While many pilots opt to buy an iPad for aviation purposes, others prefer Android tablets, especially because they offer better value for money.
While I cover both in this article, if you’re specifically looking to buy an iPad for aviation, take a look at my guide to the Best iPads for Pilots where I cover the most recommended models for student, private and professional pilots in more detail.
Table of Contents
4 of the Best Aviation Tablets for Pilots
Best for Foreflight: iPad Pro
The best aviation tablet for ForeFlight is the iPad Pro.
Foreflight themselves recommend this model due to its wonderfully crisp and clear Liquid Retina display, powerful chip, and at a minimum 128GB of storage space to store VFR sectionals, A/FD sheets, airport diagrams, IFR enroute charts, etc. with room to spare.
So you can activate moving map capabilities in ForeFlight, the Cellular + WiFi option is also preferred.
Best for Student Pilots: iPad Mini
Due to its smaller 8.3″ screen size, I find the iPad Mini to be ideal for student pilots, as they typically learn in planes with small cockpits.
64GB or 256GB models are available, as well as WiFi or WiFi + Cellular. As a student pilot, a model with 64Gb and just WiFi is sufficient, though upgrading to the Cellular option can be a smart idea as you progress beyond a student pilot license.
Due to the iPad Mini’s compact size, I appreciate how I am able to hold it one-handed.
Best for Garmin Pilot: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE is a great pick for Garmin Pilot where a powerful processor is required to make sure everything runs quickly and smoothly.
The S7 has an 12.4″, 1600 x 2560 pixels display, and is available with 64GB or 128GB of internal storage.
If you would prefer a larger screen (12.4″) with greater resolution (2800 x 1752), the Galaxy S7+ with its exceptionally crisp AMOLED display is the logical upgrade.
Best Budget Pick: Amazon Fire HD 8
Budget-conscious pilots should look to the Amazon Fire HD 8.
While it may not have a display that is as high resolution, or a chip that is as powerful as other tablets, the Fire HD 8 was able to get the job done in the cockpit at a low price.
Its compact size and smaller 8″ screen size meant that I could just about use it one-handed.
It is available with a storage capacity of 32GB or 64GB.
What to Consider if You’re a Pilot Buying an Aviation Tablet
- ForeFlight vs. Other Electronic Flight Bags
If you plan to use Foreflight, keep in mind that it is only compatible with iPad devices.
There’s a whole world beyond ForeFlight, though.
There are other EFBs available to Android tablet users, including Avare, FltPlan Go, WingX, and Garmin Pilot among others, several of which are free to use.
- Tablet & Screen Size
Getting the overall size of the tablet and the size of its screen size right is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the best aviation tablet for your needs.
Smaller tablets are often preferred, especially by student pilots, due to the lack of space in the cockpit, particularly if you want to use a yoke or suction mount instead of a kneeboard.
- Internal Storage Capacity
I recommend not going below 64GB of internal storage. You want enough space to be able to store all the various data and files you need, with plenty of room to spare.
More storage space also means that the tablet can be used away from the cockpit for other purposes like watching Netflix, playing games, etc.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.