Small businesses are famous for their entrepreneurial and innovative spirit and are often free to act without bureaucracy. That’s one reason small companies take so well to tech, and strive to use as many automated devices and services as possible to streamline their operations and get more done. For all kinds of companies, tablets are optimal work companions when you want to leave your laptop on your desk. Here are our recommendations for the best tablets for small businesses.
How to choose a tablet
When you start shopping for a tablet for yourself and your team, do not get mesmerized by all the flashy products that are available. You’ll be happier with your purchase, and it will serve you better if you set a few parameters before you start looking. Determine what will be the primary use of the device, how much you are willing to spend on each tablet, which operating system syncs well with your other computer systems and smartphones, and which features and specs mean the most to you.
Companies can use tablets for all kinds of operations including payment processing, fieldwork, and media consumption. You may also want to differentiate between executives and employees who need different types of tablets for their differing roles in the company (primary versus supplementary, or even rugged devices depending on the worksite). Also consider size, battery life, processor, storage, and external ports for accessories.
Businesses will have different uses for tablets. Here are some features to take into account:
Storage: If your business generates a lot of documents, photos, videos, and multimedia assets that you want to keep with you (with or without cloud backup) make sure you buy a tablet that has adequate storage for your needs. Storage is available anywhere from 16GB all the way up to 1TB.
Battery life: Battery capacity can vary quite a bit depending on the size of the device, but you’re generally looking at between 6,000mAh and 8,000mAh, sometimes dipping into the 3,000mAh range for smaller devices. If battery life is important to you, then read some reviews and get an idea of how the capacity translates into hours of real-world usage.
Cameras: Tablet cameras are generally considered more of a convenience than a vital feature. Nonetheless, most tablets come equipped with front and rear cameras that may prove useful depending on your needs. Front-facing cameras are handy for video conferencing and video chats via Skype, FaceTime, and other services. Rear cameras may be useful for scanning documents.
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi comes standard for all tablets and most support the fastest Wi-Fi standards available at the time of purchase — the 802.11ac standard, even if your office has an older router.
Processor: Tablet processors vary widely and are sometimes specific to the manufacturer, such as Apple’s iPad A12X chip. You might check out the processor online to see how fast it is and how it compares with others.
Speakers: Tablet speakers are utilitarian as opposed to premium, but sub-par audio can seriously mar the tablet experience. Make sure that the sound quality is decent when you check out the reviews of tablets you’re considering, or better still go to a store like Best Buy, which may have a few demo tablets out and listen for yourself. If you play music, get one with speakers on either side for optimal sound separation.
Stylus: Styluses and tablets go together and certain tablets have styluses that are made especially for them to take advantage of their hardware and software features. If you need one, get a stylus that’s custom-designed for your tablet. Many support multiple pen types that let you switch between thick pen strokes and thin ones with the click of a button.
Expandable memory: Some tablets include SD card slots, a handy feature that lets you add storage space as needed.
LTE connection: When you’re out in the field, you may not want to use available Wi-Fi for online communications. LTE connectivity can get you online anywhere. You’ll need to add your tablet to your mobile data subscription plan from a wireless provider to get everything up and running.
Once you’ve got a shortlist of requirements, feel free to go crazy evaluating various models that meet the needs of your company. Here are a few we recommend and check out our list of the best tablets on the market today.
Apple iPad Pro
Even if you’re not a Mac user, the Apple iPad Pro is the best tablet available. Apple’s lineup offers a sweet selection of iPads, including the two iPad Pro models at 12.9 and 11 inches. The larger one, with its 2,732 x 2,048 resolution and 264 pixels per inch (ppi), looks like a small TV. Besides being ideal for watching videos, iOS multitasking features, and battery life of up to 10 hours, its productivity apps make the iPad Pro an ideal business companion.
Both models have comparable specs and are available with storage of 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. The 11-inch model weighs a little over one pound, while the larger iPad Pro is about 1.3 pounds. Both feature an A12X Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, 12-megapixel main camera, 4K video recording at 30fps or 60fps, 7-megapixel front-facing camera, FaceTime audio and video, Wi‑Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5.0, Face ID, and Apple Pay. You can also opt for a cellular connection. Apple’s companion hardware, available separately, includes the Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil, AirPods, and more.
Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro
The MediaPad M5 Pro is Huawei’s challenge to the iPad. It has a gorgeous 10.8-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 curved-edge 2.5D glass display. Its 82% screen-to-body ratio features a wide view, augmented by a curved metal body that offers an elegant, attractive, and simple industrial design. It has a proprietary Kirin 960 series octa-core chipset and stable Wi-Fi network connectivity with quad stereo speakers tuned and certified by Harman Kardon for an excellent audio and video experience with headphones.
The 13-megapixel rear camera combined with the 8-megapixel front camera offers all the photographic capabilities you need for most tablets. It packs 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and even includes an M Pen. Its 7,500 mAh (TYP) battery and power-saving technology allow for 11 hours of 1080P video viewing. With the built-in Quick Charge, it takes about 2.9 hours to fully charge the device. It also features Smart UI EMUI 8.0 (Android 8.0) and advanced fingerprint recognition.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Despite the fact that Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7 two-in-one computer tablet is not radically different from its predecessor, our previous favorite, the Surface Pro 6, there’s plenty of overall improvement in the newer model to recommend it as a great business tablet. It offers everything you need for workplace versatility — both in the office or while traveling. The Surface Pro 7 features the new Intel 10th-generation Ice Lake processor with three options, starting with the dual-core Core i3-1005G1. The screen is crisp and color accurate at 2,736 x 1,824 resolution on a 12.3-inch screen — with equal pixel density as the iPad Pro, making it a great display for video watching as well as working.
With this model, Microsoft has swapped its mini-DisplayPort for USB-C. Because few monitors include mini-DisplayPort anymore, this USB-C could require fewer dongles and cables since the new port handles power delivery, video output, and data transfer simultaneously. While the bezels may be too large for some users, they include components like the Windows Hello IR camera, the 1080p webcam, and a pair of 1.6-watt stereo speakers. The Surface Pro 7 comes in seven main configurations, including the Intel 4 i3 with 4GB RAM, three Intel Core i5 models with 8GB and 16GB RAM, and storage from 128GB to 256GB, and the Intel Core i7 models with 16GB of RAM and 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB of storage. Prices range from $629 to $2100. It comes in Black and Platinum.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S4, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is an impressive hunk of 10.5-inch Android tablet, powered by a flagship processor in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855. The Super AMOLED screen on the Tab S6 is beautiful, with a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution — colors are rich and blacks are dark while dim video scenes are easy to see because of the bright screen. There’s HDR10+ support too, so if you watch HDR movies you’ll benefit from the added contrast.
The included S Pen lets you take and edit notes for a smooth work experience, while the magnetic technology makes storage and charging easy. Attach a keyboard with a built-in trackpad to this tablet for a seamless PC-like desktop experience. The Tab S6 comes with 6GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage or 8GB RAM and 256GB storage.
Amazon Fire HD 10
Some small companies use their tablets for almost everything, and even substitute them for laptops when on the road or working at home, but others will have fewer needs and more limited budgets. The Amazon Fire HD 10 serves nicely with a 10.1-inch LCD display at 224 pixels-per-inch. With it, you can see any document, video, or image at a wide viewing angle — bright but without glare. It’s an Android tablet, but it runs Amazon’s tweaked version, called Fire OS, so it doesn’t have full access to the Google Play Store, limiting the number of third-party apps and games available. The Fire HD 10 comes packed with 32GB or 64GB of storage and you can expand the storage with a separate MicroSD card. The Fire HD 10 features a 2-megapixel rear-facing camera for shooting photos or 720p video and a 2-megapixel front-facing VGA camera that works fine for Skype conference calls.
With up to 12 hours of mixed-use battery life, the tablet gives you more flexibility and is compatible with Alexa for quick access to information, your calendar, and your smart office. Show Mode delivers a hands-free Alexa experience with a home screen that’s optimized for visibility across the room, in addition to Alexa calling and messaging. The Amazon Fire HD 10 is an economy purchase, but it does lock you in to Amazon’s limited app store and it lacks high-end processing power.
Google Pixel Slate
From its 12.3-inch Molecular Display of 6 million pixels to its dual front speakers, the 1.6- pound Google Pixel Slate can function optimally in any work mode. You can collaborate online or work offline with Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides or Gmail and connect with Duo Cam. The Pixel Slate also lets you use Google Assistant, so a Hey Google gets you music, control over your home or office, and more.
The tablet’s split-screen multitasking feature enhances a productive work environment with automatic, hassle-free updates. Pixel Slate runs Chrome OS but also supports Android apps. You can re-create a desktop experience by adding elements like a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. You can also watch movies, play music, and play games without a Wi-Fi connection. Regardless of whether you work at home, in a coffee shop, or at the office, your tablet stays secure, because you must unlock it with your finger via Pixel Imprint. The tablet’s security chip stores your information, device passwords, and operating system on your tablet, not in the cloud. If you favor Google’s cloud services in your office, then the Pixel Slate may be for you.
HP Chromebook X2
The HP Chromebook X2 detachable tablet, which packs a respectable array of features for a Chrome OS two-in-one, offers 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a 7th-gen Intel Core m3-7Y30 processor. The tablet has a distinctive look — a ceramic white case on the back to go with the chrome trim around the edges and black bezels around the front. The back is produced via a special anodized electrodeposition (AED) process that coats the underlying aluminum for strength, durability, and scratch resistance.
The tablet includes a keyboard and pen — a neat package that gets even better with additional storage via a MicroSD card slot. It also features front- and rear-facing cameras, and an impressive 12.3-inch, 2,400 by 1,600-pixel display at 235 ppi, running at the same 3:2 aspect ratio as Microsoft’s Surface. Two front speakers hark back to the Surface Pro and feature Bang & Olufsen tuning, along with HP Audio Boost 2’s amplifier. Battery life is excellent, ensuring that a charged battery lasts through an entire day’s work before conking out. This tablet could be ideal if you want something that easily doubles as a laptop, but the Chrome OS will best suit businesses that use Google services.