There’s never been a better time to find the best cheap tablet for you. Due to the popularity of portable-but-powerful devices running on iOS, Android variants and even Windows, finding a good tablet has never been easier. Tablets are no longer a hi-tech luxury for those who can afford it.
Among even the smallest tablets, processing power, RAM size, screen resolution and operating system capabilities have grown exponentially over the past couple of years. This means there are plenty of good options on the market. It also means that the market is absolutely flooded and that choosing the right tablet could be time-consuming.
Below, we’ve outlined the most important aspects you need to take into account while choosing a cheap tablet. We’ve also included a list of the best such tablets on the market today, highlighting each model’s key features, pros, and cons.
How to Choose a Cheap Tablet
As stated above, there’s now a comparative glut of operating systems in the world of tablets. Whether you want one that runs iOS, Android/an Android derivative like Amazon’s FireOS, or Windows, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that suits your needs. There are also other options out there — like Linux tablets, for example — but we’d recommend most users stick with one of Windows, iOS or Android simply for usability and supported software.
That said, on the cheap end of the scale, the two most common operating systems are Android and Amazon’s FireOS. Neither Apple nor Windows truly has any comparatively priced options.
There are more similarities than differences between the two, but each one has distinct advantages. Android is more flexible and allows for more customization and power, while FireOS gives you direct access to Amazon’s content and services. If you’re already an Amazon consumer, FireOS could make your life even easier. If you’re not crazy about Amazon or you don’t have Prime, then Android could give you a little more control.
One of the most significant factors for how fast your tablet can run is RAM. If you plan on doing any kind of work that’s particularly intensive, like photo editing or heavy multitasking, then taking an upgrade on the RAM size might be a good idea.
At this point in time, even the best cheap Android tablets come with at least 1GB of RAM. Upgrades to 1.5GB or 2GB are often possible if you’re willing to shell out a little more. Going below 1GB for a price cut may not be worth it, though; you may end up regretting that decision later on when your tablet slows down significantly.
Screen size and resolution have also jumped significantly in recent years. On a cheap tablet, you’re unlikely to find anything truly incredible, but you can reasonably expect an HD resolution capable of 720p images or a Full HD resolution capable of 1080p images. Actual pixel numbers and ppi may vary by screen size and manufacturer, but HD/Full HD are usually good keywords to look for.
There are also other, slightly less concrete details to consider when considering any given laptop’s screen. Screen brightness is important if you plan on using your tablet outside. Color reproduction/accuracy matters for visual or graphics work. Finally, aspect ratio could play a big role in your experience: a standard, more horizontal aspect ratio (like 16:9) is great for entertainment, but a more vertical one (like 3:4) could work better with documents or vertical reading.
Memory capacity, thankfully, is usually stated upfront and will be very easy to determine. Tablets could have anything ranging from 8GB of storage to 64GB and above (though you’ll likely have to pay a premium for 128GB or 256GB of memory).
Again, this is a feature that will largely depend on your intended usage. If you take lots of photos or need to do media work on your tablet, you’ll need lots of memory to handle the large files. But if you mainly plan on using your tablet to surf the web and chat with others on social media, having a lot of storage isn’t an issue and you could easily get away with 16GB or less.
One more thing to look out for is whether or not onboard storage is expandable. Some tablets have SD card slots or other inputs where you can add more room for your files, music and photos.
Are you planning on keeping your tablet at home, or do you need to use it on the go and in places where an outlet might not be readily available? Battery life of around 8-10 hours is now a standard bottom line on budget tablets, and you can expect to see up to 15 or 20 hours of promised time on higher-end models.
1. Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet
To be clear, this tablet is indeed for kids — anybody who was looking for a fully-functioning tablet they could use for daily tasks might have a hard time. The Fire 7 Kids’ screen is a bit small and it has limited capabilities. You may find yourself held back by the non-HD screen, or the lone 1GB of RAM aiding the Fire 7 Kids’ 1.3GHz processor.
That said, it is indeed a bargain: you get 16GB of memory (which is expandable) and up to 8 hours of battery life. It also comes with a two-year, worry-free guarantee for if a child breaks it in any way, as well as a year of Amazon’s FreeTime content for children. The Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet might very well be the best cheap tablet for kids.
- Very affordable
- Built-in parental controls
- A free year of Amazon’s FreeTime educational and entertainment content system for kids
- Non-HD screen
- Not the most powerful or sleek tablet on this list
2. LG G Pad F 8.0 16Gb (2nd Gen)
Being an 8-inch tablet, the LG G Pad F 8.0 is a little cheaper than the 10-inch competition. Despite that, it does impressively well for its size, featuring an HD IPS display, 16GB of expandable memory, and the ability to be used with any SIM card from a GSM-band carrier.
It’s not quite as powerful as other tablets, with only 1GB of RAM, but the LG G Pad is a versatile performer for anybody who needs an 8-inch tablet that’s both portable and fast enough to handle daily tasks beyond simple internet browsing and social media.
- HD display
- Expandable memory
- Ability to use with a SIM card
- Built-in stylus
- Not overwhelmingly powerful
3. Huawei Android Tablet MediaPad T5
The Huawei Mediapad T5 is a powerhouse, even despite its relatively low price. That said, it is reaching the higher end of what we could consider a cheap tablet. The good news is, that extra dough comes with some serious upgrades: a 2.36GHz, octa-core processor; 2GB of RAM and 16Gb of ROM with expandable storage; Dual Harman-Kardon speakers and a 1080p FHD display.
That said because this tablet seems to focus on media usage and power, its battery life isn’t quite as good. At up to 10 hours of video at a resolution of 1080p, there are other tablet options out there for those in search of marathon-level battery life.
- Fast overall, with a 2.36GHz processor and 2GB of RAM
- Expandable storage
- FHD display
- More expensive than the true budget options on this list
- Battery not as long-lived as other tablets
4. Fire HD 8 Tablet
Just like the Fire HD 10 Tablet, the Fire HD 8 is a good choice for those already invested in Prime and Amazon’s other offerings. It also might just be the best cheap tablet under 100, as it comes with very decent specifications at an affordable price: 1.5Gb of RAM, 16 or 32Gb of internal storage that’s expandable to a whopping 400GB, a 1.3GHz Quad-core processor and up to 10 hours of battery life.
For about as much as an extravagant dinner for two, you could get a tablet that will handle many of the same tasks models costing double or triple the price normally do. How’s that for a bargain?
- Great for existing Amazon consumers
- FireOS not as flexible as pure Android
5. Lenovo Yoga Tab ZA0H0064US 10
The Lenovo Yoga Tab 10 is a flashy offering with the specs to match: up to 18 hours of battery life, which is quite long by any standard; Dolby Atmos speakers; an innovative, rotatable camera; and an HD IPS display. This is a great option for those who either need to do work with media or who just enjoy using their tablet for entertainment.
- Eye-catching design
- Unique camera
- Name-brand speakers
- A full 18 hours of battery life
- Not the most cost-efficient
- Display is HD but not FHD
6. ASUS ZenPad 8
The Asus ZenPad 8 is downright eye-catching. With an 8-inch, IPS, HD display that takes up most of the tablet’s face and a sleek, stylish body, the Zenpad 8 is a hip choice. It also features ASUS’ TruVivid technology for accurate and beautiful color reproduction and has an interchangeable back cover you can switch out for different colors and longer battery life.
Make no mistake, this ASUS tablet comes at a premium. And with 2Gb of RAM and a 1.3 GHz processor, it does alright on power but it won’t totally blow you away. This is a tablet for those who want to focus on media work or on this product’s beautiful design itself.
- Sleek, modern design
- HD display that takes up much of the tablet’s face
- 2Gb of RAM
- TruVivid technology for good color reproduction
- Expensive for an 8-inch tablet
7. Lenovo Tab 4 8
The Lenovo Tab 4 8 is one of the more high-performing 8-inch tablets on this list. It has a quad-core, 64-bit, 1.4GHz processor, and HD screen and 2GB of RAM working under the hood. In addition, it blows the competition out of the water on battery life, with a stunning 20 hours.
You get all this in an 8-inch form factor, which makes the Lenovo Tab 4 8 a perfect choice for consumers who need both power and portability.
- 20-hour battery life
- 2GB of RAM
- HD Display
- Dual Dolby Atmos speakers
- Quad-core, 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor
- Smaller screen size
8. Fire HD 10 Tablet with Alexa
For those who are already significantly invested in Amazon’s ecosystem, the Fire HD 10 Tablet will let you easily access your favorite shopping, movies and games. It’s also likely the best cheap 10-inch tablet on this list in terms of cost-value ratio. It has a fast processor at up to 1.8GHz, a generous 2GB of RAM, and expandable storage as well as a FHD screen.
That also makes it a good choice for anybody who just wants a good budget tablet. While not as flashy as the Samsung Galaxy Tab above or the other 10-inch Huawei and Lenovo tablets on this list, the Fire HD 10 offers more for less. That’s why we love it.
- A lot of bang for your buck
- Storage up to 64GB and the possibility of expansion
- Quad-core CBU up to 1.8GHz
- 2GB of RAM
- FHD screen
- FireOS less flexible than vanilla Android
9. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8
Right in the middle of the pack, this tablet is a solid choice for those who need a tablet that isn’t particularly flashy but has the specifications to more or less do its job. It comes with up to 32GB of built-in storage and it’s expandable — meaning any media lovers out there will be more than satisfied with the Galaxy Tab 8’s ability to hold photos, videos, music and other large files.
Furthermore, it has a battery life of up to 15 hours while using the internet as well as a 1.4GHz processor. All that means is that this might not be the most powerful tablet out there, but for the price, you’re getting a very capable machine, especially when it comes to viewing or working with media.
- Expandable storage
- Decent battery with up to 14 hours of video playback
- Screen is 1280 by 800 pixels
- Relatively fast and capable, especially for the price
- Slightly on the expensive side compared to other offerings on this list
- USB-C means you might not be able to use your old charging cords