Best tablets for note taking in college

Back in the day students used to take notes on physical notebooks. They didn’t have any other option other than bringing so many notebooks to the college. All the technological improvements in the past few years have brought a concept of digital note-taking. Now college-going students can buy a tablet and take all the notes on it. Best tablets for note taking in college it’s not always an ipad as you might think.

Having one so highly portable with the power of taking unlimited notes is just insane. There is no fear of losing the notes as they get saved in cloud storage so even in the rarest of cases when someone loses their tablet they can get all the notes back on the new device. Something that was impossible with physical notebooks.

There are so many tablets available in the market and as a student, you might get confused looking at all these options. That’s why I have gone ahead and done all the research to pick only the best options available in the market. Check out our list and pick the tablet that best suits your needs and is also under your budget.

Tablets for College Students

Apple iPad Pro

The first tablet in our list of the best tablets for college students is Apple iPad Pro 2021. It is hand’s down the best tablet available in the market right now. The 2020 version of the iPad Pro was already a beast but Apple even upgraded it further by launching a successor this year in April.

Display

The iPad Pro comes in two different screen sizes: 11-inch and 12.9-inch. There are a few major differences between these two variants which we will explain in a minute. The 11-inch iPad Pro features a Liquid Retina Display with a peak brightness of up to 600-nits similar to previous generations iPad Pros. On the other hand, the 12-inch iPad Pro packs a Mini LED HDR Liquid Retina XDR Display.

Apple has introduced Mini LED tech for the very first time in iPad Pro. This new tech gives room for a normal brightness of up to 1000-nits and a peak brightness of up to 1600-nits. It also has a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Other than that both models have support for ProMotion 120 Hz high refresh rate, TrueTone, and feature Wide P3 Color Gamut.

Whether you are going with the 11-inch model or the 12.9-inch model you will get a nice canvas for note-taking. Most importantly as you are gonna pick the tablet for taking notes the iPad Pro supports Apple Pencil 2nd generation. It will provide a smooth note-taking experience just like a traditional paper.

Performance

On the performance front, both models pack the first Apple M1 chip. The M1 chip first got introduced with MacBooks and now the company has put it into the iPad Pro. It has an octa-core CPU with four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, 8-core GPU, and a 16-core neural engine. 

The addition of the Apple M1 means the iPad Pros are as powerful as the 13-inch MacBook pro. In terms of storage, the iPad Pro 2021 comes in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB options. The 128GB, 256GB, 512GB models have 8GB of RAM whereas the 1TB and 2TB storage options come with 16GB RAM.

Optics

To fulfill the occasional photo and video needs iPad Pro 2021 comes with a dual-camera system in which the primary lens is a 12MP wide camera with f/1.8 aperture and the secondary lens is a 10MP ultra-wide lens with f/2.4 aperture and 125-degree field of view.

There is a TruTone LED Flash and LIDAR sensor. On the front, it gets a 12MP ultra-wide lens with a 122-degree field of view. Apple has introduced a new Centre Stage feature that keeps the subject in the center even while moving.

Just like the previous iPad the 2021 version also has Face ID. The iPad Pro USB-C port now supports Thunderbolt 3 and USB-4.

Pricing

Lastly, talking about the pricing, the iPad Pro 11-inch starts at $799 and 12.9-inch starts at $1099. You will also need to purchase the second-generation Apple Pencil which will cost you another $129. So, overall it makes sense to get an 11-inch iPad Pro and then use the remaining amount that you will save by not going with the 12.9 model to purchase an Apple Pencil and also the magic keyboard.

Pros
  • Mini LED Display
  • Apple M1 Chip
  • Face ID
Cons
  • High Price
  • Extra Cost for accessories

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+

It is true the iPad Pro is the best tablet available in the market now. But it is also a fact that a lot of people prefer Android over iPad OS. If you love Android and looking for a tablet to take notes in college then your first choice should be Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+. It is as feature-packed as the iPad Pro along with Android.

Display

The Galaxy Tab S7+ has a 12.4-inch Super AMOLED WQXGA Display. Just like the iPad Pro, It also has the support for a 120Hz high refresh rate. The Display also has eye care certification and a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. The S7 Plus also supports the S Pen for a better note-taking experience. It offers ultra-low latency so you get a paper-like note-taking experience on it.

Not only does it support the S Pen but it also comes inside the package so unlike the Apple Pencil which you have to buy separately you will get a Stylus right in the box. Samsung has also added an improved Samsung notes app which lets users import files, sign documents, and make comments from a PDF.

Interestingly, you can export Samsung notes to Microsoft Word or Powerpoint. It also has Samsung Notes sync which helps you stay on the same page even when you switch between your tablet, phone, and laptop. It all happens with a Samsung account.

Performance

Usually, Android tablets lack performance but Galaxy Tab S7+ does not compromise on performance. It comes with the Snapdragon 865 chipset. It is not the latest and greatest currently available for Android but it is a last-generation flagship Soc so expect some top-notch performance.

The SoC is coupled with 6GB/8GB of RAM and 128/256/512Gb storage. The storage is also expandable up to 1TB using an SD card. To give all the requirements juice Tab S7+ has a 10090 mAh battery with support for 45W fast charging.

Optics

On the optics front, S7+ features a dual-camera system. The primary sensor is a 13 MP wide-angle camera with f/2.0 aperture and the secondary shooter is a 5MP ultra-wide camera with f/2.2 aperture.

Pricing

If you are interested in buying the S7+, it will cost you $419.99 for the 128GB Wi-Fi variant. Of course, the price will go up when you go for Wi-Fi or higher storage.

Pros
  • Quad HD 120Hz Display
  • Snapdragon 865+ SoC
  • 10090mAh Battery
Cons
  • Not so good software
  • Price on the higher side

Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Android and iOS are not the only operating systems available in the market. We do have a very popular Windows operating system. What if someone wants a Windows tablet rather than Android and iOS. Microsoft builts some really good tablet cum laptop convertible devices.

Display

The company recently launched Surface Pro 8, a Windows 11 powered tablet that can also be used as a laptop when attached to its keyboard. So, think of it as a better of both worlds. The surface pro 8 is built on the Intel Evo platform. It has got a 13-inch (2880 x 1920) touch screen display. It is almost an inch bigger than the previous generation Surface 7 Pro.

Microsoft has reduced the size of bezels giving them a modern look. The Display also supports a 120Hz refresh rate, a feature that was missing on the last-generation model. There is no dynamic refresh rate so the display can get refreshed as per the content you are consuming.

Optics

Talking about cameras, the Surface Pro 8 comes with a 10MP rear camera. The sensor is capable of shooting 4k and 1080p videos. On the front, it has a 5MP shooter capable of shooting 1080p videos. As you will be picking the Surface Pro 8 for note-taking you will have to purchase a Slim Pen 2.

The Slim Pen 2 has a haptic better which gives a feel of writing on paper. Although only a few apps support the haptic feedback while writing. To make the tablet a laptop you will also need a keyboard which will cost $179. The keyboard has a deck where Surface Slim Pen 2 can rest when you are not using it.

Performance

Coming to performance the Surface Pro 8 comes with both 11th Gen Intel Core i5 and Quad-core 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor. The processor is coupled with up to 16GB LPDDR4x RAM and 256GB SSD storage.

As per the claim made by Microsoft the battery on the Surface Pro 8 is said to last for around 16 hours. The Surface Pro 8 comes with two USB Type-C ports having the support for USB 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4. It also has a 3.5mm headphone jack, one surface type cover port, etc.

Pricing

The final question remains in your mind how much this package is gonna cost and when we can buy it. The base model price starts at $1099 exactly similar to the iPad Pro. Then you will need to buy a $100 Surface Slim Pen 2 and a keyboard cover worth $179 so the overall price will climb up to $1379. At this price, you might start thinking of getting a full-fledged laptop.

Now it’s all your choice whether you want a tablet that can also get converted into a laptop or a true laptop. As per the availability of Surface, Pro 8 is not available to make the purchase. It will be available in early 2022 so you will have to wait for a few months to get your hands on Surface Pro 8.

Pros
  • Windows 11
  • Core i5/i7 Processor
  • 16 hours of battery life
Cons
  • It will Cost $1379 with accessories
  • Late Availability

Apple iPad Air

Not everyone has a budget to purchase the tablets we have recommended so far in this article. For all of you, the iPad Air will be a nice balance of both performance and pricing. It is just an iPad Pro with some minor compromises. The current iPad Air was released last year in September but it still makes sense to get it.

Display

It comes in single 10.9-inch screen size. The Display is a Liquid Retina IPS LCD panel with 500-nits of brightness. It does have TruTone and P3 Wide Color Gamut. The screen is as big as an 11-inch iPad Pro so you will still be getting a nice screen for taking all your notes. The iPad Air does support Apple Pencil 2nd gen so you will get the same level of smoothness while taking notes.

Performance

Powering the iPad Air is Apple’s last-generation A14 Bionic chip. Although the A15 Bionic is out and used in cheaper iPad Mini, the A14 Bionic is not a bad chip by any means. It has got six cores in which two cores are performance ones and the remaining six are efficiency cores. The Storage options are 64GB and 256GB with 4GB RAM.

Optics

On the optics front, iPad Air has a 12MP wide-angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture. On the front, it gets a 7MP f/2.0 lens. It does have all-important sensors excluding the Face ID. The battery capacity given in iPad Air is 7606mAh, easy enough to get a usage time of 10 hours. Apple has also added USB Type-C support in iPad Air opening the support for a wide array of accessories.

Pricing

As per the pricing the 64GB variant costs $599. As it was launched almost a year ago you can get discounts most of the time reducing the price down to something around 500 bucks.

Pros
  • Liquid Retina Display
  • Apple A14 Bionic
  • Touch ID
Cons
  • No High refresh rate
  • Accessories are costlier

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

Last year Samsung launched two new tablets both equipped with Snapdragon 865+ SoC. Those two tablets were the Tab S7 and S7+. We already have included the bigger Tab S7+ plus in our list and now it’s time to introduce the Tab S7. It is slightly a toned-down version of the more premium S7+ but still packs pretty exciting sets of features.

Display

It comes with an 11-inch WQXGA (2560×1600) LTPS Infinity O LCD Display. Samsung has used an LCD panel instead of AMOLED available in S7+. The display is also slightly smaller than the S7+ but it is still big enough to get used in almost all the use cases. It also has a 120Hz refresh rate just like its older sibling.

The Tab S7 has support for ultra-low latency S Pen. It features both gesture and remote control. You can use it to write just like you normally do on paper.

Performance

Powering the tablet is a Snapdragon 865+ SoC. It is an octa-core chip built on a 5nm process featuring one core at 3.09 GHz, three cores at 2.40 GHz, and four cores at 1.80 GHz. The processor is coupled with 6/8GB of RAM and 128GB/256GB of internal storage. It does have support for up to 1 TB external storage using an SD card.

Optics

In the optics department, it comes with a dual-camera system in which the primary shooter is a 13MP wide-angle lens and the secondary sensor is a 5MP ultra-wide lens.

The camera also has LED flash and digital zoom. On the front, it gets an 8MP snapper for taking selfies and attending video meetings. The battery capacity of Tab S7 is 8000mAh with support for up to 45W charging. With this much battery, Samsung is claiming to provide a battery life of up to 15 hours.

Pricing

Lastly, in terms of pricing, the Tab S7 was priced initially at $649.99 but now after getting a year old it is available somewhere around $500. I will leave the best buy link so you can check the current pricing.

Pros
  • Quad HD Display
  • Snapdragon 865+
  • 8000mAh Battery
Cons
  • Average Camera
  • IPS Display

Microsoft Surface Go 3

Microsoft recently launched the Surface Go 3 and Surface Pro 8. The Surface Go 3 is a portable touch screen 2-in-1 tablet. It can be converted to a laptop by using the built-in Kickstand and Type Cover.

Display

The Surface Pro 3 has a 10.5-inch PixelSense (1920 x 1280) display with 220 PPI pixel density. The display has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a 1500:1 contrast ratio. It is also compatible with Microsoft Pen Protocol so we do have support for a stylus. You can purchase it separately to get a better note-taking experience.

Performance

For all the performance needs Surface Go 3 comes with a dual-core Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y processor. There is also a more powerful dual-core 10th gen Intel core i3-10100Y processor variant. The processor is coupled with 4GB or 8GB LPDDR3 RAM. In terms of storage, it has 64GB of eMMC drive and up to 128GB SSD drive.

Optics

In the optics department Surface Go 3 has got an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera. Both front and rear cameras support 1080p HD video recording. Using the front camera Microsoft has added Windows Hello face authentication feature. It provides a convenient way to unlock the Surface Go 3.

Microsoft claims up to 11 days of battery life on the Surface Go 3. If the claims are right then it is nice to have a tablet that can be converted into a laptop and also has a good amount of battery life.

Pricing

Talking about the pricing the Surface Go 3 is launched at a starting price of $399.It can be configured with a higher amount of RAM or a better processor. Of course, upgrading the components will shoot up the price. The only concern is availability as the Surface Go 3 will be available later this year. So, if you are interested in it you will have to wait for a few more months.

Pros
  • I3 Processor
  • Windows 11
  • Affordable Price
Cons
  • No Availability
  • Accessories are expensive

Apple iPad Mini

The Apple iPad Mini is the most compact iPad in the whole Apple lineup. Until last month it had the older iPad design but in the iPhone 13 series event, Cupertino giant completely revamped the iPad Mini. Now It has the same boxier design as the iPad Pro and iPad Air.

Display

From being one of the outdated models now iPad Mini feels more like a new gen. iPad. In the same form factor as the previous generation iPad Mini, the updated model has a bigger 8.3-inch Display with 500-nits max brightness. It also has TrueTone and Wide P3 color Gamut.

What comes as a surprise is support for Apple Pencil 2nd gen. Although, you will get a small screen the support for 2nd gen Apple Pencil means a good latency when you are taking notes. It is also the most portable iPad in the lineup so you as a college-going student can easily fit in small backpacks.

Performance

The iPad Mini is running Apple’s latest A15 Bionic chip under its hood. The same chip is used in the iPhone 13 Series. Technically the iPad Mini is now the best performing iPad after iPad Pro. The A15 Bionic is a 5nm chip packing 15-billion transistors. It has a six-core CPU in which two cores are high-performance ones and six cores are high efficiency. It also has a five-core GPU and 16-core neural engine.

The optics department sees a single 12 MP wide-angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture. On the front iPad Mini has a 12MP ultra-wide f.24 shooter. The addition of an ultra-wide lens means support for Centre Stage, a feature that was exclusive just to iPad Pro.

Just like iPad Air and iPad Pro, the iPad Mini has also got a USB Type-C port. Like every other iPad, you can expect a 10 days battery life.

Pricing

You might ask what this package would cost. You can buy an iPad Mini for $499. As I said iPad Air is also available at a similar price after discounts so it will be a tough task for you to pick between two. If you ask me I will suggest going with the iPad Air as you will get a bigger and better display, something a must-have need for note-taking.

Pros
  • New Design
  • Apple A15 Bionic Chip
  • Touch ID
Cons
  • Very Small in size
  • Extra Charge for Accessories

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE

Initially, there were two models in the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 series: S7+ and S7. When both the models became a huge success Samsung brought their premium features at a much affordable price by launching Tab S7 FE.

Just like the South Korean giant launched the FE version of its Galaxy S series smartphones now launched a FE version of its tablet. The Tab S7 FE has some highlighting features like a 12.4-inch Display, a 10000 mAh battery with 45W charging, S Pen support, and One UI software.

In terms of design, the Tab S7 FE features a similar design to Tab S7+. You might get confused looking at it at the very first glance. The side and back of the tablet are built of metal giving it a nice premium feel. So, overall from a design perspective, S7 FE is at par with the flagship S7+.

Display

Now coming to Display, Samsung has used the same 12.4-inch Display as the more premium tablets but the real issue here is the panel used is an LCD panel instead of a Super AMOLED on S7 and S7+. Not just an LCD panel the refresh rate is also kept to just 60Hz.

At a time when Samsung’s cheaper sub $200 smartphones are coming with a high refresh rate, the company has used a normal 60Hz refresh rate in the S7 FE. The Tab S7 FE also has support for Standard S Pen. It means there is no Bluetooth and gesture support in it.

As the screen is capped at 60 Hz and the S Pen is also a standard one you will not get a feeling of writing on paper something you get on the more premium S7 and S7+. Although the S Pen is standard it does not mean it is not capable of anything.

It does work well with the Samsung Notes app and other third-party apps like Canva and Noteshelf. Samsung is also selling a case cum keyboard accessory for the S7 FE and calling it a Book Cover.

Performance

Powering the S7 FE is a mid-range Snapdragon 750G processor. It is somewhat expected as the premium Tab S7 and S7+ have the better Snapdragon 865 processor. The base version of Tab S7 FE is equipped with 4GB of RAM. It is very little considering the fact the tablet does have the support for Samsung Dex.

The battery life on Tab S7 FE is 10090 mAh. It is the same capacity as premium offerings. The tablet also supports up to 45W charging but comes with a 15W charger bundled in the box. To enjoy the full charging speed you will need to buy the adapter separately.

Optics

On the optics front, S7 FE features an 8MP rear and 5MP front camera. These are average sensors one can use to take occasional photographs or join video calls.

Pricing

As per the pricing the Tab S7 FE has both Wi-Fi and 5G variants. The 5G variant was first to launch in the U.S at a starting price of $669 and the Wi-Fi model launched will cost $529. You can get discounts sometimes that bring the price even lower.

Pros
  • 12.4-inch Display
  • Snapdragon 750G
  • 10090mAh Battery
Cons
  • No High refresh rate
  • No Super AMOLED Display
  • Very Average Set of Cameras

Apple iPad 9th Generation

Apple has four different iPad models in its lineup: iPad Pro, Air, Mini, and the Standard iPad. We already have added the first three to our list and now include the last one as well. It is hard to not add the standard iPad. It is actually the best-selling lineup from the whole lineup.

The iPad was updated last year in September and when there was no hope it would see any upgrade soon Apple surprised us by launching a new generation of iPad. Although there are no huge improvements the company has added the things that were most requested by the users.

Display

The iPad 9th generation features the same 10.2-inch IPS Retina Display as last year’s model but now it has support for True Tone. A must-have feature that was missing in last year’s model. Apple did launch a new version but still, the iPad has not got the support for Apple pencil 2nd gen. It still supports the older Apple Pencil 1st generation.

Don’t get me wrong I might be expecting a lot from something as cheap as an iPad but Apple should have added the 2nd gen pencil support. Let’s hope Apple adds it in the next upgrade.

Performance

Another improvement comes in the form of the A13 Bionic chip. The previous-generation iPad had A12 Bionic so expect a better performance. Apple has made a claim that its performance will be improved by almost 20%.

Not just this the company also touts iPad is three times faster than the best seller Chromebook and six times faster than the best-selling Android tablet. Even if it is the cheapest iPad there are only a few Android tablets that can compete with it when it comes to performance.

Everyone buying the vanilla iPad has a complaint about the 32GB storage. It was just worse to have just 32GB storage in a tablet having all the power. Apple heard the complaints and now upgraded the storage to 64GB. There is also a 256 GB storage variant.

Optics

Heading towards the optics department the iPad is equipped with a 12MP rear sensor. It also has a 12MP ultra-wide lens on the front. Due to the new ultra-wide lens and A13 Bionic Apple has been Apple to add the Centre-Stage feature even in the budget iPad.

Pricing

Now if you are interested in the iPad it has been launched at the same famous $329 price tag. Also, as you are a college-going student you can get it for just $299.

Pros
  • 10.2-inch TrueTone Display
  • Apple A13 Bionic Chip
  • Affordable Price
Cons
  • Old Design
  • No Apple Pencil 2nd gen support

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus

Amazon is best known for its e-commerce and cloud services business. But some of you might be well aware of Amazon Kindle tablets. The Kindle tablets are the best when it comes to reading books on them. The eCommerce giant also has some other normal tablets in its Fire series of tablets.

One of them is the Fire HD 10 Plus. The last recommendation for all of you on our list is none other than Fire HD 10 Plus. It is the successor of the very popular Fire HD 10. It was launched earlier this year and packs some exciting new features.

Display

Talking about the features of the tablet, it comes with a 10.1-inch Full HD (1920×1200) display. It is powered by a 1.8GHz quad-core MediaTek Helio P60T processor and 2GB of RAM. The storage options are 32GB or 64GB also expandable up to 256GB using an SD card. It also comes with Alexa hands-free support making it the very first tablet that has built-in Alexa.

The battery life on a single charge is said to be around 10 hours which is quite nice. In the optics department, it gets a 2 MP front-facing camera and a 5MP rear camera. The camera sensors are upgraded as in the previous generation a VGA camera was there on the front.

Pricing

The specs are not amazing but you have to understand you are paying a very little amount of money for the Fire HD 10 Plus. It costs even less than $200 and with offers you might get it around just $150. At this price getting a tablet with that Full HD display is simply amazing. If you are really tight on budget, go ahead and get this one and you will not be disappointed.

Pros
  • Full HD Display
  • Built-in Alexa
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Outdated processor
  • Not so good cameras

FAQs

Can you use a tablet to take notes in college?

Of course, you can. Gone are the days when students used to take several physical notebooks to take notes. Now we are living in a digital era where a single digital device can be used to take notes in college. By using Stylus you will get a digital note-taking experience equivalent to taking notes on a paper.

Is a tablet good for college?

Yes, a tablet is a good companion for college. It provides both power and portability. You will get a convenience carrying it up. Also, tablets have a good quality display and touch screen. Most of the tablets included in our list support external keyboards. So, you can buy a tablet and equipped with a keyboard to use as a laptop whenever you want.

Can we take a tablet inside colleges like NIT to take notes?

Of course, all the colleges including NIT have no problems with students taking notes from tablets. Throughout the pandemic, all educational institutions have used digital resources to continue education. And now when the colleges are open how can they deny using a tablet to take notes. Be rest assured get one of the tablets included in the above list and you will be good to go.

Final Words

So, the above are the best tablets for college students. We have included all the best possible options in the market. It has all four iPad models, three of the Samsung Tab S7 series tablets, two of the recently launched Microsoft Surface 2-in1 tablets, and lastly Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus.

The price of these tablets is between $200 to $1200. So, you have room for picking a tablet right under your budget. So now go ahead check all these options and make a purchase and you will not feel disappointed after making the purchase. What are your thoughts about the note-taking tablets on our list? Drop a comment below to let us know.

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