From the elementary to college level, classrooms are being formed with tech in mind. Apple has long catered to the school scene in the form of iPads, but they aren’t the only option, especially if you’re purchasing a tablet by choice rather than the school providing one.
Whether you only need the basics or would prefer a full-fledged powerhouse, tablets are for more than just lecture notes and doodles. We’ve outlined some of our favorite models here to help you pick what will work best for you.
Apple Fans: iPad Pro 9.7″ – From the stunning display to the Apple Pencil, the iPad Pro hits all the marks for reliability, functionality, and reputability. It’s sure to last you for a quite a while, all while looking sleek and syncing easily with your existing devices.
Android Fans: ASUS ZenPad 3S – It is one of the top Android tablets currently available. It looks good, runs even better, and ships with Android 6 (Marshmallow) installed. From the expanding storage to the protective screen to the processor specs, this tablet is a winner.
Do It All: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – If you need your tablet to also be fully functional as a laptop, the Surface Pro is a great choice. While it appears to be a tablet, the screen cover converts into a keyboard for easy use and the machine runs on Windows rather than iOS or Android, so you can run more intensive applications.
Who Should Get This?
If you’re an upper-level student (high school and college), you should definitely consider getting a tablet. From reducing book costs with cheaper electronic versions to paper-free note taking to easy multimedia access for special class materials, tablets are extremely versatile and helpful. Many students find it helps them focus, reduces the number of physical materials they need, and is easier to transport and keep track of than various notebooks, textbooks, and etc.
However, a tablet isn’t for everyone. If you have a hard time focusing when given the freedom of electronics, experience eye strain when using a screen for several hours at a time, or prefer the feel of physical materials in your hands, a tablet may not be a good choice. While you should still have a laptop for schoolwork, a tablet may not help you as much.
Best Tablet for Students: What to Consider
Obviously, the most important thing about your tablet is how well it will perform now – and 4 years from now! It’s ideal to pick something with recent tech in it so that it’s less likely to become outdated and need to be replaced. Additionally, you’ll want something with a camera (for document scanning) and a processor that can meet your demands for multitasking, programs it can run, and etc. Android tablets should ship with at least Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) and iPads should arrive with at least iOS 10 if you want to stay relevant.
Size & Portability
The idea is to reduce the amount of weight you have to carry in your backpack and make it easier to transport everything you need for class… not harder! Pick a tablet size you are personally comfortable with (it can help to visit a physical store to compare sizes if you aren’t sure). The screen should be big enough to view and use comfortably, but not so big that it no longer fits into your school bag.
You may only have class at night, but this isn’t the only time you’ll need your tablet of choice. From studying to entertainment, you need a battery that will last all day even when you keep the brightness all the way up or leave the screen on. Keep in mind that no tablet will last as long as advertised, but you should check for 8 – 10 hour claims as a starting point.
Best Tablet for Students: Top Picks in 2019
If you want the versatility of a tablet but the power of an entire laptop, the Surface Pro is a great choice. It’s essentially a tablet, but the cover doubles as a keyboard, and it can run much more intensive software since it uses Windows instead of Android.
- Comes with a pen stylus, converts into tablet or laptop at will.
- Runs on Windows rather than Android, so you can use more programs.
- Uses more advanced processors and has 128GB or more of expandable storage.
- Battery is only rated for 9 hours, low compared to other tablets.
Many students swear by the iPad Pro and its accompanying Apple Pencil. It has the sleek Apple design, syncs with any other Apple devices you own, and will surely last you for many years to come. The screen has a stunning Retina Display.
- The retina display screen makes everything sharp, while the attached Apple Pencil gives you precision control and ease of use.
- iOS is compatible with nearly every educational app you’ll ever need, and this model comes with 128 GB of space (plenty for both school and leisure material).
- Storage can’t be expanded unless you use a cloud service (i.e. Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive).
If Android is more up your alley, then the ZenPad may be a better choice. It offers the modern Android M, expandable storage, and a Gorilla Glass screen that will resist bumps and scrapes. It’s extremely well priced and includes a range of features that make it more than worth it.
- Runs Android 6 straight out of the box, setting it up for several more years of use at minimum.
- If you have a lot of data, you can expand the storage with an SD card.
- The Play Store will have every educational app you need, and the tablet has an outrageous 4GB of RAM — as much as some computers!
- Compatible pens/styluses sold separately.
Tips & Tricks
Textbooks can be extremely cost prohibitive, and tablets let you get around this. You can use Amazon, Chegg, VitalSource, and other sellers to catch huge discounts on an electronic rather than print copies of your books.
You should also grab some of the most popular apps for students:
- Mint: for managing your money and credit cards
- Kindle: for reading your textbooks or assigned novels (and leisure of course)
- Evernote or Onenote: ideal for digital note taking
- Forest: for shutting out digital distractions
- Quizlet: for all those flashcard sets and endless free practice
There are, of course, dozens more, but this should get you started!
The right tablet isn’t the same for everyone. Depending on your current level of education, personal preferences, and intended uses, you may need more or less processing power or features than the student next to you – and that’s okay. If you’ve decided what works best for you, feel free to leave a comment and tell us about your final choice!
Andreas is an Apple and Microsoft fanboy who works with his Mac and lives with a PC at home. While he is not reading technology journals, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends or hiking in the wild.