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10 best kids’ tablets that do it all, from games to homework

A look at the best devices on the market to help your little ones have fun and learn, too

Many devices are now geared towards educational use ( The Independent/iStock )

Although many of us grew up with computers, for children nowadays, tablets are the way to go.

They are the versatile, portable do-it-all machines that can encourage children to learn, read, and in many circumstances can be the main tool for homework.

Of course, they’re also great for playing games and watching videos too. Tablets for children usually feature parental controls and, in some cases, are designed to be extra robust.

Amazon’s tablets stand out for this, thanks to a supplied case to protect against drops and a no-questions-asked replacement service.

Some tablets here are just as suitable for adults but are featured because they have many apps for learning or, in the case of the Apple iPad and iPad mini, because they are now compatible with the Apple Pencil stylus, making them even more education-friendly.

Amazon Fire HD 10 kids edition: £199.99, Amazon

Screen size: 10.1”
Dimensions: 188 x 294 x 26 mm
Weight: 660g
Storage: 32GB
Operating system: Amazon Fire OS
Colours: Blue or pink bumper case
Battery life: 10 hours

Amazon’s tablets for kids are very hard to beat. Not only are they extremely good value, they come with a bumper case to protect against damage if the tablet is dropped. The case is a solid foam that’s very pleasing to the touch. If your child feels they’ve outgrown such colourful extras, it’s easily removable, of course. Amazon also offers an extensive two-year guarantee, including electrical or mechanical breakdowns.

There are also a range of parental controls, managed from the parent’s smartphone, which can set time limits and so on. You can block access to videos or games, for instance, until your child has been using the tablet to read for a set time.

There is a noticeable price premium over buying the regular version of this 10” tablet which sells for £199.99, but it includes the bumper and a year’s subscription to Fire for Kids Unlimited which gives access to thousands of books, movies, TV shows, games and educational apps. Smaller sized screens are also available.

Buy now

Apple iPad: £319, John Lewis & Partners

Screen size: 9.7”
Dimensions: 170 x 240 x 7.5mm
Weight: 470g
Storage: 32GB or 128GB
Operating system: Apple iOS 11
Colours: Silver, gold or space grey
Battery life: 10 hours

The Apple iPad is a general-use tablet but the addition of compatibility with the company’s excellent stylus, called the Apple Pencil, makes it ideal for educational purposes, especially for creative drawing or art apps – the pencil has a strikingly natural feel to it. The iPad is also strong value: the exceptional build quality and elegant aluminium design are leagues ahead of rival tablets. 

The processor inside is fast and responsive. There are a huge number of apps available, well over a million, and many are educational and child-friendly. The Apple Pencil is sold separately for £89. This is the most advanced entry-level iPad Apple has made and it’s a real performer. 

Unlike the other tablets here, apart from the other iPad and the Samsung, this one is also available with a wifi plus cellular option so you can use the iPad wherever there’s a mobile phone signal, for which you’ll need a sim card.

Buy now

Amazon Fire HD 8 kids edition: £129.99, Amazon

Screen size: 8”
Dimensions: 155 x 244 x 26mm
Weight: 474g
Storage: 32GB
Operating system: Amazon Fire OS
Colours: Blue, pink or yellow
Battery life: 10 hours

This middle-size Fire tablet is the best balance between size and price, including a high-resolution display and twice the storage of the 7” model. The 8” screen is a great size for kids with smaller hands while still being big enough to use easily. In other respects, it’s similar to the other two Amazon tablets here, with the Fire for Kids Unlimited subscription and colourful bumper to protect the unit. Battery life on this tablet matches the biggest tablets here. Like the 10” model, this one has advanced audio capabilities, including a sophisticated playback system called Dolby Atmos, too.

Buy now

Amazon Fire 7 kids edition: £99.99, Amazon

Screen size: 7”
Dimensions: 141 x 222 x 26.3mm
Weight: 390g
Storage: 16GB
Operating system: Amazon Fire OS
Colours: Blue, pink or yellow bumper case
Battery life: 8 hours

The absence of HD from the tablet’s title tells you the screen resolution here is lower, but it still looks good. The tablet is black while the colour of the bumper is yellow, pink or blue. As with the larger models, this tablet is identical to the Fire 7 designed for adults, so when they’re old enough, your child can dispense with the bumper and have a tablet that’s properly adult-friendly. 

The Fire 7 is significantly cheaper than the kids’ version, either £49.99 or £69.99 depending on storage capacity and whether or not you allow special offers – ads which appear when you turn the tablet on. The extra money here is for the bumper, a year’s subscription to Fire for Kids Unlimited, no ads and a larger storage (16GB). It’s worth checking the Amazon website before you buy: recently the 8” screen version was cut in price to match this one.

Buy now

Kurio Advance C17150: £99.99, Currys

Screen size: 7”
Dimensions: 189.2 x 107.6 x 9.15mm
Weight: 250g
Storage: 16GB
Operating system: Android
Colours: Blue, pink
Battery life: 7 hours

There are few drawbacks to Amazon’s tablets, however, they do use a special version of the Android operating system which is only compatible with a smaller range of Android apps. That’s because Android has tested them all to ensure there are none that don’t work. But if your child’s favourite app isn’t available, that may be a problem. In which case, the Kurio may suit, using the regular Android operating system (though not the latest version, this is Android 6.0).

This tablet has a removable protective rubbery bumper and is a fun-looking device, though it lacks the build quality of Amazon and Apple. Although it’s an Android tablet, it has a customised interface with parental controls where you add your child’s profile (it holds up to eight profiles). The controls let you set the hours when play time happens, for instance. There is a premium content section which requires subscription, though the first year is free.

Buy now

Apple iPad mini: £399, John Lewis & Partners

Screen size: 7.9”
Dimensions: 203 x 135 x 6mm
Weight: 300g
Storage: 64GB
Operating system: Apple iOS 11
Colours: Silver, space grey or gold
Battery life: 10 hours

The iPad mini is ideal for smaller hands and it has just been updated to make it Apple Pencil-compatible, like the full-size iPad above. This tablet has the highest pixel density of any iPad, so the image quality is tremendous, whether you’re using an app or watching a video. That’s also down to the inclusion of features such as True Tone which uses tiny sensors to measure the colour temperature of the room and adjusts the white balance on the fly to make everything look natural whatever lighting environment you’re in.

It also makes the tablet easy on the eyes, which is important for young peepers. The Apple Pencil makes this tablet especially versatile and that combined with the small size makes it very useful in an education setting. There are also the million-plus apps available for iPads large and small. The processor here is even faster than on the full-size version so it’s especially nippy and can handle even the most demanding apps with ease.

Buy now

Kurio Tab Connect: £99.99, Amazon

Screen size: 7”
Dimensions: 189.2 x 107.6 x 9.15mm
Weight: 250g
Storage: 16GB
Operating system: Android
Colours: Blue, pink
Battery life: 7 hours

This tablet is very similar to the Kurio Advance above. The two are almost identical except that the Connect does not include the Advance’s premium content system. But it does have an app which lets you connect from your smartphone to your child’s tablet. This means you can play games together or send them texts, for instance. You can also directly control the tablet from your phone to turn the volume down or turn it off. Otherwise, it has the same internet filtering system to keep kids safe, and the same control system to set play time and so on.

Buy now

LeapFrog LeapPad Platinum: £92.99, Argos

Screen size: 7”
Dimensions: 150 x 230 x 25mm
Weight: 1.2kg
Storage: 8GB
Operating system: LeapFrog Brio OS
Colours: Green, purple
Battery life: 5 hours

LeapFrog is a brand that focuses sharply on kids’ tech with web access limited to content that’s deemed child-appropriate by the company’s learning experts – this tablet is aimed at three- to nine-year-olds. This tablet has a stylus built in, though the touchscreen responds to fingers, too. You can download games and apps but there’s also a slot for games cartridges. The dedicated operating system means you’re limited to LeapFrog apps, but there are over 1,000 of these.

There are filters according to the child’s age and parental controls include limiting how long it can be used. Note that LeapFrog is an American brand and the content reflects that.

Buy now

Samsung Galaxy Tab A: £139, Samsung

Screen size: 7”
Dimensions: 186.9 x 108.8 x 8.7mm
Weight: 283g
Storage: 8GB
Operating system: Android
Colours: Black
Battery life: 11 hours

Although this is a regular tablet rather than a kids-only one, it earns its place here because it’s highly affordable and has an excellent kids mode. Regular icons for app shortcuts are replaced by delightful cartoony ones (which many adults may actually prefer) and a PIN code prevents the child from turning it back into a full-on device. You can set usage limits, with a playtime limit within that, and customise available content.

A special selection of Galaxy apps for kids offers 3,000 apps (some paid-for) for different ages which are designed to educate as well as delight. This tablet is also available in a 4G version (sim card required) for £49 more.

Buy now

LeapFrog EPIC: £89.99, Amazon

Screen size: 7”
Dimensions: 254 x 184 x 89mm
Weight: 640g
Storage: 16GB
Operating system: Android
Colours: Green
Battery life: 8 hours

The EPIC is the first tablet from LeapFrog to use Android, so there are plenty of popular games and educational apps available. LeapFrog has designed its own apps and has a customizable home screen so children can customise the tablet’s onscreen look as they like.

There are also some games which the company describes as “auto-levelling”, that is, they adjust to the age and capability of the player. The solid green bumper protects the shatter-safe 7” screen. It also has a useful stylus which is stored in the corner of the tablet. EPIC, by the way, stands for Explore, Play, Imagine and Create.

Buy now

The verdict: Kids’ tablets

Amazon’s take on kids’ tablets is exemplary and works brilliantly. Its Kids Edition tablets are pricier than the regular ones but are worth the extra. The 10” Amazon Fire 10 HD kids edition is the best, but the other two are worth a look. 

The out-and-out best tablet for build quality, design and range of apps is the Apple iPad, especially now that all Apple tablets work with the optional stylus. Although the iPad is great value, it’s still a little too pricey to win the top spot here. The Kurio Tab Connect is a fun, affordable tablet which children, even very young kids, are likely to enjoy. 

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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