Best cheap tablets: top budget options

The best budget tablets £250 can buy you

Best cheap tablets top budget options

The iPad Air 2 is ruling the roost as the best tablet in the world, but with prices starting at £399 and rising to £659, it's clearly priced in a bracket way above many people's budget.

Apple's sky-high prices mean those wanting a more affordable tablet experience will have to look elsewhere, although the iPad mini 2 has seen a price cut since the iPad mini 4 and iPad mini 3 arrived on the scene. It's still not super cheap, but it can just about be considered a budget tablet now.

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Google's operating system now adorns a multitude of tablets, from those priced at the same lofty heights as Apple's offerings (many of which will be packing Android Marshmallow soon) to suspiciously cheap tablets that can be picked up for less than £100 at your local supermarket – although we'd advise against purchasing most of these.

We're also seeing Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 tablets dropping in price, although for the most part they're still not at the level of the Android slates.

If you can't quite hack the lower offerings, and you've managed to scrape together enough money to indulge in a pricier tablet experience, then take a gander at the following:

For those of you who are still with us, well done. To reward you for your loyalty, here are some of the best budget tablets available for under £250 that are currently on sale:

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 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

Amazon Fire HD 10

5. 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: FireOS 5 | Screen size: 10.1-inch/8-inch| Resolution: 1,280 x 800 | CPU: Quad-core | 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 FireOS) 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

Amazon Fire HD 6

4. Amazon Fire HD 6

If you live on Amazon you'll want a Fire

Weight: 290g | Dimensions: 169 x 103 x 10.7mm | OS: Android (Fire OS) | Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 800 x 1280 | CPU: quad-core | 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

EE Harrier Tab

3. EE Harrier Tab

Super low-cost 4G tablet

Weight: 338g | Dimensions: 212.8 x 124 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 5.0 | Screen size: 8-inch | Resolution: Full HD | CPU: octa-core | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 4650mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP

Good screen
4G mobile internet
Limited to EE
Poor cameras

The EE Harrier Tab is a tablet of greater taste than its shiny-as-you-like fake metal rear might suggest. It doesn't have an EE-heavy interface, performs very well, and has a well thought out design that is both light and practical.

If the idea of a 4G tablet appeals, this is one of the best budget options. It is much better than the Vodafone alternative, the Smart Tab prime 6, thanks to its higher-quality screen.

However, if mobile internet is something you can live without, the Tesco Hudl 2 is an even better buy at a jaw-dropping £99, though that budget slate has sadly been discontinued, so it will be hard to find.

Read the full review: EE Harrier Tab

iPad Mini 2

2. 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.

Read the full review: Apple iPad mini 2

Nexus 9

1. Google Nexus 9

Pure Google in a tablet, at a new low price

Weight: 425g | Dimensions: 228.2 x 153.7 x 8mm | OS: Android 5.1.1 | Screen size: 8.9-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: 2.6GHz dual-core | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB | Battery: 6700mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.6MP

Ideal 4:3 aspect ratio
Strong speakers
Subpar display quality
Uninspiring design

When the Nexus 9 launched it was going toe-to-two with the iPad in terms of screen size and price. However that was back in 2014 and the Nexus 9 can now be picked up for a lot less.

Buy it direct from Google and you're faced with a steep £319 charge, but shop around and you can get it for just a touch over £200 now, which makes it an incredibly attractive offering. Issues with screen quality are easier to handle at this price - it's still great, just not up to iPad Air 2 standards.

There's a decent slug of power, Android Marshmallow inbound and HTC's BoomSound speakers for excellent sound quality - and it's now super cheap price tag means it's the best budget tablet around.

Read the full review: Google Nexus 9