There’s no doubt that the premium tablet experience is on the Apple side of the fence when it comes to tablet computers. Unfortunately, even with the release of cheaper iPads, these are still very costly devices.
The good news is that the best budget Android tablets can offer you most of what premium devices can, if you can live with a few compromises here and there. We consider tablets under $300 to be in the “budget” space and are going to highlight them from most affordable to most premium.
Affordable Media Tablet: Fire 7 Tablet – $49.99
There are two Amazon Fire tablets on this list and, as many would point out, these are not strictly Android tablets. Amazon uses a modified version of Android for their own tablets, but you don’t get access to the Google Play Store or the customizations most Android users enjoy. That being said, if you really want to, there are ways to sideload Google Play on to a Fire tablet.
So why even bother? The simple answer is that you won’t find better-specified tablets at this price with the sort of support and build-quality Amazon provides. Amazon can offer such tablets at these prices because you become part of their content ecosystem. If you’re OK with that, it’s more than a fair trade.
Looking at the Fire 7 itself, for fifty bucks this is a lot of tablet. These days 7” barely counts as a tablet, since many smartphones are just short of this number. Yet you aren’t going to find a decent smartphone at this size for the price either.
With such a (relatively) small screen, the Fire 7 is best-suited as an affordable content consumption device. Music, movies and eBooks will work just fine. Casual games without 3D graphics should also be a decent experience, but comic books are rarely a pleasure to read at this screen size.
If you only have $50 to spend on a smart device, this is the best budget Android tablet you can buy in our opinion.
The second choice for the best budget Android tablet on our list is the Fire HD 10. The 32GB model sells for $149.99. An amazing offer for a 10.1” tablet. This new model has an octa-core CPU, as much as 12 hours of battery life, dual-band WiFi and USB-C.
That’s impressive at twice the price, but the 1080p screen on the Fire HD 10 has been designed specifically to match the aspect ratio of most modern video content. That is, 16:9. This model of Fire tablet can also go into “Show Mode”. This essentially makes it work like an Amazon Show Alexa device.
Of course, the actual quality of the screen, speakers and shell have to be seen in context of the price. None of it is premium, but if you need an entertainment tablet (or three) this is where we recommend most people start.
Lenovo has a reputation for making quality tablets and laptops and the P10 is no different in that regard. Its budget price does mean you won’t get top-tier specifications, but it’s a well-balanced machine, all things considered.
This particular bundle is notable for the inclusion of a charging speaker dock with Dolby Atmos technology. So you can plop your tablet down in it and listen to music, watch videos and use it as an Alexa device through “Show Mode”.
The specifications of the P10 are pretty decent. A SnapDragon 450 octa-core chip and Adreno 506 GPU are perfectly competent mid-range parts. 3GB of LPDDR will be OK for most applications as well, with a moderate amount of multitasking. Also, surprisingly at this price, is the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor.
Apart from having four speakers, the dock also has three far-field microphones, which means you really are getting that Alexa Show experience included in the price. Lenovo intends for this to be used as a family entertainment tablet. From that point of view it’s brilliant.
The Galaxy Tab A 10.1” tablet is about as close as you’ll get to something that competes with the entry-level iPad model. It has incredibly slim bezels and a large, bright, colorful screen. The picture is accompanied by built-in Dolby Atmos speakers and you can upgrade storage by adding as much as 512GB of SD storage.
We’d strongly recommend the 64GB (or 128GB) model over the 32GB, because these two higher-end models have an additional GB of RAM. Well worth the price difference. While the Exynos 7904A isn’t going to compete with Apple silicon, that’s not the same as saying it’s not fast enough for most people.
The Tab A 10.1 is a great all-round tablet for both work and play and we don’t think there’s a better general choice for less than $300 at the moment. Add to this the build and component quality that Samsung are known for, and it’s an easy recommendation.
It might seem strange that this 8” Samsung Tablet costs more than the 10.1” machine we just looked at. However, apart from having a slightly smaller display, the Tab A 8” is packed with some fairly impressive features.
First off, this is a 4G LTE model. Not only can it be used with mobile data, but you can also make and receive calls on GSM (the global standard for mobiles cellular standard) networks. Sadly it does not support CDMA (the code-division multiple access cellular standard), so check your own service type before making the purchase. This is then, in effect, a 8” phone as much as it is a tablet. Even better, this comes with a Samsung S Pen. So if you’re the artistic type or like to take notes, this is an excellent machine for the job.
In terms of sacrifices, you only get a mono speaker. There’s no fingerprint sensor either, but that’s not too surprising. The cameras are merely OK, but with 3GB of RAM and an octa-core CPU these are tradeoffs for the better. It’s only a mid-teri Snapdragon, so don’t expect a gaming beast. But day-to-day entertainment and productivity should be no issue at all.
The Tab A also comes with an IP68 rating, another feature you’d expect from a phone and not a tablet. With an IP68 rating it’s essentially water and dust proof! This is really a device that blurs the line between smartphone and tablet computer.
If you can live with the 8” screen size, we have no trouble recommending this as one of the best budget Android tablets under $300 on the market.
“Budget” Isn’t Half Bad
While the tablet market in the budget segment is absolutely flooded with poor quality products, with a bit of research it’s possible to find incredibly well-specced and well-built devices.
The five tablets highlighted above represent a variety of choices and, depending on your needs, there are plenty of great choices still out there. Feel free to give your own recommendations down in the comments.