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Choosing the Best Tablet Based on Size

Screen size is one of the main determinants in whether a tablet will or will not work for your needs. There are several factors to consider when choosing the best tablet screen size.
September 23, 2019

Updated March 2, 2021

In this Article:

Choosing a Tablet Size

Find out the benefits of different tablet sizes.

Choosing a Screen Size

Determine what you should consider when choosing a tablet screen size.

The first thing to remember is that "tablet size" and "tablet screen size" are not the same thing. Tablet dimensions (tablet size) involve the length, width and depth of the device, while the screen size is measured diagonally across the device. If a tablet has a large amount of "dead" space between the end of the screen and the end of the tablet, it can make a smaller-screened tablet bulkier and heavier than necessary. 

Choosing a Tablet Size

Tablets of every size are good at many basic tasks. From web surfing to social networking and from checking emails to playing games, tablets with 7-inch screens or 13-inch screens can accomplish these tasks with ease. However, many tasks only become practical with larger screen sizes. It's hard to manipulate data or write lengthy reports on a small tablet. 

                                            iPad Mini 

7-inch and 8-inch Tablets

Tablets that feature 7-inch or 8-inch screens are best for portability. These small devices usually weigh in under a pound and easily slip into purses or bookbags without much thought and without much weight being added. Seven-inch tablets are also the most affordable — several models come in under $100.

A 7-inch or 8-inch display is convenient for reading eBooks, as tablets of this size are lightweight and won't tire out your hands or wrists as you hold it aloft for long periods of time. They are also good for the basic tasks described previously: browsing the internet, playing games, etc. However, because of their small size, these tablets often include slower processors, less storage capacity and other diminished specifications. This lack of power makes them less than ideal for high-end gaming, watching HD videos, running productivity software and more. Tablets that are seven or eight inches in size are leaner than larger, higher-end models and are more suited to consuming low-quality content rather than watching or creating high-quality content.

Most 7-inch tablets run on an Android operating system (OS) and use on-screen keyboards similar to those found on the smartphone, where your hands hold the device and your thumbs do the typing. The only Apple iOS product in this size class is the iPad mini.

                                    Galaxy Tab A

10-inch Tablets

Mid-size tablets offer the best of both worlds: the portability of smaller models but with screens large enough to do actual work. They complete the standard tablet tasks with ease but now open up your options for watching a video, playing high-end games, running productivity software and corporate applications, etc. Often carried by business travelers, a 10-inch tablet often offers all of the capabilities necessary to complete job assignments but without the weight and bulk of lugging a laptop around.

While lighter and less bulky than a laptop, a 10-inch tablet is not quite as portable as a smaller model, often not fitting into a purse and needing a backpack or briefcase for travel. The more substantial size (5 or 6 ounces heavier than 7- and 8-inch tablets) isn't as easy to use as an e-book reader, as the weight tires out hands and wrists more quickly. It does offer flexibility in use though, as models often do a split keyboard if you still wish to type with your thumbs like on a smartphone, turning it horizontally to use a larger virtual keyboard or purchasing an external keyboard, so it feels like typing on a real laptop.

There are many different tablet models available in the 10-inch size, and they run Apple's iOS, Android and Windows OS. The price varies between models, but you can expect to pay between $400 and $600.

                                            iPad Pro

12-inch Tablets and Larger

Tablets that offer screens 12 inches in size and larger are meant to be laptop alternatives, focusing on business use and productivity. If you want to use several applications at the same time, a larger tablet or a 2-in-1 product is the best option over tablets of a smaller size. Full-size tablets easily handle the full range of tasks that a computer can, from internet and email to business and productivity software.

Some models in this category come with external keyboards, making typing a breeze, though they all offer virtual keyboards as well. A 12-inch tablet isn't easily portable, and you will need a laptop bag or bookbag to easily transport the tablet. While both Android and iOS devices are available in this size, Windows devices are the dominant models, such as the Microsoft Surface Pro and Samsung Galaxy Book. Devices in this size often come with high price tags hovering around $1,000.

Choosing a Screen Size

With so many different sizes and models available, it is hard to figure out which tablet is right for you. Here are a few options to give you an idea of how tablet specifications vary as screen size increases. 

Product

Apple iPad mini

Amazon Fire HD 8 (16GB model)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 (64GB model)

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch

Operating System

 Apple iOS 12

 Amazon Fire OS

 Android 8.1

 Windows 10 Pro

 Apple 12.1

Dimensions

8.0 x 5.3 x 0.2 inches

 8.4 x 5.0 x 0.4 inches

9.8 x 6.5 x 0.3 inches

11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches

11.04 x 8.47 x 0.23 inches

Weight

 10.6 oz

 12 oz

 1.06 lb

 1.7 lb

 1.4 lb

Screen Size

 7.9 inches

 8.0 inches

 10.5 inches

 12.3 inches

 12.9 inches

Screen Resolution

2,048 x 1,536 pixels

1,280 x 800 pixels

2,560 x 1,600 pixels

2,736 x 1,824 pixels

 2,732 by 2,048 pixels

Storage

 64GB or 256GB

 16GB or 32GB

 64GB or 256GB (expandable up to 400GB via microSD card)

 64GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD

 64GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB

Estimated Battery Life

 5 hours, 7 minutes

 4 hours, 50 minutes

 8 hours, 33 minutes

 13 hours, 30 minutes

 10 hours

Price

 $389

 $79

 $647

 $899

 $999

No matter which tablet you choose, be sure to pick one that offers the features, screen size, battery life and applications you need to complete your tasks.    

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