Best business tablets 2020: Top slates from Google, Apple and Samsung

Surface Pro? iPad Pro? We take a look at some of the best tablets around

Over the years, as mobile phone screens have expanded and become more sophisticated, the tablet has taken a backseat - commonly the backseat of a car, where parents use them to keep their children quiet.

So, too, have laptops become lighter and slimmer - with many now boasting touchscreen capabilities.

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But the tablet hasn't died just yet. Not in the business space, at least. They have become an almost essential tool for some, with many organisations introducing a tablet and a detachable keyboard instead of the standard laptop or even a desktop PC.

They offer workers more fluidity and ease of use. Touchscreen devices are great to use in tight spaces, such as the cramped rush-hour commute, and the capabilities are improving every year with manufacturers adding neat business apps to make it easier to work outside of the office.

Syncing calendars, annotating documents, and taking notes are all possibilities on a tablet, making it arguably the ultimate tool for mobile working. What's more, the market is booming with superb models from Apple, Samsung, Huawei and others. But which is best? What size do you need, and which operating system works best for your workforce?

To help you pick the right one for your enterprise needs we've compiled a comprehensive list of the best tablets around.

Apple iPad 10.2in (2019)

The humble iPad may have been eclipsed by its ‘Pro’-branded siblings in terms of power and performance, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great choice for business users looking for a lightweight, on-the-go device. Thanks to the introduction of iPadOS, it’s now almost as functional for high-powered productivity as a proper laptop, and that’s even more the case if you can stomach the cost of Apple’s Smart Keyboard.

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True, raw hardware power isn’t as good as it could be, but what it lacks in speed, it makes up for in stamina. The battery life is outstanding, and the quality of the design remains as polished as ever. What really seals the deal, though, is the price, with a 32GB iPad and Smart Keyboard together totalling just over £500. 

CPU

Apple A13 Bionic 

RAM

4GB

Display

6.1in 828 x 1,792 IPS

Battery life

12hrs 29mins

Price when reviewed: £291 exc VAT

Read our full Apple iPad 10.2in (2019) review for more information.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 

The market for premium Android tablets isn’t quite as crowded as it is for smartphones, but there is one manufacturer still flying the flag for large form-factor Android devices - and that’s Samsung. The company has been consistently cranking out high-quality tablet devices for years, and the Tab S6 is one of its best yet. Like Apple’s tablets, the accompanying keyboard cover is sold separately, but thankfully the S Pen stylus is included – and good thing too, because it's great to use.

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The Tab S6’s battery life is superb, and it’s one of the slimmest and most portable tablet devices we’ve seen yet. Even better, it’s compatible with Samsung’s DeX technology, so hook it up to a USB-C hub and you’ve got a fully-fledged desktop-style user interface with one cable. 

CPU

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855

RAM

6GB

Display

10.2in 2,560 x 1,600 AMOLED

Battery life

15hrs 6mins

Price when reviewed: £508 exc VAT 

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 review for more information.

Google Pixel Slate

With such an impressive set of features, including an eighth generation, Core i5-8200Y processor with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, a 12.3-inch display with a super resolution of 3,000 x 2,000 pixels and a highly adaptable design, it's no surprise there's a pretty high price tag on this piece of kit.

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At almost 1000 when you add on VAT, the Google Pixel Slate doesn't come cheap, especially considering it runs on Google's Chrome OS rather than the more desirable MacOS or Windows 10. One of the big questions here is "Do you splash out on the Pixel Slate or spend a little extra and instead opt for a MacBook Pro or Dell XPS 13?'

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But one of the major factors that should influence your decision is that the Pixel Slate has been designed as a 2-in-1 laptop rather than a standalone laptop. Whip off the keyboard and it's a super-powerful slate. So in this respect, it's probably more comparable to the Apple iPad Pro, but just with double the storage.

The top features of the Google Pixel Slate are no doubt the keyboard and the pen, which both come at an extra cost and bump the price up even further. The slate itself works very well indeed and although the Core i5 Y-series CPU isn't as powerful as others in the same category (and Google is seemingly charging a premium for it), if you have the cash to spend and want to try out a Chrome-powered device, the Google Pixel Slate is certainly one to consider.

CPUIntel Core i5-8200Y
RAM8GB
Display12.3in, 3,000 x 2,000 pixels
Battery life8hrs 48mins

Price when reviewed: £791 exc VAT

Read our full Google Pixel Slate review for more information.

Microsoft Surface Go 

The Microsoft Surface Go is a smaller and cheaper version of the highly desirable Surface Pro with a 10-inch display, a lower-powered processor and less storage than the flagship, but retaining many of the same features as its bigger brother.

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Although in principle, the Surface Go shouldn't be included in the same bracket as its bigger brother, it works extremely well for what it is and you'll probably quickly start to respect its might in such a small package.

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Even when demanding pretty strenuous workloads, the Surface Go coped well, despite only packing in a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Pentium 4415Y processor compared to its peers' i5 and i7 models. And, with USB-C support included, it means you can easily add peripherals including a mouse or external display if you so wish.

But battery life was certainly a disappointment and you will probably find you need to pack a charger in your bag as well as the device itself and surely this takes away from the pocketability of a smaller tablet? 

CPUIntel Pentium 4415Y
RAM4GB
Display10in, 1800 x 1200 pixels
Battery life6hrs 23mins

Price when reviewed: £424 exc VAT

Read our full Microsoft Surface Go review for more information.

Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro

Huawei's MediaPad M5 Pro is a more powerful version of its M5 tablet, with a stylus and keyboard, offering a significant boost compared to its entry-level predecessor.

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At around 450 including VAT for a 10.8-inch Wi-Fi-only tablet with 64GB storage, it's not the cheapest on the market (see the Surface Go, above), but it gives a fair performance when compared to others in the same bracket.

Like the Surface Go, there's USB-C support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 and even 4G connectivity (for the cellular version of the device), plus microSD card expansion with support for cards up to 256GB. The processor is fast, but won't keep up with better-equipped models such as the A10X Fusion in the 10.5inch iPad Pro, but its 4GB RAM does ensure it can complete the majority of tasks without too much strain at all.

One thing that probably isn't as intuitive is the Android Oreo operating system. Although it's been optimised as a desktop with a layer on top of the core OS when the keyboard is added, it's not as desktop-friendly compared to Windows 10, Chrome, or even iOS on the iPad Pro.

CPUHiSilicon Kirin 960
RAM4GB
Display10.8in, 2,560 x 1,600 pixels
Battery life12hrs

Price when reviewed: £417 exc VAT

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Read our full Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro review for more information.

Apple iPad Pro 12.9in

The iPad Pro 12.9-inch could be considered as the closest alternative you'll get to a laptop. As its name suggests, it's a 12-inch iPad, with the option of a keyboard to turn the tablet into a 12-inch MacBook. Almost.

The third-generation iPad Pro 12.9-inch is fast. Although it's not as fast as a MacBook Pro quite yet, it will be able to run the full version of Photoshop that certainly takes a significant amount of power.

The design of the latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro has seen some refinements, including the replacement of the Touch ID button with facial recognition and USB Type C support - perhaps the most significant design tweak for the iPad Pro.

But it's a cut-down version of the universal connectivity port, allowing you only to connect a limited range of external devices. Although it can be used to charge your tablet, you can't connect up things like printers. It will allow you to transfer photos from a camera and a secondary monitor, but that display will only mirror what's on your iPad rather than doubling up your screen estate.

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Apple has moved where the contacts are for the folio case (so no reusing your old case and there's a thinner bezel, with an updated keyboard and Apple Pencil to boot.

Both of these accessories will cost you more than previous versions and the tablet itself is more expensive too, at 969 for the 64GB iteration. The top of the range version with the keyboard case and pencil will cost a whopping £2,187.

CPUA12X Bionic
RAM6GB
Display12.9in, 2,732 x 2,048 pixels
Battery life10 hours continuous video

Price when reviewed: £969 inc VAT

Read our full Apple iPad Pro 12.9in review for more information.

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