The best cheap tablet selection isn't as big as you might expect, as there isn't as much of a market for budget slates as there is for mid-range and high-end ones. But there are still some top options.
With Amazon's Prime Day 2021 coming up, lots of slates that wouldn't typically be considered 'cheap' might become so - if you're thinking of buying a new tablet, then, it might be worth waiting until June for that.
From Amazon's extensive range of tablets, such as the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus, to the iPad 10.2 (2019), which is one of the only truly affordable iPads, there should be a good cheap tablet for most people.
This list has those and more, including an entry from Samsung, in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5. So you'll find slates that have a range of sizes, operating systems and features below - then you just need to decide which one most appeals.
To help with that we've ranked them, but your preference might not be the same as ours, so we've also included a full specs list for each, plus pros, cons, and an overview. And if you're still in doubt you can always click through to our full review for each, to get a complete picture of them.
Check back here regularly too, as we'll be keeping this article updated as new cheap tablets launch. And if you have a bit more to spend, make sure to check out some of our other tablet guides, linked below.
Best cheap tablets 2021 at a glance:
- Apple iPad 10.2 (2019)
- Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020)
- Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)
- Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)
- Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5
- Amazon Fire 7 (2019)
The best cheap tablet you can buy right now, the iPad 10.2 (2019) packs a lot in for the price. It might no longer be the newest entry-level iPad out there with the iPad 10.2 (2020) taking that crown, but that doesn't stop the iPad 10.2 (2019) being a worthy cheap alternative.
You still get a 10.2-inch display, along with Smart Keyboard Cover compatibility, extra RAM, and all the great features that the latest iPadOS offer. That includes being able to use the iPad 10.2 (2019) as a second Mac display via MacOS Catalina's SideCar feature. The display is gorgeous and bright and colorful so it's a fine choice, both as a tablet or as a secondary screen.
The only weakness then is the camera but that's a small price to pay for paying a small price. The iPad 10.2 (2019) might not be the newest basic iPad but you can be confident that it'll be supported for years to come by Apple.
Read the full review: iPad 10.2 (2019)
The best of the Amazon Fire tablet range, the Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus might not be the cheapest but it offers a lot for the price tag. This includes a 10.1-inch display with a 1920 x 1200 resolution that means watching films or videos while on the move looks pretty good. Battery life is about 12 hours too so you won't have to worry about finding a power source too often.
Elsewhere, you've got a choice of 32GB or 64GB of storage depending on your budget plus you can go for wireless charging too for added convenience. It packs a lot in for the price.
Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus is essentially the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020), but just made a little bit better. It has more RAM at 3GB, supports wireless charging (so you can use it with an optional dock that brings it close to an Echo Show), and comes with a speedier charger than the standard Fire HD 8.
Beyond that it’s much the same as its cheaper sibling, but that in itself makes it faster than the previous generation of the Amazon Fire HD 8, as well as giving you much more storage to play with.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus still isn’t the fastest of slates, but it holds its own for what it costs, and if you want a tablet and smart display all in one it’s a top choice – though for just the tablet part you might want to consider the standard Fire HD 8 (2020) instead.
Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus
With a decent sized screen and a resolution of 1920 x 1200, the Fire HD 10 (2021) is ideal for watching films while relaxing. That's its biggest strength really as it's occasionally slow when running software and its rear camera is still only 5MP, albeit an improvement on the earlier model. Still, for messing around with friends, it'll do.
There's no wireless charging but nor would you really expect it from such an inexpensive tablet. It still delivers lots for your money.
Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021)
The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) is the latest and greatest version of Amazon’s affordable 8-inch slate. It’s 30% faster than its predecessor, has twice as much storage, slightly better battery life, and finally makes the move to USB-C (where the previous model uses micro USB), but otherwise it’s very similar.
So if you’re shopping for your first Amazon slate or have a much older one then this is a good upgrade, but you might want to think twice about upgrading from the previous model.
Other highlights of the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) include a 3.5mm headphone port and a cleverly positioned front camera – which is at the top when you hold the slate in landscape, as you likely will during video calls. Plus, of course, it’s very, very cheap.
Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 is the South Korean firm's answer to Apple's best cheap tablet, which you've seen above.
If you're looking for an Android iPad rival on a budget, this is the slate you should consider. With Google's Android operating system providing plenty of flexibility, coupled with a large HD display, the Tab A 10.5 is great for movies and web browsing.
It also benefits from long battery life, so you can indulge in a movie marathon. It’s not the most powerful slate around and its size makes it slightly less portable than some, but for media and basic app use around the house it’s a strong choice.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 (2018)
Notice the lack of 'HD' in the name of the Amazon Fire 7, compared to the other Amazon slates on this list? That's because the screen quality of the tablet is, well, not HD.
That's a compromise you'll have to make if you're wanting Amazon's latest super-cheap device, as it won't grace your eyes with a stunning display or slick performance. However there is enough power under the hood to get you through basic tasks, like streaming content or shopping.
It's also great as a Kindle device, if you want your Kindle to also come with Alexa and the internet and the best books of all, movies.
Read the full review: Amazon Fire 7 (2019)