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The best cheap tablets 2021: the top budget options

Best cheap tablets
(Image credit: Apple; Amazon; Lenovo)

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:

  1. Apple iPad 10.2 (2019)
  2. Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020)
  3. Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)
  4. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)
  5. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5
  6. Amazon Fire 7 (2019)

Apple iPad 10.2 (2019)

(Image credit: Apple)

1. Apple iPad 10.2 (2019)

The best cheap tablet you can buy right now

Specifications
Weight: 483g
Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm
OS: iPadOS 13
Screen size: 10.2-inch
Resolution: 1620 x 2160
CPU: Apple A10 Fusion
Storage: 32GB/128GB
Battery: 8827mAh
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 1.2MP
Reasons to buy
+Good screen quality+Still reasonably priced
Reasons to avoid
-Only marginally better than the iPad 9.7-Mediocre camera

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)

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus (2021)

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus (2021)

Bigger and better than before

Specifications
Weight: 465g
Dimensions: 247 x 166 x 9.2 mm
OS: Fire OS
Screen size: 10.1-inch
Resolution: 1920 x 1200
CPU: Octa-core
Storage: 32GB/64GB
Battery: up to 12 hours
Rear camera: 5MP
Front camera: 2MP
Reasons to buy
+Reasonably priced+Excellent picture and sound
Reasons to avoid
-Dated design-Restrictive software

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.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

Amazon’s 8-inch slate now ships with added fire

Specifications
Weight: 355g
Dimensions: 202 x 137 x 9.7mm
OS: Fire OS
Screen size: 8-inch
Resolution: 880 x 1280
CPU: quad-core
Storage: 32GB/64GB
Battery: up to 12 hours
Rear camera: 2MP
Front camera: 2MP
Reasons to buy
+Wireless charging+Can be used like an Echo Show
Reasons to avoid
-Poor screen quality-Not swift, even with extra RAM

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

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)

(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021)

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021)

Cheap and definitely cheerful

Specifications
Weight: 465g
Dimensions: 247 x 166 x 9.2 mm
OS: Fire OS
Screen size: 10.1-inch
Resolution: 1920 x 1200
CPU: Octa-core
Storage: 32GB/64GB
Battery: up to 12 hours
Rear camera: 5MP
Front camera: 2MP
Reasons to buy
+Large screen for the price+Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Sometimes slow-Poor camera

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)

5. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)

Amazon’s middle-sized tablet gets an upgrade

Specifications
Weight: 355g
Dimensions: 202 x 137 x 9.7mm
OS: Fire OS
Screen size: 8-inch
Resolution: 880 x 1280
CPU: quad-core
Storage: 32GB/64GB
Battery: up to 12 hours
Rear camera: 2MP
Front camera: 2MP
Reasons to buy
+Super-low price+Great front camera placement
Reasons to avoid
-Poor screen quality-Locked to Amazon’s ecosystem

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)

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 (2018)

(Image credit: Samsung)

6. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 (2018)

Samsung's best budget tablet

Specifications
Weight: 529g
Dimensions: 260 x 161.1 x 8mm
OS: Android 8.1
Screen size: 10.5-inch
Resolution: 1200 x 1920
CPU: Snapdragon 450
Storage: 32GB
Battery: 7300mAh
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 5MP
Reasons to buy
+Has a headphone jack+Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Design a little bulky-Can be sluggish

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)

Amazon Fire 7 (2019)

(Image credit: Amazon)

7. Amazon Fire 7 (2019)

Amazon's latest 7-inch slate is a very cheap, very basic tablet

Specifications
Weight: 286g
Dimensions: 192 x 115 x 9.6mm
OS: Fire OS
Screen size: 7-inch
Resolution: 1,024 x 600
CPU: 1.3GHz Quad-core
Storage: 16GB/32GB
Battery: up to 7 hours
Rear camera: 2MP
Front camera: VGA
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Durable build
Reasons to avoid
-Disappointing non-HD screen-Poor battery life

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)