For some students, a laptop isn’t portable enough for their learning needs.

As technologies improve, a good mobile device like a smartphone or tablet has become a very useful tool for students who like to learn on-the-go.


“I submitted both my postings tonight on my iPad!! I actually found the copy and paste functionality much easier than on my MacBook. The ability to work on coursework at any point during the day via my iPad is an important part of my educational journey.”

– Robert P., PhD in Human Services, Nonprofit Management and Leadership


Students who need this flexibility should consider a device that is well suited for their coursework. Basic capabilities to look for include powerful processors, easy to see and use displays and keyboards, cameras and microphones, and software flexibility.

Here’s a “best of” list of tablets for online learning.


Apple iPad Pro

Apple’s 9.7 and 12.9-inch iPad Pros are their largest iPads to date. These models carry the same super-slim design of previous iPads but focus on the best possible resolution and internal hardware that puts them on the same level as desktops.

Media capability: The iPad Pro line features internal hardware that was previously limited to non-mobile devices. All models include forward and reverse facing cameras along with video recording capability and microphones, as well as an Apple pencil and smart keyboard. With all of these features, students can use the device for video conferences required in some classes, communicating with professors, and easily working on and managing all coursework.

These models feature “all day” 10-hour battery life, four-speaker audio system that automatically balances left and right, and the highest quality retina display experience of all Apple products.

App availability: Apple’s iOS mobile operating system is constantly competing for the top spot against Android’s app store, and many of the “best” apps are available to the iOS users before Android. [Capella University has a mobile app specifically for students with Apple devices.]

Pricing: iPad Pro 12.9 inch starts at $799, and the iPad Pro 9.7 inch starts at $599.


Google Pixel C

The first Android tablet designed by Google features an (optional) full keyboard, USB Type-C charger, and multi-angle display functionality for “flexibility on the go.” CNET calls this device the “best Android tablet money can buy,” with a slim but sturdy build, long-running battery, and lightning fast speeds.

Media capability: The Google Pixel C is slim, flexible, and sharp in resolution. The Pixel C and its full-size keyboard were designed to work together, connecting with magnets, and the keyboard charges wirelessly when the tablet is shut.

App availability: The Google Play Store surpassed 2 million apps in February 2016, which means there is no shortage of options. [Capella’s mobile app is available in the Google Play Store.]

Pricing: Google’s Pixel C starts at $499, and the Pixel C Keyboard is an additional $149.


Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft calls their Surface Pro 4 the “tablet that can replace your laptop.” Running on all the Microsoft desktop software you’re used to relying on, this 1.7 lb tablet offers performance and flexibility on-the-go. CNET calls this tablet the best-in-class Windows tablet.

Media capability: The Surface Pro 4 runs on desktop-level software and a large 12.3-inch screen, compacted into a slim device. Easily adjust from a laptop to tablet with the kickstand and keyboard. Take class notes with Surface Pen and improved Type Cover. Surface Pro 4 has advanced wireless capabilities and all the ports you need to connect any additional accessories. All of these factors combine to make it a great option for students in online classes.

App availability: There are plenty of apps on Windows 10 Mobile and the number of big-name brands offering apps for the platform is growing, but many would say their store still falls in a distant third place to iOS and Android’s app availability. [While there is not yet a specific Windows 10 mobile app from Capella, the mobile website works extremely well on the Surface Pro 4.]

Pricing: Microsoft Surface 4 starts at $899.


Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Competing with the iPad Mini, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7” and 8” offer plentiful storage, a sleek design and an HD screen. CNET describes the Galaxy Tab S2 as a great tablet for everyday use at home or on the go. With a lower price but high functionality, this device is a front-runner as a tablet for students.

Media capability: The 4:3 aspect ratio screen allows reading that’s easy on students’ eyes and more content when scrolling through the web. The MS Office solutions and OneDrive cloud storage features allow for easy creation and editing of documents and coursework. The device comes with 32GB of storage, a microSD card expansion slot, fingerprint scanner, and long battery life.

App availability: There is no shortage of app options. [Capella’s Android App is optimal for Samsung products.]

Pricing: The Galaxy Tab S2 9.7” starts at $399 and the Galaxy Tab S2 8” starts at $349. The Galaxy Tab S2 keyboard cover starts at $129.


Purchasing a tablet for educational purposes is an important decision. Different online classes may have different requirements, from video needs to using Microsoft Office products. Be sure to check with your school before deciding on a device.


Capella’s online classes are simplified with the Mobile Courseroom and Campus Support, connecting students to resources like the course dashboard, degree plan, discussion boards, and faculty and classmate contacts.