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Best tablet 2016: they're bigger than your phone but smaller than your laptop!

T3 logo T3 02-02-2016 James Peckham

Courtesy of T3: T3 image© Courtesy of T3 T3 image Let's face it, tablets aren't the most exciting devices in the world of tech right now.

There's not that much innovation going on, and they're not exactly flying off the shelves. But most households in the UK still own one (or more), and buying a tab should be a big decision, because, unlike smartphones, which you'll likely replace after two years when the contract ends, your tablet will stick around for a lot longer.

Buying a tablet should be easy, but like everything there's a few key decisions that have to be made.

With companies such as Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft all taking different design directions. That's good, because it means there are some nice low prices, and there's no shortage of features and options. It is bad if you struggle to make a decision however.

That's where T3 comes in.

1. Apple iPad Air 2

Apple iPad Air 2© AP Apple iPad Air 2 Simply the best tablet around, don't even bother looking at the rest

Weight: 437g | Dimensions: 240x170x6.1mm | OS: iOS 8.2 | Screen size: 9.7 | Resolution: 2048x1536 | CPU: Apple A8X | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/64/128GB | Battery: 6470mAh | Rear camera: 5mp | Front camera: 1.2mp

+ Slimmer design

+ Super speedy processor

- 16GB is a little low on space

- Not massive upgrade over iPad Air

No prizes for guessing the top spot. The iPad Air 2 is the best tablet ever created - and that's not us getting excited over an Apple product for the sake of it (before you accuse us of being paid by Apple). It's priced competitively, right in line with similar options from Samsung or Sony.

The battery life is more than acceptable, the camera has been upgraded (although, obviously we don't recommend you use it), and the screen upgrades genuinely make viewing web pages or videos on the go a joy. The best thing about it, however, has to be the design, it's premium build quality, and the 4x3 size ratio makes it just feel 'right' in the hand.

2. Apple iPad Pro

The new iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard© AP The new iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard We're gonna need a bigger boat...

Weight: 713g | Dimensions: 306x220x6.9mm | OS: iOS 9 | Screen size: 12.9 | Resolution: 2048x2732 | CPU: Apple A9X | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32/128GB | Battery: 10307mAh | Rear camera: 8mp | Front camera: 1.2mp

+ Huge, beautiful screen

+ Apple Pencil support

- Too big for some

- Pricey compared to everything else

This may seem like a blown up iPad Air 2, and that's what it essentially is. The iPad Pro is largest tablet we've ever seen from Apple and it really is a monster. It has a 12.9-inch display that makes it a difficult to handle. So don't expect any one-handed action here (is anyone else hearing these innuendos?). 

It does mean there's a big beautiful screen you can draw on with the Apple Pencil, and there's a huge 10,307mAh battery under the hood to keep this thing powered on for ages. Inside is an Apple A9X chip and 4GB of RAM. You can also get a huge 128GB of storage, but be warned it's going to cost you.

3. Google Pixel C

Google Pixel C tablet© Bloomberg Google Pixel C tablet The best Android tablet right now, but that's not saying much

Weight: 517g | Dimensions: 242 x 179 x 7mm | OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow | Screen size: 10.2-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1800| CPU: Nvidia Tegra X1| RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: N/A | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP

+ Brilliant display

+ Premium design

- Not optimised for keyboard

- Battery could be better

Don't mistake the Google Pixel C for just another Nexus product. This is Google's chance to prove it can make incredible hardware without the help of another manufacturer. And it has done exactly that.

This is the best Android tablet you can buy right now. It's not exactly cheap at £399 and the keyboard costs an extra £119, but the whole experience is surprisingly great. It's got a very understated design that looks professional and stylish at the same time.

4. Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet© AP Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet You can take Sony's amazing tablet into the bath with you

Weight: 389g | Dimensions: 254x167x6.1mm | OS: Android 5.0| Screen size: 10.1 | Resolution: 2560x1600 | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 6000mAh | Rear camera: 8.1mp | Front camera: 5.1mp

+ Gorgeous display

+ Strong battery life

- Problematic UI

- Only 32GB option

Sony's Z4 is easily the company's best tablet to date. Like a lot of Sony's phones and tablets it can take a splash in water too, in fact it can survive full submersion. Handy for tablets that are left around kids, or you want to use in wet places.

Even more impressive is the fact that you can connect it to your PS4 and play games over your home network. That's a pretty impressive feat, and while it needs a really good quality network, it's an amazing feature you just don't get on other devices that makes the Sony stand out. Oh, and the screen is beautiful too.

5. Apple iPad Mini 4

Apple iPad Mini 3© Getty Images Apple iPad Mini 3 Once the king of tablets, but no longer the only choice

Weight: 299g | Dimensions: 203x134x6.1mm | OS: iOS 9 | Screen size: 7.9 | Resolution: 1536x2048 | CPU: Apple A8 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/64/128GB | Battery: 5124mAh | Rear camera: 8mp | Front camera: 1.2mp

+ Thinner chassis

+ Great screen

- Old chipset

- Camera issues

It's not a huge surprise that Apple's smaller tablet is still one of the best on the market. Interestingly though, its high-end build quality causes it some problems, making it heavier than a lot of the plastic-bodied Android tablets out there. 

It's ideal travel companion as it's easy to hold and just the right size for a decent gaming experience. Some people knocked the iPad Mini for not adding many features with the last iteration, but we'd say it's difficult to improve upon perfection. If you're after a small tablet, this is your choice.

6. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

A visitor tries out a Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Tab S2 tablet at the company's D'light showroom in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016.© Bloomberg A visitor tries out a Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Tab S2 tablet at the company's D'light showroom in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. A superb screen and lovely body - this is a brill Google tablet

Weight: 766g | Dimensions: 292 x 201 x 8.5mm | OS: Windows 10 | Screen size: 12.3-inch | Resolution: 2736 x 1824 | CPU: Intel Core M3 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: N/A | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

+ Thin and light

+ Strong performance

- Average battery

- Erratic fingerprint scanner

Samsung's latest attempt at a tablet is much better than we've ever seen the company do before. Even though the design isn't all that inspiring (but really, how can you make a tablet inspiring?), it offers a lot of high-end spec under the hood, and a gorgeous 9.7-inch screen up front.

This is the closest Android manufacturers have got to looking like the iPad Air 2 - which in our eyes is a massive compliment.

7. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4© Bloomberg Surface Pro 4 Want Windows 10 instead? Well, if you must...

Weight: 766g | Dimensions: 292 x 201 x 8.5mm | OS: Windows 10 | Screen size: 12.3-inch | Resolution: 2736 x 1824 | CPU: Intel Core M3 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: N/A | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

+ Size and weight

+ Large display

- Type cover sold separately

- Scuffs easily

Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 may look like the Surface Pro 3, but it's quite a different beast all together. Once again it can transform between laptop and tablet with ease (there's a simple detachable keyboard), but this time there are a lot of refinements to make the whole experience easier and more enjoyable.

The Surface Pro 4 won't come cheap and the type cover is sold separately - but this is more than a tablet. It's a laptop as well, so it's worth splashing out on it. It's two devices in one!

8. Google Nexus 9

Google Nexus 9© Google Google Nexus 9 Built by HTC and one of the nicest Nexus devices ever made

Weight: 425g | Dimensions: 228.2x153.7x8mm | OS: Android 5 | Screen size: 8.9 | Resolution: 2048x1536 | CPU: nVidia Tegra K1| RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB| Battery: 6700mAh | Rear camera: 8mp | Front camera: 1.2mp

+ Great speakers

+ 4:3 aspect ratio

+ Below par display quality

+ Boring design

HTC brings its considerable expertise to the table with the Nexus 9. This tablet is solidly built and offers all of the niceties of a "Nexus" branded product. Put simply, this is a pure Android experience. There is no extra customisation here, this tablet survives on the Google Android experience. It's therefore ideal for enthusiasts who don't want, or need, to be guided through the OS.

The Nexus devices are also the first to get updated to the new versions of Android too, so there's none of that painful waiting to get new features.

VIDEO: Surface Pro 4 Still The Best

Replay Video

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