Featured Product: Amazon Fire HD 8 | $90 | Amazon
Given the price of many smartphones today, you might be surprised at just how cheap a solid tablet can be. While Apple’s class-leading iPad starts at $329 and ranges all the way up into four figures for advanced configurations, you can get a decent Android tablet for as little as $50.
True, a cheap Android tablet won’t provide the same kind of performance and you may lose something in terms of screen crispness and battery life, depending on model. But if you just want a portable screen for browsing the web, watching videos, reading books, and dabbling in games, you can save a lot of cash by opting for an affordable Android. Here are some good options.
Best All-Around Tablet: Amazon Fire HD 10
If you’re in the market for a large-sized budget tablet, there’s no better value than the Amazon Fire HD 10. Priced at just $150 for the base model, the Fire HD 10 gives you a solid tablet experience within a sleek frame. This 10.1" screen is plenty crisp at 1080p, making it ideal for games, videos, reading, and more.
This octa-core MediaTek chip with 2GB RAM only provides modest power, but it’s enough speed for media consumption and non-intensive games and apps. You’ll get about 10 hours of battery life, too (like an iPad), and the USB-C port makes charging fast and easy. It’s not heavy on bells and whistles, but for less than half the price of the base iPad, it’s a fantastic deal. Note than that $150 32GB base model has ads on the lock screen, which you can pay to remove later if you hate ‘em.
Best Apple-Like Tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0
Samsung makes some of the best Android smartphones around, and it does much the same with tablets too. It’s not just the fancy stuff, either. The affordable Galaxy Tab A 8.0 is kept compact thanks to thin borders and is well-suited as a reading device.
The modest Qualcomm Snapdragon 429 chip with 2GB RAM means this tablet is better suited for consuming content rather than creating it, but you’ll still be able to play less-intensive games. And unlike Amazon’s tablets, you get access to Google’s robust Play Store, which has a better selection of apps and games and sees more frequent app updates too.
Best Budget Tablet: Amazon Fire 7
Currently available for a mere $50 if you’re cool with special offers appearing on the lock screen, the Amazon Fire 7 is by far the most affordable current tablet you’re likely to find. This lil’ device comes with the same Fire OS experience as Amazon’s other slates, even if it’s not as fast or crisp-looking.
The quad-core 1.3Ghz processor with 1GB RAM won’t win any speed contests, but it works just fine for browsing the internet, reading ebooks, and streaming media. You should be able to run less-demanding games, too. And the seven hours of battery life is better than we figured for such a small size and tiny price. You might expect this cheap of a tablet to be terrible, but it’s actually more “solid” in my own experience. It’s hard to go too wrong at $50.
Best Sub-$100 Tablet: Amazon Fire HD 8
Got a little more to spend? For $40 more at list price, the Amazon Fire HD 8 nets you a larger and sharper screen and a tighter design. The $90 Fire HD 8 strikes an ideal balance between battery longevity and performance, giving you about 12 hours of uptime and just enough power for everyday needs. It can even handle games like Call of Duty Mobile and PUBG Mobile well enough.
True, you miss out on the Google Play Store here, with its better selection of games and apps, but Amazon’s storefront has plenty to keep you entertained. Spend another $20 on top of that and you can jump up to the Fire HD 8 Plus, which has a faster processor, more RAM, wireless charging, and fast wired charging onboard. Even then, it’s just $110.
Best Tablet for Kids: Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition
You could hand any tablet to your little ones, but are you really comfortable handing a pristine, unprotected, screen-centric device to them? We don’t recommend it, at least not for the younger ones. Instead, get them something that’s designed exactly for their capabilities.
Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition tablet represent a fantastic bargain for parents, providing a solid experience at a reasonable price while also providing peace of mind. Not only do these tablets come installed within a rubber case that’ll tolerate all kinds of drops and dings, but it also has a two-year worry-free guarantee. No matter how it breaks, they’ll swap it out. Easy peasy.
You also get a year of free access to Amazon Kids+, a subscription service with kid-friendly content like games, TV shows, books, podcasts, and more.
Best Premium Design: Lenovo Tab M10 Plus FHD (2nd Gen)
While many other non-Samsungs have perished in the tablet game, Lenovo has been consistent in its line of flat slabs, and at $129, the Lenovo Tab M10 Plus continues those traditions. You’re getting a full Android 9 Pie experience and a 10" 1080p display. With a bevy of positive reviews to its name, the Lenovo Tab M10 Plus wins hearts with its sleek metal backplate. We’re used to overwhelming plastic in this price category, so if that’s something you loathe, this is the tablet to buy.
But more than that, you’re getting a workhorse in the octa-core MediaTek Helio chipset, which comes clocked at 2.3GHz and sits alongside 2GB of RAM for this 32GB model. You’ll get a pair of decent rear- and front-facing cameras at 8MP and 5MP respectively, including IR for face unlock. And if your little ones are planning to use it, Lenovo has one of the better kids’ modes on avail, beaten only by Amazon.
Best Premium Design (Runner-Up): Lenovo Smart Tab M8
If you like the look of Lenovo’s Tab M10 Plus tablet above but want something smaller and/or cheaper, then consider the Lenovo Smart Tab M8. Available for $99 at Walmart as of this writing, the Android-powered Smart Tab M8 has much more modest specs but still looks like a fancier tablet than it really is.
One Amazon customer called it the “best inexpensive Android tablet I’ve ever used,” enthusing:
“Wow, Lenovo! You are killing it in the low end product line-up these days. [...] The Tab M8 continues the pattern of offering a great low-end price for very good value. I have been buying, returning, or reselling the spectrum of tablets for a long time in search of one that checks every box I want in a tablet: Inexpensive, reasonably high-quality build, acceptable performance and features.”
This story was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer in October 2020 and updated by Andrew Hayward with new information on 03/02/2021.