Top Product: Lenovo Smart Tab M8 | $59 | Walmart
Smartphones routinely command several hundreds of dollars these days, even tipping into four figures, but you don’t have to spend quite as much for a capable tablet. True, Apple’s iPads still range up beyond the $1,000 mark on the high end, but Android-powered alternatives can be yours for much less.
Whether reading, browsing, gaming, or catching up on shows during a midnight flight, you’ll get along much better with a tablet to amplify your viewing pleasure, and you don’t have to reduce yourself to a ramen diet to buy one. You can buy a usable Android tablet as cheap as $50, in fact!
If you’re not willing to run more than $200 worth of charges on your credit card, we’ve rounded up some of the best Android tablets you can buy for your money according to expert and user reviews, plus tons of personal experience from yours truly.
Best All-Around Tablet: Amazon Fire HD 10
There really is no better value in the big slate game than the Amazon Fire HD 10. Coming in at just $150 and available on a monthly payment plan for select shoppers, Amazon’s managed to pack solid hardware into a sleek frame. It begins with the 10.1" display, the 1080p resolution of which only exposes individual pixels when your eyes are nearly touching the screen, but at normal people distances, it’s plenty sharp for reading, movies, and shows.
Powering the Android-based Fire OS—with thousands of popular apps and games available in its store—is a 2GHz octa-core Mediatek chipset and 2GB of RAM. Having used one, I can tell you that this combo is well-equipped to handle all available tasks with above-average efficiency. You’ll get a pair of sensors for video calls and other shenanigans if you’re into using television sets as digital cameras, you monster.
Amazon advertises 10-hour battery life, which is right at the industry standard, and USB-C charging gets you juiced quickly. There’s also Dolby Atmos sound coming out of those dual speakers, but take it from me, you’ll want to sync with an Atmos soundbar or speakers for the best results.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 doesn’t blow the world away with bells and whistles, but considering all you’re getting for the money, it’s a bright budget champion. The 32GB model costs $150 if you opt for special offers, which puts content ads on your lock screen while the device isn’t in use. I’ve bought several Amazon devices on special offers. The ads are not at all obtrusive, and you can pay to remove them whenever you want. If you go this route, the 64GB model also sneaks under our self-imposed bar at $190.
Best Apple-Like Tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8
When it comes to Android tablets, Samsung consistently ranks near atop the pile, and that’s no less true in the under-$200 range. The Galaxy Tab A 8.0's smaller size is helped even further by thin borders, perhaps not quite as thin as the ones on the 10" model, however. The US model, the one you’ll presumably consider buying, has a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400-series chipset and 2GB of RAM for computing tasks.
With its smaller display and just .78g of weight overall, the Galaxy Tab A 8.0 is much better suited as a reading device than anything. It’s also a nice size for gaming, but you’ll struggle to play heavily demanding games with the modest chipset. And the minimal design definitely seems closest to Apple’s familiar iPad in this bunch, albeit with a narrower screen aspect rato.
Your major benefit here over one of the Amazon tablets is access to Google Play, the list of apps and games in which towers the competition. Google Play apps are generally updated first, too, though most Amazon Appstore updates don’t lag too far behind. The silver model is as cheap as $118 right now.
Best Budget Tablet: Amazon Fire 7
Priced at just $50 with special offers appearing on the lock screen, the Amazon Fire 7 is a tablet for basically all budgets. For that meager price, you’re afforded the same Fire OS experience as pricier Amazon slates, albeit not nearly as zippy or crisp-looking.
With a 1.3Ghz quad-core processor and just 1GB RAM, it’s no powerhouse, but it works just fine for reading, browsing, and watching movies. Even some less-demanding games run fine here. And seven hours of battery life is quite good for the price. The price tag suggests something cheap and terrible, but it’s more “solid” in my own experience, and I’m a fan of the muted hues available beyond the standard black.
Best Sub-$100 Tablet: Amazon Fire HD 8
Just $40 more than the Fire 7, the Amazon Fire HD 8 brings an even tighter design with a slightly bigger and sharper screen, this one passing the 720p marker by a bit. Amazon seems to have struck the perfect balance between performance and battery life here, with 12 hours being the time to beat. The 2GHz processor inside provides a somewhat snappy in-app experience, and paired with Mali G52 graphics, it handles moderately demanding titles like PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile with relative ease.
Coupled with features like Game Mode, which makes all your notifications sit in the waiting lobby while you rack up high scores, the Fire HD 8 is clearly the gamer’s pick in Amazon’s family. Although you’re missing out on Google Play (there are ways around this, I’ve heard), Amazon has hundreds of thousands of them in its store, and the surfeit of its selection will surprise you.
Add another $20 to your price tag, and you could jump to the HD 8 Plus instead. It has mostly similar internals, but with wireless charging and fast charging, a speedier processor, and more RAM added to the mix.
Best Tablet for Kids: Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition
Look, any tablet can be quickly handed off to your demanding spawn, but are you really comfortable entrusting some pricey, uncovered all-screen device to them? For younger kids, at least, we don’t recommend it. Instead, get them something that’s ideally suited for their needs and capabilities.
Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition is a serious deal, not only providing a solid tablet experience at a reasonable price but also bundling in peace of mind. How so? Well, not only do these 8" and 10" tablets come with a spongy case that’ll absorb everyday drops and falls, but it’s also backed by a two-year worry-free guarantee. If the tablet breaks, just contact Amazon and they’ll swap it out. Easy as pie.
On top of that, you also get a year’s free access to Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited, a gated-off subscription service with games, books, TV shows, and other kid-friendly content.
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 $199, 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. Usually sold for $99 but currently marked down to just $59 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.”