Buying Guide: Best cheap tablet for 2016

Best cheap tablets

The best cheap tablet in 2016 makes computing on-the-go much easier than with your puny phone, and keeps the price well below the more expensive options.

Looking back a few years, tablets with low price tags attracted a lot of interest, yet they acted as nothing more than costly lesson to those looking for a deal. As it turned out, a high price, more or less, used to signal the quality of the experience.

The tablet category still operates similarly, with pricey options available to those who have the money. But, unlike a few years ago, it’s easier than ever to get a deal that won’t leave you wishing for something more. If anything, you can get a truly excellent tablet for under $200.

You can still find big names here, too. Samsung, Amazon, Lenovo and even Apple have affordable options with flavors that come in Android 6.0 Marshmallow and iOS 9.

We’ve selected the best cheap tablets that are currently available. If you didn’t find what you were looking for, let us know in the comments. And check back frequently for new additions to this list of the latest, greatest, and cheapest tablets.

Nexus 9

1. Nexus 9

Google’s Nexus 9 is the purest of Android tablets

Weight: 425g | Dimensions: 228.2 x 153.7 x 8mm | OS: Android 5.1.1 | Screen size: 8.9 inches | Resolution: 2048 x 1536 | CPU: 2.3GHz dual-core | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 6700mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.6MP

Ideal 4:3 aspect ratio
Strong speakers
Subpar display quality
Uninspiring design

The HTC-made Nexus 9 isn’t the best tablet around, but it comes close to earning the title with its near top-of-the-line specs, sleek design and stock Android experience.

You’ll find Google’s latest and greatest mobile OS here, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and will likely be among the first to try Android 7, whenever it releases. This tablet reminds us of the coveted Nexus 7 in all of the best ways, but builds upon it by delivering a killer multimedia experience.

Read the full review: Nexus 9

iPad Mini 2

2. iPad mini 2

An iPad for those on a budget

Weight: 331g | Dimensions: 200 x 134.7 x 7.5mm | OS: iOS 9 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution: 2048 x 1536 | CPU: 1.3GHz dual-core | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 16/32GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 6470mAh | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Amazing screen
Brilliant design
Similar-spec rivals are cheaper
Low storage capacity

This list is dominated by Android tablet options, but there’s only one iOS 9 device affordable enough for this list: the iPad mini 2.

The “mini” line of iPads takes the best components introduced in previous iPads and shrinks them down. In the case of the iPad mini 2, it’s built with the power found inside of the iPad Air and iPhone 5S.

It isn’t the most affordable tablet option here, but if you cling to Apple’s ecosystem, this is a fine entry point. For your money, the more recent iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 4 doesn’t provide enough of an argument, other than Touch ID, to warrant the step-up in cost.

Read the full review: iPad mini 2

Amazon Fire

3. Amazon Fire

A good buy if you’re tough on your tech

Weight: 313g | Dimensions: 191 x 115 x 10.6mm | OS: Fire OS 5 | Screen size: 7-inch | Resolution: 1024 x 600 | CPU: 1.3GHz quad-core | RAM: N/A | Storage: 8GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: N/A | Rear camera: 2MP | Front camera: VGA

Sturdy design for the price
Fantastically cheap
But feels cheap
Lack of apps

Amazon’s lineup of Fire tablets come recommended, but with one big disclaimer that might put a few off: You absolutely need an Amazon Prime account. If you don’t have it, you just won’t squeeze the most out of the tablet.

But, the latest Fire tablet is so affordable that you can more easily swing the cost of a Prime subscription. Not just that, it’s so cheap that Amazon sells them in a six-pack, which altogether costs less than a single iPad Mini 2.

The specs don’t impress and its bezel-heavy looks every bit of what it costs and no more, but it’s the best tablet that can be yours for the paltry asking price of $40.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire

Nvidia Shield Tablet K1

4. Nvidia Shield Tablet K1

This tablet stands a chance to win over gamers

Weight: 356g | Dimensions: 221 x 126 x 9.2mm | OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow | Screen size: 8 inches | Resolution: 1920 x 1200 | CPU: 2.2GHz ARM Cortex A15 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: N/A | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: 5MP

Decently priced
Great specs

Nvidia’s tablet is, in many ways, not like other tablets. It’s made by a manufacturer who deals almost exclusively in computer graphics, it can run Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and it can play full-fledged PC titles. Oh, and it’s actually pretty affordable.

The Shield Tablet K1 offers a zippy Android experience with tons of graphical prowess (go figure.) What’s better, the design is super slick and, again, the GeForce Now software integration is the stand-out feature, allowing you can play games from your Nvidia-stocked PC.

Read the full review: Nvidia Shield Tablet K1

Samsung Galaxy Tab S

5. Samsung Galaxy Tab S

A high-res screen and speedy performance is a potent mixture

Weight: 293g | Dimensions: 212 x 125 x 6.6mm | OS: Android 4.4 KitKat | Screen size: 8.4 inches | Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: 1.9GHz quad-core + 1.3GHz quad-core | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 16GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 4900mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2.1MP

Excellent screen
Good battery life
A little behind on design
Small on-board storage

For those who are in love with Samsung’s lineup of Galaxy smartphones, this is the tablet for you. The most affordable variant in the Tab S line comes with an 8.4″ inch screen, but houses the same powerful specs as its 10.5″ counterpart.

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When it was introduced it 2014, we called it “serious competition” to Apple’s iPad Air 2, and the claim still stands. The Galaxy Tab S might not have the polished aesthetic found in the Galaxy Tab S2, but being a bit outdated makes this an excellent tablet for those with less cash on hand.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S

Nexus 7

6. Google Nexus 7 (2013)

An oldie, but Marshmallow-packing goodie

Weight: 290g | Dimensions: 200 x 114 x 8.65mm | OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow | Screen size: 7 inches | Resolution: 1920 x 1200 | CPU: 1.5GHz quad-core | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: N/A | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Affordably priced
Durable build
No microSD slot
Out-specced by newer tablets

While a bit outdated (and no longer sold by Google,) the Asus-made Nexus 7 is the cheapest gateway to a stock Android experience. The most recent version from 2013 might not hold a candle to the pencil-thin designs brought on by today’s best tablets, but it does one thing that many of them cannot: run Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Only the 2013 model can run the latest and greatest Android OS, so make sure you avoid the 2012 version while shopping. It’s easy to tell the difference between the two: The one to buy has a rear-facing camera (the 2012 version only has a front-facing camera) and a headphone jack on the top.

Read the full review: Nexus 7

Dell Venue 8 7000

7. Dell Venue 8 7000

Don’t dismiss this ultra-thin Android tablet

Weight: 305g | Dimensions: 215 x 124 x 6mm | OS: Android 5.0.2 Lollipop | Screen size: 8 inches | Resolution: 2560 x 1600 | CPU: N/A | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: value | Rear camera: value | Front camera: value

Ultra-thin design
Pixel-dense display
Slower than leading tablets
Only 16GB of internal storage

Betting on a gimmick is never a good idea when it comes to technology. But Dell’s Venue 8 7000 claim to be the world’s ‘thinnest tablet’ at 6mm doesn’t come at the compromise of a good tablet experience.

Dell has been at the helm of some fantastic products as of late, such as the XPS 13. And the Venue 8 7000 borrows some of that brilliance with a head-turning aluminum design, a vibrant display and room-filling stereo speakers.

Read the full review: Dell Venue 8 7000

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

8. Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows

No stylus required for this Windows tablet

Weight: 630g | Dimensions: 215 x 124 x 6mm | OS: Windows 8.1 (upgradable to Windows 10) | Screen size: 10 inches | Resolution: 1920 x 1200 | CPU: Intel Atom Z3745 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 9600mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.6MP

Excellent build quality
Lengthy battery life
No video output
No USB port

Windows in a tablet usually means that you have to shell out somewhere in the thousands for a Surface Pro 4. Thankfully, Lenovo’s Yoga Tablet 2 sidesteps this dilemma by offering the full Windows 10 experience at a bargain price.

This isn’t like other tablets. And as such, you might have noticed the massive, cylindrical area hanging off its edge. It seems like such an addition would work against the rulebook of what makes a tablet gorgeous, but in doing so, it allows for big benefits you can’t find elsewhere, like incredible battery life and booming sound performance.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

Amazon Fire HD 8

9. Amazon Fire HD 8

Only Amazon Prime subscribers need apply

Weight: 311g | Dimensions: 128 x 214 x 7.7mm | OS: FireOS 5 | Screen size: 8 inches | Resolution: 1,280 x 800 | CPU: Quad-core | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: up to 8 hours | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: VGA

Affordable price
Impressive speakers
Poor screen resolution
Sluggish performance

Amazon’s super-affordable Fire tablet is right up your alley if you don’t have a lot to shell out. But, if you’re an Amazon Prime user looking for a bump up in specs and build quality, you owe it to yourself to check out the Amazon Fire HD 8.

It runs on FireOS, a custom Android overlay that’s shaped by Amazon to keep you in the ecosystem. Simply put, this is a perfect tablet for Amazon customers who want to watch HD content and play games without gutting their bank account. For everyone else, stick to one of the recommendations above.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 8

Asus ZenPad S 8.0

10. Asus ZenPad S 8.0

A high-res screen and speedy performance is a potent mixture

Weight: 350g | Dimensions: 209 x 123 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop | Screen size: 8 inches | Resolution: 1280 x 800 | CPU: N/A | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB/16GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: N/A | Rear camera: 2MP | Front camera: 0.3MP

Low price
Superb high-res screen
A lot of pre-installed apps
Average camera

Asus’ ZenPad S 8.0 is a tablet focused on value, but you wouldn’t guess as much by looking at it. This 8″ slate covers a lot of ground for its asking price, and even goes as far as providing a good-looking, sturdy build and handy features, like a microSD slot and 10-hour battery life.

This is an easy choice if you consume a lot of content and want to look good doing so, but don’t want to completely shell out your laptop budget on a tablet.

Read the full review: Asus ZenPad S 8.0

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