Our phones are with us at all times. These are the devices that we use 90% of the time for checking social media, taking photos, reading emails, communicating with friends and family and so much more. On the opposite side of the spectrum we have desktops and laptops, where the vast majority of us get our work done. On them we use productivity apps, we draft and read emails, build presentations, and more. And then… there are tablets.
As much as tablets tend to take a backseat in our everyday computing lives, they do still actually have a place in the home, or even on-the-go. When it comes to lounging around and consuming media, it can be nice to have a little extra real estate. If you often find yourself kicking back in bed to watch Netflix, having a larger device can be great. If you’re traveling for work and need something a little more portable for your plane ride but still need to get work done, a tablet can come in handy.
Unfortunately, for a device that falls in this middle-ground for a lot of people, tablets still usually come at a pretty high cost. iPads rank pretty high in cost compared to most tablets, and the Windows mobile ecosystem still doesn’t have the selection of apps that you’re likely going to want.
So where does that leave you? Fortunately, there are a handful of cheap Android tablets that you can get for a fraction of what you might pay for a high-end device, but that still have an enormous app selection and quality software. Before we get into our list of the best cheap Android tablets, let’s dive deeper into why you might consider buying a cheap Android tablet.
Why Buy a Cheap Android Tablet
As we mentioned, cheap Android tablets still have a use-case for a lot of folks, but there are a number of reasons why you might want to consider saving some of your hard-earned cash and picking up a cheap Android tablet instead of dropping a lot of money on something like an iPad.
A device for kids. Let’s face it, kids are little monsters. I have a two-year-old of my own, and putting any kind of expensive electronic device in his hands is just asking for a disaster. Kids’ hands are grimy, they like to throw things, they like to stand on things, and generally like to destroy things. However, having electronic devices such as a tablet for them can be a life/sanity saver. For long trips, lazy evenings, or as a means of learning, tablets are great for kids and parents alike. If you want to snag a device for your kiddo, but you don’t want to take the risk of them breaking something that you spent a lot of money on, a cheap Android tablet could be a great choice for you.
Let's face it, kids are little monsters.
Entertainment device. The larger screens on tablets come with many benefits, one being for entertainment. If you aren’t a fan of large screens in your home, or if you prefer to be a little flexible with where you consume your media, a tablet is a great device to lounge around with. You can use them on the bed, on the couch, at the kitchen tablet, in a bedroom, outside, or even in the car. The large screens are great for watching movies, viewing photos or even just browsing the internet. As long as you are ok with screens that don’t have the best resolution on the market, a cheap Android tablet will do the job just fine.
Gaming. Again, back to the large screens, tablets are great for gaming. Though many of the cheap Android tablets don’t have newest or fastest processes or the most RAM of the tablets on the market, they still make great casual gaming devices. After all, you don’t need a ton of processing power to play Minecraft, Clash of Clans, Candy Crush or the vast majority of games available for Android tablets. But, just having a larger screen allows you to see things in greater detail, maneuver with more accuracy, and get a more immersive experience altogether.
Travel. When you find yourself back and forth frequently – working from coffee shops, crashing at hotels, spending hours-on-end in the air – pulling your laptop out for every tweak to a presentation, or fat-fingering every email you need to respond to with your phone can be remedied in some cases by carrying a tablet. By nature, tablets are easy to pack away in a bag, light enough to tote around for extended periods of time, and they’re usually quick to power on and get to work.
Once you decide to start looking around for a cheap android tablet that can still serve you well, there are a few purchasing considerations that you should keep in mind.
Size. Tablets come in a variety of sizes, and the way in which you plan to primarily use yours will greatly influence the size you choose. On the smaller end of the spectrum, you can find 8″ or even 7″ tablets that are fairly easy to hold in one hand and make great devices for laying back and reading. These smaller sizes are also great for casual gaming where you want to see a little more of the world. However, if you’re looking for something to provide a great movie watching experience, you might consider something like a 10″ device. Back to the kiddos, the smaller sizes are going to easier for them to manage. It really comes down to how you plan on using the device.
Screen resolution. As I mentioned above, with some of these cheap Android tablets, the screen resolution is where you might start to find the difference between lower end and higher end. Though you are saving some money with a cheap Android tablet, you need to consider what you think is an acceptable resolution. For a lot of people, a 1080p screen resolution will be plenty, but if you’re looking for a lot of detail in your movies or games, you might want something a bit higher, and you may find that just isn’t the budget.
Screen resolution is where you might start to find the difference between lower end and higher end.
Storage space. Another added benefit to Android tablets is that many of them offer expandable storage via SD card slot. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A that is on our list of the best cheap Android tablets comes with 32GB of internal storage but is expandable up to 256GB with the SD card slot. If you’re savvy enough to use something like Plex and need to store movies and other media on your tablet for when you travel, you’re going to want to make sure the tablet you choose either has plenty of flash storage space or has expandable storage.
Battery life. Cheap tablet or not, you’re going to want a device that can get you through the day without needing to be charged up. Fortunately, given their larger size, tablets generally have better battery life than what you would get from a smartphone. However, if you plan to do a lot of gaming or movie watching, you’ll want to make sure you look for a tablet that has above average battery life.
Software. Finally, a tablet is only as good as the software it runs on. Obviously, all of the tablets on our list here run Android, but it’s important to be aware of what version of the OS they are currently running. Being that some of these cheap Android tablets were released a while back, they may initial ship with an older version of Android but receive updates to newer versions. If you aren’t cautious, you might end up with a tablet that runs a version of the OS that you aren’t happy with.
The Best Cheap Android Tablets
Now that you’ve got an idea of whether or not a cheap Android tablet might be right for you, and what you should keep an eye out for when making a decision of which one to buy, let’s take a look at some of the best cheap Android tablets available for you to purchase right now. If you don’t see your favorite cheap Android tablet, be sure to let us know about it in the comments below!
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 32GB
You might be surprised to find a Samsung tablet on a list of the best cheap Android tablets considering that, like Apple, Samsung hardware is traditionally on the higher end of the cost spectrum. However, Samsung has hit the budget tablet niche pretty hard in the last couple of years with its Tab A line and even more affordable Tab E line, and these lower-end slates are nothing to scoff at. If you’re familiar with Samsung’s UI, and some of the manufacturer’s software embellishments, such as Bixby, you’ll find a welcome experience here with the latest Tab A. And, no – you won’t find the same specs as Sammy’s top-of-the-line Tab S3, or the Windows-powered Galaxy Book, but what you will find is something enjoyable to use, and at a size that is perfect for kicking back.
– Screen: 8″ 1280×800
– Storage: 32GB internal | expandable to 256GB
– Processor: 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 425
– RAM: 2GB
– OS: Android 7.1 Nougat
Easy to Handle at 8″. The size of this device hits a sweet spot. You can lounge with it on the couch and comfortably hold it with one hand while reading a book, or you can flip the device to landscape, and watching YouTube videos or Netflix. By the way, have you seen what’s coming to Netflix? The device weighs in at less than one pound as well, so using it for an extended period of time won’t be an issue.
USB-C. With most tablets at this size, you aren’t going to find a USB-C connector on the bottom (or any side for that matter) of the device. The reason this is a standout “pro” for this tablet is that this means the device has a little bit of future-proofing built in. The vast majority of new phones being released charge by way of USB-C. Many computers now also have USB ports. So, while you might eventually have to buy USB-C adapters for a lot of these tablets, this isn’t the case for the Galaxy Tab A.
Impressive screen for the price. Unfortunately, as might would be expected at this price point, you won’t quite get full HD with this tablet whose screen comes in at 1280×800. However, being that the screen size is on the smaller side, the resolution can be forgiven some. On the upside, the screen is bright, it has good viewing angles, as well as nice contrast. The one other downside is the device has a pretty harsh glare in bright light.
Plastic construction. One area in which you can tell this is a budget tablet is the plastic construction. Samsung is well-known for the solid build quality of their phones, computers, TVs, and higher-end tablets. When compared to its more expensive sibling, the Galaxy Tab S3, with its metal frame and glass back, the plastic feel of the Tab A can feel a bit, well, cheap.
Poor audio quality. Possibly the biggest let down of the tablet is the audio quality. The Galaxy Tab A only has one speaker grill which is located at the bottom left corner of the device (when held in portrait mode) and that’s quite unfortunate if you are right-handed and want to hold the tablet in your left hand. The speaker grill, which doesn’t put out the best audio, can easily be covered up by accident, muffling the sound even more. The only upshot is that the one speaker can get pretty loud. But, what good is loud if it doesn’t actually sound good?
No S Pen support. If you’ve used any of Samsung’s other mobile devices such as the Note line of phones, or the higher-end tablets, you’ll probably be wondering – where’s my S Pen? Unfortunately, the 8″ Tab A neither comes with or supports Samsung’s stylus. If you plan on using this device for productivity or for any kind of drawing, you might want to consider the Tab A 10″ which does include the S Pen.
Lenovo Tab 4 8″
Lenovo, who is typically known for their unique designs in the cheap Android tablets and laptop space has something to offer that is very, very similar to Samsung’s Tab A 8″. The Lenovo Tab 4 8″ has a near identical spec sheet, similar feel in the hand, and runs the same operating system. So, it’s not surprising that device lands itself on this list.
– Screen: 8″ 1280×800
– Storage: 16GB internal | expandable to 256GB
– Processor: 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 425
– RAM: 2GB
– OS: Android 7.1 Nougat
Multiple user profiles. A standout feature of this tablet (which can be found on a few others) is that you can set up multiple user profiles. These profiles present themselves front and center when powering up the device, and is a great feature for a household who plans on sharing the device with the entire family. If you plan on allowing your kids to use the tablet, you can give them their own user profile so they can clutter up and change whatever they want without disturbing the feng shui of your home screen.
Great audio quality for the price. The Galaxy Tab A’s biggest pitfall was the audio quality, and the fact that there is only one speaker grill poorly-located on the entire device. On the contrary, with the Lenovo Tab 4, you’ll find four speaker grills – two on the top, two on the bottom. As you’d imagine, this gives you a much more immersive listening experience, and you might find it a little harder to muffle the sound coming from the device. Though the screen on this tablet isn’t the highest-resolution, that’s made up for a bit when it comes to watching movies and enjoying fuller audio.
Above average battery life. At 4,850 mAh, the battery inside of the Lenovo Tab 4 is slightly larger than that of the Galaxy Tab A which comes in at only 4,200 mAh. This isn’t a huge difference, but in testing, the Tab 4 outlasted that of the Tab A when continuously streaming video. If you’re using the device on a daily-basis with light to moderate usage, you will be pleased with the length of time you can go in between charges.
Not great for pro users. I know, I know. This is an article about cheap Android tablets, not powerful Android tablets. However, it’s important to note that this tablet isn’t great for power users who are going to be doing a lot of multitasking. While Android Nougat (pre-loaded on this device) does make multitasking easier, the 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 425 isn’t going to be best for running a lot of apps at the same time or playing graphics intensive games. If you get carried away with this tablet, you might notice some stutter when switching apps.
Cameras are not great. No tablet at this price point is going to have an excellent set of cameras. But, at 5 MP for the rear, and 2 MP for the front, the cameras on this device are sub-par. If you absolutely must, the camera will get you through a video call with your children or parents, but you definitely aren’t going to be using this as your primary shooter when on vacation – or at least it shouldn’t be. Please, please don’t do that – your future self will thank you.
Amazon Fire HD 10″
Next up on our list of the best cheap Android tablets is one that if not very interest or tech-savvy, you might not have even known runs Android – the Amazon Fire HD 10″. Amazon has technically been in the tablet game since 2007 when they released their original Kindle. Obviously, their play back then was to increase book sales, but that solo play didn’t last for long. Fast forward to today, and the Amazon Fire tablet line is one of the most popular choices for readers and general users alike. They’re great for reading, but also great for general usage such as playing games, watching videos, browsing the internet and, you guessed it, buying things from Amazon.
– Screen: 10.1″ 1920×1200 (fully laminated)
– Processor: 1.4GHz / 1.8GHz quad-core
– Storage: 32GB internal | expandable to 256GB
– RAM: 2 GB
– OS: FireOS
Alexa. The real winner here with the Fire HD 10″ is Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa. As you might already know, Alexa is arguably the most capable voice assistant thanks to the skills developed by third parties. The HD 10″ is the first tablet to offer hands-free access to Alexa. So, from across the room, you can summon the voice assistant to rattle off the week’s forecast, give you traffic information, dim the lights in your house, play a movie through Amazon Video, and more. The screen also gives visuals to go along with the information in the same fashion as what you would get with the Echo Show.
Great design. The Fire HD 10″ – even at its low price tag – brings with it a very nice, sleek design. It’s not all metal, and it’s not all glass, but the plastic back with the various colors you can pick up still looks and feels great. The tablet is thicker than what you would find with an iPad, but Amazon also claims that they have engineered the device to be more durable than Apple’s slate at the comparable size. The first-party accessories for the Fire HD 10″ (not included) compliment the design well. For instance, the tablet case will turn the screen on and off magnetically like the iPad and also folds on an angle to act as a stand for the device when in both portrait and landscape orientations.
Ideal for reading. Of course, as you would expect from an Amazon tablet, the Fire HD 10″ is an ideal tablet for reading. The aspect ratio of the screen is more book-like than what you will find in other tablets, and the Blue Light Shade feature automatically adjusts the device’s backlight, reducing the harsh blue light from the display, making nighttime reading much easier on your eyes. To be fair though, the iPad also has the Night Shift feature that does the same thing.
Oh boy, the cameras. There’s a lot to love about the Amazon Fire HD 10″, but the cameras are not one of those. To be frank, the cameras are an atrocity and it’s actually shocking that Amazon would release a device with such sub-standard tech. The front-facing camera – which is the camera you’re likely to use the most on a tablet – is VGA, which means it has a resolution of 640×480. Yes, you read that right. And, the rear-facing shooter is only 2 MP, with the ability to record in only 720p. However with only 2 MP, unless you have perfect light, your 720p videos will look awful. The cameras are a definite let down.
Software & app selection. So, back to the Android aspect of this. Yes, the Fire HD 10″ does actually run Android at its core. However, the interface has been so heavily modified that Amazon has given it the moniker of Fire OS. It’s not the worst UI on the planet (that award goes to Hulu’s Xbox One app), but the way content is organized based on what you own vs. what Amazon wants you to purchase is not super easy to navigate. On that same token, when using Fire OS, you won’t have access to the Google Play Store when downloading your apps. Instead, you’ll have to rely on Amazon’s first-party app store which does not have quite the selection of apps you will find on traditional Android tablets or on the iOS App Store.
Asus ZenPad 10
Asus is no stranger to the cheap Android tablets space, with origins dating back to 2010. Since then, the ZenPad has become a fairly popular competitor in the Android tablet market. The newer, higher-end models compete with the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3, as well as the iPad. Though we’re looking at a more affordable, lower-end model here, it’s still solid for the price, and one that you might want to consider.
– Screen: 10.1″ 1280×800
– Processor: 1.3 GHz MediaTek
– Storage: 16GB storage
– RAM: 2GB
– OS: Android 6.0
Screen size for the price. For the price, the screen size is quite large. At 10.1″, you’ll have plenty of screen real estate for watching videos and playing games. Unfortunately, you won’t be getting full HD with this screen, but that’s something you can expect in this price range. Fortunately though, the contrast and colors of the screen make up a little bit for the lack of resolution.
Performance. While you certainly aren’t going to get blazing fast speeds with any of these low-end tablets, the Asus ZenPad 10 manages to perform well in most circumstances as long as you aren’t playing graphics-intensive games while also editing photos or something like that. Under the hood, the ZenPad 10 has a MediaTek processor which clocks in at 1.3 GHz. Benchmark tests put this chip at about the same level as a Snapdragon 410 which is to say that navigating the UI and switching between apps is generally snappy.
Still Rockin’ Marshmallow. This one might bum you out a bit. Anyone with a general understanding of operating systems or a consciousness about what operating systems are current will be disappointed to learn that the ZenPad 10 is still running Android 6.0 Marshmallow. I mean, it’s not Lollipop, but it’s not Nougat, and it’s not Oreo. Even though this device is skinned with Asus’ modified UI, you’ll still be missing out on some of the underlying battery improvements and notification handling that came with the Nougat upgrade.
Plasticky build quality. The ZenPad 10 is nice and large, but given its size, and its plastic construction, it can be a bit tough to handle at times. Again, not really a shock here since we’re talking low-end tablets, but we’d love for there to be a grippier surface with a tablet of this size.
Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite
Last, but not least, we have one of the cheap Android tablets from Hauwei – the lesser-known Chinese manufacturer that puts out surprisingly good hardware for a fraction of what you would pay for some of the more popular brands. In fact, Huawei just announced two new tablets at Mobile World Congress that look to compete in the premium space. You can learn more about the two new MediaPad M5 variants here. But, for now, let’s take a look at a solid budget option from the Chinese manufacturer, the Media Pad M3 Lite.
– Screen: 1920×1200 8″ screen
– Processor: 1.7 GHz
– RAM: 3GB
– Storage: 16GB internal | expandable to 256GB
Great build quality. The MediaPad M3 Lite is an 8″ slab that is surrounded by a metal frame, a welcome feature when compared to the solid plastic competitors in this price range. While the back of the device is still plastic, it seems to be of higher quality and feels much less like a kid’s device. The edges of the screen are nicely chamfered, and combined with the thin build, make this tablet feel great in the hand.
Expandable memory to 256 GB. Storage in this price range is something you’ll want to pay close attention to. The MediaPad M3 Lite only has 16 GB of internal storage, but thanks to the built-in SD card slot, you can expand that up to 256 GB. This amount of space is more than plenty for normal users who want to store a couple of movies locally, some music, photos, etc.
Great screen. The screen is where Huawei’s device really shines in this category. Many of the tablets at this price point can quite claim full HD resolution. Fortunately, the MediaPad M3 can with a screen resolution measuring in at 1920×1200 on the 8″ display. This means that reading will be more enjoyable since you can make out crisp(er) text, and movie watching will be immersive with the greater detail in images. It’s also worth noting that the MediaPad M3 has a 1.7 GHz processor which will help power graphics to this FHD display.
Huawei’s software skin. Software skins are really a subjective topic. Think about it – some people actually liked TouchWiz in the early days. Even though the MediaPad M3 Lite is running on Android 7.0 Nougat, Huawei’s skin that carries the moniker of EMUI 5.1 includes a bit of bloatware out of the box and doesn’t flow as nicely as stock Android does. Again, this is a purely subjective matter, but worth noting.
Battery life could be better. The MediaPad Lite is a thin device but manages to squeeze in a 6660 mAh battery. Even at that size, it just edges out some of the other devices on this list in battery tests, and some actually beat it out with smaller batteries. Unfortunately, you have the higher resolution screen and higher-performance chip to thank for that, so it’s really a balance that you’ll have to weigh when deciding on your purchase.
The world of cheap Android tablets is far more vast than what you will find on our list here, but hopefully, getting a look at the best the category has to offer gives you a good idea of what you’ll get for the price. When it comes down to deciding if a cheap Android tablet is right for you, it really depends on how you plan to use the device and how offended you will be by some of the shortcomings in the hardware. If you can look past lower resolution, non-premium build quality, and mediocre performance, then you have some options to consider here on this list.
Did we miss your favorite cheap Android tablet? If so, let us know about it in the comments below so we can check it out!