BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Expert Shopper Electronics

The best tablets for college students

Which tablets are best for college students?

As a college student, you’re always on the go. While laptops might be the go-to choice for note-taking, they can quickly weigh down your backpack and be difficult for traveling. Whether you’re heading to the library to study or working from Starbucks, you want a piece of tech that you can rely on to help you maintain productivity and increase your grades.

Tablets are becoming the must-have alternative to laptops and desktop computers. You can easily switch from notetaking to binge-watching your favorite Netflix show within just a few clicks. Tablets are a budget-friendly option for college students and the perfect investment to kickstart your college classes. 

What to know before you buy a tablet for college students

Before purchasing a tablet, you need to consider your overall setup. College students have similar needs as working professionals, but you’ll want a tablet for work and play. 

Laptop alternative or secondary device?

Most college students choose to buy a tablet as a secondary device or alternative to a laptop. Before you head out to buy a tablet, stop and think about your daily needs. Are you planning to use it as your primary device in place of a laptop? If so, you’ll want to invest in a more expensive model. If you want a tablet as a secondary device for reading notes or browsing the internet, you can usually buy a more affordable model. 

Screen size

Just like laptops, tablets come in different screen sizes. You can usually find them between 7-13 inches, giving you different user experiences with each size. Larger screens will set you back more money, but they’re a closer alternative to a laptop. If you’re planning to buy a tablet to use in partnership with a laptop, you can typically buy a smaller size tablet screen.

Features to look for in a tablet for college students

Screen resolution

Screen size and resolution go hand in hand, with the latter controlling the quality of the image you see on your screen. Buying a tablet with a larger screen usually means that you’re compromising on quality, but this isn’t always the case. If you’re planning to use your tablet for daily use, you want a resolution of at least 1,200 by 1,800 pixels. Top-of-the-range tablets will usually have a resolution of up to 2,732 by 2,048.


Tablets have a central processing unit that controls its speed. Every brand uses different CPUs, making them difficult to compare. You’ll find some tablets advertised for gaming, while others are advertised for using editing software.


As a college student, storage is one of the essential features of your tablet. You want to have enough storage to last you throughout your college classes.

How much can you expect to spend on a tablet for college students?

Tablets for college students can range anywhere from $50-$1,400. If you’re looking for an entry-level tablet, you can expect to pay less than $200. Mid-range tablets with more features and LTE connectivity usually retail between $200-$500. These tablets are ideal for long-term use and should last for the duration of your college course. Top-end tablets range from $800-$1,400.

Best tablet for college students FAQ

Can I use Microsoft Word on a tablet?

A. All Microsoft Office apps are available as mobile versions on different tablets. As a college student, these are the apps that you’ll use every day. You will want to subscribe to Microsoft Office 365 to access your documents and utilize cloud storage. Many colleges may provide a Microsoft subscription to use on your tablet.

Do tablets come with headphones?

A. Most tablets do not come with headphones. You may find that a brand runs a “back to school” offer with a free headphone promotion. Not all tablets include a headphone jack, so you may also need to invest in Bluetooth headphones.

What is the best tablet for college students?

Top tablet for college students

Apple iPad Pro

What you need to know: The most well-known tablet, the iPad, comes with all the speed, storage space and flexibility that every college student needs. While it has a top-tier price tag, it’s worth every cent if you’ll use it to its full ability.

What you’ll love: The iPad Pro has a retina display that is in a league of its own. It’s compatible with the Apple Pencil for easy note-taking. You can utilize facial recognition and wireless charging for added convenience. 

What you should consider: The most expensive iPad option, and you may consider the 12.9-inch screen to be too big for your needs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top tablet for college students for the money

Fire HD 8 Tablet

What you need to know: If you want a compact tablet for college students, look no further than the Fire HD 8 tablet. It comes with everything you need for streaming, browsing and note-taking at an affordable price tag.

What you’ll love: This tablet has expandable storage and is available in multiple colors. It comes with Amazon’s Alex voice recognition system for accessible voice commands. 

What you should consider: The Fire HD 8 isn’t the quickest of tablets, meaning it may become slower if you’re doing intense note-taking.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Samsung Electronics Galaxy Tab S5E

What you need to know: The Galaxy Tab S5E is one of the most popular Android tablets for college students. It’s a hybrid between a laptop and tablet while being ultra-thin.

What you’ll love: It has a 10.5-inch AMOLED screen with impressive speaker quality and top-level battery life. It weighs only 0.88 pounds.

What you should consider: There is no headphone jack, so you’ll need to invest in Bluetooth headphones. It’s also not suitable for gaming or use with the S-pen by Samsung.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

David Heiling writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Share this post: