Technology Explained

Which Tablet Size Should You Actually Get These Days?

Mihir Patkar 31-12-2015

Starting from 7 inches and going all the way to 13 inches, tablets now come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Heck, even the iPad has three sizes when the iPhone only has two. As such, it’s more difficult than ever to figure out which model is the right one for your needs.


Naturally, deciding on size is primarily about knowing what you want to do with it 5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Buying a New Tablet To simplify the process of buying a new tablet, ask yourself these questions first. Read More . However, there are other factors too. If you have a smartphone, it’s size plays an important role in picking the size of an accompanying tablet. The same is true if you have a laptop. The aspect ratio of the tablet also plays a part.

So which tablet size should you actually get?

Aspect Ratio: Square vs. Rectangle

iPads have screens that are more “square” — that is, the length and width are visibly similar, not substantially different. Tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Note, on the other hand, are more “rectangular” or “long” — that is, the length is visibly longer than the width.

This describes the aspect ratio, an important specification for any screen 8 Common Terms You Need To Know Before Buying Your Next TV When you go out to buy a new television, you might be a little confused by the many options available, all the features they have, and the jargon you need to wade through. Read More .



You also need to know two other terms: portrait mode is when you’re holding the tablet vertically (longer side goes up-down) and landscape mode is when you’re holding the tablet horizontally (longer side goes left-right).

The aspect ratio is the ratio of length to width. Commonly, the “square” aspect ratio is 4:3, which happens to be the same aspect ratio typically used by older CRT monitors. The “rectangle” aspect ratio is 16:9 or 16:10, which is the same aspect ratio typically used by widescreen TVs, laptops, and most smartphones.

Here’s a general rule of thumb to decide which aspect ratio is right for you:

  • 4:3 is better for reading books/magazines and browsing the web, especially in portrait mode. In landscape mode, 4:3 tablets that are larger than 10 inches are also great for multi-tasking.
  • 16:9 or 16:10 is good for watching movies in landscape mode (since you won’t get black bars on top and bottom). In portrait mode, these rectangular tablets are fantastic for reading comic books since they better mimic a comic’s natural aspect ratio.

Now that you know the shape that’s more appropriate for you, let’s move onto the best screen size.


Tablets Between 7 to 7.7 Inches


In the world of 5.7-inch and 6-inch smartphones (or “phablets”) Fabulous Phablets: The 5 Best Big-Screen Smartphones You Can Buy If you're going to buy a big-screen phone now, and by that, we mean something that's larger than a 5.5-inch screen and smaller than a 7-inch tablet, these are your best options. Read More , the tech world has more or less decided that 7 inches is where a “tablet” starts. And boy, you get a lot of options at this price. Your choices are largely Android tablets Which Android Tablet Should I Buy? 7 Things to Consider If you're thinking about getting an Android tablet, these are the things that you need to take into consideration. Read More , like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4, or Android derivatives like the $50 Amazon Kindle Fire.

Who should buy a 7-inch to 7.7-inch tablet:

  • If your smartphone has a 4-inch to 4.5-inch screen (like the iPhone 4/5 or the Moto E) then these tablets make sense as the difference in screen sizes is more than enough.
  • If you move around a lot and will carry your tablet with you, then nothing beats this size for portability.
  • If you want a tablet that can double up as a phone in case of an emergency, then 7-inchers with a SIM slot work best. Yeah, they’re big and look silly, but they have incredible battery life compared to regular smartphones.

Tablets Between 7.9 to 9 Inches


Between 7-inch and 8-inch, do you really need that extra inch? 7-inch vs. 8-inch Tablets: Do You Really Need The Extra Inch? The tablet's rise has predictably led to a diversification of the devices available. Display sizes now ranges between seven to eighteen inches, and everything in between. Consumers are certainly spoiled for choice. Most people, however, end... Read More Some say no, I say yes.


The iPad Mini’s 8-inch size with the 4:3 aspect ratio is, in my opinion, the perfect size for a tablet. Tablets are primarily content consumption devices — as opposed to content creation devices — and this size is small enough to hold in one hand and be portable while being large enough to browse the web and watch movies in comfort.

I found that this also holds true for tablets that go up to 9 inches, but then I’d recommend switching from 4:3 to 16:9. In many ways, a 9-inch rectangular tablet has the same benefits of an 8-inch square one.

Who should buy a 7.9-inch to 9-inch tablet:

  • If your smartphone has a 4.5-inch to 5.2-inch screen (like the iPhone 6 or Motorola Moto X), then these tablets are the right jump in screen size.
  • If you want portability and good battery life, coupled with gaming, browsing the web, and watching movies, these tablets work out well.
  • If you love comics, 8-inch tablets with a 16:9 aspect ratio are comfortable to hold in one hand for a long time while being big enough that you don’t have to strain your eyes to read every word.

Tablets Between 9.7 to 10.1 Inches


From the original Apple iPad to the much-vaunted Samsung Note series, this is the point where tablets go from mere consumption devices to something more. The 10-inch range is often big enough that these tablets can be used as laptop replacements Can You Use a Tablet as a Laptop? The Essential Apps and Gear Want to use your Android tablet as a laptop replacement? Here is your comprehensive guide to the necessary hardware and software. Read More . In some ways, it slots perfectly between a large phone and a large laptop.


Who should buy a 9.7-inch to 10.1-inch tablet:

Tablets Between 11 to 13 Inches


Going into the bigger size, you’re mostly looking at tablets that are meant to be full-on laptop replacements. As such, your mindset needs to change.

Think of these as “work tablets”. For example, the iPad Pro isn’t just a bigger iPad Why The iPad Pro Isn't Just A Bigger iPad If you think the new iPad Pro is "just a bigger iPad", you're wrong. It's a new way of iPad-ing. Read More , it’s a tablet whose purpose is equally to create and to consume content. The Microsoft Surface is a tablet but also a PC. The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro adds a little more: a pico projector to cast your presentations on a big screen.

Who should buy an 11-inch to 13-inch tablet:

  • If your laptop is a bulky device — whether for your performance-hungry work or gaming needs — then a large “work tablet” is a good portable device to have at hand. At this range, your smartphone screen size is irrelevant; heck, you could even have a smaller 7-inch or 8-inch tablet while rocking a second 12-incher.
  • If you primarily consume content and only occasionally need to create content, this size fits perfectly. For example, if you’re looking for a large-screen tablet for a senior who isn’t comfortable with tech, then an iPad Pro Surface would fit the bill. They mostly won’t need the keyboard, but when they do, it’s there!

What’s Your Preferred Tablet Size?

At this point, you probably know a handful of people who have tablets, so consider asking and trying out their devices to get a better sense of what you need. Many stores also stock all the different tablet sizes.

While this guide serves as a good thumb rule, it’s not infallible. The best way to find your perfect size is to try out the different shapes and sizes first.

All right, let’s hear what you have to say. Which tablet do you use? Why do you think it’s the perfect size? And what’s your opinion on 4:3 versus 16:9 tablets?

Related topics: Android Tablet, iPad, iPad Pro, Windows Tablet.

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  1. Emperor Jahrome
    September 27, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    I personally for my phone go for 5inch screen. and 2-in-1 tablet at 10inches. My PC screen is a rediculous 27inches but that's because I game. I feel even with big hands anything over 10inches for a Tablet is obsurd and might aswel buy a desctop for the same price of a mere 13inch screen.

  2. Anonymous
    January 5, 2016 at 2:14 am

    I really need good advice in selecting my next tablet. I have been using Nexus 7 2012 which has served me well but am getting really sick and tired of all the google ads. Would gladly pay for the freeware apps I use if I could get rid of the ads. On most this option does not exist. With updates of the OS and the software it is getting so slow that it seems like it is dead.

    Now my main or might say practically only need is to Facetime with my granddaughters. Have done it on ooVoo but it is not good enough. Another app of interest would be words with friends. That is all. Can anyone suggest a good and reasonably priced model of apple product that would serve me well?

    I absolutely don't need ANY of the default Google applications.

    BTW I am 70 and retired. My desktop PC is on like for 10 to 15 hours.

    • Anonymous
      January 8, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      iPad mini 2

    • iRobot
      January 8, 2016 at 7:27 pm

      Pradip, Get an iPad Air 2. It's thin and light so it's easy to hold and the screen is gorgeous. The larger screen size is easier for viewing and tapping. Facetime is a native app and easy to connect to other facetime users. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is also worth considering and is more affordable.

      • pmshah
        January 9, 2016 at 6:10 am

        Thanks for your reply.

        I had thought about the Samsung product but then I would not have Facetime. I just got a good deal on Amazon for iPad Air. I would have gone for iPad Air 2 but the price differential was too great. My wife is using a 2 year old iPad 2 and it is still very fast without any bloatware. I really like its very low bandwidth requirement and the facetime performance - speed and video quality are much more than adequate.

        Only application that I am going to install, apart from the default ones, will be Words with Friends, which runs so much better on iPad 2 than on my Nexus 7.

  3. Anonymous
    January 5, 2016 at 12:15 am

    I can fit a 7 incher in my pants pocket. And I don't want to be one of those idiots waving a 19 inch iPad around to take a picture.

  4. Mike
    January 2, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    I own four tablets: both the 7 inch and 8.9 inch Kindle Fire HDX models, an 8 inch Acer running Windows 10, and an iPaid Air 2. Love the 7 inch Fire HDX for e-reading but find it a bit small for much else. It is certainly a very capable tablet, it's just a bit small for my liking. The 8 inch Acer is okay, still a bit small for my taste. It was also a lot more user friendly when it was running Windows 8.1; wish I had never 'upgraded' to Win 10, if you want to call it that. The iPad is nice hardware, but it is a bit heavy and I personally don't care much for iOS. That leaves the 8.9 inch Kindle Fire HDX. It is my absolute favorite, hands down. The display is big enough without the tablet being too heavy. For me, the 8.9 HDX hits the sweet spot I was searching for, in terms of daily use. The display is easily on par with the iPaid Air 2, and the WiFi is far and away the fastest of the four tablets--the wireless is screaming fast. I was skeptical when I first started using it, sometimes thinking 8.9 inches was too big and at other times too small, but it has ultimately proven to be exactly the size tablet I was searching for. Hope this info helps those of you still searching...

  5. Amir
    December 31, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    I began with an 8 inch Samsung galaxy note 8, it was perfect and still is, at that time I owned a 3.5 inch Samsung galaxy ace smartphone (with pesky specs) I wanted to maintain a balance between portability and usefulness and it did (and still does) the trick perfectly. However, due to productivity limitations inherent in Android and given the fact that this tablet is going to be a part of history sooner or later, I'm thinking of changing this tablet. What's more is that now I've got a five inch smartphone and consume most of the content on my smartphone, I'm thinking about a larger tablet with Windows as a portable productivity tool. Right now I'm considering Lenovo's 10 inch Yoga Tablet 2 with windows which I believe to be a compromise between productivity, portability, and price.

  6. Anonymous
    December 31, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    There's a HUGE difference between 9"-ish and 10" tablets in terms of weight. My daily-use tablets have pretty much all been oddball 8.x" devices (Galaxy Tab 8.9, Fire HDX, Tab Pro 8) that have the screen resolution I would associate with a 10" device but a weight that's only slightly heavier than I'd find on a 7".

    I think 10" devices are too bulky to be held in one hand for long periods of time.

    I more or less NEVER use a mobile device in landscape orientation unless I'm taking a photo or something forces it into landscape mode. I don't think 4:3 is a good idea, either. Books I've read in my life have most often been significantly taller than they are wide, so landscape feels unnatural for that purpose, and I find that holding devices that are "too wide" makes them ungainly.

  7. Anonymous
    December 31, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    I've been using tablets for over a decade, since Windows XP Tablet Edition; sizes from 5 to 13 inches, weights from under a pound to several pounds. I would offer a few tips.

    First, how are you going to hold it? If you plan to hold it in the air for more than a few minutes, you want something less than a pound. More than that and you will need to rest it on something.

    Second, what are you going to use it for? If you have a traditional office job and want to use your tablet to telecommute, go with Windows and don't worry about trying to find workarounds (which may not exist with some enterprise security software). And don't believe the slur that you can't use Windows programs on a small tablet. I use Office 2013 on the desktop side with touch.

    I currently have a Dell Venue 8 Pro but it's a few years old and with daily use the battery is getting weaker. If I had to buy a new tablet today, it would be the HP Envy 8 Note but I'm holding off to see what CES will bring.

  8. Anonymous
    December 31, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    I own two 7 inch tablets - Google Nexus 7 (1st gen) and an HP Stream 7. Both work well as e-readers, simple games players and casual internet tools. I find the 7 inch a good size for portability and holding. My next tablet will probably be bigger as I'm getting older and the eyes are not as good as they used to be. Looking at the 8 - 9 inch range - big enough to use as a reader and not so big it's no longer convenient to carry.
    BTW: really recommend caution when it comes to tablet operating systems. My first tablet was the Nexus, based on overwhelmingly positive reviews. I found it to be unstable, slow, and unreliable across multiple flavors of Google Android. Spent a lot of time and energy trying to tweak it (without much success) so I could use it without a lot of fuss and hassle.
    I much prefer the Windows 8.1 (and now Windows 10) tablet experience: boots much quicker, runs cleaner, and is so much more stable, on a cheap HP tablet.
    My wife and my mom both own Apple I-Pad Minis (7.9 inch screen). From the very few times I've been able to actually get my hands on one, I found the Apple tablet experience to be quick, clean and stable.

  9. Suleiman
    December 31, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    What a great read, Mihir ! Thanks for this really. It came right on time when I was in process of thinking to get a tablet or not and if i decide to get one which size will it be. You covered almost all the points I was considering.

    Here is my story :

    I have Samsung Galaxy Note 3 running Android 5.0V. When I am at home or at friend's house or sometimes at Best Buy, I screen mirror my phone to big screen TV to watch my pictures or videos or to watch streaming movies from Kodi. I can also read my eBooks on huge screen. I love to own Samsung galaxy note 10 tablet but I always say why should I have it if I can screen mirror my phone on way bigger screen. I assume that Note 10 can not replace my laptop and I hate Apple with passion and I find Surface Pro contents to be a bit claustrophobic. I have played around with all tables and still I can't make a decision to get one tablet. The main reason that I want a tablet is that there are apps out there exclusively for tablets and not for phablets or smartphones. For example like the app Toronto Touch which is a cool app by Toronto Star news paper and it is only available for iPads and Android tablets.

    I really don't know what to do my friend but your writing was helpful to me. Thank you again and Happy New Year to you, to Make Use Of family and to all my fellow readers. Have fun and stay safe all the times.