You’re thinking that 2016 is the year you’re going to finally buy a tablet / upgrade the first version of the iPad you queued all night for then realized didn’t do a lot – but you’re horrendously stumped over what to buy.
The good news is that tablets are now getting to the point of being really, really useful things, with accessories and add-ons that turn it into a viable laptop replacement for some.
But which should you opt for? Even if you’re a stalwart in the iPad camp / Android army, you’re stuck with loads and loads of choices in 2016. Not all of the choices below are confirmed, but we’ve listed all of the ones we’ve already seen followed by those we expect in the final six months of 2016.
Brand new tablets for 2016
Here we run down the best tablets that have already been announced this year… but there’s not many to choose from.
iPad Pro 9.7
Price: US$599 (£499, AU$899)
Originally thought to be called the iPad Pro 2, this turned out to be the iPad Air 3 in all but name. Instead of sporting the Air moniker, it’s called the iPad Pro 9.7 and we loved this update to the middle sized iPad.
If you’re after a slim and portable slate, we’d recommend either the iPad Pro 9.7 or the iPad Mini 4. The iPad Pro 9.7 brought in True Tone display that corrects the screen colors depending on the conditions you’re currently in.
It’s also the first iPad to have a 256GB storage option, which may be expensive but means you’re going to struggle to fill your slate full of media and apps like you’d probably do on a 32GB iPad Pro in a couple of days.
There’s a keyboard you can buy alongside it to plug into the Smart Connector making this one of the most productive tablets money can buy.
Tablets to come later in 2016
There’s no guarantee these tablets will be released by the end of the year, but we’d at least expect some sort of announcement for the following slates.
Sony Xperia Z6 Tablet
Release date: September 2016
Expected price: very high
There may not be many rumors circulating about the Xperia Z6 Tablet, but Sony’s release cycle tends to be an easy one to predict and this is likely to be the firm’s major slate offering of 2016.
Sony loves making its devices waterproof, so we fully expect it to continue that trend with the Z6 Tablet, while we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a slightly more premium design and an interface whi ch is closer to stock Android.
The inclusion of a keyboard dock in the box of the Z4 Tablet was a handy addition, but it could do with behind more balanced – another area of improvement for 2016 then.
Sony usually launches its flagship tablet at MWC in Barcelona at the end of February, but we may have to wait a few months for it to actually hit shelves. We’ll be reporting live from MWC 2016, so we’ll bring you all the latest on what Sony (and everyone else) has to offer.
In short, expect the Xperia Z6 Tablet to have plenty of power, a great display and the ability to take a dip in the bath with you.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
Release date: August 2016
Expected price: very high
Samsung came close to equaling Apple’s iPad Air 2 in 2015 with the Galaxy Tab S2, but it still didn’t manage to provide the same level of class both on and off screen.
Apple’s been top dog in the tablet world for several years now, but the pack is gaining and none more so than Samsung. The hope is then that 2016 could be the year it finally matches its Cupertino rival with a stellar Samsung Galaxy Tab S3.
There’s been talk of a Samsung Galaxy Tab Edge which could sport a similar curved display to the Galaxy S6 Edge which would certainly give the firm’s next flagship a futuristic look.
Whatever the tablet is finally named, a high resolution display is guaranteed, as is a decent slug of power. If Samsung can address the design while retaining the microSD port then the Tab S3 will be something to get very excited about.
iPad Pro 2
Release date: Announced in September, ready to buy in October
Expected price: Expect it to be the most expensive iPad yet
The iPad Pro came out in September 2015 and it may already be time for Apple to upgrade it with the iPad Pro 2.
We’d expect to see the next tablet from Apple before the end of the year, which will likely come with a 12.9-inch True Tone display as well as 4GB of RAM and an A9 processor chip under the hood.
Improvements for the iPad Pro 2 may be few and far between though. There could be a higher storage version and even a free Apple Pencil in the box, but this is all speculation as there’s not been much leaked about the product yet.
If Apple is set to announce it in 2016, we’d expect it to come at the same time as the iPhone 7 in September. But if it doesn’t launch then, we may have to wait until 2017 to see a new iPad Pro.
iPad Mini 5
Release date: Maybe October, but it might not even be until next year.
Expected price: It’s going to be a lot, but not as much as the iPad Pro 2.
Apple’s miniature range of tablets came back with a bang this year. After the lackluster iPad Mini 3, the iPad Mini 4 brought the range back up to date with some significant updates.
It wasn’t clear why Apple decided to briefly mention it and then not give us a full look at the tablet though. For that reason we’re not sure if Apple will even decide to update to the iPad Mini 5 next year.
If it does, we’d expect some big updates to the processor on the iPad Mini 5. The iPad Mini 4 having an A8 chipset was a bit of a letdown so we’d expect at least the A9X chipset if not the latest.
Then it’ll also likely come with iOS 10 as well that we expect to see launch in July this year at WWDC. We’ll have to wait and see if Apple sees fit to launch a new smaller slate in 2016 though.
Microsoft Surface Pro 5
Release date: October 2016, maybe.
Expected price: High – the Surface Pro 4 didn’t come very cheap.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 turned out to be one of the better tablets we saw in 2015 and took one step closer to becoming the laptop replacement it has always wanted to be.
With the Microsoft Surface Pro 5 though there’s a lot of work to do still. The biggest issue is selling the Type Cover separately, we want Microsoft to bundle that in the box with it so when you get it out it’s all ready and raring to go.
Battery also needs to be improved on the Surface Pro 5. When you’re using this as a tablet and productivity is a focus, you need to have a stronger battery life than it currently offers.
But there’s a lot right now and we think Microsoft may be able to make it perfect on the Surface Pro 5 with a little bit of work.
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