The best cheap tablet selection isn't as varied as the selection of the best cheap phones. That's because most tablets tend to be mid-range and above, with Apple’s iPad ranges being prime examples of that.
However, there are still some great choices out there. Even if you're set on an iPad, there are a few that are surprisingly affordable, like the iPad 10.2 (2019).
Elsewhere, the bulk of the best cheap tablet options come from Amazon. The firm specializes in this area with tablets like the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus ruling the roost. Most entries on this list come from Amazon, but there are also Apple and Samsung tablets here too so there should be something for almost every taste.
Below are all the best options. To make your decision even easier, we've ranked them in order and highlighted all the major good and bad points for each tablet. We recommend reading our full review of any that you're keen to buy, so you know exactly what you're buying.
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 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
The Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) is the latest and best of Amazon’s big tablets. Having a 10.1-inch 1200 x 1920 screen makes it a good budget option for media in particular, especially if you have an Amazon Prime subscription.
It’s built to last too, and has decent battery life, so this is a slate you can happily take with you wherever you go – as long as the size isn’t an issue.
Its biggest issue is the same issue all Amazon tablets have, namely the software, which is big on pushing Amazon products and services, and lacks access to the Google Play Store. But if you can live with that then the Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) is a strong cheap choice.
Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)
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)