Best budget tablet 2019

Your buying guide for the best budget tablets in 2019

Amazon is the current king of cheap tablets. The Amazon Fire 7 costs £49.99, and has - for the insanely low price - a decent screen plus Alexa, a microSD slot for adding more storage, and an easy-to-use operating system.

We think the Fire HD 8 is better though, as for not much more it has a bigger, better screen and more features.

It would be easy to say you’re a fool for buying a different tablet, but the Fire has one sticking point: it's not a standard Android tablet and doesn't have any Google apps on it. 

With tablets you really need to be careful buying cheap, generic devices with names you've never heard of. These can suffer from poor screens, low performance and short battery life - always look for reviews before you buy, and if you can't find any then we'd avoid the purchase.

If you want a cheap tablet you'll be looking for either an Android tablet or Windows device, unless you're prepared to go secondhand - Apple's cheapest iPad (the iPad 9.7) starts at £319, while the iPad mini costs from £399.

If your'e looking for a cheap tablet for a child then check out our dedicated best kids tablets chart.

What screen size do I need?

First, decide on screen size. Do you want a portable tablet with a 7in screen, or do you want something larger? We can’t tell you what’s best for you, but in general, a 7- or 8in screen is best if you’ll take the tablet everywhere (you can also get smaller sizes), while a 9-10in screen is good if you only need to travel with it occasionally.

Look for an IPS screen, as this technology is almost a guarantee that it will have good colours and viewing angles. It doesn’t say too much about brightness and contrast, but almost all the IPS screens we’ve seen are good.

Best budget tablets

Resolution isn’t as important as you might think. Pixel density is a better guide: you need fewer pixels on a smaller screen and vice versa. Look for at least 220 pixels per inch.

How much storage do I need?

You won't get much storage in a budget tablet, but that's fine if your chosen model has a microSD slot for adding more. Amazon's old tablets don't, which is one big black mark against them. However, the new range does, which is why we rate the them so highly.

Consider 16GB a minimum: 8GB without a microSD card is just too restrictive because half (or more) of this is normally taken up by the operating system and pre-installed apps which you might not be able to delete.

Best budget tablets

Cameras

Most tablet cameras (let alone budget models) are relatively poor compared to the best smartphones. Don't expect great quality photos or videos from any budget tablet, but if this is important to you always check reviews to see which tablet has the least worst cameras.

Processor

Don't pay any attention to GHz numbers or even RAM too much. It's easy to be fooled into believing a tablet will - or won't - perform well based on numbers alone. Read our reviews to find out how each tablet performs in the real world.

Software

If you do decide that a Fire tablet isn’t for you, the alternative is an Android tablet. iPads don’t fall into the budget category, so you’ll only find those in our best tablets roundup.

Android is a great operating system, but it doesn’t follow that all cheap Android tablets are great. There are plenty of no-name brands out there, but as with most tech, you can’t buy one based on specifications alone.

The operating system determines not just which apps are pre-installed, but also which you can download and use. The Google Play store has a massive selection and it’s rare to find an app that’s only on iPad and not available to Android users. But it does happen, particularly with apps for gadgets and smart home accessories.

It's rare to find an Android tablet that doesn't have the Google Play store these days - with the notable exception of Amazon's - but do check as it's a pain if you buy something and find out it's not approved by Google and you can't access Google's apps.

Best budget tablets

If you're unsure whether a tablet is the right device, read our laptop vs tablet buyer's guide.

Best budget tablets 2019

1. Amazon Fire HD 8 2018

Amazon Fire HD 8 2018
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 20 November 2018

If you don't need Google apps on your tablet then this is the best cheap tablet going. It's worth the extra spend over the Fire 7 for the larger, better screen. 

And now you can use Alexa hands free, or pair the Fire HD 8 with the clever Show Mode dock to get an affordable smart display for home use. If you want to watch video on Prime and Netflix and not much else then this tablet is a no-brainer.

Read our Amazon Fire HD 8 2018 review.

2. Amazon Fire 7 (2019)

Amazon Fire 7 (2019)
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 11 June 2019

The latest Fire 7 has double the storage of its predecessor, a slightly better front camera and comes in three new colours. There's no noticeable improvement in performance, but it's still the best tablet you can buy for £50 / $50.

Read our Amazon Fire 7 (2019) review.

3. Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017)

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017)
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 20 November 2018

The HD 10 is more powerful than ever, has a decent Full HD screen and a good amount of storage for the money. Hands-free Alexa is nice addition, too.

If you can live with the slightly limited selection of apps compared to an Android tablet, it’s a good deal.

Read our Amazon Fire HD 10 (2017) review.

4. Xiaomi Mi Pad 4

Xiaomi Mi Pad 4
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 5 October 2018

If we're talking hardware alone then Xiaomi's Mi Pad 4 is arguably one of the best Android tablets you can find under £200, especially in this compact form factor.

This 8in tablet has a full-HD display with some decent hardware onboard, including the Snapdragon 660 processor, up to 4GB of RAM and up to 64GB of storage. Xiaomi has also added microSD support, and there's an LTE version of this tablet.

Design changes result in a more manageable device for use in one hand, and improved audio with the speakers now sitting on the tablet's bottom edge.

We're surprised to see GPS missed out of the spec, and the Mi Pad 4 also neglects NFC, and while it's mostly an improvement over the previous generation the screen size and resolution and battery capacity has been reduced.

If this were a 'Global' version of the Mi Pad 4 we'd be sold, but as it is running Chinese MIUI it stands to offer a potentially confusing experience for novice users. Navigation and menus will be unfamiliar, and if you want to use Google services you'll first need to install Google Play from the Mi App Store.

Read our Xiaomi Mi Pad 4 review.

5. Chuwi Hi9 Air

Chuwi Hi9 Air
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 29 November 2018

We'd be lying if we said Chuwi had not cut some corners in this budget Android tablet, and it's by no means a premium design. But in return for not a lot of money it also has a lot to offer, including 4G connectivity and a large 2K screen on which to watch movies, play games and get things done. Timely operating system updates are a concern, but the Chuwi Hi9 Air remains a functional and good-value tablet under £150.

Read our Chuwi Hi9 Air review.

6. Chuwi SurBook Mini

Chuwi SurBook Mini
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 25 April 2018

The SurBook Mini is not the best Windows 2-in-1 you'll find, and in fact is only a 2-in-1 if you're prepared to pay the extra cash for the keyboard. But for the small amount of money you pay, it is a nicely designed and usable budget Windows tablet, provided you don't try to throw too much at it at once and keep a PD charger to hand.

Read our Chuwi SurBook Mini review.

7. Chuwi Hi13

Chuwi Hi13
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 27 April 2018

It's usefully large with a fantastic screen, and it allows you to get your hands on a cheap Windows tablet (potentially 2-in-1 laptop) at an excellent price. But the Chuwi Hi13 is underpowered and heavy, a burden for your bag. The keyboard (sold separately) also makes us want to cry.

Read our Chuwi Hi13 review.

8. Cube iPlay 10

Cube iPlay 10
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 1 September 2017

They say you get what you pay for, and that is very often the truth. There is some evident cost-cutting in this Cube iPlay 10 tablet, but in comparison to the Amazon tablets that top our budget tablets chart it has a larger, high-resolution screen, more storage as standard and, most importantly, full support for Google services. Performance is largely the same, which is capable enough for casual tasks.

Read our Cube iPlay 10 review.