XcloudSource: Windows Central

Best Tablets for xCloud and Game Pass Windows Central 2021

Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) is an incredibly promising service, giving you access to dozens of games in the cloud with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. You can also use the Xbox app to stream all of your owned games from a connected Xbox console, too. Recently, Microsoft upgraded Xbox's cloud platform to Xbox Series X hardware as well, offering faster speeds and more responsive play.

Smartphones have generally been the target marketing pitch for Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming thus far, but we find larger tablets to be a far more pleasant experience, owing to things like text scaling and so on. As such, we've compiled a list of the best tablets for Project xCloud and Xbox game streaming. If you're looking for a place to start, we recommend the Galaxy Tab S5e.

Best overall: Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5eSource: Samsung

While Apple's iPad remains the king (at least in terms of mindshare) for tablets, as of writing, Xbox Cloud Gaming is also available on Android. As such, the best overall tablet option that balances speed, price, and features goes to the Galaxy Tab S5e.

This isn't Samsung's flagship tablet, but it is far more affordable at around $400. It's by no means cheap despite being the "budget" model, but the Android tablet landscape isn't as hot as it potentially could be, with few options out there for mid-range interests. It compromises on battery life compared to the more powerful S6, but it retains a gorgeous 10.5-inch AMOLED display and powerful speakers, ideal for gaming away from the TV.

It weighs just less than a pound, and there's a range of accessories compatible with the device, including bed mounts, kickstands, and more, ideal for xCloud and game streaming. It also comes with Samsung's brand of Android, which remains highly configurable with Microsoft services. You can also attach a keyboard and go into DeX mode for some productivity once your gaming session is done.

Pros:

  • Very light
  • Gorgeous display for game streaming
  • Quad speakers for immersive sound
  • Full Android with Google Play, offering a huge app library

Cons:

  • Still quite pricey

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e

A high-quality Android tablet experience

If you fancy the Galaxy Tab S6 or 7 but don't think you'll use the stylus, the S5e is a far more cost-effective option for xCloud.

Best premium: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus ReviewSource: Android Central

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 is the current flagship tablet from Samsung, bringing together all of their best tech into a single, rather costly package.

This is the tablet you should buy if you actually want, and need, a laptop-like tablet replacement in your life for productivity, inking, and Project xCloud. This is probably not a tablet you would buy just for Project xCloud, but it's more something you can use for Microsoft Word, art apps like Adobe Fresco, and general productivity usage.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 has a world best-in-class display with massive battery life, great audio, a Surface-like keyboard attachment, and great cameras for a tablet. It can be used in a Windows-like interface powered by Samsung's One UI system, and it does support Project xCloud, which scales to adequately meet the display size. Additionally, it supports 5G sim cards, making it a future-proofed option for the rollout of 5G across the world's cities.

The major downside of this product is its price. Given that the vast majority of Android apps aren't designed with tablet resolutions in mind, a product this expensive can offer only a sub-par overall experience. At that price, you're going to want a quality overall experience.

Pros:

  • Best tablet screen on the market
  • S-Pen for inking and drawing
  • Great battery life
  • Keyboard attachment option
  • 5G option for true future-proofing

Cons:

  • Crazy expensive if you're not going to use all features
  • Android on tablets still isn't a great experience

Best premium

Galaxy Tab S8 2020 Se

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 tablet

The best of the best

If you have the cash to burn and want what is effectively a mini laptop, the Galaxy S7 is the best xCloud tablet for you.

Best mid-range: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 with keyboardSource: Hayato Huseman / Android Central

If you want a full-blown premium experience but don't want to play current-gen prices, the previous-gen flagship Galaxy Tab S6 is probably your best bet. This tablet includes the best of the best, including a rapid Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, and ample storage options. You're also getting a Samsung best-in-class display, a metal build, an included S Pen for inking, and 10.5 inches of visual gorgeousness.

The primary downside is the price. This is a tablet that also incorporates inking for the creative among us, as well as impressive battery life and Samsung DeX support for productivity on the go. This is what you'll want to buy if your pockets are deep and your standards are high.

Pros:

  • Best-in-class tablet screen
  • Included S Pen inking stylus
  • Latest One UI software
  • Beefy battery life
  • Optional keyboard for productivity
  • Great quad speakers

Cons:

  • Very pricey for casual tablet use

Best mid-range

Tab S

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 tablet

Last-gen's best premium Android tablet on the market

This is Samsung's previous flagship tablet, comprising all the leading features you could ever want out of a tablet.

Best 8-inch: Samsung Galaxy Tab A

Galaxy Tab ASource: Samsung

For a middle-of-the-road 8-inch tablet, the Galaxy Tab A is your best option. However, its availability is a bit patchy. It's available in the U.S., but only through Samsung itself and third-party sellers as of writing.

The Tab A compromises in a few ways over the S-series tablets, with a mono speaker, a lower-end processor, and only 2GB of RAM, which makes multitasking a bit of a chore. However, it's more than capable enough for media consumption, making it a prime candidate for affordable Project xCloud streaming. It has an 8-inch display that might also make it a better option than some of the larger tablets on this list for those who want something more portable.

Pros:

  • Small size makes it super portable
  • Amazing price
  • Adequate performance for media apps

Cons:

  • Less performant across the board than the S-series tablets
  • Not as available

Best 8-inch

Galaxy Tab A

Samsung Galaxy Tab A

Budget-friendly Android tablet

This is a light and portable tablet that will get the job done for xCloud but will prove less versatile as a tablet.

Best budget: Vankyo MatrixPad S7

Vankyo TabletSource: Vankyo

We previously had Amazon's Fire tablets listed here. Still, the steps to side-load Xbox Game Pass onto an Amazon tablet are not only confusing, but they can also be risky since the places to download the APK can often be riddled with viruses and malware. Not to mention that Amazon Fire tablets are stacked with hundreds of ads you can't remove without a fairly high degree of difficulty.

Instead, we're recommending the Vankyo MatrixPad S7 as our budget option. This tablet sports Android 9.0, making it perfectly compatible with xCloud. It has a 7-inch display, making it the smallest option on this list, but that also enhances its portability. The memory and storage are low, at 2GB and 32GB, respectively, but if you're planning to use the device for only xCloud, it may be more than enough. The LCD display is nowhere near as good as the Samsung Galaxy Tab A, though, but this is what you should buy if you're looking to save as much money as possible.

Best budget

Vankyo Tablet

Vankyo MatrixPad S7

This is the best affordable option

Until Amazon's Fire tablets get xCloud, this is the best affordable Google Play-enabled tablet you can buy right now.

Apple option: iPad Mini

App-StoreSource: iMore

In June 2021, Microsoft opened up Xbox Game Pass Ultimate cloud streaming to web browsers, including Apple's Safari browser. While the experience isn't as good as the native app offered on Android, it's at least something if you're particularly enamored with Apple's closed, anti-competitive ecosystem.

As such, the best option for XCloud on iOS is probably the iPad Mini. The iPad Mini's hardware is sub-par, with paper-like quality that is very easily broken. However, the interface is snappy, and for whatever reason Apple enjoys the best support from app developers, despite treating them like garbage. Apple effectively coined the entire tablet PC market, at least while Android and Windows scrape and claw to catch up. IPads also offer greater synchronicity between other iDevices, including iPhones and Mac laptops. The current-gen versions are incredibly overpriced, laughably so, but you can buy older iPad versions or second-hand versions on eBay for less.

To access XCloud on an iPad, point your browser at http://www.xbox.com/play.

Best Apple tablet

Ipad Air 3

iPad Mini

Apple option

If you're unfortunate enough to be locked into Apple's closed ecosystem, the iPad Mini is a decent option for XCloud gaming on their proprietary Safari browser.

Bottom line

When it comes down to it, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 5Se is most likely your best all-round option, with a solid balance of affordability and power. It has a stunning display that will futureproof it against future Xbox Cloud Gaming updates and comes with large, powerful speakers perfect for gaming. It's a larger tablet, which impacts its portability. Still, until game developers start using the xCloud APIs for text scaling on smaller screens, many games will just play far better on larger screens 8 inches or above.

If you just want a display for Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming and don't care about using the tablet as a tablet, the Galaxy Tab A and Vankyo MatrixPad are great options. Both are a little on the slow side for heavier apps, but for simple video streaming, both are a great option at a much more affordable price. I personally use the Galaxy Tab A, and enjoy it immensely.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author:

Jez Corden is a full-time writer for Windows Central, focusing on Xbox, Surface, and Windows PC. He spends the vast majority of his time gaming or writing about gaming, with a mission to provide gamers in the Microsoft ecosystem the best and most up-to-date info possible.

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