The best cheap tablets 2021: the top budget options

Best cheap tablets

(Image credit: Apple; Amazon; Lenovo)

While there are dozens of great cheap phones, your options for the best cheap tablet are rather more limited. That’s largely because tablets in themselves aren’t as popular as smartphones, particularly outside Apple’s iPad range, which is rarely cheap.

That said, there are some affordable iPads available, such as the iPad 10.2 (2019), and there are also a few other good cheap tablets, including a sizeable selection from Amazon, such as the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus.

With the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 also proving an affordable and impressive option, there should still be something for most people, regardless of what screen size, operating system, or features you want.

All the best options – including those mentioned above – can be found below. We’ve ranked them from best to worst, but they’re all worth considering, and with a full specs list and overview for each, you should quickly be able to work out which cheap tablet is right for you.

Or if you’ve got a little more to spend, check out one of our other best tablet guides, linked below.

Best cheap tablets 2021 at a glance:

  1. Apple iPad 10.2 (2019)
  2. Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020)
  3. Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)
  4. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)
  5. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5
  6. Amazon Fire 7 (2019)

Apple iPad 10.2 (2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

1. Apple iPad 10.2 (2019)

The best cheap tablet you can buy right now

Specifications

Weight: 483g

Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm

OS: iPadOS 13

Screen size: 10.2-inch

Resolution: 1620 x 2160

CPU: Apple A10 Fusion

Storage: 32GB/128GB

Battery: 8827mAh

Rear camera: 8MP

Front camera: 1.2MP

Reasons to buy

Good screen quality Still reasonably priced

Reasons to avoid

Only marginally better than the iPad 9.7Mediocre camera

The best cheap tablet you can buy right now, the iPad 10.2 (2019) packs a lot in for the price. It might no longer be the newest entry-level iPad out there with the iPad 10.2 (2020) taking that crown, but that doesn’t stop the iPad 10.2 (2019) being a worthy cheap alternative.

You still get a 10.2-inch display, along with Smart Keyboard Cover compatibility, extra RAM, and all the great features that the latest iPadOS offer. That includes being able to use the iPad 10.2 (2019) as a second Mac display via MacOS Catalina’s SideCar feature. The display is gorgeous and bright and colorful so it’s a fine choice, both as a tablet or as a secondary screen. 

The only weakness then is the camera but that’s a small price to pay for paying a small price. The iPad 10.2 (2019) might not be the newest basic iPad but you can be confident that it’ll be supported for years to come by Apple. 

Read the full review: iPad 10.2 (2019)

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

Amazon’s 8-inch slate now ships with added fire

Specifications

Weight: 355g

Dimensions: 202 x 137 x 9.7mm

OS: Fire OS

Screen size: 8-inch

Resolution: 880 x 1280

CPU: quad-core

Storage: 32GB/64GB

Battery: up to 12 hours

Rear camera: 2MP

Front camera: 2MP

Reasons to buy

Wireless charging Can be used like an Echo Show

Reasons to avoid

Poor screen qualityNot swift, even with extra RAM

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is essentially the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020), but just made a little bit better. It has more RAM at 3GB, supports wireless charging (so you can use it with an optional dock that brings it close to an Echo Show), and comes with a speedier charger than the standard Fire HD 8.

Beyond that it’s much the same as its cheaper sibling, but that in itself makes it faster than the previous generation of the Amazon Fire HD 8, as well as giving you much more storage to play with.

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus still isn’t the fastest of slates, but it holds its own for what it costs, and if you want a tablet and smart display all in one it’s a top choice – though for just the tablet part you might want to consider the standard Fire HD 8 (2020) instead.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

A decent, big screen, cheap tablet

Specifications

Weight: 504g

Dimensions: 262 x 159 x 9.8mm

OS: Fire OS

Screen size: 10.1-inch

Resolution: 1920 x 1200

CPU: octa-core

Storage: 32GB/64GB

Battery: up to 12 hours

Rear camera: 2MP

Front camera: 2MP

Reasons to buy

Large, clear screen Dependable battery life

Reasons to avoid

Divisive softwareOnly okay speakers

The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) is the latest and best of Amazon’s big tablets. Having a 10.1-inch 1200 x 1920 screen makes it a good budget option for media in particular, especially if you have an Amazon Prime subscription.

It’s built to last too, and has decent battery life, so this is a slate you can happily take with you wherever you go – as long as the size isn’t an issue.

Its biggest issue is the same issue all Amazon tablets have, namely the software, which is big on pushing Amazon products and services, and lacks access to the Google Play Store. But if you can live with that then the Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) is a strong cheap choice.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)

Amazon’s middle-sized tablet gets an upgrade

Specifications

Weight: 355g

Dimensions: 202 x 137 x 9.7mm

OS: Fire OS

Screen size: 8-inch

Resolution: 880 x 1280

CPU: quad-core

Storage: 32GB/64GB

Battery: up to 12 hours

Rear camera: 2MP

Front camera: 2MP

Reasons to buy

Super-low price Great front camera placement

Reasons to avoid

Poor screen qualityLocked to Amazon’s ecosystem

The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) is the latest and greatest version of Amazon’s affordable 8-inch slate. It’s 30% faster than its predecessor, has twice as much storage, slightly better battery life, and finally makes the move to USB-C (where the previous model uses micro USB), but otherwise it’s very similar.

So if you’re shopping for your first Amazon slate or have a much older one then this is a good upgrade, but you might want to think twice about upgrading from the previous model.

Other highlights of the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) include a 3.5mm headphone port and a cleverly positioned front camera – which is at the top when you hold the slate in landscape, as you likely will during video calls. Plus, of course, it’s very, very cheap.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 (2018)

(Image credit: Samsung)

5. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 (2018)

Samsung’s best budget tablet

Specifications

Weight: 529g

Dimensions: 260 x 161.1 x 8mm

OS: Android 8.1

Screen size: 10.5-inch

Resolution: 1200 x 1920

CPU: Snapdragon 450

Storage: 32GB

Battery: 7300mAh

Rear camera: 8MP

Front camera: 5MP

Reasons to buy

Has a headphone jack Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

Design a little bulkyCan be sluggish

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 is the South Korean firm’s answer to Apple’s best cheap tablet, which you’ve seen above.

If you’re looking for an Android iPad rival on a budget, this is the slate you should consider. With Google’s Android operating system providing plenty of flexibility, coupled with a large HD display, the Tab A 10.5 is great for movies and web browsing.

It also benefits from long battery life, so you can indulge in a movie marathon. It’s not the most powerful slate around and its size makes it slightly less portable than some, but for media and basic app use around the house it’s a strong choice.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 (2018)

Amazon Fire 7 (2019)

(Image credit: Amazon)

6. Amazon Fire 7 (2019)

Amazon’s latest 7-inch slate is a very cheap, very basic tablet

Specifications

Weight: 286g

Dimensions: 192 x 115 x 9.6mm

OS: Fire OS

Screen size: 7-inch

Resolution: 1,024 x 600

CPU: 1.3GHz Quad-core

Storage: 16GB/32GB

Battery: up to 7 hours

Rear camera: 2MP

Front camera: VGA

Reasons to buy

Affordable Durable build

Reasons to avoid

Disappointing non-HD screenPoor battery life

Notice the lack of ‘HD’ in the name of the Amazon Fire 7, compared to the other Amazon slates on this list? That’s because the screen quality of the tablet is, well, not HD.

That’s a compromise you’ll have to make if you’re wanting Amazon’s latest super-cheap device, as it won’t grace your eyes with a stunning display or slick performance. However there is enough power under the hood to get you through basic tasks, like streaming content or shopping.

It’s also great as a Kindle device, if you want your Kindle to also come with Alexa and the internet and the best books of all, movies.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire 7 (2019)

January 19, 2021
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