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The best cheap tablets in 2020

Best cheap tablets
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The best cheap tablets will give you the most bang for your buck with a smooth-performing operating system, which will most likely be Android or FireOS. In other words, don't count on getting a cheap tablet with an iPadOS operating system.

Black Friday falls on November 27 and we expect to see a plethora of deals on the industry's best tech. Be sure to bookmark our Black Friday 2020 page for this year’s best Black Friday deals.  

For under $200, you can get some of the best tablets around, such as the 2020  Amazon Fire HD 8. It's a heavy hitter for the price, according to our review.

It's worth noting that when you're purchasing a cheap tablet, you'll have to make some trade-offs. The question is, which features are you willing to sacrifice? We've laid out the pros and cons of the best cheap tablets we've reviewed; this way, you can get an easy-to-digest overview on which affordable tablet is the best for you.

If you want a kids-friendly tablet, consider getting the Amazon's Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, which packs a sharper screen, a protective case, free kid-friendly content and a 2-year no questions asked return policy. With a bit of trickery, you can even get Google Play on a Fire Tablet (though there are some issues involving security).

What is the best cheap tablet?

The best cheap tablet is the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus (2020). What makes this tablet the best cheap tablet is its vivid, colorful display, wide array of ports for connectivity and it can even double as a smart display. The Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus also ships with a complimentary Lenovo Charging Dock, which you can use, of course, to charge the tablet. While it's on the Charging Dock, you can activate  Google Assistant Ambient Mode, which essentially transforms your tablet into a smart display. You can show off digital photos on your album, it can display notifications, weather and news updates, and you can even control smart-home devices from your tablet, too.

Another tablet that's the best cheap tablet is the Amazon Fire HD 10. The Amazon Fire HD 10 is a tablet that can definitely hold its own in today's market. Not only does the Fire HD 10 finally charge over USB-C, but the tablet's octa-core processor makes it snappier and speedier than previous Amazon Fire tablets, which felt a little behind the curve. Add in more than 13 hours of battery life, and you've got one of the best tablets out there.

The best cheap tablets you can buy today

  1. Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus (2020)
  2. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)
  3. Amazon Fire 7 (2019)
  4. Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)
  5. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2018)
  6. Lenovo Tab 4, 10-inch
  7. Lenovo Tab 4 Plus, 10-inch
  8. Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
  9. Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition
  10. Lenovo Yoga Tab 3

best cheap tablet: the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus

best cheap tablet: the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus (Image credit: Future)

1. Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus (2020)

Best cheap tablet ever

Doubles as a smart display
Colorful screen
Slim bezels
Comes with a charging dock
Outdated Android OS

The Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus is the best cheap tablet ever. It's the most fun and engaging tablet I've ever had the experience of reviewing. It doubles as a smart display, which means you can turn on Google Assistant Ambient Mode and you can pop it up on a surface to display your favorite photos, upcoming calendar events, weather information and news updates. You can control smart-home devices from your tablet.

Another reason why the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus is the best cheap tablet around is because it ships with a Lenovo Charging Dock, so you can prop it up on the Charging Dock for a hands-free experience, and your tablet is getting charged up along the way.

The Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus is the best cheap tablet because of its vivid, colorful display. It also has a nice variety of ports for a cheap tablet, including USB Type-C,  a microSD card slot and a headset jack. You'll also find yourself playing a lot of fun games on this tablet, whether it's PUBG Mobile or Fortnite.

The Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus has a starting price of $169.99, and the unit I reviewed cost $229.99 as it has more RAM and storage.

See our full Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus (2020) review.

best cheap tablet: the Amazon Fire HD 8 2020

best cheap tablet: the Amazon Fire HD 8 2020 (Image credit: Kimberly Gedeon/Future)

2. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)

The best cheap tablet with Alexa

Perfect for Prime subscribers
Super cheap
USB Type-C port
Ad heavy

The Amazon Fire HD 8 2020 is the best cheap tablet you can buy in Amazon's FireOS portfolio. It's got a camera located on the side bezel for landscape-view photos and video calls for Zoom, Google Meet and other apps. It also has Alexa integration for fun and engaging voice controls. 

The Amazon Fire HD 8 2020 is best for those who have a Prime subscription since it is a tablet that is filled with the Amazon ecosystem, such as the Audible and Prime Video apps. The Amazon Fire HD 8 2020 tablet has its own Amazon-built app store, so don't expect to find the familiar Google App Store on this tablet.

And of course, the best part of the Amazon Fire HD 8 2020 tablet is that it's super, super cheap. It will only set you back $89.99.

See our full Amazon Fire HD 8 2020 review.

best cheap tablets: Amazon Fire 7 2019

best cheap tablets: Amazon Fire 7 2019 (Image credit: Future)

3. Amazon Fire 7 (2019)

Best cheap Amazon tablet overall

Snappy despite its price
Super cheap
Hands-free Alexa
Short battery life
Sluggish performance

Our best cheap tablets list has to begin with the Fire 7, which Amazon offers at the low, low price of $50. Its price might make you think it's an unreliable device, but its sturdy-feeling case will make you think otherwise. It's also quite bright for its price. We just wish it had the Google Play store and a higher-resolution display.

See our full Amazon Fire 7 review.

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) best cheap tablets

The Amazon Fire HD 10 is one of the best cheap tablets around thanks to its fantastic battery life, crisp display and decent performance. (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

4. Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

Best cheap tablet with USB-C

Fantastic battery life
Bright, crisp display
Decent performance
USB-C (finally)
No Google apps

The new Fire HD 10 (2019) proves that Amazon can make a fantastic tablet that's still one of the best cheap tablets, provided you pay a little more. From its fantastically long battery life to its sharp, bright display to its USB-C charging port, this slate competes with the much more expensive iPad ($329). If only it included the Google Play store or Google apps.

See our full Amazon Fire HD 10 review.

Amazon Fire HD 8 best cheap tablets

Surprise, surprise, the Amazon Fire HD 8 ranks among the best cheap tablets for its decent performance, bright display and great value.

5. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2018)

Best value tablet

Decent performance
Bright display
Great value
No native Google apps
Less battery life than before

Amazon gives you more bang for less buck with the 2018 Fire HD 8 tablet; it offers 16GB of local storage, which is twice as much as 2016's model. Its 9-plus hours of battery life is OK, but the 2017 model lasted almost 2 hours longer.

See our full Amazon Fire HD 8 review.

Lenovo Tab 4 10 best cheap tablets

If you're looking for an android tablet, the best cheap tablet you can buy is the Lenovo Tab 4 10, especially because it boasts long battery life.

6. Lenovo Tab 4, 10-inch

Best Android-based tablet

Long battery life
Good rear camera
Good performance for price
Haptic feedback
Display could be better

The long-lasting Lenovo Tab 4 10 is one of the best cheap tablets you can buy with a 10-inch screen. Not only is its performance decent for its price tag, this slate lasts over 11 hours, beating the Amazon Fire HD 8. Since it comes rocking Android 7.1 Nougat, you can split its screen between two apps to make the most of its size. And that means you get the real Google Play store — enough for it to be the best cheap tablet that actually runs an unfiltered version of Android — and you can get real Google apps, like YouTube. 

See our full Lenovo Tab 4 10 review.

best cheap tablets: Lenovo Tab 4 Plus, 10-inch

best cheap tablets:  Lenovo Tab 4 Plus, 10-inch (Image credit: Lenovo)

7. Lenovo Tab 4 Plus, 10-inch

Best cheap 10-inch tablet

Amazing battery life
Vivid display
Sharp cameras
Great performance
Running old Android 7.1

The Lenovo Tab 4 Plus is the successor to the Lenovo Tab 4.

This 10.1-inch tablet provides an eye-catching, vivid display, features a comfortable design that is easy on your hands and has superb battery life. However, the downside is that you get an older version of Android. At the same time, the Tab 4 10 Plus is a highly rated media tablet for the price, especially since you also get a nice pair of cameras and solid speakers. No wonder it has 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

See our review of the full 10-inch Lenovo Tab 4 Plus.

best cheap tablets: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

best cheap tablets: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

8. Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Best cheap durable tablet for kids

Durable design with two-year accidental-damage protection
Robust parental controls
Tons of free, age-appropriate content
Long battery life
Soft speakers

It's not the cheapest kid-friendly Amazon tablet -- that's the Fire 7 Kids Edition-- but the $129 Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is, dollar-for-dollar, the best option available. It gives your child speedier performance and a brighter display, as well as a whole five hours of additional battery life. Sometimes it pays to spend a little more.

See our full Fire HD 8 Kids review.

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition best cheap tablets

If you need something a little bigger for your kids, the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition is easily the best cheap tablet at 10 inches. (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

9. Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition

Best cheap tablet for kids overall

Extensive parental controls
Included 2-year warranty
Impressive battery life
Overload on Amazon content

If you want to get your kid something a little bigger and stay under $200, we recommend the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition. Its battery lasted an epic 13 hours and 29 minutes and it's packed with a ton of parental controls as well as a 2-year warranty, like its predecessor. Its 10-inch display is super bright, at 411 nits, and offers decent color, covering 103% of the sRGB color gamut. It's by far among the best cheap tablets for kids.

See our full Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition review.

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 best cheap tablets

Need a tablet that can double as a projector? The best cheap tablet for you is the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3. It also has awesome battery life.

10. Lenovo Yoga Tab 3

Best cheap tablet with long battery life

Class-leading battery life
Accurate, 8-inch display, Built-in kickstand
Mediocre performance
A bit bulky

If you prioritize battery life, the Yoga Tab 3's 15 hours of life might make it the best cheap tablet for you, even though its $170 price tag is on the high-end of the budget field. The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 may not have the most powerful processor inside, but it does make watching videos for hours easy, thanks to the built-in kickstand. The bright, 1280 x 800-pixel screen and front-facing speakers are nothing to sneeze at, either.

See our full Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 review.

How to choose the best cheap tablet for you

If you're a huge Amazon consumer, and perhaps you've got a Prime account, an Amazon tablet such as the Amazon Fire HD 10 is a perfect fit for you because you'll have easy access to all your favorite Amazon features, including Audible, Prime Video, Amazon Photos and more. 

If you're not a big Amazon shopper, perhaps Amazon tablets aren't the best pick for you because you won't be utilizing many of the pre-installed apps on the tablet.

Perhaps you'll prefer having access to the Google Play store so that you can download all of your favorite Android apps and games. In that case, perhaps you'll want to opt for the 10-inch Lenovo Tab 4 Plus, which has an impressive 13 hours of battery life. You'll get all the features similar to any other Android-based phone, but on a bigger, more interactive screen.

How we test the best cheap tablets

To offer our readers a thorough and exhaustive review of the tablets that come through our labs, we dive into testing battery life, display quality, performance, audio quality and more. If there is a camera or two, we give it a whirl through real-world testing to give our readers the best description of what they can expect from our tablet review unit.  

For performance, for example, we use the Geekbench benchmark to test the tablet's processing power. We also measure tablets' graphics capabilities using the 3DMark benchmark. 

We sift through the tablets' software to see what pre-installed apps and programs you'll get to play around with -- or delete -- once you get the best cheap tablet for yourself.

We also compare tablets with other competitors, such as MediaPad M5 Lite vs. iPad: Why Huawei Almost Beats Apple, to give our readers a better perspective on which tablet would be the best slate for their needs.