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If you haven’t noticed, the tablet market is thriving right now as compared to last year, according to a report from strategic analytics, which predicts massive growth for practically every tablet maker in the first quarter of 2021.

As a result, what was once almost a niche market dominated by only a few brands has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Growing competition has recently launched some genuinely appealing tablets, and unless you’re a power user looking for the most powerful device with all the high-end features components, there are many of enticing options around $500.

Looking for the overall best tablet under $500? Grab the Apple iPad 9th Gen.

Read on for the full list, or jump to a favorite below:

1. 2021 Apple 10.2-inch iPad
Best Overall Pick
2. Realme Pad
3. Xiaomi Pad 5
4. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
5. 2021 Apple iPad Mini
6. 2020 Apple iPad Air

The Best Tablets Under $500 in 2022

1

Apple iPad 9th gen

Our Best Overall Pick

If you’re already immersed in the Apple environment, getting an Android tablet makes little sense, and this iPad will carry you through your workloads just fine, whether you’re a student or an aspiring digital artist.

It’s a little sad to see Apple stay with first-generation pencil support, but if you can get over that, this iPad is one tough cookie.

Then there are the pro apps, such as Adobe Fresco and Procreate, which are only accessible on the iPad – not to say that Android doesn’t have its fair share of good drawing apps, but any digital artist will tell you where the gold standard is.

Moreover, this iPad’s performance bump to A13 Bionic is a pretty great improvement, and even the base storage has been increased from 32 gb to 64 gb. This time, as you’d imagine, everything just flies by, whether you’re gaming or multitasking.

From the handy shortcut to launch the notes app to all those multitasking conveniences, iPad OS 15 allows you to make the most of this large screen real estate.

I like how the front-facing camera now supports center stage. It makes attending video conversations much more efficient because you can now walk around a little without falling out of frame.

However, the design of this iPad will not wow everyone. If you ask me, the thick bezels combined with the outdated lightning port are a bit of a letdown.

Furthermore, while this four-by-three display is fantastic for productivity-oriented tasks, streaming videos here isn’t the most immersive experience unless it’s something like Jack Snyder’s justice league or other videos with a four-by-three aspect ratio.

The large letterboxes at the top and bottom become rather distracting. You could, however, learn to live with it.

Apple iPad 10.2 (2021) Full Specifications:

StatusAvailable. Released 2021, September 24
Dimensions250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5 mm (9.87 x 6.85 x 0.30 in)
Weight487 g (Wi-Fi) / 498 g (LTE) (1.07 lb)
BuildGlass front, aluminum back, aluminum frame
SIMNano-SIM, eSIM
Display TypeRetina IPS LCD, 500 nits (typ)
Display Size10.2 inches, 322.2 cm2 (~73.8% screen-to-body ratio)
Display Resolution1620 x 2160 pixels, 4:3 ratio (~265 ppi density)
ProtectionScratch-resistant glass, oleophobic coating
OSiPadOS 15, upgradable to iPadOS 15.1
ChipsetApple A13 Bionic (7 nm+)
CPUHexa-core (2×2.65 GHz Lightning + 4×1.8 GHz Thunder)
GPUApple GPU (4-core graphics)
Card slotNo
Internal Memory64GB 3GB RAM, 256GB 3GB RAM
Single8 MP, f/2.4, 31mm (standard), 1.12µm, AF
FeaturesHDR, panorama
Video1080p@25/30fps, 720p@120fps; gyro-EIS
Single12 MP, f/2.4, 122˚ (ultrawide)
FeaturesHDR
Video1080p@25/30/60fps, gyro-EIS
LoudspeakerYes, with stereo speakers
3.5mm jackYes
WLANWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot
Bluetooth4.2, A2DP, EDR, LE
GPSYes, with A-GPS, GLONASS (Wi‑Fi + Cellular model only)
NFCNo
RadioNo
USBLightning, USB 2.0; magnetic connector
SensorsFingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, compass, barometer
Battery TypeLi-Ion, non-removable 8557 mAh (32.4 Wh)
Talk timeUp to 10 h (multimedia)
ColorsSilver, Space Gray
ModelsA2603, A2604

Additional comments: Also known as Apple iPad 9th Gen, Apple iPad (9th generation) Versions: A2603, A2604 (Global)

2

Realme Pad

Our Best Budget Pick

The Realme Pad is a wonderful tablet for the money, and its good build quality could fool you into thinking it’s a premium device.

This aluminum unibody design, along with a sleek and lightweight build quality, radiates a premium appearance and feel.

TheRealme Pad features a typical 10.4 inch LCD screen but with a sharp 2k resolution so no more squinting to see your notes or settling for low quality video streaming since it is also Wildvine L1 certified complimenting the media consumption experience. It boasts a quad speaker configuration with Dolby Atmos audio, which gets loud enough and is absolutely adequate for the price.

This display is extremely nice to use on a bright sunny day or when I’m wrapped up under a warm blanket in chilly weather to read a book.

There aren’t many tablet-specific features on theRealme Pad, but this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker given that it’s a low-cost tablet aimed at students, children, or individuals who simply want a huge screen to watch their favorite shows.

Regardless, you won’t be running demanding apps or games on theRealme Pad, therefore the Helio g80 will suffice. Even my gaming testing reveal that with tweaking some parameters, it can handle several popular titles like PUBG and Call of Duty Mobile.

Aside from typical chores like browsing the web, editing documents, and attending online meetings, this gadget is up to the task.

TheRealme Pad managed to go nearly two days without needing to be recharged, which is even more astounding.

Realme Pad Full Specifications:

StatusAvailable. Released 2021, September 16
Dimensions246.1 x 155.9 x 6.9 mm (9.69 x 6.14 x 0.27 in)
Weight440 g (15.52 oz)
BuildGlass front, aluminum frame, aluminum back
SIMNano-SIM
Display TypeIPS LCD, 360 nits (typ)
Display Size10.4 inches, 307.9 cm2 (~80.2% screen-to-body ratio)
Display Resolution1200 x 2000 pixels, 5:3 ratio (~224 ppi density)
OSAndroid 11
ChipsetMediatek MT6769V/CU Helio G80 (12 nm)
CPUOcta-core (2×2.0 GHz Cortex-A75 & 6×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55)
GPUMali-G52 MC2
Card slotmicroSDXC (uses shared SIM slot)
Internal Memory32GB 3GB RAM, 64GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 6GB RAM
Single8 MP
Video1080p@30fps
Single8 MP, 105˚ (ultrawide)
Video1080p@30fps
LoudspeakerYes, with stereo speakers (4 speakers)
3.5mm jackYes
WLANWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth5.0, A2DP, LE
GPSYes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
NFCNo
RadioNo
USBUSB Type-C 2.0, USB On-The-Go
SensorsAccelerometer, gyro, proximity
Battery TypeLi-Po 7100 mAh, non-removable
ChargingFast charging 18W Reverse charging
ColorsGray, Gold
ModelsRMP2102

Additional comments: Versions: Wi-Fi only; LTE

3

Xiaomi Pad 5

After being absent from the tablet market for a few years, Xiaomi made a spectacular comeback this year with a handful of truly interesting products.

However, only the entry-level Xiaomi Pad 5 has seen a global release thus far, with the pro models reserved for China.

Anyway, when compared to other Android tablets in the same price range, what Xiaomi has accomplished with this is quite amazing. Most of them have a subpar chipset, which degrades the overall experience, but Xiaomi has managed to deliver excellent performance, an attractive design, and a fantastic display all at a reasonably low price.

I put the Xiaomi Pack 5 through a battery of tests, including CPU and GPU stress tests, gaming, and multitasking, and it passed with flying colors. The snapdragon 860 is a solid performer, which opens up a plethora of opportunities for transforming the xiaomi pad 5 into your go-to productivity machine.

Unfortunately, its official keyboard and stylus accessories are not as commonly available, nor are they inexpensive. Furthermore, when it comes to making the most of such a wide display, the Miui 4 pad android skin falls short of the iPad OS or Samsung’s One UI, and Xiaomi skipping LTE connectivity totally on this tablet comes as a surprise.

However, none of this should be of concern to anyone considering the Xiaomi Pad 5 as a media consumption device. It features the most amazing display of any of the tablets discussed above, and with a smooth 120 hertz refresh rate paired with the booming quad speaker array, you will become hooked to watching movies on the Xiaomi Pad 5.

Xiaomi Pad 5 Full Specifications:

StatusAvailable. Released 2021, August 10
Dimensions254.7 x 166.3 x 6.9 mm (10.03 x 6.55 x 0.27 in)
Weight511 g (1.13 lb)
BuildGlass front, aluminum back, plastic back
SIMNo
Display TypeIPS LCD, 1B colors, 120Hz, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Display Size11.0 inches, 350.9 cm2 (~82.8% screen-to-body ratio)
Display Resolution1600 x 2560 pixels, 16:10 ratio (~274 ppi density)
OSAndroid 11, MIUI 12.5
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 860 (7 nm)
CPUOcta-core (1×2.96 GHz Kryo 485 Gold & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 485 Gold & 4×1.78 GHz Kryo 485 Silver)
GPUAdreno 640
Card slotNo
Internal Memory128GB 6GB RAM, 256GB 6GB RAM
Single13 MP, f/2.0
FeaturesDual-LED flash, HDR, panorama
Video4K@30fps, 1080p@30fps
Single8 MP, f/2.0
Video1080p@30fps
LoudspeakerYes, with stereo speakers (4 speakers)
3.5mm jackNo
WLANWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth5.0, A2DP, LE
GPSNo
NFCNo
RadioNo
USBUSB Type-C
SensorsAccelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Battery TypeLi-Po 8720 mAh, non-removable
ChargingFast charging 33W Power Delivery 3.0
ColorsCosmic Gray, Pearl White, Green
4

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE

If you’re looking for a true Android tablet with outstanding and proven polished software, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE is one of the few options available under $500. It shines exactly where the Xiaomi Pad 5 lacks, and vice versa.

One of the biggest selling features of theGalaxy Tab S7 FE is that it comes with a free S-Pen. Granted, it’s not an active stylus like the standard Tab S7 series, but it’s a great item to have for easy note taking and even sketching.

The improved One UI 3.1 makes it much easier to use the tablet’s enormous 12.4-inch display, as well as all of the other useful features such as the ability to open numerous apps at once.

Unlike the Xiaomi Pad 5, which can only be configured with Wi-Fi, this tablet may also be configured with cellular connectivity.

Nonetheless, theGalaxy Tab S7 FE is not without its limitations, as it has a few of its own.

Its wi-fi-only variant is powered by a snapdragon 778g, however the LTE 5G variant is powered by a snapdragon 750g, which is considerably underpowered. While both are capable of getting your job done, and given the pricing, I believe Samsung should have gone with a snapdragon 860 or snapdragon 870 and at least 6 gb of ram on the lowest level model rather than 4gb.

This smartphone is also rather heavy, despite the fact that it has a huge screen and a massive battery within.

These ultimately contribute to the device’s overall weight of 610 grams. This is by far the heaviest stand-alone tablet I’ve used.

As a result, after a while, I found myself struggling to hold it in one hand.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE Full Specifications:

StatusAvailable. Released 2021, June 18
Dimensions284.8 x 185 x 6.3 mm (11.21 x 7.28 x 0.25 in)
Weight608 g (1.34 lb)
BuildGlass front, aluminum back, aluminum frame
SIMNano-SIM
Display TypeTFT
Display Size12.4 inches, 445.8 cm2 (~84.6% screen-to-body ratio)
Display Resolution1600 x 2560 pixels, 16:10 ratio (~243 ppi density)
OSAndroid 11, One UI 3.1.1
ChipsetQualcomm SM7225 Snapdragon 750G 5G (8 nm) – 5G modelQualcomm SM7325 Snapdragon 778G 5G (6 nm) – Wi-Fi model
CPUOcta-core (2×2.2 GHz Kryo 570 & 6×1.8 GHz Kryo 570) – 5G modelOcta-core (4×2.4 GHz Kryo 670 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 670) – Wi-Fi model
GPUAdreno 619 – 5G modelAdreno 642L – Wi-Fi model
Card slotmicroSDXC (dedicated slot)
Internal Memory64GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 6GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM
Single8 MP, AF
Video1080p@30fps
Single5 MP
Video1080p@30fps
LoudspeakerYes, with stereo speakers
3.5mm jackNo
WLANWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6 (Wi-Fi), Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (5G)
Bluetooth5.2, A2DP, LE (Wi-Fi), 5.2, A2DP, LE (5G)
GPSYes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
NFCNo
RadioNo
USBUSB Type-C 3.2, magnetic connector
SensorsAccelerometer, proximity, compass, gyro (5G model only)
Battery TypeLi-Po 10090 mAh, non-removable
ChargingFast charging 45W, 100% in 190 min (advertised)
ColorsMystic Black, Mystic Silver, Mystic Green, Mystic Pink
ModelsSM-T730, SM-T733, SM-T736B

Additional comments: Versions: Galaxy Tab S7 FE Wi-Fi SM-T730, SM-T733; Galaxy Tab S7 FE 5G SM-T736B

5

iPad Mini 6

If you prefer something sleeker and more portable, Apple has you covered with the new iPad Mini, which is created with portability in mind.

The 6th generation iPad includes the A15 bionic processor, which is also found in the current iPhones; thus, the compact size combined with this strong chip makes the iPad Mini an excellent gaming tablet.

Aside from that, the iPad Mini has been my go-to tablet for reading ebooks or binge-watching Netflix because its lightweight design allows me to take it with me wherever I go. However, this screen does not get as bright as I would like and does not support a refresh rate of 120 hertz.

However, unlike the 9th generation iPad, the mini has a laminated display and supports the current second generation Apple pencil, so I can easily imagine this as a portable sketch pad for digital artists.

However, at $499, things become a little more tricky. The iPad Mini does not come cheap, even for the base 64 GB wi-fi only variant.

Apple iPad mini (2021) Full Specifications:

StatusAvailable. Released 2021, September 24
Dimensions195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3 mm (7.69 x 5.31 x 0.25 in)
Weight293 g (Wi-Fi) / 297 g (Wi-Fi + Cellular) (10.34 oz)
BuildGlass front, aluminum back, aluminum frame
SIMNano-SIM, eSIM
Display TypeLiquid Retina IPS LCD, 500 nits (typ)
Display Size8.3 inches, 203.9 cm2 (~77.4% screen-to-body ratio)
Display Resolution1488 x 2266 pixels, 3:2 ratio (~327 ppi density)
ProtectionScratch-resistant glass, oleophobic coating
OSiPadOS 15, upgradable to iPadOS 15.1
ChipsetApple A15 Bionic (5 nm)
CPUHexa-core (2×2.93 GHz + 4xX.X GHz)
GPUApple GPU (5-core)
Card slotNo
Internal Memory64GB 4GB RAM, 256GB 4GB RAM
Single12 MP, f/1.8, (wide), AF
FeaturesQuad-LED dual-tone flash, HDR, panorama
Video4K@24/25/30/60fps, 1080p@25/30/60/120/240fps; gyro-EIS
Single12 MP, f/2.4, 122˚ (ultrawide)
FeaturesHDR
Video1080p@25/30/60fps, gyro-EIS
LoudspeakerYes, with stereo speakers
3.5mm jackNo
WLANWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6, dual-band, hotspot
Bluetooth5.0, A2DP
GPSYes, with A-GPS, GLONASS (Wi‑Fi + Cellular model only)
NFCNo
RadioNo
USBUSB Type-C 3.1, DisplayPort
SensorsFingerprint (side-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, compass, barometer
Battery TypeLi-Ion, non-removable (19.3 Wh)
Talk timeUp to 10 h (multimedia)
ColorsSpace Gray, Pink, Purple, Starlight
ModelsA2568

Additional comments: Also known as Apple iPad mini 6, iPad mini (6th generation) Versions: A2568 (Global)

6

iPad Air 4

Those who can afford to give up portability for something more powerful can get the iPad Air 4 for $100 extra than the iPad Mini above.

It offers a larger screen and magic keyboard compatibility to the mini’s other features, such as an USB-C port and a completely laminated display.

Apple iPad Air (2020) Full Specifications:

StatusAvailable. Released 2020, October 23
Dimensions247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1 mm (9.75 x 7.03 x 0.24 in)
Weight458 g (Wi-Fi) / 460 g (3G/LTE) (1.01 lb)
BuildGlass front, aluminum back, aluminum frame
SIMNano-SIM, eSIM
Display TypeLiquid Retina IPS LCD, 500 nits (typ)
Display Size10.9 inches, 359.2 cm2 (~81.3% screen-to-body ratio)
Display Resolution1640 x 2360 pixels (~264 ppi density)
ProtectionScratch-resistant glass, oleophobic coating
OSiPadOS 14.1, upgradable to iPadOS 15.1
ChipsetApple A14 Bionic (5 nm)
CPUHexa-core (2×3.0 GHz Firestorm + 4×1.8 GHz Icestorm)
GPUApple GPU (4-core graphics)
Card slotNo
Internal Memory64GB 4GB RAM, 256GB 4GB RAM
Single12 MP, f/1.8, (wide), 1/3″, 1.22µm, dual pixel PDAF
FeaturesHDR
Video4K@24/30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps; gyro-EIS
Single7 MP, f/2.0, 31mm (standard)
FeaturesHDR
Video1080p@30/60fps
LoudspeakerYes, with stereo speakers
3.5mm jackNo
WLANWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6, dual-band, hotspot
Bluetooth5.0, A2DP, EDR
GPSYes, with A-GPS, GLONASS (LTE model only)
NFCNo
RadioNo
USBUSB Type-C; magnetic connector
SensorsFingerprint (top-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, compass, barometer
Battery TypeLi-Ion 7606 mAh (28.93 Wh), non-removable
Talk timeUp to 10 h (multimedia)

Additional comments: Also known as Apple iPad Air 4, iPad Air (4th generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular & GPS: A2324, A2072 (Global), A2325 (China) Wi-Fi only, w/o GPS: A2316

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