »Wi-Fi« and as »Wi-Fi + Cellular« with LTE, which costs around $151 extra – at least $34 less than its predecessor.
In the Wi-Fi, the iPad supports the fastest standard ac, but the predecessors could do that as well. From 150 to 300 Mbps, however, the maximum LTE speed has increased. The cameras are nothing new, they are still taking on the passable, but not quite up to date level of the iPhone 5s. Whoever wants to take nice photos with a tablet for whatever reason, must invest in the iPad Pro with iPhone 7 camera technology.
In terms of battery life, Apple continues to give the iPad-typical ten hours. In the endurance test, the iPad 2018 went through the more powerful A10 Fusion chipset a few minutes earlier than the 2017 model, in the WLAN and with slightly dimmed display runtimes of more than ten hours but still in it.
The current iPad offers virtually no weaknesses, but of course, also delivers little noteworthy innovations apart from the Pencil upgrade. This is also reflected in the test results of the colleagues.
In Computer Bild (04/2018), the new iPad 2018 achieves the overall rating of “good” (2.2). In addition to the improved performance is mainly responsible for the Apple Pencil:
»The highlight is under the screen anyway. Thanks to a new sensor, the iPad, like the more than twice as expensive Pro, understands itself with the Apple Pencil. In comparison, no difference was measurable in the recognition of characters, pressure or precision – the technology is identical«
Of course, the relativization follows on foot:
»Sounds great, but has a catch. The pen is not included, but only optional for a whopping $115 available. After all, there’s half of a crayon reminiscent of Logitech for half. The “Canyon” is not (yet) available in this country«
It also bothers us that Apple does not just make the pencil the default for the iPad. Nevertheless, Computer Bild comes in the test of the iPad 2018 to a clear judgment:
»An iPad for less than $406 – that’s an announcement. The 2018 version is a small but consistent evolution with a bit more power and pen support. The Otto Normal does not need more in everyday tablet life«
Tester Sebastian Schack of Mac Life (04/2018) sees the iPad 2018 as a “cheap alternative to the iPad Pro”. Accordingly positive it says in the entrance:
»The new iPad is the best tablet for a mixed-use of media consumption, video games, emails, social media and general web usage«
An opinion that coincides with ours. Despite minor criticisms such as the two gigabytes rather scarce memory and the compromises on the display compared to the iPad Pro, the iPad achieved 2018 in the test a top grade of 1.2. The conclusion is correspondingly exuberant:
»The 2018 iPad model is by far the best tablet that you can buy for less than $ 500 and is the better choice for most people. Even those who have the mentioned $440 left, is probably happier if he invests them in more storage space, a keyboard case and the Apple Pencil than in an upgrade to the iPad Pro«
In the usual extensive test on Notebookcheck (03/2018) comes the iPad 2018 also very well away. In addition to the top processing and clean support for the Apple Pencil, especially the processing is very popular. The testers the slightly outdated chipset, but still delivers good performance:
»It will be an Apple A10 Fusion, Quadcore-SoC, which celebrated its debut in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Wait, that’s almost two years ago. In this respect, the iPad retains its role as a remanufacturer. Well, it’s not that bad of course, as our following benchmarks show. The Apple iPad achieves consistently good results with the Apple A10 CPU«
The battery life has also suffered a bit in the Notebookcheck tests, but at a high level:
»The battery life is slightly weaker in the first test with our surfing script over Wi-Fi at 150 cd / m2 brightness than its predecessor. With just under 12 hours running time, but it beats quite well. Here, however, we compare the old iPad to the launch with the older IOS 10. At maximum brightness, we still measure a decent 5 hours and 16 minutes. By the way, Apple says 10 hours surfing the web with Wi-Fi or video or music playback on the website«
With a very good 90 per cent rating, the iPad 2018 is expected to be at a high level. The conclusion is accordingly:
»The iPad from 2018 (6th generation) is the unabashed update that the specifications promise. Faster, but still outdated SoC and Apple Pen support are the key innovations. The battery life and power consumption have suffered a bit from the two updates, but they still remain in good regions«
The most interesting alternatives to the iPad (2018) Apple delivers itself in the form of the iPad Pro series. Although Google’s Android has the absolute market power in the smartphones, the Android makers have apparently largely given up the tablet market and instead rely on alternative ChromeOS.
Nevertheless: If you do not want to use two systems due to your app habits, you will still find interesting Android alternatives.
Apple iPad Pro (2017)
In the 2017 presented second generation of the iPad, Pro Apple has vigorously refilled. The smaller iPad Pro has grown a bit larger, it now has a screen size of 10.5 inches. In addition to the mentioned variant, the iPad Pro continues to be available in XL format with a 12.9-inch screen.
Who wants to work with a tablet and use it as a laptop replacement, is best served with the iPad Pro. The upgrade iPad convinces with strong technology and professional functions. With the even faster A10X Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture and six cores, you can even edit 4K videos and render 3D models – more Pro does not work.
In the current version, the iPad Pro got an even better screen. It was already the screen of the first iPad Pro, according to Display Mate, the best mobile display ever. The 2017 edition of the iPad Pro can dynamically adjust the refresh rate and increase from 60 to up to 120 frames per second. This is noticeable when scrolling through websites, but especially when drawing with the Apple Pencil, the high refresh rate is a noticeable plus over the 2018 iPad.
The high refresh rate is a noticeable plus
In a direct comparison of iPad and iPad Pro, it is noticeable that the TrueTone display and the extended colour space in the Pro model also deliver more balanced colours overall.
His biggest selling point, namely the support for the separately available Apple Pencil, has now lost the iPad Pro. Nevertheless, it also offers some advantages apart from the better display.
The built-A10X chipset is even faster than the standard A10 in the iPad, only the A11 in the iPhone X and iPhone 8 delivers even more raw power. In the benchmarks, the A10X not only draws from Qualcomm’s ARM competition but is even ahead of PC processors such as the Intel Core i5 in sub-disciplines. Above all, the Augmented Reality Apps, which have been supported since iOS 11, run smoothly over the Retina displays of the iPad Pro models.
Even when multitasking on iOS 11, the iPad Pro stands out its cheap relatives: The RAM is 4 gigabytes twice as large as in the standard iPad. This is especially noticeable when switching between several apps that are available much longer.a
The tablet becomes a real little one Notebook
With the keyboard covers available as an accessory, the tablet becomes a real little notebook. Especially for the slightly larger screen width of the smaller iPad, Pro is a real blessing because so brings Apple a complete keyboard on the cover – so you can actually type well longer texts. If you really want to work productively, the best way to go to the large iPad Pro with 12.9-inch screen: in terms of format, it corresponds to a MacBook Air or a small 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Priced is the version with 12.9 inches with an entry price of $1045, but still a bit above the small iPad Pro, who wants to have the 128-gigabyte version, even invest in the four-digit area. For the price, you also get a good laptop.
If you only use your tablet for surfing, e-mailing and watching movies, you do not need so much computing power by far. For the “normal” iPad is enough. But if you really want to work with a tablet, for the iPad Pro with the latest performance boost is slowly developing into a real alternative to the laptop.
Sure, most people prefer to use their laptop to work. But with the new iPad Pro, the target group for people who want to do without the laptop, a good deal bigger. This is especially true because of the “always-on” features of an iPad and even compared to macOS low system care needs – an iPad is ready in practice in one second.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
With the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, the Koreans are launching the fourth generation of their top-class Android-based tablets. The price of around $813 makes it clear that Samsung sees the tablet in the luxury class.
Outwardly, the Tab S4 meets its premium requirements. It is in an elegant and top-processed case with a glass back. Although it attracts fingerprints, still offers a pleasant feel. Like the iPad Pro, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 on the lower edge of the case offers a connection via which an optionally available keyboard cover can be connected – at around $174.32, but not exactly cheap.
You can not find a home button on the Galaxy Tab S4. Instead, we wipe our gestures through the system, which works well. We are somewhat disappointed by the biometric unlocking by facial and iris scan. In good light and in portrait mode, we almost always come into the system. On the other hand, if it gets darker or if we hold the tablet across, the Tab S4 forces us regularly to enter the PIN – the fingerprint sensor of the predecessor was more reliable.
Apart from that, the tablet is surprisingly stable. As a processor, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 is used, which no longer belongs to the top class. Even 4 gigabytes of RAM and 64 gigabytes of internal memory are okay, but not outstanding.
The memory is ok, but not outstanding
In everyday practice, the Tab S4 still beats more than brave: Despite relatively old chipset apps and games run mostly around. Only when multitasking in Dex mode, but more, we occasionally encounter small stutterers.
Video fans, in particular, will enjoy the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. The colour-fast and high-resolution AMOLED screen does justice to elaborately produced films and series and even the loudspeakers sound very good for a lightweight tablet. Netflix users enjoy HD and HDR playback on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 – still more of an exception than the rule.
Unfortunately, the software experience is nowhere near as mature as one would expect from an $813 tablet. As is typical of Samsung, the Galaxy Tab S4 comes with dozens of additional apps and features, some of which overlap with the Android base system, such as the second app store or the additional browser. But Samsung also offers useful extensions.
The most interesting addition is the so-called Dex mode. At the press of a button, the S4 tab changes into a desktop view that is functionally reminiscent of Linux distributions. Instead of full-screen or split-screen, the Galaxy Tab S4 arranges open apps in windows for more flexible multitasking.
The Dex mode provides laptop flair
In combination with the keyboard cover or a Bluetooth keyboard and a wirelessly connected mouse, the Dex mode provides for laptop flair: we position several browser windows next to each other, run a YouTube music clip in the background, and simultaneously edit a document in Word for Android, In the test we were positively surprised by how many Android apps support the execution in the window. Practical: Via the USB-C to HDMI cable or a suitable dock, the Dex mode can even be used on a monitor.
Nevertheless, after a few hours, it becomes clear that Android is not designed for laptop operation. For example, dragging and dropping text or images between apps does not work consistently. Even the mouse operation of the Android apps is not from a single cast: a right-click opens a context menu, sometimes the right mouse button takes over the back button from Android and then again just nothing happens. To be fair, that’s more likely to be Google’s than Samsung’s: In Mountain View, the Android future on tablets is more likely to be seen in the in-house Chromebooks, which plays virtually no role in Europe. However, this does not change the fact that the Dex mode feels unausgog from the user’s point of view.
Despite all the problems, the Dex mode manages to create more of a laptop-like user experience than any other android, as well as the iPad Pro. Mails, texts and simple photo editing are also more fun on Android with mouse and keyboard, especially since Samsung ported the window multitasking overall well into the Android world. Nevertheless, a cheap Windows convertible like the Surface Goes boot the Dex mode of the Tab S4 in terms of flexibility is still easy.
Well done is the integration of the pen S-Pen, which comes with the Tab S4. It allows handwritten notes as well as drawings, which works well in various preinstalled apps as well as in programs from the Play Store. The pin recognition works similar to the Apple Pencil, even filigree drawings can be realized. A button on the pen can trigger special functions at any time, such as screenshot notes.
The integration of the S-Pen is well done
Unfortunately, the S-Pen also has a number of minor details that disturb the optimal user experience. An example of this: Normally, the stylus allows you to quickly create a quick note by tapping the screen even when locked. But before the tablet worked in Dex mode, the practical function is disabled. In addition, Samsung dispenses with the ability to store the pen directly on or in the tablet in contrast to the Note series – a point that bothers us even on the iPad. After all, the separate keyboard cover offers a holder for the S-Pen.
Inconsistencies like these are what make a great Android tablet just a very good one. It is hoped that Samsung will improve here with future updates.
The combination of good hardware, overloaded, but often also use software and interesting extras like the S-Pen are enough to crown the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 as the new Android king.
On the iPad and its near-perfect user experience, Samsung can not get away despite all the qualities. And those who can do without the Dex features and make slight compromises in display quality are in our opinion rather correct in the much cheaper Huawei MediaPad M5 because that costs significantly less.
Huawei MediaPad M5
In addition to Samsung currently supplies at least in Europe, only Huawei interesting Android tablets. This is especially true for the current MediaPad M5 models.
We tested the big version of the Huawei MediaPad M5 with a 10.8-inch display. The Chinese also offer the MediaPad as a more compact 8.4-inch version. Both versions come with a nimble Kirin 960 octa-core CPU, 64 gigabytes of internal memory and four gigabytes of RAM. This provides an overall very fast performance, but not quite with the performance of the iPad or even the iPad Pro can keep up.
But the processing is completely on the iPad level: The MediaPad M5 is in a sturdy aluminium housing, the display is even sharper than the iPad with its resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. In addition, since it is neatly bright and the four speakers (comparable to the iPad Pro) deliver a decent sound for tablet conditions, the MediaPad M5 is a real iPad alternative for video fans.
Nice: Huawei installs the current Android 8.1 on the MediaPad M5, which is after all on the security of Mai. The June patch already available on our Google Pixel 2 was missing during the trial period. What about future updates for the Huawei MediaPad M5, can not say – the eternal crux of Android devices that are not supported directly by Google.
In general, the software leaves the Huawei MediaPad M5 with a mixed impression. Huawei orients itself strongly with its own surface on iOS. This can be seen on the home screen, which, like iOS, houses all installed apps, instead of hiding less used ones in a separate menu. At the same time, many aspects can be adapted to the smallest detail, such as the assignment of the home button. Incidentally, it also serves as a fingerprint sensor that works just as well as on the iPad. For frowning, however, ensures the completely inexplicable lack of a headphone jack and the somewhat unfavourable placement of the loudspeaker keys.
It is also incomprehensible that Huawei integrates its own solutions for many services, instead of relying on the basic features of Android. For example, there is a separate backup tool for apps and data, although they can now be stored on Google’s servers as well.
How hard it is for the tablet makers with Android, symbolically shows the optional switchable desktop mode of the Huawei MediaPad M5. Here, the tablet switches to a surface reminiscent of Windows or Linux and running apps in the moving window. Unfortunately, this only works with certain apps. The standard browser Chrome always runs in full screen and breaks the multitasking approach.
If this falls under the category of “nice gimmick”, the Huawei MediaPad M5 is still an interesting solution for Android fans. The system is at least currently still current, performance and battery life very neat, processing and display even quite outstanding. In addition, there is the possibility to expand the internal memory via microSD card and the low price: Even with LTE module costs the MediaPad M5 only about $499, and thus less than the iPad.
Although we see the iPad by the better tablet software significantly ahead of the Huawei MediaPad M5, for Android fans Huawei delivers but good tablet hardware at a very attractive price.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A
Again significantly cheaper than Apple and Huawei make the Samsung Galaxy Tab A for a relatively decent tablet experience. Our recommendation as the currently best cheap tablet can not keep up with performance and processing, but with its terrific battery life easily with Apple.
In terms of performance and also on the screen, the Galaxy Tab A does not come close to the competition of Apple – somewhere you have to make the same point in the price. Especially the various 3D games from the Google Play Store bring the cheap Samsung tablet sweat quickly. For surfing or the occasional consumption of YouTube and Netflix videos, the tablet but especially in view of the price from all.
The WiFi version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A is at the time of testing for less than $232 to have. If you also want to surf mobile, with a manageable surcharge for the LTE option still cheap away.
The interior and the case are now a bit old-fashioned, but after all, Samsung has launched its entry-level tablet in early 2018 in a revised version on the market. The has 32 instead of 16 gigabytes of internal memory, which of course may be expanded by microSD card. On the software side, the Samsung tablet comes with Android 7.0 and is thus quite outdated. Allegedly the tablet receives an update on Android 8 – when that comes but is completely open. All in all, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A delivers what you expect: a solid tablet with an average performance at a fair price.