We purchased the The 5 Best Cheap Tablets so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full products reviews.
The best inexpensive tablets make excellent gifts, first-time gadgets for children, and everyday portable media devices. While you shouldn’t expect powerful processing, large amounts of storage, or ultra-high resolution screens at this price point, you can get a decent tablet for under $100.
If you have a larger budget, you might consider spending a little more to get more powerful hardware—you’ll notice the difference in performance when using more intensive apps or playing games. However, as you’ll see from our list of the best budget tablets, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good tablet experience.
Best Overall: Amazon Fire HD 8 (10th Generation) Tablet
The Amazon Fire HD 8 (Check latest price on Amazon) is a real bargain. This is an affordable tablet with an 8-inch display and an HD resolution of 1280 x 800, thanks to Amazon’s subsidized pricing. This device is capable of streaming TV shows and movies from services such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and Amazon’s own Prime Video. The dual-stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support enhance the experience, and this Amazon tablet, like other Amazon tablets, can be used hands-free with Alexa.
The Fire HD 8 comes with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded by up to 1TB with a microSD card, giving you plenty of room to store your favorite TV shows, movies, and games. The updated 2020 model’s internals are respectable for the price, if not more focused on entertainment than productivity or performance, with a 2.0GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM.
It now uses a modern USB-C port for charging (and has a battery life of about 12 hours), and there’s a more expensive “Plus” version with 3GB of RAM, wireless charging, and a faster wired charging adapter.
Screen Size: 8 inches | Resolution: 1280 x 800 (189ppi) | Processor: Octa-core 2.0GHz | Camera: 2MP front and rear
Related: The 5 Best iPad Stands
Best Budget: Amazon Fire 7 Tablet
Amazon has a monopoly on the low-cost tablet market. Amazon has an incentive to subsidize some of the cost of the tablets because it can profit from the content accessed on them. As a result, you’ll have access to powerful yet affordable tablets that are designed specifically for your favorite content, such as books, movies, and TV shows. The Amazon Fire 7 tablet (Check latest price on Amazon) is an incredibly low-cost model that delivers a lot for the money.
The Fire 7 is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM and runs Amazon’s Fire OS. It comes with 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 512GB with a microSD card for a reasonable price.
The 7-inch display has a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels, which isn’t particularly sharp but adequate for watching videos. A front-facing and rear-facing camera are included, allowing you to take photos and video chat with others. Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant is also built-in, allowing you to control your media and ask questions without having to use your hands. The battery lasts for an impressive seven hours.
Screen Size: 7 inches | Resolution: 1024 x 600 (171ppi) | Processor: Octa-core 1.3GHz | Camera: 2MP front and rear
Related: The 5 Best E-Readers for Seniors
Best for Kids: Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet
If you’re shopping for a tablet for a child, there are several compelling reasons to go with a less expensive model. Accidents do happen, after all, and it’s much better when they happen to devices that aren’t worth hundreds of dollars. Fortunately, Amazon’s Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet (Check latest price on Amazon) is inexpensive and designed to withstand spills.
The Fire 7 Kids Edition has the same 7-inch display as the standard Fire 7 with 1024 x 600 pixels. It, too, has a quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (which can be expanded with a microSD card), and a seven-hour battery life.
However, this model comes with a serious “Kid-Proof Case” and is backed by a two-year warranty, under which Amazon will replace your device if it breaks for any reason. The tablet also comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which includes books, movies, TV shows, and educational apps for kids aged three to twelve. Parental controls add an extra layer of security and content filtering.
Screen Size: 7 inches | Resolution: 1024 x 600 (171ppi) | Processor: Quad-core 1.3GHz | Camera: 2MP front and rear
Related: The 5 Best Drawing Tablets
Best for Reading: Amazon Kindle 8th Generation
An e-reader is a great tablet to own if you enjoy reading and want a device that can replace your bulky books with a single, slim device. The most well-known brand of e-reader is Amazon’s Kindle (Check latest price on Amazon), and this entry-level model is a great option for under $100.
It has a 6-inch display with 167ppi, which means smooth lines in images and text—which is ideal for a device you’ll read on frequently. The screen is glare-free, and the most recent version includes an adjustable front light so you can read comfortably in any light. If you have a Prime membership, you will have access to a wealth of free reading material.
An e-reader differs significantly from other tablets. The screen is black and white (like a book), and you can’t browse the internet or use media streaming apps on it. It truly concentrates the reader’s attention on the text. However, because of the fewer features, the battery lasts for weeks or even months instead of hours or days. You also get some great reading features, such as the ability to look up words in the text, take notes without destroying the page, and rent digital library books.
Screen Size: 6 inches | Resolution: 167ppi) | Storage: 8GB | Lighting: 4 front LEDs
Related: The 4 Best Gaming Tablets
Best for Android: Lenovo Tab M8 Tablet
Although Amazon’s Fire tablets are technically Android, the company’s heavily customized version disables many of the Google operating system’s features. Lenovo’s Tab M8 (Check latest price on Amazon) is a low-cost option for those looking for a more “pure” Android tablet experience.
Even without high-end hardware, the Tab M8 runs smoothly. Lenovo also didn’t bloat the system with a slew of pre-installed third-party apps or customize the interface. Most importantly, you gain unrestricted access to the Google Play Store and its vast library of apps and games.
For the Tab M8’s role as a basic, no-frills media consumption device, the Android OS is ideal. The tablet’s 8-inch 1280 x 800-pixel screen is both portable and attractive for watching movies and shows. For the price, it feels surprisingly well-made. However, using its lower-end processor and 2GB RAM to multitask, run intensive apps, or play graphics-intensive games is taxing. The speakers are also subpar, but you’ll probably listen to music on other devices anyway.
Screen Size: 8 inches | Resolution: 1280 x 800 | Processor: 2.0GHz Quad-core | Camera: Front, 2MP fixed-focus; Rear, 5MP auto-focus
The Final Word
If you can get past Amazon’s lackluster app selection, the Fire HD 8 is an excellent choice for an affordable tablet that costs less than $100. The Vankyo MatrixPad S21, on the other hand, has a 10-inch screen, an Octa-core processor, and an 8MP main camera if you’re willing to stretch your budget a little further.