An iPad, shown, is one of the best tablets of 2019
Photo: Apple

If you’re in the market for a new tablet, you may have heard that Apple has a couple of new iPad models on the way.

The iPad Mini, the top-rated small tablet in our ratings, just received its first major update in nearly four years, according to the manufacturer. And the iPad Air, a 10.5-inch midlevel tablet, is making a comeback, replacing the iPad Air 2 dropped from Apple's lineup two years ago.

Both models are available for pre-order today and will ship next week featuring a much faster processor—the A12 Bionic found in the iPhone XS—than their predecessors and support for the Apple Pencil stylus, sold separately for $99.

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The 7.9-inch Mini, which starts at $399 for a 64GB model with WiFi-only connectivity, comes with Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint reader and proprietary Lightning connector.

The iPad Air starts at $499, putting it squarely between the $329 entry-level iPad and Apple’s iPad Pro models, which upgraded to Face ID and USB-C a year ago.

If neither option sounds attractive to you, don’t worry. There are plenty of great alternatives out there, including the aforementioned iPad Mini 4, now on sale at a discounted price at retailers such as Newegg.

Below, you’ll find four fine choices plucked from our ratings, which feature more than 50 models from manufacturers such as Amazon, Huawei, Lenovo, and Samsung. Each was tested for battery life, performance while running complex apps, and the color accuracy of the display. We also factor in reliability and owner satisfaction data collected through reader surveys.

As with all the tablets in our ratings, we will purchase the updated iPad Mini and iPad Air as soon as they’re available in stores and put them through the paces in our labs. Stay tuned for those results.

Apple iPad Mini 4

The iPad Mini 4 gets high marks for performance and display quality, as well as customer satisfaction and reliability.

Our testers liked the sharp 7.9-inch display, which is bright enough for viewing outdoors. The wide viewing angle makes it easy to see content from the sides without the image washing out. That's useful when two or three people are crowding around the screen. Battery life isn't too shabby either: You'll get nearly 10 hours of web browsing and nearly 12 of playing video. A large ecosystem of high-quality iOS apps add to the appeal.

On the downside, there is just one connector port, so you’ll have to buy dongles or adapters if you want to, say, import photos from an SD card directly to the iPad. Parents may also chafe at the lack of dedicated profiles for children, a useful feature that Amazon prominently touts for its Kindle tablets.

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Apple iPad Mini 4 (128GB) Tablets

Price: $400

Performance
Display
Convenience
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Lenovo Tab 4 8

This 8-inch tablet scored reasonably well compared with the iPad Mini above—for less than half the price, which makes it a good value for consumers comfortable with Android.

The display produces accurate colors and remains visible under bright light; the battery lasts more than 15 hours; and the device carries out common tasks like browsing the web and streaming video without slowdowns in performance.

The built-in camera, however, was less impressive, producing photos with unnatural colors.  

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Lenovo Tab 4 8 (TB-8504F) (16GB, 2GB RAM) Tablets

Price: $130

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Display
Convenience
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Apple iPad Pro 11

Currently the highest-rated tablet in our ratings, this 11-inch iPad Pro impressed our testers on nearly every measure, from performance (no slowdowns here) to battery life (nearly 16 hours) to the quality of its display.

Our testers even remarked about the extra half-inch of real estate it delivers, compared with the prior 10.5-inch model. While that might not seem like much added space, it allows for a noticeably less cramped software keyboard.

As mentioned above, the model also has a USB-C port instead of Apple's proprietary Lightning port. The new connector has been appearing on laptops and high-end smartphones in recent years for accessories like digital cameras and external displays.

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Apple iPad Pro 11 (4G, 64GB) - 2018 Tablets

Price: $950

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

If you’re an Android user in search of a large tablet, you might prefer the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, which was released over the summer. It, too, has a 10.5-inch display that’s great for everything from lengthy YouTube sessions to cleaning out your email inbox.

There’s less storage than the iPad Pro provides (64GB compared with 128GB), but it can be easily expanded using the Micro SD card slot. At around 9 hours, the battery life isn’t quite as impressive as the iPad Pro’s—but that's still enough to get you through a cross-country flight with plenty of juice to spare. 

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 (SM-T830), (64GB) Tablets

Price: $550

Performance
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