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The best cheap tablets you can buy: Expert tested

We went hands-on with the best cheap tablets under $400 that offer high-end features like excellent retina display and battery life at lower prices.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer and  Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Nina Raemont
iPad (9th generation) | Best cheap tablet overall
The iPad 9th gen tablet with an attached keyboard on a blue desk
iPad (9th generation)
Best cheap tablet overall
View now View at Best Buy
Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus | Best small screen cheap tablet
Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus in hand
Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus
Best small screen cheap tablet
View now View at Amazon
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 | Best ChromeOS cheap tablet
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3
Best ChromeOS cheap tablet
View now View at Best Buy
Lenovo Tab P11 Plus | Best big screen cheap tablet
Lenovo Tab P11 Plus
Best big screen cheap tablet
View now View at Amazon
Oukitel RT3 | Best rugged cheap tablet
A hand holding the Oukitel RT3
Oukitel RT3
Best rugged cheap tablet
View now View at Amazon
Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro | Best cheap kids tablet
Fire HD 10 Kids Pro
Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro
Best cheap kids tablet
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Show more (1 item)

Things feel extra expensive right now. Everyone is looking for ways to save or cut costs, but let's face it: technology is expensive. And while expensive, we rely on tech devices daily, whether for working, entertainment, productivity, or security. 

Also: The best tablets you can buy

Some of the best tablets on the market have sky-high prices, such as Apple's iPad Pro that can easily push the $2,000 mark. But you don't have to spend a fortune to get a reliable and consistent tablet experience. Opting for cheap tablets or even previous generations of popular flagship tablets will allow you to get sufficient performance and features without breaking the bank. 

What is the best cheap tablet right now?

Whether you need a new tablet for school or work, or are looking to upgrade without spending a fortune, we've rounded up the best cheap tablets based on our hands-on experience and testing. Our top pick is the Apple iPad (9th generation), but we also included other options from Amazon, Lenovo, and more for under $400.

The best cheap tablets of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Great processor
  • Lots of storage
  • Decent screen size
  • No Face ID option
More Details

iPad (9th generation) tech specs: Display: 10.2-inch Retina display | Processor: A13 Bionic | Storage: 64GB or 256GB | Biometrics: Touch ID | Colors: Silver, space gray | Cameras: 8MP rear, 1080p video, 12MP FaceTime camera with Center Stage | Weight: 1.07 pounds | Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29 inches | Connections: 3.5mm headphone jack, Lightning port | Battery life: 10 hours

Apple's tried-and-true tablet, the base model iPad, is arguably the best cheap tablet. Not only does the standard $329 price tag cover the same features you'd expect from Apple's other tablets, like iPadOS updates for years and access to the App Store -- you also don't have to pay a premium as you do for the more expensive Pro and Air models.

Review: Apple iPad (2021) review: If it's not broke, don't fix it

The 9th-generation Apple iPad was announced in the fall of 2021, and it includes an A13 Bionic processor plus more storage options. While the 10th-generation iPad was announced in 2022, ZDNET editor June Wan said the 2021 version is still a good buy -- plus it's $120 cheaper. 

"Even if you're shopping for personal use, if your intended uses are mainly video streaming, note-taking, and playing tablet games, then the ninth-generation iPad should suffice," Wan said. 

The base model offers 64GB, or you can opt for 256GB of storage if you need the space. The entry-level iPad can be paired with Apple's Smart Keyboard and an Apple Pencil, converting it from a tablet to a 2-in-1 laptop. And overall, customers also agree it's the best cheap tablet: 98% of people who purchased this generation Apple iPad at Best Buy would recommend it to a friend and gave it a rating of 4.9 stars out of 5.

Pros & Cons
  • Very affordable
  • MicroSD card expandable storage
  • Battery life
  • Performance isn't its best feature
  • No access to Google apps or services
More Details

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus tech specs: Display: 8-inch, 1280x800 display | Processor: Quad-core 2.0GHz | Storage: 32GB or 64GB | Memory: 3GB | Colors: Black | Cameras: 2MP front and rear | Weight: 0.78 pounds | Dimensions: 8.0 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches | Connections: 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C | Battery: 13 hours

Amazon's fire tablets--specifically the Fire HD 8 and HD 8 Plus--are among the most affordable tablets you'll find, and the Fire HD 8 Plus is the cheapest tablet on our list at $120. The company redesigned the formerly square and hard-edged tablets, adding a more round design that looks and feels fantastic. 

What's the difference? The HD 8 comes with 2GB of memory, while the HD 8 Plus comes with the same features as well as 3GB of memory, wireless charging support, and a faster-wired charger in the box. Amazon customers praise this affordable tablet for its image quality, mentioning that the display is very crisp, and that the charger is snappy and quick.

Review: Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2022) review: Primed for Amazon superfans

Wan also reviewed the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus, and said that "for $120, you really can't complain about the performance of the Fire HD 8 Plus." He recommends the tablet for casual browsing, mobile entertainment, or even for a child.

The Fire HD 8 runs Amazon's Fire OS. This means it runs Android apps, but you're limited to apps that are available in Amazon's own Appstore. Like with most tablets in this price range, performance can be sluggish at times, but you'll have no issues shopping, browsing Facebook, or checking your email on the Fire HD 8 Plus. And, the battery life of 13 hours means you can go longer without having to charge the tablet.

Pros & Cons
  • 11-inch, 2K display enhances the ChromeOS experience
  • Kickstand and keyboard included
  • 2-in-1 factor
  • Speakers are lackluster
  • Outdated and bland design
More Details

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 tech specs: Display: 10.9-inch, 2K (2,000x1,200), IPS, touchscreen display (400 nits) | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 | Storage: 64GB or 128GB | Memory: 4GB | Cameras: 5MP front, 8MP rear | Weight: 1.14 pounds | Dimensions: 10.16 x 6.48 x 0.31 inches | Connections: 2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1, pogo-pin (for detachable keyboard) | Battery: 12 hours

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 recently came out and is an affordable Android tablet with a display that's meant to be detached from its body. Lenovo made two notable upgrades with this 2022 model: a larger 11-inch display and an additional USB-C port. The former is a mere inch more than its predecessor, but still noticeable and great for entertainment, web surfing, and basic work. 

The 2-in-1 concept of this Chromebook remains as compact and portable as ever. You can expect an included kickstand and keyboard to come with this tablet, making it turn into a portable work companion rather than just simply a tablet. Best Buy customers who have reviewed this tablet say that it makes a great iPad replacement. 

Review: Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 review: One of the best budget Chromebooks just got even better

Wan said this tablet impressed him just as much as some of the more expensive Chromebooks on the market: "The Lenovo's 64GB of internal storage is actually plenty for a Chromebook, even if you plan to download a dozen or so apps," he said. 

The Duet 3's panel has a 2,000 by 1,200 resolution -- Lenovo calls it 2K -- which is a pleasure to look at. It also has built-in Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 and 4GB of RAM. All this means you can expect a simplified user experience that will get the job done with essential browser tasks like video playing and multi-window browsing, since after all, this is a cheap tablet.

Pros & Cons
  • Great display
  • MicroSD card expandable storage
  • Up to 15 hours on a single charge
  • Keyboard not included
More Details

Lenovo Tab P11 Plus tech specs: Display: 11-inch, 2,000x1,200 2K display | Processor: MediaTek Helio G90T | Storage: 64GB or 128GB | Memory: 4GB or 6GB | Colors: Slate grey | Cameras: 8MP front and 13MP rear | Weight: 1.1 pounds | Dimensions: 10.2 x 6.4 x 0.3 inches | Connections: USB-C, microSD | Battery:  Up to 15 hours

Another best cheap tablet is the Lenovo Tab P11 Plus, which looks a lot like the Chromebook Duet, only bigger and more powerful. It doesn't come with a keyboard attachment like the Duet, but you can pick one up to expand its capabilities into more of a laptop replacement for $72. 

Wan said the Lenovo Tab P11 Plus is an "enigma," adding that it "carries a spec sheet that nearly rivals that of more premium offerings" while remaining just $250.

Review: Lenovo Tab P11 Plus review: The budget Android tablet to beat

If you're looking for a tablet to share with your kids, there's a dedicated Google Kids Space app on the P11 Plus that makes it easy to hand the tablet to your child and not worry about what they're accessing. It relies on Google's Family Link parental controls, giving them access to age-appropriate apps and games. 

"The action of tablet when switching between screens and apps is snappy fast," one Amazon customer wrote, also noting that the tablet can sync with your Google account during setup. 

A hand holding the Oukitel RT3
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET
Pros & Cons
  • Incredibly rugged
  • Super affordable
  • Great for outdoors adventures or clumsy people
  • Camera is fine
  • Lacks the luxury feel
More Details

Oukitel RT3 tablet tech specs: Display: 8-inch, 800 x 1280 | Processor: Octa-core MT6762 | Storage: 64GB | Memory: 7GB + 64GB ROM, external memory supports up to 1TB | Colors: Green | Cameras: 16MP rear camera and 8MP front camera | Weight: 538g | Dimensions: 207 x 134 x 14mm | Connections: USB-C port and SIM slot | Battery: 5150mAh

You'd have to try incredibly hard to wreck this tablet. That's because you can submerge it in water in depths above 1.5m for 30 minutes, expose it to high-pressure water jets and steam cleaning, and drop it from 1.2m -- and it won't break. When contributing writer Adrian Kingsley Hughes got his hands on the Oukitel RT3, he called it "an upscaled version of a ruggedized smartphone." 

Review: This Android tablet is capable of things my iPad Pro can only dream of

For its inexpensive price of $170, you're getting a lot out of a tablet you didn't pay that much for. The camera quality is just fine, Kingsley-Hughes writes, and it doesn't have the "snappy feel" many higher-end devices or iPads have. But most iPad models are at least double, some are triple, the price of this tablet -- and not nearly as rugged. 

"That ruggedness allows it to survive things my iPad Pro couldn't dream of," he writes.

Overall, customers who have bought and used this tablet recommend it for taking your tech outdoors or to use as a reliable tablet that won't succumb to drops and dings.

Pros & Cons
  • Fast performance
  • Amazon replaces broken tablets within two years
  • Durable
  • Slower processor and fewer higher-end features than iPad
More Details

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tech specs: Display: 10.1" 1080p display (1920 x 1200) | Processor: Octa-core processor - 2x Arm Cortex-A76 | Storage: 32GB with up to 1TB of additional storage for purchase | Memory: 3GB RAM | Colors: Happy Day, Mint, and Nebula | Cameras: 5MP front- and rear-facing camera | Weight: 23 oz | Dimensions: 7.5 " x 10.1" x 0.7" | Connections: USB-C and microSD slot | Battery: 13 hours 

When it comes to tablets for kids, ZDNET writer Maria Diaz says it's all about durability, fast performance, and warranties or policies for replacements when your kid inevitably drops or spills his milk on it. Amazon's Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet has all that and more, and it's a great option for parents who want to give their kids some tech for learning and reading purposes, but don't want to shell out a crazy amount of cash for a device that their kid will break in two months. 

With the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro, if your kid breaks it within the first two years, you can send it in, and Amazon will replace it -- no questions asked. Diaz also pointed out how durable it is, undergoing a couple of drops unscathed while she was testing it. 

Review: This new tablet is redefining what a kids tablet can do

Your child will have access to thousands of apps and games and collaborative games to play with their friends. The tablet comes with Amazon Kids+, a subscription you can renew after one year of use. For all these reasons, Diaz says she prefers these tablets for her little ones. 

Overall, 98% customers who have purchased this tablet at Best Buy would recommend it to other parents, and gave it an overall rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars.

What is the best cheap tablet?

The Apple iPad (9th generation) base model is the best cheap tablet. Although it is the most expensive tablet on our list, it is also the most capable, with a beautiful display, long battery life, and a strong processor.

TabletPriceScreen sizeStorage
Apple iPad (9th generation)$32910.2 inchesUp to 256GB
Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus$1208 inchesUp to 64GB
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3$37910.9 inchesUp to 128GB
Lenovo Tab P11 Plus$25011 inchesUp to 128GB
Oukitel RT3 $1708 inchesUp to 64GB
Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro$19010.1 inchesUp to 32GB

*Lowest price at the time of writing. Please note that prices may vary based on retailer and available promotions, sales, or discounts.

Which cheap tablet is right for you?

It comes down to what you plan on using the tablet for. If you're already heavily invested in Apple's ecosystem of products and services, the 9th-generation iPad makes the most sense for the best cheap tablet. It also quickly adds up, becoming the most expensive yet cheap laptop on our list. 

However, if you prefer Android, the best cheap tablet option might be P11 Plus or the Galaxy Tab A7. At more than double the price of the A7, the P11 Plus offers a solid experience with a screen that's hard to match at this level. 

Amazon's Fire tablets are the slowest out of the group, but they're also very affordable and offer a different experience altogether. I often recommend these cheap tablets to parents who want to help their kids learn or simply keep them entertained, especially while traveling. 

Choose this cheap tablet...If you need...
Apple iPad (9th generation)An affordable and well-rounded cheap tablet. The base model offers 64GB, or you can opt for 256GB of storage if you need the space.
Amazon Fire HD 8 PlusAn Amazon tablet that gives the most features for your money. You'll have no issues shopping, browsing Facebook, or checking your email on the Fire HD 8 Plus.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3A Chrome-based cheap tablet that doubles as a laptop. A kickstand and keyboard even comes with this tablet.
Lenovo Tab P11 PlusA cheap tablet with a large screen. Its battery life lasts up to 15 hours.
Oukitel RT3 The most rugged tablet on this list. Submerge it in water, drop it, heck, even steam clean it, and it will still work. Great for outdoor adventures or clumsy tech owners.
Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids ProThe best kids tablet with learning apps and games, fast performance, and a not-too-shabby battery life.

Factors to consider when choosing the best cheap tablets:

There are a few factors we consider before adding these cheap tablets to this list. Those include: 

  • Price: When looking for the best cheap tablets, we first narrowed down the list by looking at prices at the bottom third of the tablet market. That means anything roughly $350 to $400 or less, with the majority of our options between $100 and $200. 
  • Hands-on experience: Once I had a price point, I started reading reviews and tapping into my own personal experience, as well as other ZDNET staff who have used these tablets. Most of the tablets on this list have been reviewed by our writers, so there's a level of trust and first-hand experience we are pulling from when we curate these best lists. If we haven't tested the product ourselves but still include it on the list, it is because the product is highly regarded and we have done enough research to believe it has a spot on this list. 
  • Durability: A nice tablet is good and plenty, but it should also last you a long time to truly get your money's worth. Many of these tablets have rugged features, so that if you end up accidentally dropping it it won't shatter and the screen won't crack. 
  • Performance: The downside of a cheaper piece of tech is, unfortunately, slower performance. We sought out tablets with high-performing CPUs and above-average performance, so even if you do end up opting for an inexpensive device, you aren't sacrificing high performance for a low cost. 

How did we test these cheap tablets?

When choosing the best cheap tablets, we considered the experiences and opinions of the ZDNET team members who have went hands-on with these products. ZDNET does extensive hands-on testing of tablets, including using the tablets for personal use as well as for work, storage capacity, download speeds, battery life, and more. We test all of our top picks in real-world situations, especially focusing on price and display. 

What brand is best for tablets?

The best cheap tablets come from brands like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon, and Lenovo, among others.

You can find more cheap Android tablets than cheap Apple tablets, but Apple usually has tablets deals during big sales events or holidays.

Are cheap tablets good for students?

That really depends on the kind of classwork someone will be doing. Younger children may benefit from using a tablet over a traditional laptop--with intuitive touch controls, it will be easier for them to navigate through menus and apps required to attend virtual classes or to turn in assignments. Older students will be doing more intensive coursework, and tablets aren't best suited for things like word processing or making spreadsheets. 

Also: How to add a drop down list in Google Sheets

Art students are the ones who will benefit most from using a tablet for classes since they can draw, sketch, and digitally paint similar to how they would with a physical pen and paper. Plus, there are some amazing art apps out there (ProCreate, Adobe Creative Cloud) to take full advantage of a tablet's processing power and screen resolution.

How much storage do I need in my tablet?

You'll want at least 8GB of storage, but thankfully, many new tablet models come with much more than that. A basic 9th generation iPad starts at 64GB while the Amazon Fire 10 Plus starts with 32GB. This gives you more than enough storage for apps, photos, and music without making your new tablet sluggish.

The best cheap tablet options on this list all have great storage capacities. 

Are tablets cheaper than laptops?

Generally speaking, a tablet is going to be much more affordable than a traditional laptop. For basic home use, like web browsing or streaming video and music, you can pick one up for just a few hundred dollars. But if you want something more specialized, like for content creation or graphic design, the price significantly increases.

What is the cheapest iPad?

The cheapest iPad you can get is the standard 9th-generation iPad. On Apple's website, it retails for $329. That's almost $200 less than the iPad Mini and over $450 less than the iPad Pro. 

Are there alternative cheap tablets to consider?

There are plenty of other cheap tablets to consider, including the ones below. Also, if the tablet you want is out of your price range, you can always wait for sales events for deals on discounted tablets. 

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