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The iPad reigns supreme on our list, mostly due to it being incredibly reliable. When it comes to college, the last thing you need is to have a tablet that is either going to quickly run out of battery or offer multiple choices of storage options. While Apple’s system is fairly restrictive, if you happen to own an iPhone or Mac, it’ll be incredibly easy to interlock yourself into it. I actually use the copy-paste feature that throws the data from my phone to my iPad regularly.
However, that doesn’t mean we’ll be ignoring Android tablets. They’ve come a long way since the operating system would get confused about what to even do on a larger screen. Seriously, Android has routinely sucked on tablets, but most, if not all those kinks have been worked out since. In some cases, an Android tablet will be cheaper, more powerful and have better options for those who want to customise their experience.
The major issue with Android tablets at the moment is inconsistency. We’ve done our research, but unfortunately, if you’re after something that’s going to change your world, you’ll have to look towards the Apple ecosystem. It’s not being die-hard for the brand, it’s just facts.
iPad Air 4th Gen
The iPad Air 4th gen is superb. It’s not only a powerful device at a low-ish cost, but it’s compatible with the updated Apple Pencil and the weird, Magic Keyboard.
Of course, these accessories do jack up the price on the iPad Air from its nice 549 mark, but, if you’re looking for a computing device that not only has a whole host of different note-taking or word processing applications available – all syncable to the cloud so you can access them anywhere – but is actually now holding its own in the creative space if you happen to need Photoshop, a video editor or to make calls over Zoom or Google Hangouts if we all head into another lockdown due to COVID.
The great thing about it is that once you’re done for the day, taking it off the keyboard to just tap away at some games or something to wind down is fantastic. With its split-screen and upcoming iPadOS 15 launching later this year with new functionality to better yourself during work hours, the iPad is the dark horse in this race.
The great thing about it is that once you’re done for the day, taking it off the keyboard to just tap away at some games or something to wind down is fantastic. With its split-screen and iPadOS 15, which includes functionality to better yourself during work hours, the iPad is the dark horse in this race.
Buy the iPad Air 4th Gen
iPad Pro (2021)
If the iPad Air is superb, then the Pro is the step above. Find an adjective and work it in. Just make sure it’s better than superb. Or maybe put a Bart Simpson spin on it.
Either way, the iPad Pro is far larger and the 2021 edition with the special display that’s also available gives you up to 120hz refresh rate, perfect for making it the ultimate gaming device on the go (streaming, Apple Arcade and the entire app store are available!) and also, just generally a better experience when reading or writing up your various tasks.
It’s now powered by the excellent M1 chip, making apps run far better than the A-series chips in the other iPads. Apps like Lightroom and Luma Fusion are better suited, rendering and processing much faster.
If you’re in a creative course for college, especially photography, the Pro is a lifesaver. Accurate colours, easy to use interface and the Apple Pencil make editing photos or even light content creation work a dream.
But what about, you know, actual written work? The more traditional spaces? Well, iOS features its own office suite, but you can always use Microsoft’s, Notion, Google’s and more, along with the hundred-odd different note-taking apps available on their app store.
Buy the iPad Pro 2021
Xiaomi Mi Pad 5
The Dark Horse in this race! Xiaomi might be known for their metric tonne of different appliances, tools and budget phones, but they’re also putting out cracking little tablets that don’t break the bank, nor do they snub performance.
The neat thing about getting an Android tablet is that you’ll be directly connected to the Google infrastructure, so using Google Drive and their office suite to transfer files around for college is a great boon.
Xiaomi’s Mi Pad 5 is equipped with a 120hz screen, making reading and using the device less choppy, but also more comfortable on the eyes when scrolling through long documents. Their front end is snappy, along with its smaller size being perfect for those who like to travel light.
Buy the Xiaomi Mi Pad 5
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+/S8 Ultra
Okay, this is a strange one, because while we can’t actually recommend the S8 Ultra, it’s leaked all over the shop and is pretty much confirmed to exist in some capacity. However, if it is coming out swinging like the specs that have leaked show, then you’ll want to maybe consider jumping up to that instead of the S7+.
However, the S7+ is pretty much on par or if not better than its opposite from Apple, the above iPad Air 4th Gen. You’ve got Samsung’s great little stylus, a fantastic screen and the entire Android ecosystem at your fingertips. It might be filled with Samsung’s bloatware, but after a little trimming – or just reflashing the entire operating system – and it’ll be good as anything else.
Gaming, work, art, you name it, it’ll handle it with expert precision and care.