Back-to-school season is officially upon us, so you should consider stocking up on the right supplies and other essentials to ensure your kids are ready to kick off the academic year. If you’re in the market to buy a tablet for school, then you’ve landed on the right page. Tablets have evolved a lot over the years, and there are some great options on the market right now.
A lot of newer tablets have become so powerful and efficient at doing things that they stand as a solid alternative to school laptops or even Chromebooks. Pair them with a keyboard and mouse, and you have yourself a portable productivity device that’s not only easier to carry around than a laptop but also powerful enough to take care of almost all the day-to-day tasks. There’s no shortage of reliable tablets on the market, but here are the ones I recommend considering for school.
Our favorite tablets for school in 2023
Apple iPad Air 5
The best slate for both personal use and school work
$559 $599 Save $40
The iPad Air 5 is currently ranked among the best tablets. It comes with the mighty M1 chip, Apple Pencil 2 compatibility, iPadOS 16 support, and more.
- Beautiful design and build quality
- Reliable performance with the M1 chip
- Apple Pencil 2 support
- Display tops out at 60Hz
- Base variant comes with 64GB storage
The fifth-generation iPad Air, which is also our favorite tablet right now, is the best tablet for school in 2023. It may not be the newest or the most powerful tablet on the market, but it’s enough to get you through all your day-to-day tasks at school.
The iPad Air 5 is powered by Apple’s M1 chip, which makes it more powerful than a lot of other tablets on the market. It essentially has the same raw power as the older MacBook Air or the iPad Pro models that are powered by the M1 chip. Pair that with the advancement in iPadOS 16, and you get a capable tablet that gives you access to pretty much everything that you may be used to with a traditional laptop.
One of the best things about the iPad Air 5 is that it’s also compatible with the Apple Pencil 2, meaning you can use Apple’s stylus to take notes or draw. It also has a relatively smaller footprint, meaning it’s easier to carry around compared to a traditional laptop or a Chromebook. Some other noteworthy features of the iPad Air 5 include a 10.9-inch LCD 60Hz display, a TouchID fingerprint sensor for authentication, and an upgraded 12MP ultrawide camera that can also handle Apple’s Center Stage feature. You can read our iPad Air 5 review to learn more about it before making a purchase decision.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
Best Android tablet for school
A portable and portable Android tablet
$622 $700 Save $78
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8 still ranks among the most reliable and premium Android tablets out there. It’s easy to carry around, and it also comes with an S Pen.
- Excellent build quality
- Included S Pen stylus
- Samsung’s One UI software is great
- The battery life could be better
If you’d rather buy an Android tablet instead of an iPad, then you can consider picking up one of the members of the Galaxy Tab S8 series. All three tablets in the Tab S8 series are equally good, but we recommend going with the regular Galaxy Tab S8 or the Plus model. They’re both equally good and have all the essentials for a basic tablet for school in 2023. The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra model, on the other hand, is mostly reserved for power users, and it’ll also cost you significantly more money. The regular Galaxy Tab S8 model also has a smaller footprint compared to both the Plus and the Ultra models, so it’s easier to carry around.
As far as the specifications are concerned, the Galaxy Tab S8 packs an 11-inch LTPS TFT panel with support for a 120Hz refresh rate. It gets the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip as the bigger models, so you’re not necessarily missing out on any performance. One of the highlights of the Galaxy Tab S8 is that it also comes with an S Pen, meaning you don’t have to spend more to buy an additional stylus to go with the tablet. You can start using it out of the box for things like taking notes or highlighting important information while reading something. Notably, you also use the DeX mode on the Galaxy Tab S8 to tackle productivity tasks that demand a bigger display.
Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S9 lineup is also official, but it’s yet to hit the shelves in the U.S. We’re still in the process of evaluating whether it’s worth considering over the Galaxy Tab S8, so we’ll stick with the older model for now.
Surface Pro 9 (Wi-Fi)
Best for multitasking
A great productivity machine with top-tier specs
$831 $1100 Save $269
The Surface Pro 9 comes with 12th-generation Intel Core processors, and it features an array of beautiful colors for the first time ever. It’s easily one of the best tablets out there for school and other productivity workloads.
- Beautiful colors and impressive build
- Reliable performance with Intel’s 12th gen chips
- An excellent display with 120Hz refresh rate
- Keyboard and stylus to be purchased separately
- A bit on the pricier side
Both iPads and Android tablets have gotten better at handling multitasking, but they’re still somewhat playing catch up to Windows in this regard. If you’re shopping for a Windows tablet in 2023, then we recommend checking out the Microsoft Surface Pro 9. It’s arguably the best tablet out there right now for productivity, and it can handle things like multitasking a lot easier compared to the iPad and Android tablet options on the market.
The Surface Pro 9 tablet shares a lot of similarities with its predecessor, but it also improves in some key areas. You still get the same 13-inch panel with 2880×1920 resolution and support for up to 120Hz refresh rate, but it’s now powered by Intel’s 12th-generation chips, going up to a Core i7-1255U with as many as 10 cores and 12 threads. It also has a much more capable integrated GPU to keep up with your occasional gaming sessions. Microsoft also has a 5G variant of the Surface Pro 9 up for grabs, but it’s powered by the company SQ3 Arm processor instead of the Intel chips.
Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook
Best Chrome OS tablet
Comes with a great screen and a keyboard case
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 comes with a lot of bells and whistles that you usually won’t find in many Chromebooks. It comes with a beautiful OLED screen, and you also get a keyboard case to use it as a laptop for school or personal use.
- Has a beautiful OLED screen
- Comes with a good keyboard case
- Reliable battery life
- Limited performance with an Arm-based SoC
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook is our pick for the best ChromeOS tablet for students in 2023. It packs some solid specifications and a good set of features, making it a great option to consider in its price range. The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 is powered by the 2nd generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor, which is an arm-based CPU. It’s not as powerful as Apple’s M1 chip, but it should be able to handle all your basic workloads without any issues. You can even use it to play some Android games and stream media without a hitch.
What’s special about the IdeaPad Duet 5 is its OLED panel. That’s right, Lenovo has packed this tablet with an OLED panel, essentially making it better than the likes of iPad Air and many other tablets mentioned in this collection. Some other noteworthy features of this Chrome OS tablet include a set of quad-array speakers, two USB-C ports, and the included keyboard case. You can read our Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook review in case you want to learn more about this particular tablet before making a purchase decision.
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
Best budget tablet
A compact tablet that’s big on performance and features
$469 $499 Save $30
The iPad Mini 6 is among the most compact tablets out there, making it a solid choice for kids to carry around for school work. It is powered by the A15 Bionic chip and supports the Apple Pencil 2.
- Portable form factor
- Support for Apple Pencil 2
- Affordable price tag
- No headphone jack
- Expensive accessories
If you don’t want to open your wallets to expensive options like iPad Air 5 or the Galaxy Tab S8, then you can consider checking out the iPad Mini (2021). This also happens to be our pick for the most compact tablet, so it’s great for those students who just want a small reliable tablet for casual usage. It only measures 7.69 x 5.8 x 0.25 inches and weighs 0.6 pounds, so it’s easily the most compact tablet in this collection. Despite its small form factor, however, the iPad Mini 6 is packed with some powerful hardware. It’s powered by the A15 Bionic chip, which is the same chip that powers the current-gen iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Plus models. It also comes with support for the newer Apple Pencil 2.
The iPad Mini 6 can be had for just around $500 in the U.S. right now, making it the cheapest option in this collection. Alternatively, you can also consider buying the new iPad 10 model that costs $50 less. But the additional $50 spent on the iPad Mini 6 will get you an A15 Bionic chip instead of an A14 Bionic, and you also get support for the new Apple Pencil 2. Be sure to read our iPad Mini 6 review before making a purchase decision.
Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro
Best tablet for 6-12 ages
Comes with a kids-friendly case & and 2 year worry-free guarantee
The Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet is an educational tablet targeted at young students aged from 6 to 12 years.
- Good parental controls
- Included durable case
- Free replacement for two years
- Middling performance
- No Play Store apps
Suitable for the age group of 6-12 year olds, Amazon has the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet that comes with a 10.1-inch 1080p display with a rugged casing for extra protection. It also comes with one year of Amazon Kids+, parental controls, and a two-year worry-free guarantee. A 2GHz octa-core processor powers the tablet with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage that can be expanded using a microSD card of up to 1TB. Apart from educational content via the Amazon Kids+ subscription, it also includes books, movies, TV shows, songs, apps, games, and additionally, kids can request more content from the digital store, like Netflix, Minecraft, Zoom, etc.
Best tablets for school in 2023: Final say
Out of all the options mentioned in this collection, the Apple iPad Air 5 is our best overall pick, and it’s the one we recommend for most users who are shopping for a tablet this back-to-school season. It has the perfect form factor that makes it easy to carry around, and it’s also powered by some powerful internals, including Apple’s latest M1 chip. The display on this tablet tops out at 60Hz, but you do get support for Apple Pencil 2, which makes it more versatile and fun to use.
Apple iPad Air 5
$559 $599 Save $40
Apple’s iPad Air 5 is the best overall pick in our collection of the best tablets for school. It has a good of internals for the price, and it’s also portable enough to be carried around.
We’ve added some other options to the mix, including Windows and ChromeOS tablets as well, so you’ll definitely find something to your liking if you don’t want to buy an iPad. If you want to check out other options, then stop by our collection of the best iPads, best Android tablets, or even the best Chrome OS tablets to see everything that’s up for grabs right now.