Best budget tablet 2018: get great performance for very little money

A cheap price doesn't have to mean a bad tablet. These are the best budget tablets on the market today

TODO alt text

Amazon Prime Day 2018 is now on and, simply put, if you're looking for one of the best budget tablets on the market today then you should head to Amazon right now. That's because the online retailer giant has some absolutely cracking cheap tablet deals.

Unless you're crunching through some 4K video editing or wanting to run the most demanding mobile games out there, a tablet doesn't really have to do much – a bit of web browsing here, a spot of Netflix watching there, and that's about the extent of it.

Kids too can benefit from a cheap and cheerful tablet, and don't necessarily need all the bells and whistles of an iPad Pro. With that in mind we present our picks for the best budget tablets that you can buy right now, complete with the pros and cons of each.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A best budget tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab A

1. Samsung Galaxy Tab A (10.1-inch)

A tablet you can rely on

Specifications
Weight: 525g
Dimensions: 254.2 x 155.3 x 8.2mm
OS: Android 6.0
Screen size: 10.1 inches
Resolution: 1200 x 1920
CPU: Exynos 7870
RAM: 3GB
Storage: 16/32GB
Battery: 7300mAh
Rear camera: 8MP f/1.9
Front camera: 2MP f/2.2
Reasons to buy
+Bold and spacious screen+Polished Android skin
Reasons to avoid
-Sound quality is pretty basic

Samsung actually makes some of the best premium Android tablets too, but here it's turned its hand to the budget end of the market, with a lot of success – the Tab A is a well-designed, relatively well-specced device that'll take care of most day-to-day jobs.

The 10.1-inch screen is sharp and vibrant, as you would expect from Samsung, while the 13 hours of video playback that the battery can offer should be enough for the longest car journey. If you need it, there's a special mode for kids built into the software as well.

Amazon Fire HD 10 best budget tablet

Amazon Fire HD 10

2. Amazon Fire HD 10

One of the leaders of the budget pack

Specifications
Weight: 500g
Dimensions: 262 x 159 x 9.8mm
OS: Android 5.1
Screen size: 10.1 inches
Resolution: 1200 x 1920
CPU: Mediatek MT8173
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32/64GB
Battery: 3830mAh
Rear camera: 2MP
Front camera: VGA
Reasons to buy
+Large, high-resolution screen+Solid build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Uses Amazon's version of Android

Amazon makes some of the best budget tablets around, offering decent hardware at compelling prices, but there's a big caveat: no Google Play Store access, so not as wide a choice of apps as you might be used to, with absentees including Gmail and YouTube.

If you can live with that (you still get apps like Netflix, Plex and Facebook), then the Fire 10 HD has a good size screen, plenty of storage, and up to 10 hours of battery life. These Fire tablets tend to be better built than other budget slates too, and are going to last you.

Huawei MediaPad T3 best budget tablet

Huawei MediaPad T3

3. Huawei MediaPad T3 (10-inch)

Huawei class in a budget tablet

Specifications
Weight: 460g
Dimensions: 229.8 x 159.8 x 8mm
OS: Android 7.0
Screen size: 9.6 inches
Resolution: 800 x 1280
CPU: Snapdragon 425
RAM: 2/3GB
Storage: 16/32GB
Battery: 4800mAh
Rear camera: 5MP
Front camera: 2MP
Reasons to buy
+Large screen with a good resolution+Well-designed and lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Huawei's Android could be improved

You know you're going to get well-built, well-designed hardware from Huawei, and so it is with the 10-inch MediaPad T3. There's that capacious screen, plus internal specs that won't set the world alight but will handle all of the basic tasks you'll want to do on it.

Huawei's take on Android isn't the best-looking or intuitive out there, but you can easily customise the interface, and you do get access to all the big name apps you're going to want. If you don't need a tablet that's blazingly fast, the MediaPad T3 is fantastic value.

Amazon Fire HD 8 best budget tablet

Amazon Fire HD 8

4. Amazon Fire HD 8

A compromise of price and power

Specifications
Weight: 369g
Dimensions: 214 x 128 x 9.7mm
OS: Android 5.1
Screen size: 8.0 inches
Resolution: 800 x 1280
CPU: Mediatek MT8163
RAM: 1.5GB
Storage: 16/32GB
Battery: 3210mAh
Rear camera: 2MP
Front camera: VGA
Reasons to buy
+Very decent screen for the price+Battery life that will last all day
Reasons to avoid
-Uses Amazon's version of Android

Find the Amazon Fire HD 10 (above) a bit too big and expensive? We present to you the Fire HD 8 instead, offering a little less screen space for quite a lot less money. With Alexa, Netflix, Facebook, Spotify, Amazon Video and so on, you can do a lot with this tablet.

As with all the Fire tablets, its design and build makes it look more expensive than it is, though as we mentioned with the Fire HD 10, you don't have access to the Google Play Store – that means you can't get Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube and other Google apps.

Asus ZenPad 8 best budget tablet

Asus ZenPad 8

5. Asus ZenPad 8

A lot of tablet for your money

Specifications
Weight: 350g
Dimensions: 209 x 123 x 8.5mm
OS: Android 6.0
Screen size: 8.0 inches
Resolution: 800 x 1280
CPU: Mediatek MT8163
RAM: 1/2GB
Storage: 8/16GB
Battery: 4000mAh
Rear camera: 5MP
Front camera: 2MP
Reasons to buy
+Strong balance of price and performance+Screen is big enough for most tasks
Reasons to avoid
-Comes with a stack of bloatware apps

You'll find a lot of budget Android tablets out there by brands you've never heard of, but with an Asus gadget you know there's some hardware heritage here. The ZenPad 8 is an appealing compromise of price and performance, and it's a solidly put together tablet.

Despite its budget status, it's a relatively thin and light tablet, with perhaps the cameras and the screen resolution the more obvious cost-cutting areas. It comes loaded with a bunch of Asus apps too, so some uninstalling work is required if you don't want them.

Lenovo Tab 4 best budget tablet

Lenovo Tab 4

6. Lenovo Tab 4 (8-inch)

A solid all-rounder

Specifications
Weight: 310g
Dimensions: 211 x 124 x 8.2mm
OS: Android 7.0
Screen size: 8.0 inches
Resolution: 800 x 1280
CPU: Snapdragon 425
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 16/32GB
Battery: 4850mAh
Rear camera: 5MP
Front camera: 2MP
Reasons to buy
+Excellent value for money+Impressive battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Not for demanding tasks

Lenovo's Android tablet line-up is a little confusing, but here we're talking about the 8-inch version of the Tab 4 (there are four Tab 4s in total – keep up at the back). It's the cheapest of the bunch, but still offers enough build quality and performance to keep most satisfied.

At this price and with these specs you're going to be sticking to the basics, but the Tab 4 is fine for media consumption and a little light web work. What's more, the tablet is well put together, and can give you a whopping 12 hours of total battery life if you use it carefully.

Amazon Fire 7 best budget tablet

Amazon Fire 7

7. Amazon Fire 7

At the budget end of budget

Specifications
Weight: 295g
Dimensions: 192 x 115 x 9.6mm
OS: Android 5.1
Screen size: 7.0 inches
Resolution: 600 x 1024
CPU: Mediatek MT8127
RAM: 1GB
Storage: 8/16GB
Battery: 2980mAh
Rear camera: 2MP
Front camera: VGA
Reasons to buy
+Doesn't cost you much at all+Works well with Amazon services
Reasons to avoid
-Uses Amazon's version of Android

Lastly in our trio of Amazon Fire tablets (see above for the other two), we have the cheapest and the smallest of the lot – at this price it's almost a no-brainer. You've got four sharp colours to pick from, Alexa on board, and up to eight hours of battery life.

Be under no illusions though, with the specs inside, you're only going to be able to stick to the basics (think media consumption and web browsing). Plus, as with the other Fire tablets, you're limited to the Amazon App Store, so you can't install any Google apps.

Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite best budget tablet

Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite

8. Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite (8-inch)

A bargain from Huawei

Specifications
Weight: 310g
Dimensions: 213.3 x 123.3 x 7.5mm
OS: Android 7.0
Screen size: 8.0 inches
Resolution: 1200 x 1920
CPU: Snapdragon 435
RAM: 3/4GB
Storage: 16/64GB
Battery: 4800mAh
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Solid specs and performance+Decent cameras for a budget tablet
Reasons to avoid
-Costs more than the T3 tablet

We mentioned the Huawei MediaPad T3 above, and the M3 variant gives you some better specs for a bit more money, so it depends what matters to you most – as with the T3, you get the same quality craftsmanship and same slightly wonky software from Huawei.

You get a slightly better processor and camera, and improved RAM and storage options, and so on. The 8-inch model we've selected here means it's smaller than the 10-inch T3, but the resolution makes it sharper, and the tablet does come in a choice of screen sizes.

Acer Iconia One best budget tablet

Acer Iconia One

9. Acer Iconia One (10.1-inch)

Budget price, better-than-budget specs

Specifications
Weight: TBC
Dimensions: 259 x 167 x 8.9mm
OS: Android 6.0
Screen size: 10.1 inches
Resolution: 1200 x 1920
CPU: Mediatek MT8163A
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 16/32/64GB
Battery: 6100mAh
Rear camera: 5MP
Front camera: 2MP
Reasons to buy
+Polished design and build+Two microUSB ports
Reasons to avoid
-Pricier than other budget options

With a design that's better than many budget tablets, the Iconia One is a perfectly fine choice for anyone wanting to pick up a tablet on the cheap. It does all the basics well, and according to Acer should give you around 10 hours of battery life with a mix of usage.

The dual microUSB ports are one of the more unusual touches on this tablet, for all your peripheral (or charging) needs, and the audio is another of the features where you get better performance than you might expect at this price – so perfect for movie watching.

Chuwi Hi10 Pro best budget tablet

Chuwi Hi10 Pro

10. Chuwi Hi10 Pro

Windows 10, on the cheap

Specifications
Weight: 562g
Dimensions: 261.8 x 167.3 x 8.5mm
OS: Windows 10
Screen size: 10.1 inches
Resolution: 1200 x 1920
CPU: Intel Z8350
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 6500mAh
Rear camera: 2MP
Front camera: 2MP
Reasons to buy
+The extra flexibility of Windows 10+Clear and sharp display
Reasons to avoid
-Struggles with more advanced programs

Chinese firm Chuwi might not be the most instantly recognisable brand name in this list, but don't let its relative obscurity put you off – it's pushing out some fine budget tablets running Windows 10, though the specs are of course more modest than on rival slates.

While Windows 10 is in theory more capable than Android, bear in mind that those low-end specs will make running the likes of Photoshop and iTunes difficult. If you want to go Microsoft though, and just need a tablet for basic tasks, then the Hi10 Pro fits the bill.