Here’s a guide to help you choose small business tablets. A tablet can be a powerful tool for your small business. A tablet’s large screen is ideal for demonstrations, charts and images, and its portable design often makes it more convenient than a laptop. If you are often on the road and need a large screen to share information with employees or customers, a tablet may be the perfect choice for you.
Before you invest in a tablet, it’s worth looking at what features it offers and whether those features are necessary for your business. The best tablets for small businesses should offer connectivity and portability, provide the necessary performance, and remain affordable.
How to choose a tablet
When you start buying a tablet for yourself and your team, don’t get mesmerized by all the flashy products available. You’ll be more satisfied with your purchase, and it will serve you better if you set a few parameters before you start your search. Determine what the device will primarily be used for, how much you’re willing to spend on each tablet, which operating system syncs well with other computer systems and smartphones, and which features and characteristics matter most to you.
Companies may use tablets for all kinds of operations, including payment processing, fieldwork and media consumption. You may also want to differentiate between executives and employees, who need different types of tablets for different roles in the company (primary and secondary, or even secure devices, depending on where they work). Also consider size, battery life, processor, storage capacity, and availability of external ports for connecting accessories.
Tablets can be used in different ways in different companies. Here are some features to consider:
Storage: If your business generates a lot of documents, photos, videos and multimedia that you want to keep with you (with or without cloud backup), make sure you buy a tablet that has enough storage capacity for your needs. Storage capacity can range from 16GB to 1TB.
Battery life: Battery capacity can vary greatly depending on the size of the device, but in general you’re looking at 6,000 mAh to 8,000 mAh, sometimes dipping into the 3,000 mAh range for smaller devices. If battery life is important to you, read a few reviews and get an idea of how capacity translates to hours of actual use.
Cameras: Tablet cameras are usually considered a convenience rather than a vital feature. However, most tablets have front and rear cameras, which can be useful depending on your needs. Front-facing cameras are useful for video conferencing and video chatting via Skype, FaceTime, and other services. Rear cameras can come in handy for scanning documents.
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi comes standard on all tablets, and most support the fastest Wi-Fi standard available at the time of purchase – 802.11ac – even if your office has an older router.
Processor: Tablet processors vary widely and sometimes depend on the manufacturer, such as the A12X chip in Apple’s iPad. You can check the processor online to see how fast it is and how it compares to others.
Speakers: Tablet speakers are utilitarian, not premium, but poor sound can seriously ruin a tablet’s experience. When checking reviews of the tablets you’re considering, make sure the sound quality is decent, or better yet, go to a store like Best Buy, which has several demo tablets, and listen for yourself. If you listen to music, buy a tablet with speakers on both sides for optimal sound separation.
Stylus: Styluses and tablets go hand in hand, and some tablets have styluses that are made specifically for them to take advantage of their hardware and software capabilities. If you need a stylus, buy a stylus designed specifically for your tablet. Many support multiple pen types, allowing you to switch between thick and thin strokes at the touch of a button.
Expandable memory: Some tablets have SD card slots, a handy feature that allows you to increase storage space as needed.
LTE connectivity: When you’re out in the field, you may not want to use the available Wi-Fi to chat online. LTE connectivity will allow you to get online anywhere. In order for your tablet to work, it needs to be connected to a mobile data plan from your wireless service provider.
Once you’ve made a short list of requirements, feel free to start evaluating different models that meet your company’s needs. Here are a few models we recommend, and check out our list of the best tablets on the market today.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7
While you can choose the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 with its 10.5-inch super AMOLED screen and Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, we prefer the Galaxy Tab S7 as a workhorse. Its larger 11-inch screen – LCD rather than Super AMOLED – makes it perfect for the Samsung keyboard case and doing serious work, even if its screen isn’t as good as the Tab S6’s for streaming media. Featuring the same flagship processor as its predecessor and 2560 x 1600 resolution, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage or 8GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB of storage, as well as an S Pen for creating and editing notes for work. The Tab S7 also supports 5G – great for video calling or working on the go – with an 8,000mAh battery and 45W fast charging.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet
The detachable Lenovo Chromebook Duet tablet offers 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and a MediaTek Helio P60T processor at an incredible price. We love the distinctive look of the tablet with its two-tone Ice Blue and Iron Grey design and fabric texture – but it’s not just about looks. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet has an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, as well as a 10.1-inch display with 1920 x 12,000 pixel resolution. The battery life is about 10 hours, so it will last an average day, it boots quickly in about eight seconds, and the detachable keyboard is comfortable to type on. If we have any comments, it’s that it doesn’t come with a stylus, but you can buy a USI stylus from Lenovo for about $40. If you’re looking for something that can work as a laptop or tablet, this is a good choice, but it’s perfect for companies that work mostly with Google Services. Buy it now and get a free 12-month Google One membership that will give you 100GB of storage space.
Apple iPad Pro
Even if you’re not a Mac user, the Apple iPad Pro is the best tablet out there. Apple’s lineup offers a great selection of iPads, including two iPad Pro models, 12.9 and 11 inches. We choose the 11-inch model: its Liquid Retina IPS screen and 2388 x 1668 pixel resolution. It’s also perfect for watching videos, iOS multitasking and up to 10 hours of battery life, productivity apps make the iPad Pro the perfect business companion, and with iPadOS 13.4 installed, this iPad Pro is closer than ever to being a laptop alternative.
Both models have comparable specs and are available in 64GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. The 11-inch model weighs 471 grams and has an A12Z Bionic chip and an 8-core GPU, making it more powerful than most laptops. On the back, there’s a dual camera – a 12-megapixel main sensor and a 10-megapixel wide-angle lens. You get Smart HDR, 4K video recording at up to 60 frames per second, five microphones and a lidar sensor for distance measurement, and a 7-megapixel TrueDepth front camera with Face Unlock, Wi-Fi (802.11ax Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.0, Face ID and Apple Pay. You can also choose cellular connectivity. Related Apple hardware that can be purchased separately includes the Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil, AirPods and more. Right now, the 11-inch Apple iPad Pro can be purchased for about $800, but if you want cellular connectivity, you’ll have to pay another $150 extra.
Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro
The MediaPad M5 Pro is a challenge to the Huawei iPad. It has a gorgeous 10.8-inch 2560 x 1600 display with curved edges made of 2.5D glass. Its screen-to-body ratio of 82% provides a wide view, complemented by a curved metal body that offers a sleek, attractive and simple industrial design. It features the proprietary octa-core Kirin 960 series chipset and stable Wi-Fi network connectivity with four stereo speakers tuned and certified by Harman Kardon for superior audio and video on headphones.
A 13-megapixel rear camera combined with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera provides all the photographic capabilities most tablets need. The tablet has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and even includes an M Pen. Its 7,500mAh battery and power-saving technology allow you to watch 1080P videos for up to 11 hours. With built-in fast charging, the Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro takes about 2.9 hours to fully charge. It also features Smart UI EMUI 8.0 (Android 8.0) and advanced fingerprint recognition.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7
While the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 two-in-one computer tablet isn’t radically different from its predecessor, our previous favorite, the Surface Pro 6, the new model has many common improvements to recommend it as a great business tablet. It offers everything you need for versatility, both in the office and while traveling. The Surface Pro 7 features Intel’s new 10th generation Ice Lake processor with three options, starting with the dual-core Core i3-1005G1. The 2736 x 1824 resolution screen on the 12.3-inch screen is crisp and accurate in color, with the same pixel density as the iPad Pro, making it a great display for watching video and working.
In this model, Microsoft replaced the mini-DisplayPort with USB-C. Since few monitors are already equipped with mini-DisplayPort, this USB-C may require fewer dongles and cables, since the new port provides power, video output and data transfer simultaneously. While the bezels may be too big for some users, they include components such as a Windows Hello IR camera, a 1080p webcam and a pair of 1.6-watt stereo speakers. The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 comes in seven major configurations, including the Intel 4 i3 with 4GB of RAM, three Intel Core i5 models with 8GB and 16GB of RAM and 128GB to 256GB of storage, and Intel Core i7 models with 16GB of RAM and 256GB, 512GB and 1TB of storage. Prices range from $729 to $2300. It comes in black and platinum.
Amazon Fire HD 10
Some smaller companies use their tablets for just about everything, and even replace laptops with them when on the road or working from home, but others have fewer needs and more limited budgets. The Amazon Fire HD 10 does a great job with its 10.1-inch, 224-pixel-per-inch LCD display. With it, you’ll be able to see any document, video, or image at a wide viewing angle – brightly, but without glare. It’s an Android tablet, but it runs an adapted version of Amazon called Fire OS, so it doesn’t have full access to the Google Play Store, which limits the number of third-party apps and games available. The Fire HD 10 comes with 32GB or 64GB of storage, which can be expanded with a separate MicroSD card. The Fire HD 10 has a 2-megapixel camera on the back for taking photos or 720p video and a 2-megapixel front-facing VGA camera, which is great for Skype conference calls.
With up to 12 hours of battery life in mixed use, the Amazon Fire HD 10 offers greater flexibility and is compatible with Alexa for quick access to information, calendar and smart office. Show Mode provides hands-free Alexa experience with a home screen that’s optimized for viewing across the room, in addition to Alexa calls and messages. The Amazon Fire HD 10 is an economical buy, but it ties you to Amazon’s limited app store and lacks high processing power.
Google Pixel Slate
The 1.6-pound Google Pixel Slate has a 12.3-inch molecular display with 6 million pixels and two front-facing speakers, making it a fantastic choice for small businesses. Owners can use the device to collaborate online or offline with Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, access their Gmail accounts and make calls via Duo Cam. The device is equipped with Google Assistant, which will help control music levels, timers and respond to other voice commands. The Pixel Slate is a tool you’ll reach for both at work and at home.
This tablet is the perfect choice for multitaskers: it has a split-screen feature that allows users to work with two different apps or windows at the same time. The tablet itself is also always multitasking behind the scenes, as updates are initiated and security checks are performed without the tablet user’s involvement. The Pixel Slate uses the Chrome operating system, but it can support Android apps. If you need a little more functionality, consider adding useful items like an extra monitor, an external mouse or keyboard, and more. The Pixel Slate’s standalone features are top notch, too – watch movies or listen to music without a Wi-Fi connection whenever you want.
Security is a priority for the Pixel Slate. The tablet uses Pixel Imprint technology, which uses fingerprint sensors to unlock the device. This biometric tool prevents unauthorized people from unlocking the tablet, which ultimately keeps your personal information safe. If you’re concerned that cloud services don’t provide a similar level of security, Pixel allows you to store passwords and personal data in your tablet’s storage. It’s also compatible with Google’s cloud-based workplace services, so it’s a solid choice as a work tablet. You can purchase the Google Pixel Slate with the 8th generation Core m3 processor for under $500.