Apple iPad, 9.7-inch (128GB)

Last updated date: May 8, 2019

DWYM Score
9.0

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We looked at the top 1 Tablets and dug through the reviews from 5 of the most popular review sites including Laptop Magazine, Tech Radar, CNET, Digital Trends, ARS Technical's and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Tablet you should buy.

Overall Take

In our analysis of 145 expert reviews, the Apple Apple iPad, 9.7-inch (128GB) placed 2nd when we looked at the top 21 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note May 8, 2019:
Checkout The Best Tablet for a detailed review of all the top tablets.

Expert Summarized Score
8.6
5 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.6
10,933 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
Other highlights include more than 10 hours of battery life and a new iWork suite that makes the iPad a good productivity tool.
- Laptop Magazine
March 18, 2019 | Full review
The new iPad 9.7 for 2018 is designed to achieve one thing: deliver the best of Apple’s tablet efforts at a more affordable price.
- Tech Radar
November 9, 2018 | Full review
The 2018 entry-level iPad supports the Apple Pencil for art work and annotation, and adds a faster A10 processor. iOS continues to offer the best overall selection of free and paid apps on affordable tablets.
- CNET
April 12, 2018 | Full review
There were absolutely no issues with performance on this tablet with everyday tasks.
- Digital Trends
In terms of specs and internals, the star of the show is the A10 processor. It's less than two years old, and it's still in a sweet spot for running recent apps. The A10 has four cores—two high-performance and two efficiency—and only two can be powered at any given time.
- ARS Technical's
April 7, 2018 | Full review
What experts didn't like
Thick bezels; Apple Pencil, keyboard and cover all cost extra
- Laptop Magazine
March 18, 2019 | Full review
If you’re looking for something to replace a notepad, we wouldn’t recommend the new iPad – or any iPad for that matter, as it’s really difficult to write legibly on them, thanks to the way the tip of the Pencil glides across the surface.
- Tech Radar
November 9, 2018 | Full review
Lacks the bigger, better screen, quad speakers and Smart Connector found on pricier iPad Pros.
- CNET
April 12, 2018 | Full review
The thick bezels surrounding the 9.7-inch screen are everything we’re moving away from in the mobile industry; and while we still need some edges around the display so we can hold the tablet, it would have been nice to see them slightly shaved down.
- Digital Trends
The camera is not good enough for AR or content creation
- ARS Technical's
April 7, 2018 | Full review

From The Manufacturer

9.7-inch Retina display. A10 Fusion chip with 64-bit desktop-class architecture. Touch ID fingerprint sensor. 8MP camera with 1080p video and 1.2MP FaceTime HD camera 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO. Syncing with iTunes on a Mac or PC requires- Mac- OS X 10.10.5 or later. PC- Windows 7 or. later.iTunes 12.7.3 or later. Up to 10 hours of battery life. Two speaker audio.

Overall Product Rankings

1. Apple iPad Pro, 12.9-inch (256GB)
Overall Score: 9.2
Expert Reviews: 6
2. Apple iPad, 9.7-inch (128GB)
Overall Score: 9.0
Expert Reviews: 5
3. Samsung Galaxy Tab A, 10.1-Inch 16 GB
Overall Score: 9.0
Expert Reviews: 7
4. Huawei MediaPad M5
Overall Score: 8.9
Expert Reviews: 5
5. Apple iPad Pro (11-inch, Wi-Fi, 64GB)
Overall Score: 8.8
Expert Reviews: 9
6. Apple iPad Pro 10.5 inch
Overall Score: 8.7
Expert Reviews: 7
7. Apple iPad 6
Overall Score: 8.7
Expert Reviews: 8
8. Apple iPad mini 4
Overall Score: 8.6
Expert Reviews: 9
9. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
Overall Score: 8.5
Expert Reviews: 9
10. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
Overall Score: 8.3
Expert Reviews: 9
11. Apple iPad Pro
Overall Score: 8.3
Expert Reviews: 8
12. Amazon Fire HD 10
Overall Score: 8.1
Expert Reviews: 3
13. Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
Overall Score: 8.0
Expert Reviews: 7
14. Amazon Fire HD 8
Overall Score: 7.5
Expert Reviews: 4
15. Samsung Galaxy Tab E 9.6-Inch
Overall Score: 7.4
Expert Reviews: 3
16. Amazon Fire 7 Kids
Overall Score: 7.3
Expert Reviews: 4
17. Amazon Fire 7 Tablet
Overall Score: 7.3
Expert Reviews: 11
18. Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
Overall Score: 7.1
Expert Reviews: 6
19. Samsung Galaxy Tab A, 7-Inch
Overall Score: 7.0
Expert Reviews: 1
20. ASUS 10.1” Transformer Mini 128GB
Overall Score: 6.8
Expert Reviews: 4
21. Samsung Galaxy Tab E Lite
Overall Score: 6.1
Expert Reviews: 2

An Overview On Tablets

Whether you’re bored on the train or stranded in your doctor’s waiting room, a tablet can keep you entertained. Depending on the apps you’ve downloaded, you can work, read, catch up on your favorite TV show or just play a quick game of Candy Crush Saga.

But when it comes to tablets, not all are created equal. The iPad may have become synonymous with the model, but there are many other versions available. Amazon’s Kindle, which started out as a simple e-reader, has expanded to include apps, games and video streaming. Over time, this has put it on par with all the other tablets on the market.

If you’re shopping for a tablet, though, there are plenty of things to consider. First of all, where will you be using it? If you see yourself lounging by the pool this summer and catching up on the latest beach reads, outside screen visibility is a huge factor. On the other hand, if you think you’ll be downloading hours of Netflix movies to watch on your overseas flight, storage is a must.

In most areas, you can’t go wrong with an iPad. But whether you choose the standard or Pro model also depends on your own unique needs. The newer Pro releases feature the much-touted liquid retina display, which offers a viewing experience like no other. But you’ll have to pay extra for that, so it’s important to know in advance how much the feature matters to you.

Headphone jacks are also an important issue if you’re buying a tablet. As with the iPhone, newer iPads feature only a lightning port, which makes it difficult to charge your tablet and listen to audio at the same time. You’ll also need to consider what accessories you need, including whether you need a keyboard or what type of case you want.

As important as the viewing experience is, though, portability is also a significant factor. Unless you’re going for an iPad Mini, you’ll get the smallest and most lightweight tablet with the Amazon Fire HD 8. It may not seem like much at the moment, but when you’re sliding your tablet into your backpack to take with you on vacation, every extra ounce will matter.

Lastly, your budget will factor heavily into the type of tablet you buy. Although tablets are largely more affordable than laptops, there is still a wide variation in price between the Kindle Fire and any of the latest iPads. If you’re simply looking for a device for reading books and playing a few games, the Fire may do the trick. However, for fuller functionality, you may want to save enough to go for the pricier iPad.

DYWM Fun Fact

If you’re going to invest in a tablet, you may as well learn all the cool things you can do with it. Yet many owners have their devices for years without knowing all of their capabilities. You can use an app called Splashtop to get to your other computers from wherever you are and stream photos and video from your tablet to your TV. If you have an Amazon Fire Stick, you can see what’s on your Fire HD 8 tablet on your TV screen using Display Mirroring. And this doesn’t even include the many extra activities and features you can access once you download the right apps.

The Tablet Buying Guide

  • One of the best things about a tablet is that you can take it on the go. If you want to slide it into a purse or laptop bag, though, size does matter. The Amazon Fire 7 and 8 are smaller than the latest iPads on the market, with dimensions of 8’4” X 5” and thicknesses of 0.4.” If you’re looking at iPads, though, the standard iPad will be the smallest, at 9.4” X 6.6” and 0.29” thickness.
  • As crucial as portability is, you also need an adequate screen size for screening videos, playing games or whatever activities you plan to do on your tablet. The nearly 10-inch height of the iPad Pro is designed for that reason. On the latest iPad Pro, you’ll get an 11-inch display, compared to the 8-inch display of the more compact Amazon Fire HD 8.
  • Size isn’t the only factor when considering a tablet’s screen. iPads feature a liquid retina display, which uses a larger number of pixels to create a screen as smooth as print on paper. Although the Fire HD 8 boasts a 1280 X 800 high-definition picture, the difference is very noticeable when compared side by side with an iPad.
  • As you’re toting your tablet around, weight becomes an increasingly important issue. Weight is pretty straightforward with the iPad and iPad Pro, which all measure 1.03 pounds with the Wi-Fi model. Add an additional 0.02 pounds for the cellular-enabled model. You’ll save a little weight with the Amazon Fire 8, which totals only 12.8 ounces.
  • One weakness of tablets has been outdoor readability. If you’re planning to pack up your tablet and take your favorite beach read to the actual beach, that’s an important feature. Although nothing beats a paper-based book or even the Kindle Paperwhite, the retina display on the iPad 7 and 8 comes close. You’ll also find the Fire HD 8’s automatic lighting adjustment works well when you’re outside.
  • Today’s top tablets automatically adjust to the lighting in the room you’re in. If this is important to you, stick with the Fire HD 8 or iPad Pro since the regular iPad doesn’t have that feature.
  • If you’re planning to watch movies or play games on your tablet, power is everything. The Kindle Fire falls short in this area, but you can take your pick of the iPad editions. For best results, splurge on the latest iPad Pro, which promises to be three times faster than previous editions.
  • Tablets can be great for storing music and photos. You can even download movies and TV shows to watch when you’ll be away from Wi-Fi for a while. But you’ll need plenty of storage for this. The latest iPad offers up to a full terabyte of storage, provided you buy the most expensive version. The Fire HD 8 offers only 16 GB of storage, but you can expand up to 400 GB using a MicroSD card.
  • You’re probably planning to watch films or TV series on your new tablet. For that, you’ll need a headphone jack, especially if you’ll be listening in public. One negative to the latest iPads: the lack of a headphone jack, which means you’ll need a special lightning-equipped set of earbuds to listen. Even then, if you’re trying to charge and listen, you’ll run into trouble since there’s only one jack for that. If headphones matter to you, consider the Fire HD 8, which has a standard 3.5mm stereo jack.
  • Before you buy, decide whether you’ll need to be able to move files from your tablet to another device. Much of this sort of thing is done through the iCloud these days, but with Apple, it can be complicated if your other devices aren’t Apple products. The Kindle Fire isn’t much better. In either case, you’ll need to connect your device using a USB and move the files manually.
  • Apps are an important part of tablet ownership. It’s important to note that with any Amazon tablet, you’ll need access to an Amazon Prime membership to listen to music and watch movies. The iPad, however, lets you download whatever apps you need, although you’ll still need to pay for many of them.
  • Every tablet needs accessories. Look into the options for keyboards and covers. If a keyboard is important to you, you’ll want to stick with the iPad Pro, since the standard version doesn’t have the keyboard connector.
  • Tablets can find themselves in some precarious situations, often landing in the hands of children or enduring adventure-filled vacations. That makes ruggedness an important consideration. Neither Amazon’s nor Apple’s models are waterproof, nor are they designed to withstand extreme conditions. However, you can buy cases that will offer protection.
  • If you’re heading out for the day, it’s important to have a tablet that will last. The latest iPad Pro promises up to 10 hours of battery life. The Fire HD 8 promises the same, but the battery tends to drain much faster if you’re doing activities like streaming video.
  • When your battery does run down, it can help to have a battery that charges fairly quickly. This is another area where the Fire HD 8 falls short. The newer iPads feature Apple’s quick-charging capabilities, but you’ll need the right accessories.
  • Digital pencils are all the rage. If you want to draw, handwrite or just make gaming a little easier, consider an iPad. The latest models are all compatible with the Apple Pencil.
  • All that aside, though, price is perhaps the biggest differentiator. You can get a new Amazon Fire HD 8 for around $80 — even cheaper if you catch it on sale. The standard iPad goes for just over $350, while Pro versions start at $570.
  • It’s worth noting that tablet design hasn’t changed much since Microsoft revealed the first one in 2000. The design was very similar to what’s seen on the market today. In 2002, Microsoft launched a version with Windows XP that continued the design.