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Best tablet for kids 2021: buyer’s guide

We've put a range of devices through their paces with the help of a toddler and 10-year-old to bring you the best tablets for kids.

Best tablet for kids

Whether you’re after a way to keep your kids occupied during the school holidays, or you’re looking forward to getting away for a week or two and need entertainment for the journey, we’re on hand to help you find the best tablet for kids.

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You may have already made an impulse purchase to get you all through lockdown and are now looking for something more substantial, or this could be your first foray into tablet shopping for little ones. Buying a tablet for your kids will likely be the first time they’re getting their own gadgets.

They’re a great way to introduce kids of all ages to technology – both in terms of how to use the hardware but also how to stay safe – and all of the entries in our best tablet for kids list come with a wealth of educational apps, as well as videos, games and more.

We’ve spent the past two months putting child-friendly tablets to the test with our 10-year-old, and our toddler, to see which is the best tablet for kids of different ages. Not all of these tablets are aimed specifically at children, but are suitable for such, and some also feature on our best Android tablet, and best budget tablet lists.

In our buyer’s guide, we explain what you need to look for when buying gadgets for your kids, including how to navigate parental controls, how to make sure tablets are safe for kids to use, and what to look for in terms of specs, features and how to choose a case. We’ve also made sure we’ve covered a range of budgets meaning there are options whether you’re looking for a cheap tablet for kids, or a more premium one for the whole family.

Jump to:

How to choose the best tablet for kids

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when choosing the best tablet for kids.

  • Parental controls: There’s a balance between giving your kids freedom and independence with their own gadgets, and keeping them safe. This is where parental controls come in. All tablets offer various ways to keep an eye on what your kids are doing online, and limit their usage. Tablets built specifically for kids will put these controls front-and-centre and you can enable them as you set up the device. On tablets that haven’t been made with children in mind exclusively, these controls are found in Settings.
  • Software: It helps – but is not essential – to get a tablet that runs on the same operating system as your phone. Chances are you’ll be more familiar with the layout and the location of apps and settings and this makes it easier to help set up and manage the new device. It also means you can set your child up on the same account as yours, making it possible to get better insight into everything they’re doing.
  • Design: Outside of keeping them safe online, the most important feature to look out for when buying the best tablet for kids is its design. Is it robust enough to handle being dropped or bashed by clumsy hands? Can it withstand being covered in God knows what when your little ones have sticky fingers? Is it light enough to make it portable? All of the entries in our list below tick these boxes but if you’re venturing outside of our recommendations, these are features that are worth bearing in mind.
  • Case: Even tablets that are built for kids can benefit from the extra protection afforded by a case. Not only do cases keep tablets safe, but many child-friendly ones will have large handles that make it easier for your little one to carry it around the house or hold on long car journeys, and so on.
  • Content: All of the entries in our best tablet for kids list below run app stores from which you can download the likes of Netflix, BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub, SkyGo and Disney+. Some of these will charge a monthly or yearly fee, others are free and it’s worth factoring the price of any subscriptions into your total budget. Also bear in mind that if your kids are watching content out of the house, you’ll need an internet connection – whether that’s via free public Wi-Fi, or by connecting it to your phone’s mobile data plan. You could also buy a tablet that has cellular connection, but you’ll need to buy a separate mobile plan to take advantage of this, which will be an added expense.
  • Storage: If you don’t want to rely on a web connection when you’re out of the house, many apps will let you download content. This is great during flights, for instance, but it does require a decent amount of built-in storage to do so. Some of the entries in our list below offer expandable storage, others come with cloud storage alternatives.

Should you buy a tablet designed for children?

It’s not necessary to buy a tablet designed for children. You can make regular tablets child-friendly by enabling parental controls, setting up child profiles, and buying a suitable case.

The benefit of buying a tablet designed for children is that all of these child-friendly features are set up by default which means, out of the box, both your kids and the tablet itself are protected. This is great if you’re not overly confident in managing controls, or want to guarantee your kids can’t access anything they shouldn’t. The downside is that it can limit the tablet’s versatility. If you want to share a tablet with other family members, or as your child gets older, you might find that the parental controls, child-friendly design and low-end specs of tablets designed specifically for children limit things somewhat.

Are tablets safe for kids to use?

Tablets are safe for kids to use, as long as they are properly managed. Like with all gadgets that are connected to the web, there is always a chance your child could stumble across something they shouldn’t, or that the device could be hacked.

To prevent both from happening, make sure apps and software are always kept up to date, enable parental controls (including disabling the ability to make purchases) and monitor usage. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss the importance of web safety with your kids. This internet safety guide from Internet Matters is a great place to start. That site also has advice based on your child’s age.

How to choose the best case for a kids tablet

Even if you don’t think your child is clumsy enough to drop their tablet, or you’re confident in the tablet’s design, it’s always worth investing in a case. Look for one that is described as “shock-proof”, as this affords a certain level of protection against being dropped or hit.

We recommend you get one with a handle to make it easier for your child to carry or move around, and always opt for a case that has a stand built-in; ideally a physical kickstand. This will allow your child to prop up the tablet on a table or similar, and touch the screen without the tablet falling over. For each entry in our best tablet for kids list below, we’ve recommended a case to suit.

Best tablet for kids at a glance

Best tablet for kids to buy in 2021

Samsung Galaxy Tab A7, £219

Best child-friendly tablet for the whole family 

Samsung Galaxy Tab A7

Pros:

  • High-quality screen to suit colourful children’s shows and games
  • Great battery life

Cons:

  • Poor built-in storage
  • May be too large for small hands

Key features:

  • 10.4-inch Full HD tablet powered by Android 10.0
  • Comes with Samsung Kids
  • Single storage option, expandable via microSD
  • 8MP on the rear with a 5MP selfie camera

The Galaxy Tab A7 topped our best budget tablet list and it lends itself equally well to being one of the best tablets for kids. It’s not the smallest, or most budget-friendly option, in our list, so may not be best suited to the youngest of users. But the combination of sturdy design, a stellar screen and great battery life makes it an ideal family model.

Its 10.4-inch, Full HD display makes content look bright and colourful, meaning it’s perfect for streaming kids TV shows and films, and playing games. It also means it has a high enough resolution to satisfy older, possibly more discerning kids. And parents, of course.

Despite this bright screen, the device isn’t as power hungry as you may expect and it will last for 10 hours of straight, HD video streaming, or more than a day and a half with everyday use.

It runs the latest version of Android – Android 10 – and comes with a feature called Samsung Kids. This allows you to set up a child-friendly environment for your kids via a quick access button on the control panel. Each time they use the device, simply switch to Samsung Kids and all parental controls will be enabled, plus content will be limited to only that which is age-appropriate.

The design does look a little cheap and the bezels are a little large, but the tablet itself isn’t overly heavy and these larger bezels make it easier to hold. It’s unlikely your children will care too much about this minor criticism but your older kids might.

The biggest flaw with the otherwise great tablet is that its built-in storage comes in at just 32GB. This is a measly amount of storage for any device, let alone a tablet. On the plus side, you can expand this storage up to 1TB with a microSD, but you will have to pay extra for this.

Case recommendation: LEADSTAR

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7:

iPad Mini, £399

Best iPad for kids

Apple iPad Mini lock screen

Pros:

  • Impressive performance and battery life for a smaller tablet
  • Bright, sharp and vibrant display
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Support for Apple Pencil

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No microSD support

Key features:

  • 7.9-inch Retina display iPad powered by Apple’s iPad OS
  • Pre-installed apps and the Apple App Store give you access to a host of entertainment including games, TV shows, music, podcasts, books, notes, reminders and more
  • Parental controls, usage stats and content restrictions managed via Screen Time in Settings
  • Support for the first-generation Apple Pencil (sold separately)

Spending £400 on a tablet for kids may seem excessive but if you can afford it, the iPad Mini is the perfect device for younger and older kids alike. Especially if you’re already an Apple customer.

Not only is it well-built and well-designed, meaning it will last for years (a fact we can attest to), but it offers enough features and high-end specs to appeal to family members of all ages.

Firstly, its 7.9-inch Retina display is great at showcasing the kinds of content kids love. This proprietary Apple display technology crams a greater number of pixels into a smaller frame to make colours brighter and text sharper. It also uses something called True Tone to measure the ambient light and will adjust the display accordingly, so whites and colours are shown more accurately.

Software-wise, it offers both a wide range of age-appropriate apps in the App Store, and parental controls via the Screen Time menu in Settings. From here you can manage content and privacy restrictions, monitor usage, set limits and get insights into behaviour. The tablet is fast enough to handle a wide range of tasks too, from streaming to gaming.

The addition of a physical home button, a feature which has largely been ditched on all other tablet models, is much easier for younger kids to get to grips with, versus on-screen controls. When given the choice between the iPad Mini and the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition, our toddler constantly chooses the former. As does our 10-year-old.

Although it doesn’t come as standard, we must also give praise to the iPad Mini in its support for the Apple Pencil. Both our toddler and 10-year-old naturally gravitated towards using the stylus. Our eldest thought it was a novelty and one he enjoyed using to scroll through pages on virtual books, our youngest loved the precision afforded by it when pressing smaller icons and navigating game menus. It is an optional extra, but one that we hadn’t considered would have child appeal until we saw how both of our sons embraced it.

Read our full iPad Mini review.

You can read more about how the Mini compares to Amazon’s Fire HD 8 Kids Edition in our iPad Mini vs Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition head-to-head.

Case recommendation: TopEsct.

Buy the iPad Mini:

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, £139.99

Best tablet designed for children

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition app screen

Pros:

  • Designed with kids in mind, but can be used as an adult tablet via separate profiles
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Can be used as an adult tablet, by setting up additional profiles
  • Yearly Kids+ subscriptions can be shared by up to four children
  • Three gadgets in one – a Fire tablet, Echo Show and Kindle

Cons:

  • Basic design
  • Sluggish
  • No Google apps – including YouTube Kids

Key features:

  • Full-featured, 8-inch HD tablet powered by Amazon’s take on Android, Fire OS
  • Comes with a shock-proof case in blue, pink or purple
  • 32GB of storage, expandable to 1TB via microSD
  • 12-hour battery life
  • Every purchase comes with a free, one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ (formerly known as Fire for Kids Unlimited). This usually costs £79 a year, or £49 for Prime members and gives kids unlimited access to child-friendly apps, games and videos

If you’re looking for minimal hassle and stress when shopping for the best tablet for kids, all while getting maximum value for money, then the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is your best bet.

For £149 you’re effectively getting an Amazon Fire HD 8 (£89.99), a case (£15), and a year of Amazon Kids+ (£79). It will also double up as an alternative to the Echo Show 8 (£120) when used in Show Mode. This is a bundle of products and services that would set you back more than £300 if bought separately.

Straight out of the box, the tablet is child-proof in terms of both hardware and software. It comes with a shock-proof case in either purple, blue or pink and a child’s profile is enabled by default. The setup is quick and simple and you can be safe in the knowledge that your child won’t stumble on anything they shouldn’t.

What’s more, every Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition table also comes with a two-year guarantee – Amazon will replace the tablet for free if it breaks within this period – and a free, one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ (formerly known as Fire for Kids Unlimited). This subscription usually costs £79 a year, or £49 for Prime members, and gives kids unlimited access to child-friendly and educational apps, games and videos. When accessed via the child’s profile, this content is shown via large thumbnails and easy-to-navigate scrolling menus, allowing your little one to take charge of what they want to watch when they want to watch it.

You can then manage additional parental controls, including screen-time limits via the Parent Dashboard available on the Kids+ phone app or through your Amazon account.

Amazon sells various Kids Editions of its Fire tablets and each one is effectively just a repackaged, more expensive version of the original models. This means you could, in theory, buy a standard Fire tablet with a case and set up an Amazon Kids child’s profile, yet the extra money you pay for a Kids Edition is largely for the convenience they afford. The Kids Edition also doesn’t show lock screen ads, like the “adult” models do.

We’ve selected the 8-inch model for our list of the best tablets for kids because it hits a sweet spot in terms of screen quality, size and power. The Fire 7 (listed further down) is a perfect entry-level device but it doesn’t have the HD screen of this 8-inch model, and isn’t as fast. Meanwhile, the 10-inch Fire HD Kids Edition tablet may have a better screen and faster processor, but it costs more and may be a little large for smaller hands.

We should note that while it is possible to access sites like YouTube, as well as Google services via the built-in browser, these apps are not available via the Amazon App Store.

Read our full Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids review.

Buy the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition:

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus, £109.99

Best wireless charging tablet for kids

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus review

Pros:

  • Easy to set up and use multiple child and adult profiles
  • Wireless charging
  • Great battery life

Cons:

  • No Google apps – including YouTube Kids

Key features:

  • 8-inch HD tablet powered by Amazon’s take on Android, Fire OS
  • Wireless charging (charger sold separately)
  • Up to 12-hours battery life
  • Free Amazon Kids account. An Amazon Kids+ subscription can be added on for £79 a year, or £49 if you’re a Prime customer

If you’re happy to forgo the convenience and built-in case of the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition and buy an Amazon tablet aimed at all ages – while getting slightly higher-end specs in the process –  the HD 8 Plus is a great alternative.

It comes with the same display as the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition and offers the same built-in storage (32GB or 64GB expandable to 1TB).

It’s slightly more powerful, backed up by 3GB RAM rather than the 2GB seen on the Fire HD 8 and, notably, it has a better battery life. The improved power makes the tablet more capable of handling multiple user accounts, compared to the Kids Edition, and the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus was the only tablet we tested that exceeded the battery life promised by its manufacturer – lasting 12 hours and 17 minutes, versus the 12 hours stated by Amazon.

Again, your kids may not notice these little differences, but if you’re going to be using this tablet for yourself as well as your little ones, you may well do. Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is a great way to watch shows and play games. It also works as an Echo Show, when in Show Mode, as well as a Kindle e-reader.

You can enable child-friendly profiles for free, by setting up an Amazon Kids account, and while this tablet doesn’t come with the Amazon Kids+ subscription as standard, you can add this on for an additional fee.

Read our full Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus review.

Buy the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus:

Amazon Fire 7, £49.99

Best cheap tablet for kids

Amazon Fire 7 tablet

Pros:

  • Super cheap
  • Expandable storage
  • Good battery life

Cons:

  • Sluggish at times
  • Crowded software

Key features:

  • 7 inch IPS display
  • 16 or 32 GB of internal storage expandable up to 512 GB via microSD
  • Up to 7 hour battery life
  • 2MP rear-facing camera and HD 720p front-facing camera

If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful tablet for your kids, one that will do the basics at a price that won’t break the bank, we recommend the Amazon Fire 7. We recommend this especially if this is the first time you’re buying your child a tablet and you’re not entirely sure how well they’ll take to it.

As you’d imagine for a tablet of this price, you get very few bells and whistles with the Fire 7. The display, for example, doesn’t qualify as high-definition, let alone Full HD, and the tablet itself isn’t powerful enough to run large, graphics-heavy games. The battery life is a little lacking compared to others in this list, as is the storage.

However, if you’ve got a toddler or younger child who just wants to stream the odd video or play lite games, they won’t care about these flaws. They’ll love having their own gadget to play with and the freedom that comes with this, all for less than the price of a family dinner out. Plus, when you factor in just how cheap this tablet is, you’ll likely not care about them too much either.

As with all Amazon Fire tablets, you can set up a free child-friendly Amazon Kids profile on the Fire 7 to keep any harmful content at bay, and you can pay £79 (£49 for Prime customers) for an Amazon Kids+ subscription. This will put a wealth of child-friendly shows, games, and educational apps at your little ones’ fingertips.

While the Fire 7 isn’t technically a tablet designed specifically for kids, Amazon knows that at this price point it will be a popular entry-level choice. That’s why you can also buy it bundled with a case and screen protector for an extra £35. Alternatively, we recommend the Adamantite case which only costs £13.99.

Case recommendation: Adamantite

Buy the Amazon Fire 7:

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab, £249.99

Best tablet for kids for the whole family

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab homescreen

Pros:

  • Impressive display for such a well-priced tablet
  • Good battery life
  • Well-rounded sound

Cons:

  • Sluggish at times
  • Crowded software

Key features:

  • 10.1 inch tablet for kids
  • Powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor
  • Kickstand doubles up as a handle, or hanger
  • Two JBL speakers with Dolby Atmos
  • Up to 4GB RAM and 64GB built-in storage
  • Up to 11 hours battery life
  • A 8MP camera on the rear, with an 5MP on the front

With the exception of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7, we’ve largely stuck to tablets with 7-inch and 8-inch displays for our best tablet for kids list because these are more suited to smaller hands. However, we wanted to give special mention to the Lenovo Yoga Smart Yoga Tab for offering specs that punch above its budget tablet price. This makes it particularly well suited to older children.

The Smart Yoga Tab occupies the space between the expensive iPad Mini and Amazon’s cut-price devices. It comes with 64GB of built-in storage backed by 4GB RAM – the highest amount of RAM of any tablet in this list. This makes it fast and responsive.

Its Full HD display is bright, lines are sharp and this is a screen that would impress us at a higher price point, let alone on a device that’s so relatively cheap.

Design-wise, it has an industrial-looking yet robust and sturdy frame, which makes it ideal as a kid’s tablet – even without a case – and this is complemented by a built-in kickstand. This kickstand can be used as a handle when holding the tablet in portrait mode; a feature that would suit a young reader. Or it can be used to hang the tablet from the back of a driver or passenger seat during long car journeys, enabling your child, or children, to watch it like a TV screen.

The biggest compromise you have to make for such great hardware at this price point is that the tablet runs an older version of Android. This means that this software won’t be supported for as long as more up-to-date models when it comes to security updates, and it won’t run all the latest Android features available on other devices. Yet it still offers more than Amazon’s take on Android because it supports all Google apps, including YouTube Kids.

Read our full Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab review.

Buy the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab:

How we tested tablet for kids

Each model was marked out of 10 for their respective specs, as well as how they performed both generally, and during child-based activities. This included:

  • Display resolution
  • Price
  • Built-in storage options
  • Cameras
  • Size – particularly when used by small hands
  • Weight
  • Parental control options
  • Setup, including enabling and disabling parental controls
  • Ease of use for our toddler, our 10-year-old and ourselves
  • Speed/performance
  • Design, including how robust and sturdy they feel in and out of a case
  • Sound quality

From this, the tablets were given a total score out of a possible 120.

To determine the scores for the more subjective categories (ease of use, how fast each tablet is, and how comfortable they are to hold etc) we carried out a number of tests.

We timed how long it took to set up each tablet out of the box – from signing in, to syncing account content (where relevant) and downloading our children’s favourite apps including Disney+, Cbeebies Playtime Island, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and YouTube Kids.

We performed a video streaming test during which we played a Full HD video on a loop, at 70% brightness over Wi-Fi. We timed how long it took each tablet to go from full charge to flat.

We allowed our child to use each tablet as they normally would for five days, from streaming Disney+, to playing games and reading books. Over this five-day period, we recorded how long it took the battery to go from full to flat. The average time set the battery life benchmark for each device.

During this period, we also assessed how easy each tablet was to use – largely based on how many times our toddler called for help, how impressive the display was during different tasks and if the tablet could be used for adult tasks as well as child ones.

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For more tablet buying advice, read our best budget tablet and best Android tablet guides.