Cheap Android Tablet
While the flagship Android tablet market is sparse, the same can’t be said for the budget market as there are quite a few great choices. When it comes getting a great value, you can’t do much better than the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1, especially if you are a fan of Samsung’s products or its design language.
Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1
Not everyone needs to pay flagship prices for a tablet with a flagship-like design, and that’s what you get the Tab A 10.1. This tablet sports a sleek and slim design that looks good while being light enough to not tire you out if you hold or carry it for a while.
When it’s time to throw a movie or YouTube video on, you’ll get (close to) room-filling sound with the dual-Dolby Atmos rated speakers. The expandable storage means that you can fill this tablet up with your favorite content, perfect for when there’s no Wi-Fi. Plus, with up to 13 hours of battery life, the Tab A 10.1 will just keep chugging along throughout the day.
Unfortunately, those who want a tablet capable of helping you get some work done, will want to look elsewhere. Multi-tasking is going to be less than stellar with just 2GB of RAM, and you won’t have access to Samsung’s fantastic S Pen. Instead, you’ll need to use third-party generic options. As for the keyboard, Samsung opted to not provide a first-party keyboard case, leaving users to rely on standard Bluetooth keyboards if you need to catch up on emails.
- Fantastic design
- Expandable storage
- Dolby Atmos Speakers
- Up to 13 hours of battery life
- Just 2GB of RAM
- No first-party stylus or keyboard support
- Slower processor than others
Upgrade Pick: Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab with Google Assistant
With the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab, there are a few different features that may surprise everyone. On the spec-side of things, you’ll get 4GB of RAM paired with 64GB of expandable storage. All of this is powered by the Snapdragon 439 chipset, which is just fine for mid-range tablet.
The fun with the Smart Tab comes from its four different viewing methods. The reason for the different views is because of the built-in kickstand that can prop up your tablet, or even lets it hang on a wall. Perhaps the most exciting aspect is the Google Assistant Ambient Mode, which gives you another Assistant-enabled device and acts like a Home Hub of sorts.
Despite the dual-JBL speakers, your movie watching experience is limited to just Full HD with the 1920×1200 IPS display. While Lenovo included a microSD card slot, you are limited to using up to a 256GB card, which is rather surprising in 2020.
- Features Google Assistant Ambient Mode
- Built-in kickstand
- Dual JBL Hi-Fi speakers
- Four different viewing methods
- Screen resolution limited to 1080p
- Middling processor
- MicroSD expansion limited to 256GB
- Most expensive on this list
Best for Kids: Samsung Galaxy Tab A Kids Edition
The kids need something for some entertainment too, right? But you don’t want them navigating the World Wide Web all on their own when you can’t stand over their shoulders. That’s where the Galaxy Tab A Kids Edition excels, thanks to the numerous parental controls.
With the free three-month trial of Samsung Kids, your children will get access to over 10,000 hours of activities. Then, you can set time limits and keep an eye on what they are playing, watching, and doing on the tablet. Plus, this tablet supports the STEM curriculum, perfect for teaching your children new things on a daily basis.
Under the hood, Samsung includes just 2GB of RAM, which shouldn’t present issues, but your kids could run into some bottle-necking when trying to switch between apps quickly. With the Tab A Kids Edition, you are provided with a vibrant, yellow, bumper cover, but if you want different colors, you’ll have to pony up.
- Includes bumper case
- Supports STEM Curriculum
- Includes Samsung Kids for three months
- Long-lasting battery
- Limited RAM and storage
- Extra bumper covers come separate
Best for a Small Screen: Lenovo Tab M8 FHD
Sometimes you just want a device that’s larger than your phone, but smaller than a full-size tablet, and Lenovo provides just that with the Tab M8 FHD. This 8-inch tablet sports a 1920×1200 resolution, which is just fine for screen this size. Under the hood, you’ll get 3GB of RAM along with 32GB of onboard storage.
When you need to upgrade the storage, Lenovo has included a microSD card slot that supports up to 2TB, if properly formatted. This will give you more than enough content to view while taking advantage of the 18-hour battery life and the included 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s even a Kids Mode built into the software so you can let your kids have some fun.
One potential issue that could arise with this tablet is that it is only equipped with a single speaker. Those wanting to use the M8 FHD for media consumption may be better suited relying on the built-in headphone jack or some Bluetooth headphones. And those hoping to get rid of those Micro-USB cables will have to keep hoping, as you won’t find USB-C on the Tab M8 FHD.
- Built-in Kids Mode
- Up to 18 hours of battery life
- Features 3.5mm headphone jack
- Storage expandable up to 2TB
- Headphone jack
- Dated design
- Just one speaker
- Micro-USB for charging
Best for the Amazon Ecosystem: Amazon Fire HD 10
It’s no secret that Amazon’s ability to provide serviceable tablets is unmatched, especially in the budget market. The Fire HD 10 is the king of the Fire HD lineup, with a 10.1-inch display, and either 32GB or 64GB of expandable storage. In fact, you can add up to a 512GB microSD card, which should be more than enough for your needs.
Add in the 12 hours of battery life and four different colors to choose from and you really have a no-brainer tablet option. There’s even USB-C onboard, and a new octa-core processor for more power than ever before in a Fire tablet.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Fire HD 10 runs an Amazon-centric version of Android, and it doesn’t have access to the Google Play Store. That’s not to say you can’t still download apps, you just have to take advantage of Amazon’s own App Store. We also don’t want folks to expect a high-quality build either, as Amazon had to cut costs and it did so in the overall build, which is made from plastic.
- Great value for the size
- Four colors to choose from
- Expandable storage up to 512GB
- 12 hours of battery
- No access to Play Store
- Cheap-feeling build
- Just 2GB of RAM
Best for the Amazon Ecosystem
Amazon on a big screen
Amazon’s Fire HD 10 may not have access to the Play Store, but you’ll still have access to many popular apps in a great package.
Amazon on the Small Screen: Amazon Fire HD 8
Source: Phil Nickinson / Android Central
If want to get started with the Amazon ecosystem, the Fire HD 8 is a great way to do so. You’ll get a solid Full HD display with either 16GB or 32GB of expandable storage, along with up to 10 hours of battery life.
However, the Fire HD 8 has an extra trick up its sleeve with “Hands-free Alexa.” This turns your tablet into another Echo Dot, and you can even get a stand to use it as a smart display.
Unfortunately, the Fire HD 8 isn’t as great as other options on the market, as you are limited to using microUSB for charging. The 2MP front and rear-facing cameras are also not great to use, and won’t cut it in 2020. Finally, you will have to deal with Amazon’s version of Android and won’t have access to the Google Play Store.
- 10 hours of battery life
- Hands-free Alexa
- Lightweight and portable
- A little expandable storage
- Just 1.5GB of RAM
- No access to Google Play Store
- Micro-USB for charging
Amazon on the Small Screen
Amazon’s best, but smaller
Those who want an Amazon tablet but don’t want a big screen will love the Amazon Fire HD 8 with its great battery life and more.
The Android tablet market is a bit odd, especially in the “budget” market. This is partly due to the fact that our smartphones come close to the size of a smaller tablet, along with the fact that a budget-minded tablet can’t hold a cup of tea to the flagship smartphones. With little discrepancy between the two, it’s tough for users to spring for another device, when they can already do everything the tablet can and in most cases, in a better capacity. Plus, the market has been eclipsed in part by Apple’s iPad, which has been ahead of the curve in terms of tablet technology.
While there are a few things that could be improved upon, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 is our favorite “cheap” Android tablet on the market. You get a great design, a beautiful display, and up to 13 hours of battery in a slim and lightweight package. Samsung has even included dual-Dolby Atmos speakers that will fill the room and give you the “punch” that you need.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Andrew Myrick is a regular freelancer at Android Central and iMore. He has been a tech enthusiast ever since the original iPhone was released and continues to flip-flop between devices. You might as well hook him up to an IV filled with coffee to get him through the day. If you have any questions, you can find him on Twitter, and he’ll get back to you.
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