Featured Product: Amazon Fire HD 10 | $150 | Amazon
We spend a lot of time on our phones. In fact, it can regularly start to feel like they’re more a part of work than anything else. Even if you only use yours to doomscroll through Twitter or your social app of choice, it can be a good idea to break away from the device by doing something different. One easy, and surprisingly cheap, way of changing things up a bit is to invest in a tablet.
Now, you might not instantly think about tablets as a way to escape your phone. Maybe you think that they’re just slightly larger phones, or maybe you think they’re going to be too expensive. However, as long as you know what you’re doing, you can easily pick one up for cheap and turn it into a device made just for chilling out. Just don’t install any social media on it, okay?
If your aim with a tablet is to make sure you find a good balance of power and price, and we’re talking about keeping things under $200 here, then you’re in the right place. We’ve gone ahead and picked some of the mightiest Android tablets around, all of which will set you back less than $200 dollars, and then the world (tablet) is your oyster (method of not looking at your phone).
Best All-Around Tablet: Amazon Fire HD 10
When it comes down to it, it’s very hard to beat the absolute steal of a bargain that is Amazon’s Fire HD 10. This tablet received a few little upgrades which means you’ll be getting a shocking amount of power for only $150. We’re talking about a 10.1" screen featuring a full HD display and 1080p resolution, a 12-hour battery life, and even support for MicroSD cards all the way up to 1TB in size. Not only that, but on top of all of that, it even manages to be 10% brighter than the previous models.
It’s not all perfect, of course, so the Fire HD 10 tablet can get a bit sluggish if you’re aiming to push it a little bit with gaming. However, it’s going to be more than good enough for streaming shows, reading ebooks, browsing the web, and maybe even keeping in touch with friends and family with video calls. Now, there are a few iterations of this device. The $150 base model has 32GB of internal storage while the 64GB version is $190. Both versions feature ads on the lock screen too, but you can pay to remove those if you find them annoying.
In a pinch, and if you want to, you can also look at purchasing the Amazon productivity bundle, which features the 32GB model, a keyboard cover case, and even a full year’s subscription to Microsoft Office 365 to boot. It’s a good deal if you’re not here for a good time, but a serious one.
Best Apple-Like Tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0
It’s not a huge shock that Samsung is regularly in the top ranks of Android’s tablet offerings, and that’s certainly still true even if you are looking to nab one for less than $200. If you’re looking for something surprisingly punch and very compact, then the Galaxy Tab A 8.0's size is helped out a lot by the thin borders it features. Along with that, the US model has a quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 400-series chipset and 2GB of RAM, so it has a lot more power than you’d expect.
It’s got enough power for some low-level gaming too, though will struggle if you’re trying to push the boat out. Despite it being a fairly small device, the screen size and the weight of the device make it a good fit for the games it can manage too, which is a blessing when you’re stuck on the couch and can’t be bothered to move, but do want a change of pace.
There’s also the digital store to consider here too, because unlike Amazon tablets, this one grants access to Google Play. You could even splash out on Google Play Pass, which allows you to play a huge selection of games with ease. It’s a bit like Xbox Game Pass, but for the Google Play store, so you’d be making a good decision if that’s what you want your tablet for.
Best Budget Tablet: Amazon Fire 7
Starting at just $50 with special offers (ads) on the lock screen, anyone can budget for the Amazon Fire 7. You’ll be afforded a full Fire OS experience despite the price, albeit not quite as zippy and sharp as some of its bigger, more expensive brethren. It’s notably weaker under the hood with a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM, but that doesn’t doom you from a multimedia standpoint. If you’re just reading, browsing, and watching movies, this just might be all you need. It’ll even run some less demanding games, but let’s manage our expectations here.
Considering the price, the Amazon Fire 7 can serve a meaningful life strictly as a kids’ tablet, especially with strong parental controls. You’ll get a respectable seven hours out of the battery despite not even having to push a 720p resolution to the 7" display, but that’s mostly due to the small physical footprint.
Considering the price, the Amazon Fire 7 can serve a meaningful life strictly as a kids’ tablet, especially with strong parental controls and FreeTime, a Netflix-style subscription service with thousands of apps, games, books, and videos. The price tag prepares you to behold something cheap in your hands, but it’s more of a “solid” in my experience, and I’m a fan of the various muted hues you can choose from, including Twilight Blue, Plum (red), and Sage (green). There’s also black if you don’t feel so daring.
Best Sub-$100 Tablet: Amazon Fire HD 8
On the other hand, if you don’t mind spending a bit more money, you’ll get a much better experience with the Amazon Fire HD 8. The screen gains an inch, but more importantly it picks up some added crispness too. At $90, the Fire HD 8 delivers better performance and significantly better battery life too, and it can even handle 3D games like PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile.
Amazon’s app store isn’t quite as robust as Google’s Play Store, which is MIA here, but there’s still plenty worth exploring. Drop another $20 on top of that and get an even better experience with the Fire HD 8 Plus, which packs more speed and RAM, fast wired charging, and wireless charging. Even so, it’s just $110 with special offers on the lock screen.
Best Tablet for Kids: Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition
You could hand any tablet to your little ones, but are you really comfortable handing a pristine, unprotected, screen-centric device to them? We don’t recommend it, at least not for the younger ones. Instead, get them something that’s designed exactly for their capabilities.
Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition tablet represent a fantastic bargain for parents, providing a solid experience at a reasonable price while also providing peace of mind. Not only do these tablets come installed within a rubber case that’ll tolerate all kinds of drops and dings, but it also has a two-year worry-free guarantee. No matter how it breaks, they’ll swap it out. Easy peasy.
You also get a year of free access to Amazon Kids+, a subscription service with kid-friendly content like games, TV shows, books, podcasts, and more. The basic tablet comes in 7" and 8" models, while a new-for-2021 10" revision has more power and a streamlined design. There’s also a new Fire HD 10 Kids Pro version at the same price, but it’s aimed for older, school-age kids.
Best Premium Design: Lenovo Tab M10 Plus FHD (2nd Gen)
While many other non-Samsungs have perished in the tablet game, Lenovo has been consistent in its line of flat slabs, and at $149, the Lenovo Tab M10 Plus continues those traditions. You’re getting a full Android 9 Pie experience and a 10" 1080p display. With a bevy of positive reviews to its name, the Lenovo Tab M10 Plus wins hearts with its sleek metal backplate. We’re used to overwhelming plastic in this price category, so if that’s something you loathe, this is the tablet to buy.
But more than that, you’re getting a workhorse in the octa-core MediaTek Helio chipset, which comes clocked at 2.3GHz and sits alongside 2GB of RAM for this 32GB model. You’ll get a pair of decent rear- and front-facing cameras at 8MP and 5MP respectively, including IR for face unlock. And if your little ones are planning to use it, Lenovo has one of the better kids’ modes on avail, beaten only by Amazon.
This post was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer on 09/16/2020 and updated by Jason Coles with new information on 02/15/2022.