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Best tablets for kids in 2021

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro
(Image credit: Future)

The best tablets for kids are durable, affordable, and versatile. Finding the right one for your needs can be tricky because every kid is different, but in general we look for decent screen quality, excellent battery life, good parental controls, and solid durability (accidents happen!) at a reasonable price. 

To help you decide which tablet is right for you, we tested all of the top devices in our lab and in the real world. In general, Amazon tablets are great for kids and anyone on a tight budget. If you can afford to pay a bit more, iPads are excellent tablets for students and creative kids; in fact we have a best iPads for kids guide that will help you choose between them. And if your kid wants an Android tablet, there are some great options from Samsung that compete effectively with iPads yet cost significantly less.

Kids who want Windows 11 should keep their eyes out for the Surface Go 3, this recently revealed tablet/2-in-1 is getting faster and may pack longer battery life. The Surface Go 2 was already one of our favorite tablets, so we're excited to see it get more power.

What are the best tablets for kids?

Right now, we recommend the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids slates as the best tablets for kids ages 3-12. They run on Amazon's custom FireOS, which has good parental control options, and both the Fire HD 10 Kids and the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro come with a one-year Amazon Kids+ subscription, a colorful kickstand case, and a comprehensive, no-questions-asked 2-year warranty that covers accidental damage. Each tablet costs $199 and they're both effectively identical to the $150 Fire HD 10 -- the only difference is they've been packaged to appeal to parents. The HD 10 Kids is aimed at kids ages 3-7, while the Pro is targeted at older kids ages 6-12.

If you're willing to spend a bit more, you could give the kid a more powerful iPad or Android tablet, which both offer access to a bigger app store (and thus a broader variety of games and apps) than Amazon tablets. We recommend the base iPad as the best Apple tablet for kids, since it's the cheapest Apple slate (starting at $300) yet still offers premium build quality and the full iPad experience. If you'd rather give them an Android tablet, Samsung's Galaxy Tab A7 (starts at $229) is a great choice because its versatile, well-built, and offers excellent battery life.

To keep your spending between $50-$100 and still deliver a great tablet for kids, we recommend the Amazon Fire HD 7 or Fire HD 8. They're smaller and less powerful versions of the Fire HD 10, but they're more than good enough for media consumption and they offer the same robust parental controls as all Amazon tablets. 

The best tablets for kids you can buy today

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro

(Image credit: Future)

1. Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro

The best tablet for older kids

Specifications
CPU: 2.0GHz octa-core CPU
Camera Resolution: 5 MP (rear) 2 MP (front)
Display: 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel
Storage: 32GB
Ports: 1x USB-C, headphone jack, microSD
Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.5 x 0.4 inches
Weight: 17.8 ounces/1.1 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Vibrant screen makes cartoons pop+Tenacious battery outlasts the competition+Comprehensive 2-year warranty
Reasons to avoid
-No native Google apps-Dull audio compared to the competitors

The Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro (2021) is the best tablet for kids overall. It's effectively the same, hardware-wise, as the Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet: it has the same octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM and vivacious 1,900 x 1,200 display. The big difference is that it's designed specifically for use by older kids ages 6-12, so it comes with a one-year Amazon Kids+ subscription, a colorful kickstand case, and a comprehensive, no-questions-asked 2-year warranty that covers accidental damage. 

If you're in the market for a kid-friendly tablet, few competitors can match what the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro offers for $199, particularly with that generous extended warranty. Sure, it has all the same weaknesses as every Fire tablet — most notably, no access to the Google Play Store — but if you're planning to give this to a kid anyway, that's less of an issue. Amazon also sells a variant aimed at younger kids, the Fire HD 10 Kids, with the same $199 price tag.

Read our full Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro (2021) review.

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids

(Image credit: Future)

2. Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids

The best tablet for young children

Specifications
CPU: 2.0GHz octa-core CPU
Camera Resolution: 5 MP (rear) 2 MP (front)
Display: 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel
Storage: 32GB
Ports: 1x USB-C, headphone jack, microSD
Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.5 x 0.4 inches
Weight: 17.8 ounces/1.1 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Durable build+Great parental controls+Bright and sharp display
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of Google Play Store apps-Poor sound quality-Underwhelming performance

The Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids is effectively a version of the Fire HD 10 that's tailored for kid-friendly use — specifically, kids ages three to seven. The Fire HD 10 Kids is a great tablet for kids because it sports a bright display, a durable kid-friendly design, and excellent battery life. Plus, the detailed built-in parental controls give you a lot of control over what a child does on the device, with little risk of them going astray.

Sure, the lack of Google Play Store apps limits what you can do with this tablet, but that's hardly a problem if you're planning to give it to your 5-year-old so they can have something on which to watch videos. If you want a durable, affordable tablet tailored to young children, the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids is a great choice.

Read our full Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids review.

The iPad 2021 on a table

The iPad 2021 in Apple's smart keyboard folio (Image credit: Future)

3. Apple iPad 2021

The best iPad for kids

Specifications
CPU: A13 Bionic
Camera Resolution: 8MP (rear), 12MP (front)
Display: 10.2 inches, 2160 x 1620 pixels
Storage: 64GB, 256GB
Ports: Lightning, Headphone
Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.3 inches
Weight: 1.07 pounds
Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with optional LTE
Reasons to buy
+Bright screen+Improved front-facing camera+Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Dated design with big bezels-Nowhere to store Apple Pencil

Kids (and adults) may not be able to see the difference between the 2021 and 2020 iPads (they look exactly alike), but it has a fair number of reasons to upgrade. Not only is it still great in the ways that every regular iPad before it (colorful screen and long battery life, good sound and rock-solid design), but Apple's made a few tweaks to make it much better in other ways. First and foremost is the A13 Bionic chip, which should enable smoother gameplay, and snappier performance (find me a child who likes slow apps, I dare you). 

Next up is Apple's 12MP front-facing camera, which will make kids look sharper than ever on video calls — especially compared to the 1.2MP front-facing camera in the iPad. This camera also features Apple's Center Stage technology, which keeps Junior framed on calls even when they bob their head left or right. And by retaining the headphone jack, kids can keep using their headphones with the new iPad.

Read our full iPad 2021 review.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

4. Amazon Fire 7

The best budget-friendly tablet for kids

Specifications
CPU: Quad-Core 1.3 GHz processor
Camera Resolution: 2MP (rear), 2MP (front)
Display: 7 inches, 1024 x 600 pixels
Storage: 16GB, 32GB
Memory: 1GB
Ports: headphone jack. microUSB, microSD,
Dimensions: 7.6 x 4.5 x 0.4 inches
Weight: 0.6 pounds (10.1 ounces)
Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n
Reasons to buy
+Fast for its price+Hyper affordable 
Reasons to avoid
-Lots of Amazon ads-Low-res display

If you're looking for a great sub-$100 slate you can give to a child, the $50 Amazon Fire 7 tablet is a great choice. It delivers pretty good performance thanks to its snappy quad-core 1.3 GHz processor, which helps a child navigate apps and browse the web faster than you'd expect from a tablet this cheap.

Just don't expect any frills that come with more expensive tablets. The Fire 7 tablet’s sub-HD screen is not sharp enough for anyone used to an iPad, and its lock screen is filled with ads unless you pay extra. Still, it's a great pick for kids looking for a media consumption device. Plus, Amazon tablets have some of the most comprehensive parental controls of any tablet on the market, and they work just as well on the Fire 7 as they do on the Fire HD 10 Kids tablets higher on this list.

Read our full Amazon Fire 7 review.

The iPad mini 2021 on a deskEditor's Choice

The iPad mini 6 (2021) (Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

5. iPad mini 6 2021

The best lightweight iPad for kids

Specifications
CPU: A15 Bionic
Camera Resolution: 12MP (front and rear)
Display: 8.3-inch (2266 x 1488 pixels) Liquid Retina
Storage: 64GB, 256GB
Ports: USB-C
Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.3 x 0.3 inches
Weight: 0.7 pound
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 6, optional 5G (Sub-6)
Reasons to buy
+Super-portable, light design+Speedy A15 Bionic processor+Sharp and bright display
Reasons to avoid
-No Magic Keyboard or headphone jack-Pricey

Kids typically prefer lighter tablets, and we can't blame them. The regular iPad may have a great simplicity about itself, but the 0.7-pound iPad mini 6 is so much easier to hold than its heavier siblings. Plus, if you get the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil with it, that stylus will be easier to keep track of since it magnetically snaps onto the side (the 1st Gen Pencil tends to just roll away). The iPad mini 6 is also better for reading, since its size is more comparable to books and comics.

Everyone, especially kids watching their favorite shows and clips on YouTube will love the iPad mini 6's colorful and super-bright screen, plus its long battery life. One other thing to know about the iPad mini 6, though, is that Kids will need a Bluetooth keyboard if they want to do a lot of typing (without banging on the glass screen), since Apple doesn't make a Magic Keyboard or Smart Keyboard for it.

Read our full Apple iPad mini 6 (2021) review.

Person using an Apple Pencil to draw on iPad Air (2020) tablet

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey/Tom's Guide)

6. iPad Air (2020)

A better, pricier iPad for kids

Specifications
CPU: A14 Bionic
Display: 10.9-inch (2360 x 1640 pixels) Liquid Retina
Storage: 64GB/256GB
Ports: USB-C
Dimensions: 9.7 x 7 x 0.24 inches
Weight: 1 pound
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 6, optional 4G LTE
Reasons to buy
+Elegant thin and light design+Super-fast A14 Bionic processor+Excellent webcam
Reasons to avoid
-No Face ID-No headphone jack

Apple's iPad Air (2020) borrows a lot of what we like from the iPad Pro, at a more affordable price, and it's a great tablet to give an older kid if you're willing to pay the $599+ asking price. It's smaller and lighter than the base iPad with super-thin bezels you'll recognize from the iPad Pro, as well as support for the $300 Magic Keyboard, which (if you're willing to pay the extra cost) makes the Air a decent device for writing papers. On top of that, Apple's blazing-fast A14 Bionic chip helps future-proof this tablet with enough speed for demanding apps and multitasking. Oh, and they managed to put Touch ID in the lock button. 

Plus, its 10.5 hours of battery life will be enough to last a kid through at least a full day of use, and its screen is bright and colorful enough to make videos look brilliant. It's also great for Zoom calls and remote learning, thanks to its 7-megapixel webcam. We only wish the Magic Keyboard wasn't so expensive: it's hard to feel great buying a keyboard for nearly the same price as the entry-level iPad. 

Read our full iPad Air (2020) review.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 tablet

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

7. Samsung Galaxy Tab A7

The best Android tablet for kids

Specifications
CPU: Qualcomm SM6115
Display: 10.4-inch, 2000x1200-pixel
Storage: 32GB
Memory: 3GB
Ports: USB-C, microSD
Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.2 x 0.3 inches
Weight: 1.1 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Excellent battery life+Facial recognition+USB-C charging
Reasons to avoid
-Screen is a little dim-Underwhelming performance

If you want to give a kid an Android tablet, the Galaxy Tab A7 is a great choice because it's a decent iPad competitor that costs nearly $100 less. It's a great tablet to give an older kid, and it's also great to share among a family because Android lets you set up multiple profiles and set parental controls on a per-profile basis, ensuring you can filter and control what kids of content your kid(s) can access.

Plus it's got endurance to spare, lasting 13 hours and 13 minutes on the Tom's Guide battery test. Oh, and it's also got an iPad Pro feature that Apple makes you pay a lot for: facial recognition to unlock the device. And just like Apple's pricier tablets, the Galaxy Tab A7 charges over USB-C, so you shouldn't have too much trouble replacing lost or damaged charging cables. And while it's not as fast as the iPad and its screen isn't as bright, neither is a serious problem at this price — especially when Samsung gives you true Android with the Google Play app store, and not the watered-down Amazon Fire tablet experience.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 review.

(Image credit: Future)

8. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

The best Android tablet for kids who like to draw

Specifications
CPU: Samsung Exynos 9610
Camera Resolution: 8MP (rear), 5MP (front)
Display: 10.4 inches, 2000 x 1200 pixels
Storage: 64GB
Memory: 4GB
Ports: USB-C, headphone jack
Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.1 x 0.3 inches
Weight: 1 pound
Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Reasons to buy
+Slimmed down bezels+Lengthy battery life+Bright display
Reasons to avoid
-Underwhelming performance-Some Android apps still need tablet optimization

The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a bit more expensive than the Galaxy Tab A7, but if you're willing to spend the extra cash, it's a great Android tablet for kids, especially kids who like to draw. This excellent tablet has a ton of battery life — lasting over 12 hours on a single charge — and offers a sleek design with a bright screen and solid sound. 

And if you have an older kid with an artistic bent, the S-Pen stylus, which offers low-latency drawing, is included by default. Plus it snaps to the top of the Tab S6 Lite, so a child is (hopefully) less likely to lose it. 

Performance-wise, though, the Tab S6 Lite is a little underwhelming, especially when multitasking. But if a kid is primarily going to use the tablet for media consumption and doodling, the Tab S6 Lite is a great choice — and don't forget it has Android's multiple user profiles and parental controls, which are more robust than what you'll find on Apple's tablets.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite review.

Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

9. Amazon Fire HD 8

Another great sub-$100 Amazon tablet for kids

Specifications
CPU: 2.0 GHz quad-core processor
Camera Resolution: 2MP (rear), 2MP (front)
Display: 8-inch 1280 x 800-pixel
Storage: 32GB, 64GB
Memory: 2GB
Ports: headphone jack. USB-C, microSD,
Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
Weight: 0.8 pounds (12.5 ounces)
Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic battery life+Bright screen+Good selfie camera
Reasons to avoid
-Still no Google apps-Pay to remove Amazon ads-Slow Silk browser

The Amazon Fire HD 8 is a solid Amazon tablet that, with an MSRP of $90, sits between the Fire HD 7 and Fire HD 10 Kids in terms of price and potential. If you can afford to spend more than the $50 price tag of the HD 7 on a kids tablet but want to keep your spending below $100, the HD 8 is a good choice: its bright screen and epic 13+ hours of battery life make it great for consuming content, and its reversible USB-C port is a feature we wish was in the cheaper Fire 7 tablet. 

Of course, it has all the same weaknesses as Amazon's other tablets: you have to pay extra to remove ads, and you can't easily access the full Google Play Store. But if you just want a good tablet for kids that's primarily intended for consuming content in Amazon's ecosystem, the Fire HD 8 is a great value. Just be aware you won't get the kid-friendly add-ons that come with the Fire HD 10 Kids tablets, including the free year of Amazon Kids+ and the 2-year no-questions-asked warranty.

Read our full Amazon Fire HD 8 review.

How to choose the best tablet for kids

Still not sure which tablet is right for the kid(s) in question? Here are some important things to consider.

Screen size: Tablets come in a variety of screen sizes ranging from 7 to 10 inches. If you expect your kid to be watching a lot of videos, they'll want the biggest, nicest screen possible, so consider the Fire HD 10, the iPad, or the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7. But if you just want a tablet a kid can use to browse the web and read ebooks, a smaller display, like those on the Fire 7 or Fire HD 8, will be more than enough for your needs.

Budget: You can spend anywhere between $50-$800 on a tablet for kids, or more if you splurge on extras like a stylus or keyboard cover.  If you can afford the higher end of that spectrum, the $599 iPad Air or the $350 Galaxy Tab S6 Lite are great tablets for older kids and families because they have great specs and offer the full range of iOS/Android apps. Younger kids might be better served by the $200 Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids or HD 10 Kids Pro tablets, since they come with kid-friendly extras like durable cases and 2-year warranties. If your budget is in the $50-$100 range, the $50 Fire HD 7 or the ~$100 Fire HD 8 are good, no-frills Amazon Fire tablets that offer decent performance and Amazon's in-depth parental controls.

Age: How old is the person you're buying this tablet for? Obviously if it's for you and your family, buy whatever you like, but if you're getting a tablet for a specific child, there are a variety of kid-friendly options depending on their age. For those ages 3-7, the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids offers decent performance, great parental controls, and a colorful drop-resistant case. The Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro offers effectively the same benefits for the same price, but it's aimed at older kids in the 6-12 range. And if the person you're buying for is older than that, they should be well-served by the standard Amazon Fire HD 10, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7, or the basic iPad.

How we test tablets

First, we run as many benchmarks as that tablet will allow, to see how fast they are in ways that can be compared directly against competitors. We say "will allow" as some tablets, like Amazon's Fire slates, have trouble with side-loaded Android apps. We then use colorimeters and light meters to measure how colorful and bright these tablets’ screens can get. After that, we put them through our in-house battery test, which times how long it takes — while surfing the web with brightness at 150 nits — to drain a tablet of a charge.

After that, we do the same things you do — browse the web, watch YouTube, play games, compose emails — and then a lot more. We also try and write some (or all) of our tablet reviews on the tablets we're testing, especially if there's a keyboard attachment available.

Alex Wawro

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. He currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.