The idea that gaming is something you can only do on a souped-up, multicolored PC — or on the box under your TV — is dead. Mobile gaming has arrived, luring millions of people with a wide range of challenges from matching three fruits in a row to colonizing planets. The best Android and iPhone games vary widely, but sometimes the lack of smartphone screen real estate can cramp your style. If portability is still a prime factor, then split the difference with the best gaming tablets.
While the emerging category of dedicated gaming phones may be starting to heat up, the idea of specialized gaming tablets seems to have died with the Nvidia Shield. The best gaming tablets today are somewhat though not entirely distinct from our best tablets, but they have a few standout features that make them optimal for gamers as well as overall tablet users.
Best gaming tablets at a glance
- Best overall: Apple iPad Pro (11-inch)
- Best Android gaming tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
- Best small gaming tablet: Apple iPad Mini (5th Generation)
- Best gaming tablet for kids: Fire HD 10 Kids Edition (9th Gen)
Best overall: Apple iPad Pro (11-inch)
Two things that set thehead and shoulders above the crowd when it comes to gaming are the enormous, sharp, and smooth 120Hz display and the completely unrivaled raw processing power. We’ve highlighted the 11-inch model as the best pick because it’s a little more affordable and manageable, but if you want to get lost in something like Civilization VI, then the 12.9-inch model is even better. Pairing this tablet with some of the best iPad Pro games will be enough to keep the most demanding of gamers happy. Apple’s tablets stand apart from the Android crowd because of the level of polish and the optimization of many apps, and nowhere is this difference starker than with games. This is also a great-looking tablet, with convenient Face ID built in, and a host of fun augmented reality apps and games. Battery life is good enough to keep you gaming on the go for hours. The obvious downside is the high cost.
Read our full iPad Pro review
Best Android gaming tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
If you’d prefer an Android device to an iPad, then you won’t do better than the Galaxy Tab S6 from Samsung. It boasts a lightning-fast Snapdragon 855 processor backed by 6GB or 8GB of RAM. There’s a stunning 10.5-inch Super AMOLED screen that you’ll never tire of looking at. It also has quad speakers, good battery life, and a stylish design. Samsung’s special Game Booster promises a lag-free gaming experience and a partnership with Discord brings live chat features to the Game Launcher. You’ll also find a dual-lens main camera, combining a 13MP lens with a 5MP wide-angle lens, and there’s a decent 8MP front-facing camera. Thehas S Pen support, too, which is great if you like to write notes by hand or sketch, but also doubles as a remote control.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 review
Best small gaming tablet: Apple iPad Mini 5
is a optimal option if you want something truly portable. The 7.9-inch display lacks the smoothness of the Pro and the shine of Samsung’s AMOLED, but it’s still sharp and bright. The performance is excellent, so running the latest games smoothly is not going to be a problem. You can also have some augmented reality fun with things like Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs, and there’s support for the Apple Pencil if you like the idea of sketching. Battery life is less than stellar, especially if you’re playing a lot, and the price is typical Apple — on the high side –but there’s no strong competition at this size.
Read our iPad Mini review
Best gaming tablet for kids: Fire HD 10 Kids Edition (9th gen)
While now the most powerful tablet on our list, the Fire HD 10 Kids Edition is also by far the most affordable. Your teen isn’t going to be firing up Fortnite on this, but it is still well worth recommending for younger kids up to 9 years old. It really is a full Fire HD tablet, but with protective bumpers for kids, and lots of tutorials for accessing parental controls, English/Spanish content, and more — plus a free year of Amazon Kids+ to experiment with.
The update to this tablet also improves core performance with a new processor, 2GB of RAM, and a better battery life. It also comes with a 10.1-inch, 1080p screen, 32GB of storage, and a welcome USB-C connection. If you’re curious, you do need to log in under a parent profile to actually download new content, so kids aren’t able to go around buying anything they see.
Read our Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition review (earlier version, but quite similar)
Apple iPad Air 4 (2020)
The latest iPad Air is an excellent pick if you like the idea of an iPad Pro, but find that you prefer a smaller, more portable screen for tablet gaming and the occasional finger-stretches that it can involve. The beautiful update to the standard-sized, 10.9-inch iPad offers choices between 65GB and 256GB of storage, and is compatible with the Smart Keyboard Folio for more serious work. It uses the updated A14 Bionic chip for far better performance than its predecessors.
There’s also, thankfully, a USB-C connection for charging instead of the older Lightning cable that other standard iPad models use, which can make charging faster and more reliable.
Asus ZenPad 3S 10
The moderately priced, Android-basedwill not disappoint resident gamers. It’s got plenty of play room at 9.7 inches and features a high-resolution, QXGA 2,048 x 1,536-pixel screen that includes a wraparound 5.3mm bezel. It boasts a MediaTek processor, 4GB RAM, and IMG GX6250 graphics, which can handle the latest games with ease. Its unibody is built with sandblasted aluminum, curved edges, a matte texture, and diamond-cut chamfered sides for a very nice aesthetic package, complete with Z Stylus support.
Read more about the Asus ZenPad 3S 10