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The best cheap tablets 2020: the top budget options

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

The world of cheap tablets isn’t as overflowing with options as the world of cheap smartphones, but there are still some great slates that don’t cost the earth.

These include the Amazon Fire HD 8 PlusiPad 9.7 (2018)Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5, and more, so there are options covering a range of different sizes and operating systems.

However, if you’re thinking of buying a cheap tablet it’s probably at least in part because you want to save money, and in that case it’s definitely worth noting that you might be able to save even more soon.

Black Friday is on November 27, and it's closely followed by Cyber Monday. While we can’t be certain what will or won’t be discounted during either of these sales, there’s a high chance that at least some of the best cheap tablets will be even cheaper than normal. 

Notably Amazon often discounts its own products, and there are a number of great Amazon Fire tablets, as our list below highlights, so if you’re considering one of them then waiting for Black Friday would make a lot of sense.

Whether you’re planning to buy now or wait for the big sales, it’s worth deciding on what tablets you’re interested in. With that in mind you’ll find our roundup of the best cheap tablets below, ranked from best to worst – but even slates at the bottom of this list come highly recommended, so depending on your needs they might be ideal.

But if you’re not sold on any of them, check out our best tablets, best iPad, and best Android tablets guides (linked below) for other options. And make sure to check back soon, as we’re keeping all of these guides constantly updated.

Best cheap tablets 2020 at a glance:

  1. Apple iPad 9.7 (2018)
  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 (2018)

(Image credit: Apple)

1. Apple iPad 9.7 (2018)

The best cheap tablet you can buy right now

Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm | OS: iOS 13 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 | CPU: Apple A10 Fusion | Storage: 32GB/128GB | Battery: 8827mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Good screen quality
Powerful for the price
Apple Pencil costs extra
Design unchanged

The iPad 9.7 (2018) is the best cheap tablet you can buy right now.

It may not be the newest entry-level iPad on the market (that's the iPad 10.2) but the iPad 9.7 2018 still has an awful lot going for it - not to mention a lower price tag, which makes it a candidate for this list, while the newer model isn’t quite.

You get a 9.7-inch display, making it marginally smaller than its successor for better or worse, plus plenty of power under the hood for your apps and games, and it's been updated to Apple's newest software - iPadOS 13 - ensuring it's right up to date with the latest features and security patches.

The iPad 9.7 also supports the Apple Pencil for all your sketching needs, and has a high-quality display. And while it’s no longer the newest basic iPad, being an Apple device it’s still likely to be supported with updates for years to come.

Read the full review: iPad 9.7 (2018)

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus

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

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

Wireless charging
Can be used like an Echo Show
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 10 (2019)

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

A decent, big screen, cheap tablet

Weight: 504g | Dimensions: 262 x 159 x 9.8mm | 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: 2MP | Front camera: 2MP

Large, clear screen
Dependable battery life
Divisive software
Only okay speakers

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)

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)

Amazon’s middle-sized tablet gets an upgrade

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

Super-low price
Great front camera placement
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)

5. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 (2018)

Samsung's best budget tablet

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

Has a headphone jack
Long battery life
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)

6. Amazon Fire 7 (2019)

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

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

Affordable
Durable build
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)