Need a tablet to entertain kids on a long road trip, read a novel by the pool or load your favorite app on the go? No matter how you plan to use it, a tablet is a useful and convenient blend of laptop and smartphone. Though the word tablet used to be synonymous with expensive, there are now a number of cheap but powerful tablets available online. Don’t want to drain your bank account for the latest Apple model? Consider one of the best cheap tablets available.
Quick Look: The Best Cheap Tablets You Can Get Right Now
- Huawei MediaPad M3 8.0 - Get this tablet
- Lenovo Tab 10 - Get this tablet
- Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 - Get this tablet
- Asus ZenPad 3S 10 - Get this tablet
- Amazon Fire HD 10 - Get this tablet
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 - Get this tablet
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 - Get this tablet
- Amazon Fire 7 Kids - Get this tablet
- Leapfrog Epic - Get this tablet
- Apple iPad - Get this tablet
Key Features of a Great Tablet
Finding the perfect cheap tablet doesn’t have to be difficult — just look for some of these key features before you buy.
Obviously, if you’re searching for a cheap tablet, a low price tag is on the top of your priority list. Your definition of “cheap” might be significantly different than the next buyer’s idea of what’s cheap and what’s expensive.
As a general rule, tablets under $300 are on the more affordable end, though there are plenty of great options at $100 and below. You also need to factor in the cost of accessories, apps and add-ons when you choose a tablet. For example, if you want to buy a tablet for taking notes at school, you’ll need to also consider the average price of tablet-compatible keyboards.
Access to the Features You Need
If you only want a tablet so your kids can play Candy Crush or stream Netflix, almost any tablet will do the job. However, if you have a specific need for a tablet, look for models that suit your requirements.
For example, if you want to use your tablet for graphic design and art, you may want to choose a model with a larger screen. Choose a tablet with stronger processing power if you want to buy a tablet to stream larger, more graphic-heavy games (like Fortnite or Minecraft).
Cheap tablets are fun and educational gifts for young children — but as any parent knows, kids can be rough on their toys. If you want to buy a tablet for your little one, look for a model with an exceptionally durable frame.
You may also want to search for models with a number of case options — a fun case may encourage your child to keep her tablet covered, lessening the chance of a cracked screen.
A durable body isn’t the only thing needed to prevent damage. You should also remember to look for a tablet with a scratch-resistant surface, especially if you plan to use a stylus or you’re buying the tablet for a child. Scratch and crack-resistant tablets are safer for children (shards of screen can fall out of cracks and cause splinters) and extend the life and responsiveness of your tablet.
Found the perfect tablet but not thrilled with the screen’s quality? You may be able to buy third-party screen protectors at an additional cost. However, you must remember to swap out the protectors every few months for maximum protection.
A Quality Operating System and App Store
You know you have to choose an operating system for your smartphone — but did you know that tablets also use different operating systems as well? The most common operating systems are Apple’s iOS, the Android platform and the Windows platform.
While you can only use iOS on Apple devices, it’s common to see Windows and Android operating systems on third-party tablets not manufactured by either company. If you have an iPhone and you enjoy iOS, it might be worth it to pitch a little extra money toward an iPad for a similar user experience.
Otherwise, you’ll probably want to stick with a Windows or Android platform. Competitors beyond the big companies exist, but they usually have more bugs and fewer compatible apps.
The operating system you choose will determine which apps your tablet can run. If you have a favorite app that you know you want to use on your tablet, search each operating system’s store to see which operating system has them. You may have a more difficult time finding more niche selections compatible with the Windows operating system.
If having access to your favorite app is a must for you, make sure you see which systems it’s available for before you commit.
Our Top Picks for the Best Cheap Tablets
Ready to start shopping? Check out these top choices. All of them are powerful, yet affordable.
Huawei MediaPad M3 8.0
Price: On sale for $319
Huawei might not be the most popular tech brand in the United States, but it’s one of the most well-recognized names in electronics in East Asia. Now, the Chinese multinational giant is making its debut in the U.S. with some powerful contenders — including the MediaPad M3 8.0.
The MediaPad is close to the more expensive end of affordable, with refurbished models available for around $250. However, the sleek and slim design is impressive for the price point.
Hiding under the smooth, durable surface is one of the sharpest screens and clearest picture qualities available at any price point as well as the adaptable Android operating system.
Though some users have complained about the tablet’s lag when it comes to running large games, buyers consistently praise the tablet’s focus on sound and video quality.
The MediaPad may disappoint some hardcore gamers who want console-like graphics quality, but if you’re focused on streaming and clarity on the go, you’ll love the MediaPad’s sleek yet powerful package.
Lenovo Tab 10
- Price: On sale for $149.99
The Tab 10 features a full 10.1-inch HD display that does an amazing job of showcasing vivid colors, fluid movements and finite details. It also has a built-in front bar speaker, which does wonders for sound quality and clarity.
Parents can create tabs for their children with parental controls and the device features a sturdy aluminum frame that’s more durable than competitors. At just under $150, the Tab 10 is sure to please video and audio lovers of all ages.
Lenovo Yoga Tab 3
- Price: On sale for $152.00
Another excellent offering from Lenovo, the Yoga Tab 3 is a unique combination between a tablet and a low-power computer.
The Yoga Tab 3 offers a stunning 15-hour battery, making it one of the longest you can find at any price point.
It’s also got a built-in kickstand and speakers powered by Dolby Digital for crystal-clear movie and video viewing.
Though the device is a bit bulkier than some other tablets, if you need a device that will last through an entire workday, road trip or full day of classes, the Yoga Tab 3 has got you covered.
Asus ZenPad 3S 10
- Price: On sale for $366.20
The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 is a powerful yet affordable option suitable for most tablet users. The 3S 10 comes with 64 GB of storage and a microSD card that adds up to 128GB SDXC.
Its LED-backed screen gives you a stunning, high-res display that’s great for playing video games and watching movies.
The ZenPad even includes a finger scanner for maximum security. After you input your fingerprint, no one else will be able to open the tablet who isn’t authorized by you.
Secure, high-speed, and capable of running almost every app and game available, the Asus ZenPad 3S 10 is an excellent combination of affordability and power.
Amazon Fire HD 10
Price: On sale for $149.99
If you’re an Amazon buff, you’ll love the Amazon Fire 10. Powered by a 1.8 GHZ quad-core processor, the Fire 10 has 1080p full HD display and access to lots of apps.
Though the Fire isn’t as fast as some competitors, it’s perfect for watching movies and personal planning. If you have an Alexa, you can sync your device with your Fire tablet for effortless movie, TV and podcast streaming across rooms.
Amazon Prime users also have instant access to thousands of movies, shows, songs and games that can all be accessed quickly through the Fire’s operating system. Under $150, it’s also one of the most affordable tablets on the market.
Amazon’s Fire tablets aren’t for everyone. If you don’t have Amazon Prime streaming capabilities or you want to use your tablet for intensive gaming, the Fire probably isn’t for you.
But if you’re looking for a simple tablet that allows you to play casual games, check your email and read at a price that you can afford, the Fire 10 is a frontrunner at an unbeatable price point.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
Price: On sale for $497.99
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is not what everyone would consider cheap. At just under $500, you’re probably wondering what it’s even doing on a list of the most affordable tablets.
Despite its higher price tag, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 deserves mentioning because it’s powerful enough to replace a laptop for most users.
Its 2.35 GHz processor means it has the power to run even the most intensive tablet games and its massive 64 GB of memories means that you’ll never have to frantically delete videos to keep up with your lecture notes.
The Tab S4 features the Android operating system, and you’ll have access to all of your favorite programs and games. The S4’s speed is unmatched, and the tablet even includes the fluid and responsive S Pen, perfect for drawing, graphic design or even just jotting down a few notes.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is more expensive than every other model on this list, and if you’re very strapped for cash you’ll probably want to choose another model. However, if you’re a gamer who needs a faster CPU, the extra price might pale in comparison to the benefits the Tab S4 offers over competitors.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
- Price: On sale for $315.99
Do you want the power and tech of Samsung without splurging on the newer S4 model? The Samsung Galaxy S2 is a generation behind but still a solid choice for modern tablet users.
The S2 model comes with an 8.4-inch screen that uses the same Quad 1.9GHz application processor that comes along with more expensive tablets in the Samsung family.
Its AMOLED display screen shows colors vividly and clearly, and the 4:3 screen interface is perfect for both reading and taking notes in class.
Though the storage and design of the S2 are a little outdated when compared with newer models, the S2 offers nearly identical processing and streaming power as its more modern cousins for a fraction of the price.
Amazon Fire 7 Kids
Price: On sale for $99.99
look no further than the Fire 7 Kids if you’re buying a tablet for a very young child and you want something age-appropriate. The Fire 7 Kids’ tablet is rated for children as young as 3, but make no mistake — it’s not a toy.
The tablet features most of the content access that adults like to enjoy on their tablets, including simple age-appropriate games from the Kindle store, video and music streaming and web browsing.
The device includes easy-to-access parental controls that allow parents to choose which websites their child can access and the browser includes “kid blocks” by default.
The Fire 7 Kids comes in a sturdy and durable case and has a thick but responsive touchscreen that combine to make the device virtually indestructible. Amazon’s “kid-proof case” is almost comically sturdy — from dropping the device on the floor to a screen covered in spaghetti, very little will hurt the Fire 7 Kids.
If something does happen, Amazon’s got you and your little one covered. Each device comes with a complimentary two-year worry-free guarantee that covers electrical damage and mechanical malfunctions. At a price point of less than $100, The Fire 7 Kids is perfect for parents who want to give their child the fun of a tablet without the risk of damage or inappropriate web browsing.
- Price: On sale for $152.95
Another great choice for kids, the LeapFrog Epic is a fun tablet choice for very young children who want to mimic their older siblings but who aren’t ready for a full tablet.
The Epic is intended for children as young as 3 and includes a durable, drop- and spill-resistant body. Enter your child’s age on the Epic and the device will tailor a unique and age-appropriate to your child’s needs.
Parents can manage what their children can access, and the device is compatible with over 20 child-friendly games.
The Epic also includes a ton of LeapFrog-exclusive content that’s just as educational as it is fun. The Epic is an excellent and affordable choice if you’re a parent who wants to give your child a tablet that’s good for more than just games.
- Price: On sale for $249.00
Looking for a tablet choice for teens? The Apple iPad has drastically dropped in price since it was first introduced, now coming in at around $250 for a 32 GB model.
Its 9.7 retina screen is still great for running most games and shows colors well. The tablet also has an excellent set of parental controls that parents can use to secure the device for younger users.
Keep in mind that though the technology behind the iPad is revolutionary, the screen is still very fragile and isn’t suitable for younger users.
Enjoy Your Tablet Without Breaking the Bank
Back when they were first introduced, buying a tablet meant spending up to $1,000 for one of the few iPad models on the market. As competition has increased and alternatives to the iPad have even started to outpace the original, it's never been more affordable to see what the tablet craze is all about.
One of the best ways to save money is by getting the most out of your devices, so don’t be afraid to take some time to shop around before you buy.
About Sarah Horvath
Sarah is an expert in the insurance, investing for retirement and cryptocurrency space.