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Best Overall: Fire HD 8 at Amazon
"With a 10-hour battery life, you can enjoy long viewing sessions without needing to reach for the charger."
Best for Reading: Amazon Kindle at Amazon
"The Kindle's screen is glare-free so you can comfortably read in direct sunlight."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Amazon Fire 7 at Amazon
"The Fire 7 runs on Amazon’s Fire OS and is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM."
Best for Kids: Fire 7 Kids Edition at Amazon
"Amazon’s Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet is available at an affordable price and built with accidents in mind."
Best Samsung: Samsung Galaxy Tab E Lite at Samsung
"Samsung lists a good nine-hour battery life and offers the device in black or white."
Best Splurge: Huawei Mediapad T3 at Amazon
"The screen is built into a body made from a single piece of anodized aluminum, giving it a premium feel."
Best Phablet: Moto E5 at Amazon
"Motorola knows how to make a good device for a cheap price tag, and that extends through its full range of smartphones."
The best tablets under $100 are a low-risk and cost-effective way to invest in the functionality of a tablet. These devices offer similar functionality to a suped-up phone with a larger screen.
Regardless of what you plan to use your tablet for, whether that's reading books, watching movies or playing games you'll want a halfway decent display. While your options at this price point are limited, you can still get an 8-inch tablet well under the $100, just remember that size isn't everything, make sure to pay attention to the resolution too.
Amazon's store app is a bit bare compared to Google Play
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 eight-inch display offering an HD resolution of 1280x800. If you enjoy streaming TV shows and movies from services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, or Amazon’s own Prime Video, this device is up to the task. And, with a 10-hour battery life, you can enjoy long viewing sessions without needing to reach for the charger. The dual-stereo speakers with support for Dolby Atmos just make the experience even better.
The Fire HD 8 comes with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage that you can expand by up to 400GB with a microSD card, giving you plenty of room for TV shows, movies, and games. With a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor and 1.5GB of RAM, it doesn't have the most powerful internals, but this device is more focused on entertainment than productivity. However, you could also use if for communication, as the 2MP front-facing camera offers a decent resolution for video chats. Like the other Alexa tablets, this one can be used hands-free with the Alexa assistant.
"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
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. Kindles have become the most well-known brand of e-reader, and this baseline model from Amazon is a great option for under $100. It has a six-inch display with 167 pixels per inch, giving you smooth lines in images and text — that’s definitely something you want for a device you’ll read on a lot. The Kindle's screen is also glare-free so you can comfortably read in direct sunlight. Wi-Fi connectivity will let you download books and sync your content. And, 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 like an Amazon Fire does. It truly is for reading only. 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 options 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.
Courtesy of Amazon
Expandable up to 512GB via MicroSD card
Hands free Alexa Support
Sub-HD screen quality
No Google Apps
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 like 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 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, and you can affordably expand that up to 256GB with a microSD card. The seven-inch display has a resolution of 1024x600, which isn’t incredibly sharp but will do the job for video content. A front-facing and a rear-facing camera are also 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 eight hours.
Simple, straightforward interface
Rugged case with built-in kickstand
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 seven-inch, 1024x600 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 an eight-hour battery life. But this model is also built with a serious “Kid-Proof Case” and backed by a two-year warranty that Amazon says will cover a variety of problems. The tablet also comes with a year-long subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, 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.
Excellent battery life
Clear, crisp audio
Buttons have poor feedback
Not all Samsung tablets come at premium costs. The Samsung Galaxy Tab E Lite is the company’s most affordable tablet, and it feels well-built and offers solid performance for the price range. The 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, and Android Kit-Kat operating system are enough for everyday entertainment, web browsing, or as a nice introductory device for kids.
The compact tablet’s seven-inch 1024 x 600 screen is comparable to competitors, and its 8GB of storage are somewhat limiting but can be expanded to 32GB with a microSD card. (9.6-inch and 16GB-storage models are available for a higher price.) Samsung lists a good nine-hour battery life and offers the device in black or white. Not all its features will impress everyone, particularly in terms of its speakers and 2MP rear-facing camera. But if you’re in the market for a Galaxy tablet to perhaps supplement your other devices, the Tab E Lite is a functional, pocketbook-friendly way to do it.
Decent battery life
Long charging times
Huawei has a nice, budget tablet that may not be under $100 every day, but its price comes close enough that you’ll likely see it slip into this ballpark from time to time, especially if you check different sellers. If you’re shopping and have a few dollars of wiggle room in your budget, the Huawei Mediapad T3 is a worthy pick.
The Mediapad T3 features an eight-inch display with an HD resolution of 1280x800. That screen is built into a body made from a single piece of anodized aluminum, giving it a premium feel you will be truly hard-pressed to find elsewhere at this price point. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor paired with 2GB of RAM in the model with 16BG of storage (or 3GB of RAM in the model with 32GB of storage). The 5MP camera on the back takes pretty good photos, and the front camera offers a decent 2MP for video chat. This tablet runs Android 7.0, which isn’t old enough to cause serious concern.
"This tablet may be almost double the price of others on this list, but easily outperforms about every other entry and give you access to a genuine Android architecture." — Alice Newcome-Beill, Associate Commerce Editor
Great battery life
Still stuck on Micro-USB charging
Poor outdoor visibility
We know this may seem like a stretch for those in the market for a tablet, but Motorola’s Moto E5 is worth considering if you’re on a tight budget. "Phablets" — smartphones with almost tablet-sized screens — definitely aren't as large as your typical iPad. But if you’re used to smaller smartphone screens, you may be surprised by just how much more you get at 5.7 inches (that's the size of the Moto E5). Motorola knows how to make a good device for a cheap price tag, and that extends through its full range of smartphones. The Moto E5 is one of its most affordable.
On top of that 5.7-inch display with a 1440x720 resolution and Gorilla Glass 3, you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM. You’ll also get 16GB of storage that can be expanded with a microSD card. Plus, the Moto E5 ships with Android Oreo, and Motorola is good about updating its devices. If you don’t want the 4G LTE connectivity, you can still use this as a Wi-Fi connected device and enjoy a smooth experience. And, with a large battery, fast charging, and an 8MP rear camera, there’s plenty to like about the device to make up for the smaller size.
If you can look past the less than stellar Amazon library of apps, the Fire HD 8 is an excellent choice for an affordable tablet that falls well below the $100 mark. However, if you're willing to stretch your budget a little further, the Huawei Mediapad T3 brings genuine android functionality without the distraction of Amazon ads.
Alice Newcome-Beill has been the associate commerce editor for Lifewire since December 2019. Her work has appeared on PCMag, PC Gamer, and GamesRadar. In her spare time, she enjoys building computers, emulating old software in DOSBox, and cycling.
Screen Size - The average tablet is around 10 inches, measured diagonally, but they can be as small as 8 inches and run up to 13.5. The screen size is really 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.
Performance - You'll want to pay attention to the RAM and CPU that your tablet uses if you're planning on using it for heavy gaming or demanding apps. But these specs typically demand a higher price tag.
Storage - Some tablets allow for additional storage via a 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.