Mobile gaming is the future, and if you don’t believe me, here are some numbers. In 2020, mobile games accounted for 57 percent of video gaming revenue worldwide and reached a record 10.73 billion U.S. dollars in the States.Well, gaming on a smartphone is vastly different from gaming on a console or PC, but that’s where tablets come into play. They offer bigger screens, more power, better controls, and most smartphone games will work just fine on a tablet.
What are the best gaming tablets, though? How’s the gaming experience on an iPad versus an iPad Pro? What about Microsoft’s Surface line of tablets – they run Windows, so the gaming is more closely related to PC gaming. Today, we’re going to delve deeper into mobile gaming and find the best gaming tablet you can get in 2021. Here we go.
The best gaming tablets at a glance:
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)
The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) is the epitome of mobile gaming. The large, mini-LED display, coupled with the powerful M1 chipset inside, equals a buttery smooth, and eye-pleasing gaming experience.Yes, the iPadOS is far from perfect for gaming and there are limited third-party peripherals to boost your gaming experience but at the end of the day, the “it just works” Apple philosophy really takes things to new heights.Unlike the Surface line of tablets, with the iPad Pro, you’re getting a true mobile gaming experience, for better or for worse. We know we said the third-party peripherals are limited but the most popular ones are supported, so you can get a Razer Kishi controller or a Playstation DualSense and game on.
With the M1 processor and 16GB of RAM, the iPad Pro can rival dedicated desktop gaming PCs, if developers decide to play ball and create such games, that is. But you know, the iPad Pro is such a well-rounded device, and you can do so much more than play games on it that it deserves a lot of credit.
The only downside is the price, obviously. The top model pushes the $1000 mark and you can get a laptop for that kind of money.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Here’s our exception. The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is a strange device for gaming. It runs Windows 10 and packs some serious hardware punch. You can configure a system with an Intel Core i7 processor, along with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. Granted, it’ll cost you north of $2,000 but still, you can do that.And what you’re getting is an ultra-light and portable laptop, really. You can get a hardware keyboard and mouse and game on the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 like it’s a PC system. This is kinda strange and not mobile gaming per se, especially in our case. But still, we’re letting this one slide.The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is an amazing machine, a thing of beauty. It features a metal chassis, great screen, and can run your Word and Excel applications, along with practically every Windows app there is.
The downside is that you won’t be able to play mobile games. Yeah, the irony. There are ways to play Android games on the Surface but they’re complicated and on the border of being legal. Anyhow, it’s the odd one on our list, and if you don’t like mobile gaming as it is right now, you can get a Surface and PC game while being mobile. Or something like that…
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus
Moving on to Android mobile gaming. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus is the best Android tablet for mobile gaming you can get right now. It has it all: super-sleek and stunning design, 5G connectivity, a gorgeous and super-smooth 120Hz display, top-of-the-line processor, a functional S Pen with lower latency, and also a great price.It doesn’t get much better than that, on the Android front. Let’s talk about the display – it’s a gorgeous Super AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. You won’t get a better visual gaming experience anywhere else, including dedicated PC gaming rigs. Unless you cough up thousands of dollars for an OLED monitor.
There’s one downside to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus – it comes with either 6 or 8GB of RAM, and in a world where smartphones now sport 16GB of RAM, it can be problematic. Granted, most mobile games are optimized to work on every possible mobile device out there (in-app purchases, thanks for that), but the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus is not as future-proof as we would have liked it to be.
But then again, the 5G connectivity is a future-oriented feature (what a tongue-twister), and you probably won’t need another tablet in the next 3-4 years.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A7
Now, if you don’t have $1000 to spend on a gaming tablet, there are more budget-oriented options out there. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 is your budget Android tablet that will give you amazing value.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 features a Snapdragon 662 processor, 3GB RAM, and either 32GB or 64GB expandable storage. Also, it comes with a 10.4-inch display, Dolby Atmos surround sound, and a great price tag.
It’s true that the Galaxy Tab A7 doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of its bigger and more expensive sibling but it will get the job done. If you want to try out mobile gaming on a tablet but you’re not sure about spending a lot of money, the Galaxy Tab A7 is a great choice.
Apple iPad 10.2 (2020)
The same applies to the Apple iPad 10.2 (2020). Apple’s last-generation iPad is a great budget choice for iOS fans. You get all the signature Apple features in this tablet. The design is sleek and stylish, the tablet itself is lightweight and comfortable, and it’s pretty powerful, despite being a generation behind.
The price is the biggest pro here, as the last-gen iPad can be found at around $300. Yes, the tablet rocks Apple’s A12 Bionic, which is pretty old now, but thanks to the specific Apple architecture and app optimization, it’s still a very powerful tablet.
The other big drawback is internal storage. The base model comes with 32GB of non-expandable storage and it’s on the limit, especially in 2021. You can still make it work, but it’s far from optimal.
On the other hand, you get Apple Pencil (1st gen) and Smart Keyboard support, along with a full day of battery life. And for the price, you can’t get anything better.
This concludes our best gaming tablets list, at least for now. It’s far from set in stone, and we expect many new entries to make their way to the list. Sadly, dedicated gaming tablets like the Acer Predator 8 or the great NVIDIA Shield K1 are too old now, and they don’t have any true successors. Nevertheless, watch this space as we’ll keep the list up to date, and who knows, maybe we’ll see another spur of dedicated gaming tablets sooner rather than later.