Best cheap tablets for 2017: top budget options

The best budget tablets £250 can buy you

Update: It's a new year, so maybe you want a new tablet? This is a list of the best budget tablets we've seen in recent months and is the ultimate way to upgrade when on a budget.

Last year was strange time for tablets. There weren't many exciting releases, and the most fascinating tech was restricted to the top end of the market. 

The best tablet in the world is still the iPad Pro 9.7, but that's not cheap so we've put a selection of the most affordable tablets together. That includes both the iPad mini 2 and Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, which joined our best cheap tablet list during the second half of 2016.

There are a number of high quality affordable slates available, and the following are our favourite choices for the best cheap tablet you can buy right now.

Amazon Fire

6. Amazon Fire

It's the cheapest from Amazon so far

Weight: 313g | Dimensions: 115 x 191 x 10.6mm | OS: Fire OS 5 | Screen size: 7-inch | Resolution: 1024 x 600 | CPU: Quad-core 1.3GHz | RAM: N/A | Storage: 8GB | Battery: N/A | Rear camera: 2MP | Front camera: VGA

Family friendly
Sturdy design
Poor selection of apps
Questionable OS design

Amazon has gone for the lowest price possible on the new Fire tablet, and that means it's not for everybody. You can pick it up for £50 - that's a true budget tablet - and Amazon thinks you'll want six around your home as well as giving one to your kids.

Considering the price, it has some good spec and has a sturdy design that isn't going to break right away. If money is your biggest factor, the Amazon Fire may be the one for you.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire

Asus ZenPad S 8 0

5. Asus ZenPad S 8.0

A high-res screen and speedy performance

Weight: 350g | Dimensions: 203 x 134 x 6.6mm | OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop | Screen size: 8 inches | Resolution: 2048 x 1536 | CPU: Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core | RAM: 2/4GB | Storage: 16/32/64GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 8 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Low price
Superb high-res screen
A lot of pre-installed apps
Average camera

The Asus ZenPad S 8.0 - also known as the Asus ZenPad Z580C - is a great value tablet with a premium looking design. 

It's one of the best looking slates on this list and packs a surprising 10 hour battery life, microSD support as well as a great 8-inch screen. The best part though is the price, it's only £129.99.

Don't want to spend much on your new tablet? This choice from Asus is one of the best options for you.

Read the full review: Asus ZenPad S 8.0

4. Amazon Fire HD 10 and HD 8

Amazon's latest slates are excellent child fodder

Weight: 432g/311g | Dimensions: 159 x 262 x 7.7mm/128 x 214 x 7.7mm | OS: Fire OS 5 | Screen size: 10.1-inch/8-inch | Resolution: 1,280 x 800 | CPU: Quad-core 1.5GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 16GB/8GB | Battery: up to 8 hours | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: VGA

Low price
Impressive speakers
Sluggish performance
Poor screen resolution

If you're in the market for a low cost tablet with up to date specs then the new Amazon Fire HD 8 and HD 10 deliver.

They won't bless you with a stunning display, sultry design or slick performance - but they will give you enough grunt under the hood to play even the most demanding of games.

The heavily modified Android interface (known as Fire OS) may not be to everyone's liking, but for less tech savvy users it's arguably less cluttered and easier to use.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 10 and HD 8

3. Amazon Fire HD 6

If you live on Amazon you'll want a Fire

Weight: 290g | Dimensions: 169 x 103 x 10.7mm | OS: Fire OS 5 | Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 800 x 1280 | CPU: Quad-core 1.5GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB/16GB | Rear camera: 2MP | Front camera: VGA

Compact size
Prime integration
Awful cameras
Fire OS can be restrictive

The Amazon Fire HD 6 is one of the most enticing tablets to come from Amazon, mixing efficient integration with the Prime services and a compact footprint that makes it easy to drop in your bag.

It's no tablet king, but it does what it sets out to well. Its crazy low price tag means it's perfect to hand off to the kids without the fear that they're wielding an expensive bit of kit around.

It may be too small for some, and the cameras aren't up to much, but the Fire HD 6 gives you the core tablet experience for not very much outlay, making it a budget tablet worth buying.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 6

2. Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Small yet perfectly formed

Weight: 270g | Dimensions: 213 x 123.6 x 6.4mm | OS: Android 6 Marshmallow | Screen size: 8-inch | Resolution: 1200 x 1920 | CPU: Quad-core 2.5GHz | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 4500mAh | Rear camera: 8.1MP | Front camera: 2.2MP

Great battery life
Very thin and light
Not such a sharp screen
Android isn't that strong on tablet

Sony's Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is a few years old now, but it's only now entered our best budget tablet list as it has dropped down in price quite a bit over the last few months.

The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is one of the best cheap Android tablets you can buy right now and comes with a Full HD 8-inch display, a super slim body and a light but waterproof design.

You'll be able to upgrade it to Android 6 Marshmallow software right out of the box too.

The battery life on the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is also strong, so you shouldn't have to sit next to a wall to be able to use this Android tablet.

Read the full review: Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

iPad Mini 2

1. iPad mini 2

The best value iPad out there

Weight: 331g | Dimensions: 200 x 134.7 x 7.5mm | OS: iOS 9 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Dual-core 1.3GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 16/32/64/128GB | Battery: 6470mAh | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Amazing screen
Brilliant design
Similar-spec rivals are much cheaper
16GB too low storage

What's this? The iPad mini 2 in a list of the best cheap tablets? Why yes. It may be a premium slate but it's been superseded by the iPad mini 4 and the already discontinued iPad mini 3 and as such it's dropped in price to under £250.

Better yet, as the iPad mini 3 is basically the same tablet with added Touch ID you hardly miss out on anything by buying this older model, though you do miss out on the power-boost found in the iPad mini 4.

Still, with a brilliant screen, a stunning design and quite a lot of power the iPad mini 2 is difficult to beat at this price point. It looks, feels and performs like something far more expensive making it our favorite budget tablet you can buy in 2017.

Read the full review: Apple iPad mini 2

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Phones, Tablets and Wearables UK Editor

John (Twitter, Google+) got his first phone aged 12 and since then he's been fixated on all things mobile, churning his way through a multitude of handsets, tablets and wearables. Signalling his arrival at TechRadar by becoming a Guinness World Record holder in his first week, John hasn't looked back since.