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Buying a tablet is a tricky business for a couple of reasons, especially if you’re on a strict budget.

First off is the sheer volume of choice. If you go to Amazon or any other digital marketplace you’ll find hundreds of options promising iPad Pro performance at an affordable price.

Then there’s the fact that, as we can confirm having tested more tablets than we care to count, most of these devices aren’t easy to recommend. Jump over to our tablets review page and you’ll see a long list of affordable tablets with at best 3.5/5 scores.

The main issues our reviewers commonly note when testing them include poor battery life, flimsy build quality, laggy performance and dim, lifeless screens that ruin any chance of enjoying a movie on the train.

Here to help make sure you don’t invest in a sub-par tablet, we’ve created this guide detailing the diamonds in the rough.

Every tablet on this list has been used by one of our product reviewers for at least a week during which time we run it through a series of lab and real world tests. This lets us offer accurate advice on key metrics including if it’s rugged enough to be used by kids, has long enough battery life to keep its user happy and if it’s fast enough to play games.

On the off chance you don’t find what you’re looking for check out our best tablet for kids, best Android tablet, best best iPad and best tablet guides.

Best cheap tablets at a glance

  • Best cheap tablet: Honor Pad 8
  • Best value iPad: iPad 9
  • Best cheap Android tablet: Realme Pad
  • Best cheap tablet for kids: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids

How we test

Find out more about how we test tablets

Every tablet in this list has been properly tested and used for an extended period of time by one of our product experts. We categorically do not recommend a product unless it has been put through our lab tests and used by the reviewer as their main tablet for at least five days.

Lab testing includes colorimeter checks to gauge screen accuracy and max brightness levels, synthetic benchmarks to evaluate graphics and general performance, and battery drains to assess average discharge rates for basic office tasks, streaming video and gaming.

Our reviewer will then move on to consider the tablet’s performance for everyday use. This will see them use it as their primary tablet and enact common tasks such as movie streaming, gaming, web browsing and video calling. If the device is targeted at a specific market such as digital artists, they’ll also consider areas such as digital stylus support and whether it can effectively run relevant applications.

When a device is sent in for review with optional extras, such as a stylus and keyboard cover, we’ll assess its performance both as a standalone product as well as with any accompanying peripherals.

Honor Pad 8

The best cheap tablet


  • Large screen
  • Good cameras for a tablet
  • Large battery
  • Good performance


  • No 3.5mm headphone jack
  • No IP rating
  • LCD rather than OLED display

If you want a great value tablet and don’t mind if it runs Android then the Honor Pad 8 is the best we’ve tested this year. Despite costing surprisingly little the tablet features a few key features you won’t find on other tablets this price. The biggest is the inclusion of a 12-inch screen.

Big screens are rare on a tablet this price and give the Honor Pad 8 a unique place in the market. Testing it, while it doesn’t offer the deep blacks and HDR performance of flagship tablets, like the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, you’ll struggle to do better at this price. Combined with reliably loud speakers the tablet offered an immersive movie watching experience during our tests.

As an added perk, despite running on a middling Snapdragon 680 chipset CPU, we didn’t experience any noticeable slowdown when using the device, which is a common issue we experience on tablets this price.

Add to this its lengthy battery life, with the Tab 8 offering over 10 hours screen time during our tests and it becomes an easy recommendation for any tablet buyer on a budget.

Reviewer: Peter Phelps
Full review: Honor Pad 8 review

Apple iPad 9

The best value iPad


  • Wide selection of optimised apps
  • Very good front camera
  • Sharp screen


  • Design feels a little tired
  • Doesn’t work with newer Apple accesories

The iPad 9 is the cheapest Apple tablet we’d recommend to buyers on a budget. Though it didn’t impress us as much as its lighter, more powerful iPad Air 2022 when we got it in for review, the iPad 9 remains the best value option if you’re 100% committed to getting an Apple device.

While the screen doesn’t have a variable refresh rate and the bezel surrounding it is undeniably chunky, you’ll struggle to find a better option at this price. The 10.2-inch Retina Display is the sharpest you’ll find on this list and, thanks to reliable black levels and high maximum brightness it is brilliant for watching Netflix on the go.

The tablet is also solidly built and comes with a variety of case options, including some with keyboards, which means it’s a good option for older kids who need a device for school work as well as entertainment.

The A13 Bionic chip powering the iPad 9 means that, unless you’re doing high-end video editing or vector graphics, you won’t suffer any performance issues, based on our testing. The only downside is that, even though it is cheap by Apple standards, the iPad 9 is still the most expensive option on this list, which is why we can’t recommend it for young children.

Reviewer: Max Parker

Full Review: Apple iPad 9 review

Realme Pad

The best cheap Android tablet


  • Fantastic build quality
  • Detailed screen
  • Powerful speakers


  • Not the most powerful device
  • Screen isn’t that bright

We usually have a hard time recommending Android tablets over iPads because their software isn’t optimised for big screens, so apps can act a little clunky, especially if you want to do office or creative work. But if you just want a cheap tablet to watch Netflix on or read the morning headlines, then the Realme Pad is a great option.

During testing, we were impressed at how good the tablet was considering its price. Unlike a lot of the cheaper tablets we test the Realme Pad has an aluminium body, rather than plastic. We found this made it feel a lot sturdier and better built than any other tablet we’ve reviewed at this price.

The 10.4-inch screen was also much better than we expected, offering a sharp resolution, reasonably accurate colour reproduction and enough contrast to give movies and games enough immersion to be enjoyable. The only real downside is that its brightness levels don’t come close to matching what you’ll get on the iPad 9.

Battery life also proved solid, with it offering around 10 hours of screen time with regular use during our checks. That’s identical to what we got on the iPad 9, and pretty par for the course for a tablet this size.

Reviewer: Ian Morris
Full review: Realme Pad Review

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids

The best cheap tablet for kids


  • Super-chunky case offers a lot of protection
  • Excellent parental controls
  • Worry-free guarantee
  • Bright screen


  • A little expensive
  • Limited app library

If you’re looking for a cheap, easy-to-replace tablet for younger kids then the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids is the best option we’ve tested.

The device isn’t a technical marvel, even by affordable standards, but it impressed our reviewer for a variety of reasons. For instance, the kids-focussed bumper case proved nigh indestructible. Unleashing a rampaging toddler on it the device easily survived everything from rage throws to animated “touch” inputs from our over-excited test subject.

Even if the kid does break it Amazon also has a no questions asked replacement policy, that lets you get a new unit in the event the first breaks for the first two years after purchase.

This, plus the tablet’s robust parental controls and safe app store seriously impressed our reviewer and makes the Fire HD 10 Kids the best option for parents looking for a device to keep younger children entertained.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full review: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Review

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Are cheap tablets any good?

The quality of cheap tablets varies a lot more than what you’ll find in the flagship end of the market. But, based on our experience testing them, there are a number of great value options on the market at the moment. The main thing is to make sure you’re making the right compromises. Regardless of price you need a tablet with decent battery life. You also don’t want to sacrifice on key things, like screen resolution, if you plan to watch lots of Netflix on it.

What’s the least you can spend for a good tablet?

The answer to this question hinges on what you want to do with the tablet. We tend to define a cheap tablet as anything below £350/$400. But if you only want one to keep the kids entertained you can get one that’ll do the job for as little as £100/$100, based on our experience reviewing products like Amazon’s Fire HD Kids tablets.

Are cheap Android tablets worth it?

The answer to this question depends on the tablet you’re talking about. Since Google released the first generation Nexus 7, we’ve seen a steady stream of great value affordable Android tablets pass through our labs. But for every good cheap Android tablet, we also get at least three that aren’t worth your money. Common issues being poor build quality, terrible performance and no guaranteed updates to future versions of Android.

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Trusted Reviews test data

You can see a full breakdown of the test data we collected reviewing all the tablets in this guide using the table below.

Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
Max brightness
1 hour video playback (Netflix, HDR)
30 minute gaming (intensive)
30 minute gaming (light)
1 hour music streaming (offline)
Time from 0-100% charge
Time from 0-50% charge
3D Mark – Wild Life
3D Mark – Sling Shot Extreme
3D Mark – Sling Shot

Comparison specs

You can compare the specs of all the cheap tablets included in this list using the table below.

Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Rear Camera
Front Camera
Video Recording
IP rating
Fast Charging
Size (Dimensions)
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Refresh Rate

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