With their exceptional portability, tablets have become one of the best ways to do internet research, respond to emails, get some reading done or binge watch the latest season of “Stranger Things” on Netflix.
Easier to carry around and use than most laptops, tablets are a great way to access the digital world with the power of a computer but the ease of a phone.
Tablets can be just as expensive as laptop computers though, with most iPads costing well over $600. There are cheaper options available that let you do nearly everything you can with a pricey iPad.
Our roundup includes:
Apple iPad ($329)
Samsung Tab A8 ($229)
Amazon Fire HD 10 ($149)
Amazon Fire HD 8 ($89)
Amazon Fire Kids Pro ($139)
5 Tablets that Won’t Break the Bank
Access to Apple’s ecosystem of apps and games
Large, bright 10.2” LED-backlit retina display
Powered by Apple’s A13 Bionic chip
Apple’s iPad is perfect for people who want the best tablet experience for the best price without many sacrifices.
Yes, iPads are some of the most expensive tablets available, but hear us out.
This is Apple’s entry-level iPad, not the more expensive iPad Air or iPad Pro. It comes in at $329 for the base model with 64 GB of storage.
The iPad is the most expensive budget tablet on our list, but there is good reason to consider the standard iPad. It’s the king of cheap tablets.
Regarding tablets, no one else provides what Apple’s stellar ecosystem can with its iPad lineup, including millions of apps for games or everyday use. Many apps are tablet-optimized for a great experience on the iPad’s 10.2-inch display too.
Under the hood, you’ll find Apple’s A13 chip and a 10-hour battery to keep you running all day. You won’t get the more extravagant features found on more expensive iPads, but you can get 90% of the experience for a fraction of the price.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
Runs Android with access to Google Play
Works with other Samsung Galaxy products
Multiple styles of protective cases
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 is the perfect budget tablet option for the Android lover in your life, with full access to the Google Play Store.
If you love your Android smartphone and want something that will pair well at a low price, we recommend Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A8 tablet.
An upgrade to the popular Tab A7, the new A8 offers access to your favorite Android apps on a 10.5-inch screen, so you can respond to messages and easily sync with other Google services.
Best of all, the Tab A8 starts at only $229 for the 32 GB model.
Beyond the LCD screen, you’ll find an octa-core processor and a 7,040 mAh battery that will enable you to get work done and not run out of battery life when you need it most.
With a protective standing case or book cover, you can use the Tab A8 however you wish.
The only downside is that many Android apps are not tablet optimized. You may find yourself using blown-up or magnified phone apps on the larger display.
Amazon Fire HD 10
Octa-core processor and 3 GB of RAM
12-hour battery lets you use the tablet all day
Access to streaming and Kindle ebooks
The Amazon Fire HD 10 is perfect for those who live within the Amazon ecosystem — aka Prime Members — and want a cheap tablet for multimedia content.
Amazon Fire tablets are so economical that that’s the rest of our roundup, beginning with the Fire HD 10.
Coming in at about $149, the Amazon Fire HD 10 is a full HD tablet with an octa-core chip, 12-hour battery and 10.1-inch display. If you want a cheap tablet to kick back and enjoy a movie or play a few games, this might be the perfect option for that tablet slot in your bag.
At first glance, Amazon’s Fire HD tablets may appear to be Androids, but they are not. They run Amazon’s Fire operating system. You won’t have access to the Google Play Store as a result. Instead, you’ll use a separate app catalog assembled by Amazon.
Don’t count on all of your favorite apps being here, but you can still stream TV shows, movies and music or even get some light work done in Microsoft Office or Zoom.
All of Amazon’s Fire tablets are sold with lock screen ads, ergo the lower price. You’ll pay an extra $15 to $20 for an ad-free model or to remove ads later.
Amazon Fire HD 8
Quad-core processor and 2 GB of RAM
12-hour battery for all-day use
Access to streaming services and Kindle ebooks
Those who like the Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet, but want something for a lower price or in a smaller size.
Next from Amazon, the Fire HD 8 comes in at a mind-boggling $89. Who knew that decent tablets could be had at such low prices?
Compared to the HD 10, the HD 8 has a smaller 8-inch HD, less powerful quad-core processor and less RAM or memory. It still stands tall as a great media consumption machine to throw into your bag.
Since the Fire HD 8 is an Amazon tablet, you’ll have one-click access to the company’s lineup of Kindle ebooks so that you can get in a classic — or perhaps a mystery you got online — between episodes of your favorite Hulu show.
The Fire HD 8 comes with 32 GB of storage and can be purchased in one of four colors — black, plum, blue or white — so have fun expressing yourself. Browse the web or make video calls, all with a cheap tablet for less than $100.
If you’re looking for a cheap tablet to primarily read books, consider an Amazon Kindle for about $90. Built for reading, the display looks like paper and can be read in bright sunlight.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Pro
Includes a protective case
Two-years of accidental damage coverage
Free 1-year subscription to Amazon Kids+
Kids 6-12 years old, a perfect option for a first tablet that parents don’t need to worry about getting damaged.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Pro sounds a bit confusing. Is it a tablet for kids or for pros? Naming aside, this tablet is definitely meant for kids and not recommended for boardroom meetings.
At the core, the Fire HD 8 Kids Pro is a standard Fire HD 8 tablet, just more expensive. For that extra $50, you get a collection of wonderful features that make the tablet more kid- and parent-friendly.
The first difference is the thick case, which is included in the price and aims to make the tablet nearly indestructible — always a bonus. There are also built-in parental controls on the web browser.
Amazon includes a two-year guarantee, so you can request a free replacement if the tablet gets damaged. You get a free one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ with access to age-appropriate books, games, videos and apps too.
What about the Amazon Fire 7 Kids tablet? It’s cheaper but the extra $40 for the HD 8 delivers better features, including a larger screen and more storage for video games and apps.
How We Picked the Best Budget Tablets
We researched the top cheap tablets available on the market and conducted hands-on testing with some of the more popular iPad, Android and Fire tablets available.
From there, we set a maximum price and minimum criteria to pick the best budget tablets.
As for features, we considered:
Available storage: If you’re browsing the web or checking emails, you won’t need much storage on your tablet. However, if you want to download lots of apps, play games or maintain a collection of photos and videos, you’ll need more storage. We only considered tables with at least 32 GB of storage.
Display quality: You’re going to be staring at the screen whenever you use a tablet, so we prioritized tablets with high-resolution, vivid color displays. Even our cheapest pick provides you with a full HD display.
Battery life: Ever pick up your tablet only to find that the battery is completely dead? For the tablets we chose, we made sure you could enjoy a day of intermittent usage or crank through a few movies on a flight before the battery needs a recharge.
Overall performance: The overall performance depends on multiple components, but we looked at the processor and memory for each tablet. Not every option will deliver lightning fast gaming at this price point but we wanted to ensure that your everyday navigation wasn’t compromised.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Amazon Fire tablets are among some of the best cheap tablets and the lowest in price. They range in size from 7 to 10 inches and off access to popular movie and music streaming apps.
Fire tablets run the Fire operating system, so you may have limited or no access to some Google services, such as the Google Play Store.
Our best overall pick for the average user is the standard Apple iPad at $329. For that price, you get a brand new tablet with full access Apple apps and accessories. Apple continues to deliver the most polished and enjoyable tablet experience thanks to the power of iPadOS.
Michael Archambault is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.