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The Best Tablets for Taking Notes for School and Work (Plus the Best Deals Right Now)

·16 min read

While shorthand and cursive are handy skills when it comes to hastily jotting ideas, there’s no denying that technology can offer the best of both digital and analog worlds when it comes to note-taking. More than just a glorified smartphone, the best tablets for taking notes also work with a stylus so you can quickly write things down, keep everything organized on a hard drive or cloud, and search through everything later — which is why they’re perfect for high schoolers, college students and professionals.

If you’re debating which note-taking tablet with stylus compatibility is right for you, consider whether you’re also using it for reading, web browsing, checking emails, watching videos and playing games in addition to writing, compiling lists or drawing. Generally speaking, a good tablet for multitasking should have at least three gigabytes (GB) of memory (RAM) and 128 GB of storage so you can play content, download files and create documents. Many devices also allow you to expand storage with an SD card, and today’s tech means you’ll also get decent front and back cameras for quickly snapping photos (like that whiteboard before it’s erased) and video calling.

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Another factor to consider is security. Most devices now have secure authentication such as facial or fingerprint recognition in addition to a standard passcode, so your notes, files, email and other content stay safe if you ever lose your device. Seamless cloud backup is also important for the same reason.

Related: The Best Tablet Accessories, From Stylish Bluetooth Keyboards to Slim Cases

Ahead, we’ve rounded up the best tablets for note-taking at school or work, from the latest Apple and Microsoft releases to options for Android users. All of our selections are compatible with stylus pens and equipped with the above-recommended specs, and they’re also available in other options (say, more or less memory or storage) to adapt to your needs or budget and are compatible with most note-taking apps such as GoodNotes, Microsoft OneNote, Notability, Apple Notes and others.

And right now, all of the top note-taking tablets on our list are on sale, including the latest 2022 Apple iPad Air ($559, reg. $599), Samsung’s Galaxy Tab devices and Microsoft’s Surface 8 and Surface 8 Pro tablets. Check out our top productivity-friendly picks below, many of which make a great gift for students, gamers and techies.

1. 2021 Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Wi-Fi

BEST OVERALL

  • Screen size: 12.9 inches (also available in 11-inch size)

  • Operating system: iPadOS 15

  • Memory: 8 GB RAM

  • Storage: 128 GB (also available in 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB)

  • Cameras: 12 MP wide rear / 10 MP ultra-wide front / LiDAR scanner

  • Security: FaceID

  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours

  • Port: 1 Thunderbolt

  • Wi-Fi: 5G

  • Weight: 1.5 pounds

AMAZON DEAL: 2021 Apple iPad Pro with Wi-Fi and 2TB, $1,900 (reg. $1,299)

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line device that can handle note-taking and then some, Apple’s M1 chip-equipped 2021 iPad Pro with Wi-Fi is a great laptop alternative for college students and professionals seeking a speedy and powerful tablet. Even better — the 2TB model is 14 percent off right now, so you can get it for just $1,900 (down from $1,299).

When paired with the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil ($129), Magic Keyboard ($349) or Smart Keyboard Folio ($190; reg. $199), it’s one of the best large-screen tablets for taking notes without any lag, and it’s also among the slimmest at just .25 inches thick, 11 inches tall and 8.46 inches wide.

The tech giant’s built-in Notes app can recognize and index your handwriting, making it easier to search what you’ve jotted down. What’s great is you can also tap on your iPad’s lock screen with the Pencil to start taking notes without unlocking the device, and you can save it all on iCloud for seamless access across all of your Apple devices.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro features 5G connectivity and a vibrant Liquid Retina display with XDR for color-faithful viewing, while 12MP cameras and a LiDAR scanner (which can “mesh” objects and spaces) let you take visual notes or stunning HDR photos alike. The device’s True Tone (which adapts to your lighting), adaptive ProMotion refresh rate and next-level contrast ratio combine to perform for moviegoers, gamers, graphic designers and video editors seeking a powerful on-the-go experience.

2021 Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro
2021 Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro

Buy: Apple 2021 iPad Pro, 12.9-Inch $1,098.95

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Tablet, 128 GB

BEST DISPLAY

  • Screen size: 11 inches

  • Operating system: Android 10

  • Memory: 6 GB RAM (also available in 8 GB RAM)

  • Storage: 128 GB, SD card slot expandable up to 1 TB (also available in 256 GB and 512 GB storage)

  • Cameras: Wide 13MP and ultra-wide 5 MP rear / 8 MP front

  • Security: Fingerprint scanner

  • Battery life: Up to 15 hours

  • Port: USB-C

  • Wi-Fi: 6E

  • Weight: 1.1 pounds

AMAZON DEAL: Galaxy Tab S8 with Wi-Fi and 128GB, $570 (reg. $700); Galaxy Tab S8+ with Wi-Fi, $790 and up (reg. $900 and up)

Athough Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 (the first in the U.S. to offer 5G) is also a great option, the Galaxy Tab S8 is one of the best tablets for Android users who want a display and speed that rivals the iPad. You can get the S8 with Wi-Fi and 256GB storage on sale for 19 percent off or the slightly larger S8+ for 12 percent off, bringing their prices down to as low as $570 and $790, respectively. (The 256GB option is $711 for the S8 or $849 for the S8+).

Students, gamers and movie lovers alike can thank the 120Hz refresh rate and the incredibly fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor that handles multitasking with ease. The impressive battery life, DeX (which lets users turn the tablet into a desktop with mouse, keyboard and monitor integration), Microsoft 365 and speedy Wi-Fi 6E compatibility round out this powerful device with productivity in mind.

Measuring 10 inches tall by 6.5 inches wide by .25 inches thick, the S8 tablet comes with the redesigned S Pen, which now has nine-millisecond latency for quick responsiveness, so you can take notes right after unboxing. The Samsung Note app lets you convert your handwriting into searchable text, sync your notes and voice recordings, manage all of your pages and organize files. You can use the included stylus to control presentations, and your files and content can be synced with other compatible Samsung devices.

If you prefer the functionality of a laptop without the extra weight, the tablet can be expanded with Samsung’s Bluetooth book cover keyboard also acts as a screen protector. For entertainment, the tablet boasts an edge-to-edge display and Dolby Atmos surround sound speakers for a cinematic viewing experience on the go. And if you want a larger screen, we recommend going with the S8+, which measures 12.4 inches.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Tablet

Buy: Samsung Galaxy S8 Tablet $570.00

4. 2022 Apple 10.9-inch iPad Air with Wi-Fi, 256 GB

BEST LIGHTWEIGHT NOTE-TAKING TABLET

  • Screen size: 10.9 inches

  • Operating system: iPadOS 15

  • Memory: 8 GB RAM

  • Storage: 256 GB (also available in 64 GB)

  • Cameras: 12 MP wide rear / 12 MP ultra-wide front with Center Stage

  • Security: Touch ID

  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours

  • Port: 1 USB-C

  • Wi-Fi: 5G

  • Weight: 1 pound

AMAZON DEAL: 2022 Apple iPad Air with Wi-Fi and 64GB, $559 (reg. $599)

One of the latest devices in Apple’s lineup, the Apple iPad Air weighs in at just one pound, making it the best note-taking tablet for anyone who travels or prefers to keep their load light. It works with the company’s 2nd gen Pencil, which offers a responsive writing and drawing experience. Powered by an M1 8-core CPU chip and Neural Engine (which promises up to 60 percent faster performance), the 10.9-inch Liquid Retina screen has a 120Hz refresh rate that makes it a breeze to quickly jot down notes or doodle without any lag. If you prefer to type, you can connect the Smart Keyboard Folio (also on sale for five percent off) or Magic Keyboard to turn the tablet into a laptop.

Like the iPad Pro, expect easy cross-device access to your documents on iCloud, convenient handwriting indexing on the Notes app, and compatibility with many other note-taking apps that let you add photos, links and more to your docs.

Apple 2022 iPad Air in Gold
Apple 2022 iPad Air in Gold

Buy: 2022 Apple 10.9-inch iPad Air $749.00

5. 2021 Apple 10.2-inch iPad with Wi-Fi, 256 GB

BEST BUDGET APPLE TABLET

  • Screen size: 10.2 inches

  • Operating system: iPadOS 15

  • Memory: 8 GB RAM

  • Storage: 256 GB (also available in 64 GB)

  • Cameras: 8 MP wide rear / 12 MP ultra-wide front with Center Stage / LiDAR scanner

  • Security: Touch ID

  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours

  • Port: 1 Lightning

  • Wi-Fi: 5G

  • Weight: 1.07 pounds

AMAZON DEAL: 2021 Apple iPad with Wi-Fi in Silver, $309 for 64GB (reg. $329)

There are plenty of cheap tablets for note-taking that offer basic functionality, but Apple’s 2021 iPad (reg. $329 and up; on sale for up to nine percent off) offers a major upgrade with the new A13 Bionic chip, which is 20 percent faster than its predecessor and lets you seamlessly switch between taking notes or playing games. The ninth generation of Apple’s tablet has a TrueTone screen that automatically adjusts to the color temperature of the room, making it easier on your eyes whether you’re taking notes in a giant lecture hall or outdoors. The new and improved rear camera takes better photos in low-light settings, so you can easily take visual notes.

It pairs with the 1st gen Apple Pencil ($95) and Bluetooth keyboards so you can write down your thoughts on the Scribble note-taking app, mark up PDFs and screenshots, highlight items, convert your handwriting into text, sketch illustrations and design logos. The 10.2-inch Retina display delivers vibrant details and colors for watching TV shows and movies, and the tablet weighs about one pound, making it a travel-friendly option for mobile entertainment.

2021 Apple iPad 10.2-Inch Tablet with 256 GB
2021 Apple iPad 10.2-Inch Tablet with 256 GB

Buy: 2021 Apple iPad, 10.2-inch $299.00

6. Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Tablet, 128 GB

BEST WINDOWS LAPTOP-TO-TABLET

  • Screen size: 13 inches

  • Operating system: Windows 11

  • Memory: 8 GB RAM (also available in 16 and 32 GB)

  • Storage: 128 GB (also available in 256 and 512 GB and 1 TB); microSD card slot expandable up to 2 TB

  • Cameras: 10 MP rear with 4K / 5 MP front

  • Security: Face ID

  • Battery life: Up to 16 hours

  • Port: USB-C and Thunderbolt

  • Wi-Fi: 6

  • Weight: 2 pounds

AMAZON DEAL: Surface 8 Pro, $840 (reg. $1,100)

OTHER MICROSOFT SURFACE PRO 8 DEALS: 8GB/512GB SSD with i5 for $1,100 (reg. $1,400) at Target

Microsoft’s 13-inch Surface Pro 8 (currently 24 percent off) is the tech company’s lightest and sleekest laptop-to-tablet yet at just under two pounds. It’s the first in the brand’s Surface lineup to feature the Intel Evo platform, which delivers high performance and up to 16 hours of battery life. Note-takers will get a pen-to-paper-like experience when they pair the tablet with the Slim Pen 2 (on sale for $109, reg. 130; sold separately), while the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard ($279 and bundled with the stylus) gives the device the functionality of a laptop, especially when the built-in Kickstand is in use.

Compared to its predecessor, the Surface Pro 8’s Intel Core i5 or i7 processor makes it a powerful mobile gaming station for casual players, a vibrant screen for watching movies and TV and a versatile device for multi-taskers who also want to create documents and edit photos. The tablet supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth, and can be connected to external GPUs and 4K monitors.

It’s worth noting that the extra cost of accessories puts the tablet at essentially the same price as a traditional laptop, but with touchscreen capabilities. For note-takers and multi-taskers on a budget, the Surface Pro 7 (on sale for $671, reg. $899) might be a more appealing option that still delivers powerful performance and portability.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Tablet
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Tablet

Buy: Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (reg. $1,100) $689.99

7. Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Tablet, 128 GB

BEST VALUE TABLET FOR TAKING NOTES

  • Screen size: 11.5 inches

  • Operating system: Android 10

  • Memory: 4 GB RAM (also available in 6 GB)

  • Storage: 128 GB, microSD card slot expandable up to 256 GB

  • Cameras:  13 MP auto-focus and 5 MP fixed-focus rear / 8 MP front

  • Security: Face ID and fingerprint scanner

  • Battery life: Up to 15 hours

  • Port: USB-C

  • Wi-Fi: 5G

  • Weight: 2.1 pounds

DEAL TO CONSIDER: Lenovo Tab P11 Plus, $250 (reg. $350)

If you’re looking for a multi-tasking tablet built for note-taking, gaming and video streaming, Lenovo’s Tab P11 Pro tablet is the way to go. Equipped with the speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor, this high-performance tablet delivers seamless graphics, while the 2K OLED screen delivers a vibrant display for watching movies. Speaking of portable entertainment, the Dolby-enhanced audio rounds out your on-the-go experience.

The device comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Office apps, and you can connect Lenovo’s Precision Pen 2 ($70, sold separately) and wireless keyboard ($90, sold separately) for easy note-taking in class or at the office. The stylus has 4,096 levels of pressure and tilt detection — so artists and note-takers alike can get an accurate writing or drawing experience — and the P11 Pro comes with Bamboo Paper and Squid illustration apps. Whether you’re a college student or an executive, you can easily jot your thoughts on OneNote, write papers on Word and organize your files, among other productivity tasks.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Tablet 128 GB
Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Tablet 128 GB

Buy: Lenovo Tab Pro P11 Tablet $469.00

8. Microsoft Surface Go 3 Tablet, 128 GB

BEST BUDGET WINDOWS TABLET FOR TAKING NOTES

  • Screen size: 10.5 inches

  • Operating system: Windows 11 Home

  • Memory: 8 GB RAM (also available in 4 GB)

  • Storage: 128 GB (also available in 64 GB), plus microSD card slot

  • Cameras: 8 MP rear / 5 MP front

  • Security: Face ID

  • Battery life: Up to 11 hours

  • Port: USB-C

  • Wi-Fi: 5G

  • Weight: 1.2 pounds

AMAZON DEAL: Microsoft Surface Go 3, $350 (reg. $400)

Windows users will have no problem adapting to Microsoft’s newest Surface Go 3 (reg. $400 and up), which is now equipped with Bluetooth and a brighter screen. Just like its predecessor, it’s compatible with the brand’s Surface Pen ($89, sold separately) that writes as smoothly as a regular writing tool on paper and includes a natural-feeling “eraser,” which is why it’s a favorite among digital artists. Clocking in at just 1.2 pounds, the Surface Go 3 isn’t going to replace your desktop computer or laptop — but it’s one of the best note-taking tablets for anyone seeking a lightweight device that can also handle lighter tasks such as answering emails, streaming videos and browsing the internet.

As far as writing things down, the tablet is equipped with the latest version of Microsoft’s OneNote app, which lets you create and edit Word documents, convert your handwriting to text, search notes and more. With the Surface Pen, you can also take notes on web pages using Microsoft Edge and even write reminders to yourself directly into Cortana.

Microsoft Surface Go 3 Tablet
Microsoft Surface Go 3 Tablet

Buy: Microsoft Surface Go 3, 128 GB (reg. $550) $374.99

9. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite Tablet, 128GB

BEST FAMILY-FRIENDLY TABLET FOR TAKING NOTES

  • Screen size: 10.4 inches

  • Operating system: Android

  • Memory: 4 GB RAM

  • Storage: 128 GB (also available in 64 GB); microSD card slot expandable up to 1 TB

  • Cameras: 8 MP rear / 5 MP front

  • Security: Face ID

  • Battery life: Up to 12 hours

  • Port: USB-C

  • Wi-Fi: 5G

  • Weight: 1.02 pounds

AMAZON DEAL: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, 64GB for $279 (reg. $350) or 128GB for $330 (reg. $430)

MORE SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB S6 LITE DEALS: $300 at Target, $299 at Walmart

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite ($279 and up) is one of the best lightweight tablets for users who want productivity, entertainment and minimalism in one device. We like that the tablet includes the S Pen, so you don’t need to buy a separate accessory for note-taking. Perfect for schoolwork, the device’s Samsung Notes app lets you take notes effortlessly as well as organize your writing, convert it to text, rearrange pages and more.

This is also one of the best tablets for younger students, as the unit also comes with Kids Mode, which lets parents set usage limits and control access to certain content and apps. For entertainment, the crystal-clear display and Dolby Atmos surround-sound speakers offer a vibrant and engaging viewing experience, and you can also use the unit as a hotspot or share content to other devices.

When charging, the tablet screen displays your calendar, the weather or your music, so you can stay productive even when the unit is docked.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite Tablet

Buy: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, 128 GB (reg. $430) $329.99

10. 2021 Apple iPad Mini, 256 GB

MOST PORTABLE NOTE-TAKING TABLET

  • Screen size: 8.3 inches

  • Operating system: iPadOS 15

  • Memory: 4 GB RAM

  • Storage: 256 GB (also available in 64 GB)

  • Cameras: 12 MP wide rear / 10 MP ultra-wide front with Center Stage

  • Security: Touch ID

  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours

  • Port: 1 USB-C

  • Wi-Fi: 5G, Wi-Fi 6

  • Weight: .65 pounds

MORE APPLE IPAD MINI DEALS: $409 for 64GB at Walmart

Compatible with the 2nd gen Apple Pencil, the 2021 iPad Mini measures 7.7 inches tall (with a Liquid Retina screen size of 8.3 inches), 5.3 inches wide and .25 inches thick and weighs under one pound, making it one of the best travel-friendly note-taking tablets that’s also powerful enough to edit and watch content, play games and snap photos. It also comes with the TrueTone adaptive display that adjusts to your environment’s lighting, while the combination of the A15 Bionic chip and battery life lets you play or work for up to 10 hours.

Rounding out the sixth-gen iPad Mini’s features are 12MP front and back camera and 4K video recording. Eco-minded users will like that the tablet is made of 100 percent recycled aluminum enclosure, rare earth elements in the speaker and magnets and tin in the main logic board.

2021 Apple iPad Mini in Space Gray
2021 Apple iPad Mini in Space Gray

Buy: 2021 Apple iPad Mini, 128 GB $779.90

11. ReMarkable 2 Tablet

BEST E-PAPER TABLET FOR TAKING NOTES

  • Screen size: 10.3 inches

  • Operating system: Codex

  • Memory: 1 GB RAM

  • Storage: 8 GB

  • Cameras: None

  • Security: Passcode

  • Battery life: Up to two weeks

  • Port: USB-C

  • Wi-Fi: 5G

  • Weight: .88 pounds

Prefer the feel of paper but want the perks of technology without the digital distractions? Named Time‘s Best Invention of 2020, the ReMarkable 2 ($399) features a monochrome digital display that lets you turn your handwritten notes into searchable text, organize your notes across devices, review documents and write directly onto PDFs. And that’s it. No distracting bells and whistles, such as social media notifications or email chimes.

At just .2 inches thick, the e-paper device is the thinnest tablet out there, and the 8 GB internal storage can accommodate about 100,000 pages. The device also works on 5G, and you can sync files between ReMarkable’s apps for Android, iOS, MacOS and Windows 7 and newer.

ReMarkable E-Paper Tablet
ReMarkable E-Paper Tablet

ReMarkable 2

$399


Buy now

This story was originally published Aug. 3, 2021, and has been updated with additional products and pricing.

Click here to read the full article.