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 students.
Our favorite tablets for students in 2023
Apple iPad Air 5
The best slate for both personal use and schoolwork
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 students 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 with support for 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 powerful and portable Android tablet
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 I 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 schoolwork
A great productivity machine for multitasking
$1000 $1100 Save $100
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 I recommend checking out the Microsoft Surface Pro 9. It’s arguably the best tablet out there right now for productivity, and it can handle all your schoolwork quite effectively thanks to better multitasking capability 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 for Homeschooling
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
Pretty much all the tablets mentioned in this particular collection can be used for homeschooling too, but I suggest looking at the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook if you’re specifically looking for a machine to tackle school work at home. It’s powerful enough to handle all your schoolwork, and it also offers a good set of features for when you want to use it for entertainment purposes like gaming or consuming media after school. The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 is powered by the 2nd generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor, which is an arm-based CPU that’s good enough to tackle all your basic workloads without any issues.
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. It also comes with an included keyboard case, meaning you don’t have to spend more and start using it for schoolwork. It only comes with two ports, but that shouldn’t necessarily be an issue if you plan on using it mostly at home. You can grab one of the best docking stations and set it up on a desk for your day-to-day usage. 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
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 7 Kids
Best for Preschoolers
The tablet to get your kids before they enter school
The Amazon Fire 7 Kids is a child-friendly version of the Fire 7 tablet. It’s a great option to consider for your little ones before upgrading them to a bigger tablet for school.
- Good parental controls
- Included durable case
- Free replacement for two years
- Middling performance
- No Play Store apps
Amazon’s Fire tablet range has some really good options for kids that are worth taking a look at if you’re shopping for a kid’s tablet. The kid-friendly variant of the Fire 7 tablet is perfect for pre-schoolers as they. It’s not the most powerful or feature-packed tablet in this collection, but it comes with all the essentials to handle kid-friendly content. It also comes with a 1-year Amazon Kids+ subscription, so you get over 20,000 curated games, ad-free books, video apps, and more for your kids. Not to mention class-leading parental controls.
The Fire Tablet 7 Kids, as you can see, comes with a “kid-proof” case with a built-in kickstand, and you also get a two-year worry-free guarantee with which you can get a free replacement for two years if it breaks. Some other highlights of the Amazon Fire 7 tablet include a 10-hour battery, up to 1TB of expandable storage, and more. If you have a child that’s a bit older, like over nine years old, you may want to consider upgrading to the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet for a bit more money to get bigger and better hardware for your kid.
Best tablets for students in 2023: Final say
Out of all the options mentioned in this collection, the Apple iPad Air 5 is my best overall pick, and it’s the one I 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.
I’ve added some other options to the mix, including Windows and ChromeOS tablets for schoolwork and homeschooling, so you’ll definitely find something to your liking if you don’t want to buy an iPad. Alternatively, you can also 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.
Apple iPad Air 5
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.