What are the best cheap tablets and bargain iPads to buy in 2018. Best cheap Android tablets and iPads reviewed
There are a wealth of great Android phones out there, but when it comes to finding a decent Android tablet, especially a more affordable one, there aren’t anywhere near as many options from which to choose. And if you don’t know what to look for, it can be a minefield; a landscape littered with unreputable manufacturers making poor-quality slates in pursuit of a quick cash grab.
As for iPads, Apple is far more strategic about the new additions and alterations it makes to its famed tablet line, and only recently have we begun to see worthwhile options that could fall within the category of ‘affordable’.
Related: Best tablets
How we select the best affordable Android tablets and iPads
Just as with our smartphone reviews, tablets tested at Trusted Reviews undergo a mix of real-world use and repeatable benchmarking; from screen calibration to battery longevity testing, camera quality comparisons and processor performance.
We use these devices as we would our own and set them against the most likely competition in the industry to get an accurate rating that holds real value for readers making a purchase decision.
Related: Best smartphones
Here’s our rundown of the best affordable Android tablets and iPads right now.
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2018)
- Super-low price
- Decent battery life
- Great Prime integration
- Hands-free Alexa
- Basic navigation a little slow
- Poor cameras
For a tad more cash than Amazon’s Fire 7, you can nab yourself the latest Fire HD 8 – which, as its name suggests, boasts a sharper, brighter 1280 x 800 HD IPS display. The biggest surprise is that for such a low price, the HD8 boasts surprisingly good build quality too. It sports an excellent level of fit and finish between its glass frontage and colourful plastic bodywork. The HD 8 comes in black, yellow, red or blue, just like the Fire 7.
Running Fire OS means that the full gamut of Android apps aren’t available to you, but you do have a host of Amazon exclusive content at your fingertips, not to mention the company’s Alexa voice assistant built in for good measure.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to stream hours of Netflix or Amazon Prime, then the HD 8’s improved dual-band Wi-Fi should ensure a more reliable and higher-quality stream than previous Fire tablets. In addition, you’re also getting more base storage here than with the Fire 7 (16GB in place of 8GB) – and all for under £100.
Hands-free Alexa is here letting you bark commands across the room and a new feature called ‘Show Mode’ turns the tablet into a portable Echo Show. Show Mode is made better with the Show Dock, which can either be purchased bundled with the tablet or separately. This charges the tablet and props it up for Alexa functionality.
Amazon Fire 7
- Terrific value
- Respectable performance overall
- Can still feel slow
- Basic build
- Low-resolution screen
Amazon’s Fire OS is an interesting fork of Android that places Amazon’s vast media library front and centre. In the case of the Amazon Fire 7, you’re getting a compact, inexpensive tablet with low-level specs – but with a low price tag to match, starting at just £49.99.
Not much has changed from the previous model, but Amazon has upgraded the 7-inch 1024 x 600 IPS display to offer better clarity and contrast, plus there’s a blue light mode for late-night viewing without eye-strain.
The most notable addition has to be Alexa, which is now on-hand to provide answers to your questions and help with home automation when you’re out of range of an Echo or Echo Dot. You can expect around four hours of gaming or around six hours of Netflix off a single charge, which is another step up from last year’s model.
Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus
- Big display, good for video
- Some neat UI additions
- Decent battery life
- Old version of Android
- Not the most rugged
The Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus offers many of the same draws as its smaller sibling, but with a larger 10.1-inch display to up its media capabilities even further.
Along with Dolby Atmos support, the Tab 4 10 Plus features fingerprint sensor authentication and supports Lenovo’s own ‘packs’, which append additional functionality depending on your needs.
The ‘Kids Package’ adds a bumper case, screen protector and stickers, and works in tandem with the KIDOZ app for a safe, fun, educational tablet experience for little ones. The Productivity Pack, meanwhile, centres around a Bluetooth keyboard that doubles as a stand and a protective sleeve. The Home Assistant Pack turns the Tab 4 10 into a make-shift Amazon Echo Show, complete with Alexa voice assistant, speaker and display.
9.7-inch iPad 2018
- Great value
- Slim and light, yet powerful
- Apple Pencil compatible
- iOS is the best tablet operating system
- Reflective screen
- Average rear camera
The notion of a a cheap iPad may be a somewhat oxymoronic concept when sat in a lineup of sub-£250 Android tabs – but, relatively speaking, there’s one box-fresh Apple slate worth your consideration if your wallet stretches far enough.
2018’s standard 9.7-inch iPad was introduced as a more affordable version of its iPad Pro line, aimed at the education market, and if you’re looking for a suitably powerful tablet without dropping a ton of cash, at £319 the latest 9.7-inch iPad is one of your best options.
Not only does it run on Apple’s pleasingly powerful A10 Fusion processor, but it also fully supports the Apple Pencil and sports a display with the pixel density (and therefore sharpness) as the company’s pro-line of iPads.
Amazon Fire HD 10
- Good screen
- Great, if you love Amazon content
- You really need Amazon Prime
- Poorly placed buttons
If more pixels matter to you, then the Amazon Fire HD 10 is the only member of Amazon’s current tablet lineup that offers Full HD viewing. It again leverages an IPS panel, although this time it packs in a resolution of 1920 x 1200 (in a 16:10 aspect ratio) and comes backed up with Dolby Audio-certified stereo speakers.
Underpinned by a metal frame, this plastic-bodied tablet is the most robust of the current Fire family. It will happily withstand a little more punishment than its smaller siblings, should you happen to hand it off to a small child (although the new Fire 10 Kids Edition may be a better fit in that situation).
Related: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition
The battery delivers on the promise of approximately 10 hours of continuous use, the camera sports surprisingly powerful features for an affordable slate – such as HDR – and Amazon’s Alexa assistant is designed to detect your voice and action your requests, even when the screen is off.
Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus
- Great size
- Decent display
- Perfect for Nexus 7 fans
- Old version of Android
- Far from rugged
If Fire OS doesn’t fit the bill when it comes to your needs, there are a handful of true Android tablets in the affordable space worthy of consideration – starting with Lenovo’s Tab 4 8 Plus. At £199, it’s a markedly pricier bit of kit compared to Amazon’s slates, but in the tablet landscape overall, it’s a relative steal.
Glass-backed phones are all the rage right now, but in the tablet space it’s more uncommon, making the Tab 4 8 Plus stand out from the crowd. The device also features a metal frame for added rigidity and the premium touches continue with USB-C connectivity, a power key with fingerprint sensor, and a headphone jack too.
Those for whom productivity is a priority will be pleased to learn that Microsoft Office suite comes preloaded out the box, whilst the capacious 5000mAh battery guarantees multiple days of usage on a single charge.