The 6 Best Cheap Tablets in 2021

Big screens on a budget

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The Rundown
Thanks to Amazon’s subsidized pricing, this is an affordable tablet with an 8-inch display offering an HD resolution of 1280x800.
The Fire 7 tablet is an incredibly affordable model that really offers a lot for the price.
Amazon’s Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet is available at an affordable price and built with accidents in mind.
Best for Reading:
Amazon Kindle at Amazon
Amazon's Kindles have become the most well-known brand of e-reader, and this baseline model is a great option for under $100.
Best for Android:
Lenovo Tab M8 at Amazon
The Tab M8 performs smoothly even without high-end hardware.
Best Large Screen:
VANKYO MatrixPad S10 at Amazon
If you're looking to watch movies, read books, and check mail, the MatrixPad lets you do it with a big screen and a small budget.

The best cheap tablets are perfect as gifts, starter gadgets for kids, and everyday portable media devices. While you shouldn’t expect powerful processing, large amounts of storage, or ultra-high resolution screens, you can find a decent tablet in the sub-$100 price point.

If you have a bigger budget to work with, you may consider shelling out a bit more to invest in more powerful hardware—you'll feel the difference in performance with more intensive app use and gaming. But as you'll see from our picks of top budget tablets, you don't have to spend a fortune to get a solid, enjoyable tablet experience.

Best Overall: Amazon Fire HD 8 (10th Generation) Tablet

All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet
What We Like
  • Simple interface

  • Durable

  • Reasonably fast processing

What We Don't Like
  • UI is subsidized by Amazon content

Amazon’s Fire HD 8 is a real budget champion. Thanks to Amazon’s subsidized pricing, this is an affordable tablet with an 8-inch display offering an HD resolution of 1280 x 800. If you enjoy streaming TV shows and movies from services including Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, or Amazon’s own Prime Video, this device is up to the task. The dual-stereo speakers with support for Dolby Atmos make the experience even better, and, like other Amazon tablets, this one can be used hands-free with the Alexa voice assistant.

The Fire HD 8 comes with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage that you can expand by up to 1TB with a microSD card, giving you plenty of room for TV shows, movies, and games. With a 2.0GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM on the updated 2020 model, its internals are respectable for the price, if not more focused on entertainment than productivity or performance.

It also now uses a modern USB-C port for charging (with a battery that gets about 12 hours of use), and there's a pricier "Plus" version that includes 3GB of RAM, supports wireless charging, and comes with a faster wired charging adapter.

Screen Size: 8 inches | Resolution: 1280 x 800 (189ppi) | Processor: Octa-core 2.0GHz | Camera: 2MP front and rear

"If you’re looking to read an eBook on your commute or stream some YouTube videos before bed, it’s a nice alternative to your smartphone screen."Jordan Oloman, Product Tester

Best Budget: Amazon Fire 7 Tablet

What We Like
  • Expandable storage via MicroSD card

  • Inexpensive

  • Hands free Alexa Support

What We Don't Like
  • Sub-HD screen quality

Amazon has the affordable tablet market fully cornered. Because Amazon can make money on the content accessed on its tablets, it has the incentive to subsidize some of the cost of the tablets. The result is capable yet affordable tablets that are purpose-built for all your favorite content such as books, movies, and TV shows. The Fire 7 tablet is an incredibly affordable model that really offers a lot for the price.

The Fire 7 runs on Amazon’s Fire OS and is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM. It comes with 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, and you can affordably expand that up to 512GB with a microSD card.

The 7-inch display has a resolution of 1024 x 600, which isn’t incredibly sharp but will do the job for video watching. A front-facing and a rear-facing camera are included, giving you options for taking photos and having video chats. There is also built-in support for Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant so you can control your media or ask questions hands-free. The battery life is a solid seven hours.

Screen Size: 7 inches | Resolution: 1024 x 600 (171ppi) | Processor: Octa-core 1.3GHz | Camera: 2MP front and rear

Best for Kids: Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet

All-New Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet
What We Like
  • Simple, straightforward interface

  • 2-year warranty

  • Rugged case with built-in kickstand

What We Don't Like
  • Battery life is lackluster

If you're looking to buy a tablet for a child, you’ve got some very good reasons to look for a cheaper model. After all, accidents do happen, and it’s much better when they happen to devices that didn’t cost several hundred dollars. Luckily, Amazon’s Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet is available at an affordable price and built with accidents in mind.

The Fire 7 Kids Edition offers the same 7-inch, 1024 x 600-pixel display found in the standard Fire 7. Similarly, it has a quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage that can be expanded with a microSD card, and a seven hour battery life.

But this model is also equipped with a serious “Kid-Proof Case” and backed by a two-year warranty where Amazon will send you a new device if yours breaks for any reason. The tablet comes with a year-long subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited as well, which offers tons of content for children ages 3 through 12, including books, movies, TV shows, and educational apps. Parental controls provide another level of protection and content screening.

Screen Size: 7 inches | Resolution: 1024 x 600 (171ppi) | Processor: Quad-core 1.3GHz | Camera: 2MP front and rear

Best for Reading: Amazon Kindle 8th Generation

What We Like
  • Luminous display

  • Glare-free

  • Front LEDs

What We Don't Like
  • Speakers could be better

If you like reading and want a device that can replace your heavy books with a single, slim device, an e-reader is a great tablet to own. Amazon's Kindles have become the most well-known brand of e-reader, and this baseline model is a great option for under $100.

It has a 6-inch display with 167ppi, giving you smooth lines in images and text—that’s definitely something you want for a device you’ll read on a lot. The screen is glare-free, and the latest version adds an adjustable front light so you can comfortably read in any lighting conditions. In terms of content, if you have a Prime membership, you’ll get access to loads of free reading material.

An e-reader is largely different from other tablets. The screen is black and white (like a book), and it doesn't allow you to freely browse the internet or access media streaming apps. It truly makes reading the focus. But, because of the pared-down features, the battery tends to last for weeks or even months rather than hours or days. You get some great features for reading, too, with the ability to look up words in the text, add notes without ruining a page, and even rent digital library books.

Screen Size: 6 inches | Resolution: 167ppi) | Storage: 8GB | Lighting: 4 front LEDs

"The Kindle boasts a good range of brightness settings with its four built-in LED lights, though it won’t match the 12-LED brightness of the Kindle Oasis."Rebecca Isaacs, Product Tester

Best for Android: Lenovo Tab M8 Tablet

What We Like
  • Pure Android OS with Google Play Store

  • Solid build quality

  • Low price

What We Don't Like
  • Poor camera quality

Amazon's Fire tablets may technically run on Android, but the company's heavily-customized version cuts out a lot of the benefits of the Google operating system. For those in the market for a more "pure"Android tablet experience, Lenovo's Tab M8 offers it for a low price tag.

The Tab M8 performs smoothly even without high-end hardware. Lenovo didn't customize the interface or bog down the system with a ton of pre-installed third-party apps, either. Most importantly, you get full access to the Google Play Store and its massive collection of apps and games.

The Android OS works well for the Tab M8 and its role as a basic, no-frills media consumption device. The 8-inch 1280 x 800-pixel screen keeps the tablet portable while looking nice for movies and shows. It feels surprisingly well-built for the price. But trying to multitask, run intensive apps, or play graphics-heavy games is taxing for its lower-end processor and 2GB RAM. The speakers also leave a lot to be desired, but you'll probably use other devices for audio anyway.

Screen Size: 8 inches | Resolution: 1280 x 800 | Processor: 2.0GHz Quad-core | Camera: Front, 2MP fixed-focus; Rear, 5MP auto-focus

Best Large Screen: VANKYO MatrixPad S10 10-inch Tablet

What We Like
  • 10-inch display

  • Expandable storage via microSD

  • USB-C connectivity

What We Don't Like
  • Basic design

Most budget tablets come with smaller screens than you might want from your tablet, measuring 8 inches or smaller. But then there's the 10-inch MatrixPad S21 from Vankyo. Hovering right around the $100 mark, it offers a solid value.

It runs on native Android 9.0 Pie as the operating system and is bloatware-free, with access to Google Assistant and the full Google Play Store. So download away—when your apps and other media start to fill up the 32GB of internal storage, there's a microSD card slot to expand it up to 128GB.

The tradeoff, though, is that performance can get sluggish. It has a 1.6GHz octa-core chip, but it has only 2GB of RAM. It works well enough for basic tasks, but struggles if you try to push it much more than that. You also get an 8MP main camera in addition to the 2MP front camera, which is better than most other tablets at the price range, but you can find better options for digital photography. If you're mostly looking to watch movies, read e-books, and check emails, though, the MatrixPad lets you do it with a big screen and a small budget.

Screen Size: 10 inches | Resolution: 1280 x 800 | Processor: Octa-core 1.6GHz | Camera: Front, 2MP; Rear, 8MP

Final Verdict

If you can look past the less-than-stellar Amazon library of apps, the Fire HD 8 (view at Amazon) is an excellent choice as an affordable tablet that falls well below the $100 mark. However, if you're willing to stretch your budget a little further, the Vankyo MatrixPad S21 (view at Amazon) provides a 10-inch screen, an Octa-core processor, and an 8MP main camera.

How We Tested

To test the best tablets under a certain price range, our expert reviewers and testers use a variety of methods. Firstly, we look at design, weight, and portability, to see how easy a tablet is to tote around. We also evaluate the screen size and resolution with a view to streaming video, looking at images, and browsing web pages. Audio and connectivity play an important part in determining multimedia quality. 

For objective performance measures, we use common tests like PCMark, Geekbench, and 3DMark, and also try to download some demanding games to see if it can handle To test battery life, we stream video at maximum brightness to measure runtime, along with general usage over the course of a day. Finally, we look at the value proposition and competition, to see how the tablet stacks up against rivals in a similar price range. All of the tablets we test are purchased by us; none of the review units are provided by a manufacturer.

About our Trusted Experts

Erika Rawes has been writing professionally for more than a decade, and she has reviewed roughly 150 gadgets, including computers, peripherals, A/V equipment, mobile devices, and smart home gadgets. Erika currently writes for Digital Trends and Lifewire.

Jordan Oloman is a Lifewire writer and reviewer with degrees in Media and Journalism as well as History and Archaeology. He has contributed to several tech and gaming publications, including testing out a variety of tablets for Lifewire.

Rebecca Isaacs writes about consumer tech for Lifewire while also traveling the world and working in higher education. As part of her product testing contributions, she has put most of Amazon's Kindle e-reader selection through their paces and found the base model to be a strong budget option.

What to Look for in the Best Tablets under $100

Screen Size - The average tablet is around 10 inches measured diagonally, but they can be as small as 5 inches and run up to 18.4 inches. Screen size is a personal preference, but for productivity purposes, it’s often the bigger the better. If you’re merely streaming a show or reading a book, a smaller screen should suffice. If you plan on doing any work or school on your tablet, go for at least a 10-inch screen.

Performance - You'll want to pay attention to the tablet’s RAM and CPU if you're planning on using it for heavy gaming or demanding apps, but these specs typically come at a higher price tag. If you want to multitask, you’ll want to go with a faster processor over a better camera or larger screen.

Storage - Some tablets allow for additional storage via microSD card, allowing you to store up to 512GB worth of files, photos, and apps. If you're planning on storing a ton of media on your tablet, this is something worth looking into.

FAQs

What should I look for when buying a cheap tablet?
Tablets under $100 typically won’t offer top-notch specifications or biometrics. They might not have the highest screen resolutions, processing speeds, cameras, or features such as Face ID and fingerprinting, but since tablet prices have declined in recent years, you can find a decent tablet for under $100 that will allow you to watch videos, surf the web, check your social media accounts, and video chat.

When searching for a cheap tablet, look for one that will serve your specific needs. If you want something for reading, look for a tablet with the right screen size and resolution. If you’re looking for something for quick photos or video chatting, look for a tablet with a better camera. You might not get the best of the best, but you can still find something that will serve its purpose. 

Should I buy an iPad or Android tablet?
Unless you’re looking at an older or used iPad, you likely won’t be able to find an iPad in the under-$100 price range. An Android tablet is your best bet, as these products tend to cost less than their iPad cousins. 

How many GB do I need in a tablet?
Most people will want at least 16GB of RAM, and it’s always nice to have expandable storage in case you need more space later on. One good thing about cheap Android tablets is that they often provide ample storage, even if you have to sacrifice on screen size, screen resolution, camera quality, and processing power.

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