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The best cheap tablets in 2021

best cheap tablets 2021
best cheap tablets 2021 (Image credit: Future)

The best cheap tablets won't burn a hole in your wallet, but serve up a smooth-performing, light-weight operating system and a sleek, compact form. Truth be told, the best cheap tablets are Android or FireOS. In other words, don't count on getting a cheap tablet from Apple's pricey portfolio — even the iPad mini costs a pretty penny.

For under $200, you can get some of the best tablets around, such as the 2020  Amazon Fire HD 8 and the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus. These are two heavy hitters if you're looking for some of the best cheap tablets on the market.

If you'd like to snag one of the best cheap tablets, 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 and its ability to 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. You can control smart-home devices from the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus, 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 10 Kids Edition
  9. 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

Best cheap tablet ever

Reasons to buy
+Doubles as a smart display+Colorful screen+Slim bezels+Comes with a charging dock
Reasons to avoid
-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 of 2021: the Amazon Fire HD 8

Best cheap tablet of 2021: the Amazon Fire HD 8  (Image credit: Kimberly Gedeon/Future)

2. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)

The best cheap tablet with Alexa

Reasons to buy
+Perfect for Prime subscribers+Super cheap+USB Type-C port
Reasons to avoid
-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 tablet of 2021: Amazon Fire 7 2019

Best cheap tablet of 2021: Amazon Fire 7 2019 (Image credit: Future)

3. Amazon Fire 7 (2019)

Best cheap Amazon tablet overall

Reasons to buy
+Snappy despite its price+Super cheap+Hands-free Alexa
Reasons to avoid
-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.

Best cheap tablet of 2021: The Amazon Fire HD 10

Best cheap tablet of 2021: The Amazon Fire HD 10 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

4. Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

Best cheap tablet with USB-C

Reasons to buy
+Fantastic battery life+Bright, crisp display+Decent performance+USB-C (finally)
Reasons to avoid
-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.

Best cheap tablet of 2021: The Amazon Fire HD 10

Best cheap tablet of 2021: The Amazon Fire HD 10

5. Amazon Fire HD 8 (2018)

Best value tablet

Reasons to buy
+Decent performance+Bright display+Great value
Reasons to avoid
-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.

Best cheap tablet of 2021: Lenovo Tab 4 10

Best cheap tablet of 2021: Lenovo Tab 4 10

6. Lenovo Tab 4, 10-inch

Best Android-based tablet

Reasons to buy
+Long battery life+Good rear camera+Good performance for price+Haptic feedback
Reasons to avoid
-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 tablet of 2021: Lenovo Tab 4 Plus, 10-inch

Best cheap tablet of 2021: Lenovo Tab 4 Plus, 10-inch (Image credit: Lenovo)

7. Lenovo Tab 4 Plus, 10-inch

Best cheap 10-inch tablet

Reasons to buy
+Amazing battery life+Vivid display+Sharp cameras+Great performance
Reasons to avoid
-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 tablet of 2021: the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition

Best cheap tablet of 2021: the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

9. Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition

Best cheap tablet for kids overall

Reasons to buy
+Extensive parental controls+Included 2-year warranty+Impressive battery life
Reasons to avoid
-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.

Best cheap tablet of 2021: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3

Best cheap tablet of 2021: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3

10. Lenovo Yoga Tab 3

Best cheap tablet with long battery life

Reasons to buy
+Class-leading battery life+Accurate, 8-inch display, Built-in kickstand
Reasons to avoid
-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.