Best Tablets for College

Electronics & Computers

While laptops are still the standard form of portable computer, these days many college students are choosing tablets instead. These minicomputers, the computing equivalent of oversized smartphones, are lightweight, less costly, and simpler to use when compared with laptops. Tablets are also easier to handle which makes them more ideal for note taking, media streaming, and socializing online when in college. The best tablets for college can make a student’s educational career much easier and more efficient.

Most tablets available today function just as well as a low-end laptop. The Apple iPad, for example, is nearly as complete a system as a laptop. Students can download useful note-taking apps and read e-textbooks on tablets with ease. Tablets are also great for social media engagement, streaming entertainment videos, and casual gaming when the student feels like taking a break from coursework. What they lack in power they make up in convenience.

The tablet market is overwhelmed with many different tablet models and types of product. When creating this guide for current and future college students we chose the best tablets for college according to factors like price and functionality. Interested in the best tablets for college students on a budget? How about the best note-taking tablet for college students? Read below to know more:


What To Look For When Seeking The Best Tablets For College Use

Students want a tablet that can keep up with (or surpass) the features of a basic laptop, especially since the needs of an average college student are typically more than just a device to take notes or write an occasional essay. Tablets for college students need to be a bit more robust, with decent storage space, a fast processor, a legible display, and the ability to run the important apps that make the tablet a useful tool.

  • Battery Life
    Minimum of 8 hour average battery life
  • Display Screen Size
    Screen size of at least 10″ with a screen resolution 1,280 x 800 pixels
  • Processor Speed
    Ideally a quad-core processor. At least 1.50 GHz
  • Card Slots
    Inputs, outlets – MicroSD card slot, USB mini or USB-C port
  • RAM
    2 Gigabytes or more (preferable)
  • Storage Space
    64 Gigabytes
  • Camera
    High-resolution camera, rear-facing camera
  • Audio Visual Capabilities
    AV jack input/output, mini HDMI output
  • BlueTooth

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Intel Core I5, 8Gb Ram, 256Gb) - Newest Version And Microsoft Surface Pro Type Cover - Black

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB) - Microsoft...
  • A best in class laptop with the versatility of a studio and tablet
  • More power now with the new 8th Generation Intel Core Processor
  • Ultra slim and light, starting at just 1.7 pounds

Why we like it: This cool tablet can easily become a laptop when you need it to. It has all the power you need to get everything from school work to business work done.

Editor’s rating:

If you are going off to college, then it is important to have the right gear in order to keep up with everything that’s going to be going on. One of the best tablets that can get the job done is the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. Although it is a tablet, it is also one of the best in class laptops that can do everything that your traditional laptop would do. The only difference is that you have a lot more power in this smaller device. Plus, it does help that it is not only stunning in power, but in design too. The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 features the new 8th generation Intel Core processor. This processor allows your tablet to work faster than ever so that you can run multiple programs all at the same time. Taking notes and switching between slides is more than possible with the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 thanks to the power and speed at your fingertips. And speaking of taking notes, the new Microsoft Surface Pro 6 lasts longer than ever with its all day battery life. In fact, you can use the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 with up to 13.5 hours of straight video playback without worrying about it dying on you. This type of power will let you stay focused without having to worry about where you are going to plug in your tablet to recharge. 

The construction of the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 its just as impressive as the inside of it. You will find that the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is a lot lighter than many of its counterparts as it only weighs 1.7 lbs. Not only is it super light, but it is incredibly slim as well. When it was designed, all the main features of your traditional laptop were retained. This can be seen with the more improved keyboard design. The keys are spread out further apart just a little bit more so that you can have a more comfortable experience when you are typing. And with the two button trackpad being a lot larger than the previous model, you now have a better control over your precision and how you navigate your screen. With the Microsoft Surface Pro 6, there are a couple of sizes that you can choose from. There’s an 8GB Ram with 128 gigabytes of storage, being the lowest size and a 16gb RAM and 512gb storage being the largest size. There are other variations in between those two sizes that you can play with as well. With the configuration, you can choose between the Intel Core i5 and the Intel Core i7. Everything from work to business to pleasure can be accomplished on the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. Join the thousands of users who have all fallen in love with their new Microsoft Surface Pro 6 tablet.

Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch

iPad Pro 9.7-inch (32GB, Wi-Fi, Space Gray) 2016 Model
  • 9.7 inch Retina Display, 2048 x 1536 Resolution, Wide Color and True Tone Display
  • Apple iOS 9, A9X chip with 64‑bit architecture, M9 coprocessor
  • 12 MP iSight Camera, True Tone Flash, Panorama (up to 63MP), Four-Speaker Audio
Why we like it: Everyone has their own reasons to love the iPad. College students can love it for powerful specs, HD video capabilities, and efficient design.

Editor’s rating:

The iPad Pro is the default must-have tablet for college students. Nothing is more stylish than an Apple product, and the price isn’t awfully bad either. It’s pricey, but it’s far more affordable than buying a Mac. The 9.7-inch iPad is big enough to comfortably read e-textbooks. The screen resolution is an impressive 2048×1536 pixels, good enough to watch HD movies. The iPad Pro also has some of the most powerful specs in the tablet market. In fact, it’s closer to a laptop than a tablet. The iPad Pro can function as a laptop with the right accessories.

It comes with Apple’s signature A9 chipset and a quad-core graphics card. It packs in 2GB of RAM, perfect for multitasking between classes, work, and personal stuff. The storage option goes up to 128GB, so that’s not bad either. You can also choose between Wi-Fi or the Wi-Fi and Cellular models. We don’t really need to elaborate on how well designed the tablet is. We’d say this version is more ergonomic than the ones before. If you are totally against having a PC/Android tablet, this is the best alternative there is. The iPad Pro will make organizing your class notes and schedules a whole lot easier.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A SM-T350NZWAXAR Tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8"; 16 GB Wifi Tablet (White) SM-T350NZWAXAR
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop, 8.0 inch Display
  • Samsung Quad Core Processor, 1.2 GHz
  • 16 GB Flash Memory, 1.5 GB RAM Memory
Why we like it: It’s not flashy but offers high-end specs at an affordable price. If you don’t want your student debt to get worse, this is the best tablet to own.

Editor’s rating:

If you want to buy a cool-looking and well-functioning tablet without breaking the bank, then the Tab A is your best choice. This is one of Samsung’s older models. It may not be as hip as the newer ones, but it’s highly affordable. The specs are not awful either. It has a significantly large 8-inch display. It runs on a quad-core processor, so it’s speedy enough for pretty much all apps. It has a solid display resolution of 1024×768 XGA and 1.5 GB of RAM. Flash memory is an impressive 16GB. The system runs on Android Lollipop.

The tab even has an SD card slot that expands memory up to 128 GB. You can definitely store all class notes, photos and even some videos with that amount of storage. The tablet is also widely compatible with the popular apps. When you start on a lower budget, this tablet offers features that can easily be compared with higher-end models. And the design is quite sleek as well. It looks like an older version of the Apple iPad. What matters most is the functionality, and this tablet has it down perfectly. Perfect for college students. You definitely won’t regret purchasing this tablet.


Amazon Fire Tablet, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB

Fire Tablet with Alexa, 7" Display, 8 GB, Black - with Special Offers...
  • Beautiful 7" IPS display and 1.3 GHz quad-core processor. Available in four colors.
  • Now with the Alexa cloud-based voice service - just press and ask
  • Enjoy millions of movies, TV shows, songs, Kindle e-books, apps and games
Why we like it: Amazon Fire tablet has a screen with an anti-glare coating so it’s just perfect for reading all day long. The tablet is also super cheap.

Editor’s rating:

Amazon’s Fire tablet is not a gimmick. It’s not an e-book reader either. The Fire tablet has come out as an excellent economical alternative to many of the expensive tablets out there. The Fire tablets are unbelievably cheap, like $50 cheap. If you are wondering what the catch here is, the apps are mostly available through the Amazon store. Amazon is betting users will mostly download apps and consume content through the flagship store. But you don’t have to buy everything from Amazon if you don’t want to. This tablet is remarkably compatible with all the popular apps a college student will need.

The dirt cheap price tag aside, the tablet has an 8-inch screen with a 1280×800 resolution. That’s good enough to watch Full HD video. The screen has an anti-glare coating like the famous Kindle. You can read e-books on the tablet without hurting your eyes, even at night. It’s like reading a book with print pages so this tablet is really great for studying and getting homework done. It’s reasonably fast with 1.5GB of RAM. Plus, it has Alexa the voice assistant installed. It’s like Siri and you can control the tablet with voice commands. Overall, students will get a great bargain for the price.

Asus Zenpad S 8 Z580C-B1-BK

ASUS ZenPad S8 8" (2048x1536) 32GB Black Tablet - Z580C-B1-BK
  • 8" IPS Display (2048 x 1536) with ASUS TruVivid technology for better visual experience
  • Intel Atom Z3530 Quad-Core, 64bit, 1.3GHz
  • 2GB RAM, 32GB Onboard Storage
Why we like it: The tablet version of the Zenbook is perfect for college students on a budget on the hunt for speedy tablets with great display resolution.

Editor’s rating:

You may have heard of the Asus Zenbook, one of the best laptops anyone could own. The Zenbook costs well over $1,000 so the next best thing is the Zenpad. It’s intended for budget users so college students will be very comfortable with the price. Despite the low price, the tablet has 2k display resolution, a large screen, and a quad-core Intel Atom processor. It keeps the tablet running fast with little to no lag. Interestingly, this comes with a 32GB SSD instead of a hard drive. SSDs are much faster and will eliminate pretty much all lag.

This laptop is lightweight and small enough to easily carry to class in a backpack or with books. It has 2GB of internal RAM so the model is well worth the price. Most of the new apps work on this tablet. Students won’t have trouble reading e-books or watching videos. With the right external keyboard, you will be able to easily use this tablet as a laptop as well. The tablet is great for reading e-textbooks with illustrations. College students can use their fingertips to take notes in class if they are not into typing. Overall, it’s a product worth investing in.


HTC Google Nexus 9 Tablet

Google Nexus 9 Tablet (8.9-Inch, 32GB, Black, Wi-Fi)
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop; 8.9-Inch IPS LCD TFT Display; QXGA (2048x1536)
  • NVIDIA Tegra K1 2.3 GHz Processor
  • 32 GB Flash Memory, 2 GB RAM Memory
Why we like it: This is a highly affordable tablet wonderfully suited for multimedia use. It has a large screen and comes with Full HD resolution.

Editor’s rating:

Google’s Nexus may be no more, but the HTC Nexus tablet is still available. It was considered one of the best when originally launched, and can still go head to head with recent releases. The price is hard to beat considering the high-end features you get. The 9-inch screen is large enough for watching videos as well as reading e-books. The tablet runs on Android Lollipop and has an IPS LCD display capable of 2048×1536 resolution. You can watch Full HD videos on this tablet. It has an NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor so this tablet is perfect for multimedia use.

It has 2GB RAM memory and 32 GB Flash memory so you know this tablet is fast. Nexus tablets still are first in line to get Android updates so you will be covered in that area too. It doesn’t come with a stylus, but you can buy one separately to write down notes by hand. If you get an external keyboard, this can function nicely as a mini laptop. Students can use all the apps their classes require and even take on extra video work on this tablet. It’s reasonably priced so it won’t break your bank either.

Apple iPad Air MD785LL/B 16GB Wi-Fi Tablet

Apple iPad Air MD785LL/B (16GB, Wi-FI, Black with Space Gray)
  • Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating Display
  • Apple A7 1.4 GHz
  • 16 GB Flash Memory, 1 GB RAM Memory
Why we like it: The iPad Air is surprisingly lightweight and has a long-lasting battery. Combined with the large screen, this is the ultimate nerd’s laptop to own.

Editor’s rating:

The iPad Air has a ginormous screen, great enough to read textbooks. College students know how difficult it is to read textbooks with charts, pictures and other illustrations on smaller screens. The iPad air with its 2048×1536 will fix that problem. The screen has a retina display that is fingerprint resistant. You can freely tab away without worrying about oily reside fogging up the screen. It has an Apple A7 processor inside and 1GB of RAM memory. These specs are quite sufficient to make sure that your tablet is speedy and doesn’t lag.

We particularly liked the battery that can last for 10 hours or more. You can definitely take this to class all day and not worry about the tablet dying on you. It also weighs only roughly a pound so the tablet is surprisingly lightweight too. You won’t strain your arm carrying this to the bio lab. It has great resolution and an incredible amount of RAM memory. It’s well enough to support multiple e-book reading and note-taking apps. It’s quite beautifully designed so you won’t look like you are carrying some cheap tablet.

Lenovo TAB2 A10 Wi-Fi Tablet

Lenovo TAB2 A10 - 10.1" Tablet (ARM Cortex A53 Quad-Core, FHD IPS, 2GB...
  • Android 4.4 KitKat (Up gradable up to latest OS)
  • 1.5 GHz ARM Cortex A53 Quad-Core
  • 16 GB Flash Memory, 2 GB RAM Memory
Why we like it: This tablet is optimized for Wi-Fi so students can stay connected all day long. It also comes with a long-lasting battery.

Editor’s rating:

If you are a busy college student always skittering between classes, work, student organization, gym, and everything else, then you will definitely appreciate this lightweight tablet. It’s optimized for Wi-Fi connectivity, so you can stay in touch while on the go. You can easily access files stored on a cloud drive, such as an Excel worksheet for stat class. The tablet doesn’t buffer or cause major lag with regular connections. The tablet sports a quad-core ARM Cortex processor that makes apps function seamlessly. It’s perfect for students who need to take digital notes or have to access electronic textbooks in class.

The tablet also has a 10-inch screen, which is great for viewing illustrated textbooks with graphs, charts, and maps. The display comes with rich FHD IPS resolution that renders text and graphics crystal clear. You can also watch HD videos in vivid color. The tablet has 2GB of RAM, which is fast enough for multitasking on several apps at once. We also must gush over the battery with an impressive 7,000 mAh capacity. The battery can function nonstop for nearly 10 hours straight. You can preserve battery for nearly half a day so you won’t need to charge the tablet between classes.

Sony Xperia Z SGP311U1 16GB Tablet

Sony Xperia Z SGP311U1/B 10.1-Inch 16GB Tablet (2013 Model)
  • The Xperia Tablet Z comes with a brilliant 10.1” Reality Display that creates an amazingly immersive viewing...
  • Water and Dust Resistant with a IP55/IP57 rating, made to withstand water up to 1 meter
  • 16GB Internal Memory w/ microSD card slot up to 64GB
Why we like it: This elegant tablet is thin and easy to carry. It’s also affordable but features speedy specs. You can use this tablet for note taking as well as streaming.

Editor’s rating:

Sony Xperia Z is a gorgeous touchscreen tablet that you won’t be embarrassed to be seen with. It has a sleek black exterior and an ergonomic build. If you want a practical tablet with a large screen at a price that won’t break the bank, then this is it. The tablet model is slightly older and runs on Android Jelly Bean. But pretty much all the latest education apps will work with this model. It’s equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5 GHz chipset and has 16 GB of Flash memory and 2GB of RAM.

The tablet specs are excellent even today so you can be sure that you are getting a speedy tablet. The tablet has a large 10-inch display that won’t disappoint when you try to type up essays or read e-books. It weighs roughly 2 pounds and has a battery life that can last as long as 9 hours. Overall, this is more than enough to type notes in class, access the net, and even stream videos during free time. The tablet is easy to carry around and work with. Oh, it’s water resistant too. It won’t die if you accidentally spill some coffee on it.


Apple iPad Mini 2 ME279LL

Apple iPad Mini 2 with Retina Display ME279LL/A 7.9-Inch 16 GB...
  • Apple iOS 7, 7.9 inches Display
  • Apple 1.3 GHz
  • 16 GB Flash Memory, 1 GB RAM Memory
Why we like it: Why we like it: This ultra-light iPad is perfect for taking notes standing up in field classes or on the go. It comes in multiple colors and doesn’t cost much.

Editor’s rating:

If you really want an iPad but can’t afford a bigger one, then the iPad Mini would be a great bet. It costs less than $300 and is aimed at cash-strapped users like college students. It’s small, but the display is still 7.9 inches big. That a large enough screen to read full pages of electronic textbooks. The smaller design also makes the iPad mini more lightweight than average tablets. It’s really easy to carry around. If you need to take notes standing up, like in lab class, then you will definitely appreciate having the iPad Mini instead of a bigger tablet.

This runs on iOS 7 and has a 1.3 GHz Apple chipset. It’s still fast and reliable compared to many newly released tablets. The RAM memory of 1 GB is truly impressive. Flash memory is 16 GB. The tablet weighs less than a pound and has a battery that can last 10 hours. The maximum storage capacity supported is 128 GB. And unlike most Apple products, you can choose the color of the tablet you want. You can choose a chic color if you don’t like the boring white version. Overall, this is a great product for students.

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