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The best tablet camera in 2021

The best tablet camera 2021 - Apple iPad Pro 2021
(Image credit: Apple)

The best tablet cameras available today have a lot to offer photographers. Admittedly, they won't come close to the capabilities of the best camera phone or the best cameras in general. But if you need a tablet anyway – for photo editing, video editing or just general admin – you may as well get one with a good camera. And some of the latest tablets to hit the market have one or more lenses that are surprisingly capable.

That said, you may not wish to spend all the money you have on a tablet, when you could be directing that cash towards photography equipment instead. So in this article, we've rounded up both the best tablet cameras overall (which come at a premium price) and the best tablet cameras in terms of value (balancing quality and cost, while still being capable of shooting decent stills and video).

So read on to discover the best tablet cameras for Windows, iOS and Android, starting with the best tablet camera overall.

The best tablet camera 2021

(Image credit: Apple)

1. iPad Pro 12.9 M1 (2021)

The best tablet camera overall

Specifications
Rear cameras (3): Wide: 12MP, f/1.8, 1/3", 1.22µm, dual pixel PDAF; Ultrawide: 10 MP, f/2.4, 125˚; Depth: TOF 3D LiDAR scanner
Front camera: 12 MP, f/2.4, 122˚
Screen size: 12.9-inch
Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels
Weight: 682g
Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4 mm
OS: iPadOS 14
CPU: Apple M1 chip
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant rear cameras+Fantastic front camera+Smart HDR 3 software
Reasons to avoid
-Not that different from 2020 version

The best tablet camera experience you can get at the moment comes from the very latest iPad, the iPad Pro 12.9 M1 (2021). On the rear you get 12MP wide and 10MP ultra-wide rear cameras, along with a time-of-flight (ToF) LiDAR scanner for depth. This setup offers video capture up to 4K at up to 60fps, and Full HD (1080p) capture at up to 240fps. 

It’s worth noting that these stats are exactly matched on the previous model, the Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2020). Subtle improvements to performance have been made, though. For example, the 2021 iPad Pro boasts Smart HDR 3 software compared to Smart HDR on its predecessor; and offers extended dynamic range for video up to 30fps. 

Overall, though, if the rear camera was your only concern, you might opt for the cheaper 2020 model (number 2 on our list). Where the 2021 truly trumps its predecessor, however, is in the front-facing camera. That’s jumped up in quality from 7MP on last year’s model to 12MP. It also now boasts an ultrawide view which, thanks to the new ‘Center Stage’ feature, means you’re automatically cropped into shot when on a video call or taking a selfie. 

The iPad Pro 12.9 M1 (2021) is also a fantastic tablet in general, with a high resolution screen, excellent levels of brightness, the superfast M1 processor and generous battery life making it one of the best iPads for photo editing too. To learn more, read our Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch M1 review.  

(Image credit: Apple)

2. iPad Pro 12.9" (2020)

The best tablet camera for most people

Specifications
Rear cameras (3): Wide: 12 MP, f/1.8, 1/3", 1.22µm, dual pixel PDAF; Ultrawide: 10 MP, f/2.4, 11mm; Depth: TOF 3D LiDAR scanner
Front camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 26mm, 1/4", 1.12µm
Screen size: 12.9-inch
Resolution: 2732 x 2048
Weight: 639g
Dimensions: 280.4 x 214.8 x 5.8 mm
OS: iOS 13.4
CPU: A12Z Bionic
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant rear cameras+4K video at 60fps+Good value
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks auto-centering feature

Want an iPad with a decent tablet camera, but on a tight budget? As we mention above, the latest iPad Pro for 2021 is the absolute best there is; but the more affordable 2020 model comes a very close second. 

After all, you’re still getting the same 12MP wide and 10MP ultra-wide rear cameras, along with a time-of-flight (ToF) LiDAR scanner for depth, video capture up to 4K at up to 60fps, and Full HD (1080p) capture at up to 240fps.

The main compromise is that the front-facing camera drops down from 12MP to 7MP and doesn’t have the automatic centering feature.  The other big difference is that the 2021 iPad Pro is much, much faster; so if you’re doing very resource-intensive tasks such as video editing, that might make a difference to your productivity.

If that’s not the case, though, and the front camera isn’t important to you, we’d probably advise opting for the more affordable 2020 iPad Pro.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

3. Microsoft Surface Pro 8

The best tablet camera for Windows users

Specifications
Rear camera: 10MP
Front camera: 5MP
Screen size: 13-inch
Resolution: 2880 x 1920
Weight: 891g
Dimensions: 287mm x 208mm x 9.3mm
OS: Windows 11
CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5-i7
Storage: 128-1TB
Reasons to buy
+10MP rear camera+Vibrant display+Runs Windows 11 
Reasons to avoid
-Not a budget model

Want a Windows tablet with a decent camera? Then we recommend the latest Microsoft Surface Pro. This 2-in-1 tablet/laptop hybrid boasts a 10MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD and 4K video, plus a 5MP front-facing camera with 1080p full HD video. 

The rear camera offers clean and clear images, and the extra 2MP bump from the Surface Pro 7 really makes a difference to the level of detail you can capture. The front camera, meanwhile, does a surprisingly good job of conducting video calls, as long as your room isn’t overly dim. 

That’s thanks to an Ambient Color Sensor in the front camera, which Microsoft has added to this new Surface Pro for improved brightness and colour. It also allows you to log into Windows Hello using just your face.

There are plenty of other improvements over the Surface Pro 7 too, including a boost in RAM from 4GB to 8GB, a bigger and brighter 13 inch display and longer battery life, plus it runs the latest Windows 11 operating system. That means this isn’t just the best tablet camera for Windows users available today, it’s the best Windows tablet, period.

(Image credit: Samsung)

4. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+

The best tablet camera for Android users

Specifications
Rear cameras (2): Wide: 13MP, f/2.0, 26mm, 1/3.4", 1.0µm, AF; Ultrawide: 5 MP, f/2.2, 12mm (ultrawide), 1.12µm
Front camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/4", 1.12µm
Screen size: 12.4-inch
Resolution: 1752 x 2800
Weight: 575g
Dimensions: 185.0 x 285.0 x 5.7mm
OS: Android 10
CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus
Storage: 128/256GB
Reasons to buy
+High-res cameras+Great shooting modes+Beautiful screen
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks audio jack

Android tablets might not be known for their photography smarts, but the best ones do come with some very capable cameras. Our top recommendation right now is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+. 

On the rear, you get 13MP wide and 5MP ultrawide cameras. These are capable of shooting photos with gloriously vivid colours, especially if you take advantage of onboard modes such as Panorama, Night and Live Focus. There’s also a Single Take mode, which lets you capture multiple shots from one take, and you can capture 4K video at 30fps. On the front, meanwhile an 8MP front facing camera provides excellent picture quality for your video calls and selfies.

This is a pretty great tablet in general too. Its Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor is super speedy, the 10,090mAh battery will keep going for hours, the S Pen stylus is a joy, and the 12.4in Super AMOLED screen delivers a lovely, hi-res picture.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

5. Microsoft Surface Go 2

The best cheap tablet camera for Windows

Specifications
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 5MP
Screen size: 10.5 inch
Resolution: 1920 x 1280
Weight: 553g
Dimensions: 245 x 175 x 8.3mm
OS: Windows 10 S
CPU: Dual Core Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y
Storage: 64-128GB
Reasons to buy
+Good cameras+Shoot in HD+Excellent value
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most powerful

If you're looking for an affordable Windows tablet with a decent camera, then look no further than the Surface Go 2. Despite the low price, you're getting a very good 8MP autofocus rear camera that shoots 1080p video. 

The 5MP front camera lets you stream in 1080p too, which gives it the edge over many similarly priced laptops, which tend to be stuck around the 720p mark.

More generally, the Surface Go 2 is a 2-in-1 device that can be transformed into a laptop when combined with Microsoft's Type Cover (sold separately). It's not the fastest or most powerful device, hence it runs by default in Windows 10 S Mode, which restricts you to apps from the Windows Store only. However, battery life is good, and overall this is a great budget choice for kids, students, or just anyone who wants to keep their costs low.

(Image credit: Apple)

6. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 (2018)

The best cheap tablet camera for Android

Specifications
Rear camera: 8MP, f/1.9, AF
Front camera: 5MP, f/2.2
Screen size: 10.5-inch
Resolution: 1200 x 1920
Weight: 529g
Dimensions: 260 x 161.1 x 8mm
OS: Android 8.1
CPU: Snapdragon 450
Storage: 32GB
Reasons to buy
+Good cameras+Nice camera app+Great value
Reasons to avoid
-A little outdated now

If you're seeking a cheap Android tablet with a good camera, check out Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 (2018). It's a few years old now, hence the reduced price, but it's still a good performer. 

Photography wise, you get an 8MP f/1.9 camera on the rear, while on the front you'll find a 5MP f/2.2 selfie camera. These perform as well as you can expect in an older model, plus there are some nice tools in the camera app, including Night Capture, Panorama, and a Pro mode that lets you adjust things like white balance and ISO. Both can capture 1080p video at 30fps.

Obviously this is not the most powerful or up-to-date Android tablet, with just 3GB RAM, and running an older version of the operating system (8.1). But it copes with most things pretty well, and for this price, you won't find better.

(Image credit: Apple)

7. iPad Mini (2021)

The best compact tablet camera

Specifications
Rear camera: 12 MP, f/1.8, AF
Front camera: Ultrawide: 12 MP, f/2.4, 122˚
Screen size: 8.3 inch
Resolution: 1488 x 2266 pixels
Weight: 293-297g
Dimensions: 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3 mm
OS: iPadOS 15
CPU: Hexa-core
Storage: 64/256GB
Reasons to buy
+Ultra portable+Surprisingly powerful
Reasons to avoid
-Small screen size

Tablets tend to be quite big and cumbersome, making them not-so-great for taking pictures with. If, for this reason, you'd rather opt for something on the small side, we'd recommend the latest iPad Mini.

The best tablet camera you'll find in a compact size, its rear camera sports the same 12MP sensor as the iPad Pro. This is capable of capturing 4K video at up to 60fps. On the front, meanwhile, there's an excellent 12MP selfie/video call camera. This employs the Center Stage feature that automatically centers you in picture, and can capture 1080p video at up to 240fps.

Elsewhere, the 8.3 inch screen offers a gorgeous hi-quality display, with vivid colours. You get excellent performance thanks to the speedy Apple A15 processor. And the tiny size and weight means it's easy to carry everywhere.

Apple iPad 10.2

(Image credit: Apple)

8. iPad 10.2 (2019)

The best value tablet camera from Apple

Specifications
Rear camera: 8MP, f/2.4, 31mm, 1.12µm, AF
Front camera: 1.2 MP, f/2.2, 31mm
Screen size: 10.2-inch
Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels
Weight: 483g
Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm
OS: iPadOS 13
CPU: A10 Fusion
Storage: 32/128GB
Reasons to buy
+8MP rear camera+Great value
Reasons to avoid
-Low quality front camera-Basic for an iPad

Want an iPad but short of funds? The best budget iPad available today is the iPad 10.2 (2019), and it's got quite a bit to offer photographers. Its 8MP rear camera provides sharp and clear images, with good, strong colours. It features HDR, and can capture 1080p video at 30fps.

On the downside, the 1.2MP front facing camera is not great at all. And on the whole this model is more basic than the latest, expensive iPads. But as long as you're not using it for important voice calls, and you're not bothered about selfies, this is the best iPad available for a cheap price today.

Read more:
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Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specializing in art, photography, design and travel. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, T3, Heat, Company and Bella.