Tablets, while not as prevalent as they once were, still have a place in the market. If you are in the market for a budget-friendly tablet, check out our recommendations for the best cheap tablets.
In recent years, touchscreen tablets have become less common due to the rise of large smartphones and flexible PCs. However, new models are still being released, and there are still many fans of tablets, especially on the iPad side. When it comes to tablets, Apple and Samsung are the two major players, much like in the smartphone market. Nevertheless, new competitors like Xiaomi and Realme have emerged in this space.
If you are searching for an affordable tablet, we have gathered a selection of the most intriguing touch tablets priced under $500. This range of low-cost tablets is particularly useful to students who want to take notes or attend classes remotely. It is a genuine alternative to PCs for students. Below are our top picks for the best cheap tablets to buy in 2023:
The Top cheap tablets to Buy in 2023
Apple iPad 9
Our guide to the best tablets highly recommends the iPad 9, which performs nearly flawlessly. However, we do have one note about its design, as it features large black bands framing the screen that is reminiscent of the late 2010s.
Despite this, the iPad 9 excels in all other areas, including impeccable ergonomics, a smooth software interface, powerful performance, a magnificent screen, and a well-crafted camera. We also recommend purchasing an iPad keyboard to complete the set.
In terms of specifications, the iPad 9 features a 10.4-inch Retina display with True Tone technology. It is powered by the A13 Bionic chip and comes with at least 64GB of storage. The iPadOS 15 operating system ensures a seamless user experience with unparalleled fluidity and ease of use.
Xiaomi Pad 5
For those who prefer Android-based products and are looking for a tablet under $500, the Xiaomi Pad 5 is the best alternative to the iPad. It boasts an impressive price-to-quality ratio and can challenge the iPad 9.
The Xiaomi Pad 5 is very successful, featuring a sleek and efficient design that is both powerful and user-friendly. The tablet is powered by a robust Snapdragon 860 SoC, which enables it to run a large selection of games smoothly and ensures an effortless user experience in everyday activities. This chip is supported by 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage.
The tablet’s design is nice and elegant, with a satisfying aluminum back. The 11-inch screen is more than sufficient for all kinds of usage, thanks to its WQHD+ resolution and 120 Hz refresh rate. The tablet’s screen is also efficient enough to support gaming. The camera module performs well, and the front-facing sensor is more than adequate for videoconferencing. Similarly, the speakers are more than sufficient for watching traditional video content.
Realme Pad Mini
Realme, a Chinese manufacturer, has entered the market with an affordable tablet. The Realme Pad Mini was recently launched as a follow-up to their first device released in 2022. The tablet has a simple design with brushed aluminum, which does not attract fingerprints, and is easy to hold.
Despite its small size, the Realme Pad Mini delivers a good user experience. It features an 8.7-inch LCD screen with HD+ resolution and a 60 Hz refresh rate. However, the color accuracy is not very good and tends to be blueish. The tablet is powered by a Unisoc T616 processor, which provides adequate performance for general use, but may struggle with games like Genshin Impact or Fortnite. The tablet comes with a minimum storage of 32 GB, which can be expanded using a microSD card.
The Realme Pad Mini boasts a 6400 mAh battery that provides up to fifteen hours of streaming video playback and can last up to a week with average usage. It takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to fully charge with a maximum charging power of 18 W.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is an Android touchscreen tablet that offers high quality at an affordable price, but with some performance concessions. It has a sleek design with a matte aluminum back that feels pleasant to the touch. The tablet’s form factor allows it to easily fit into backpacks or large handbags. The LCD panel has good quality, with a 10.4 inch diagonal and 2000 by 1200 pixels of resolution, equivalent to Full HD. One of the notable features of the tablet is the included stylus, which enables users to take notes, make annotations or draw. The battery life is also impressive, with a 7040 mAh battery that allows for intensive use for a whole day, making it perfect for students.
Recently updated in 2022, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is equipped with a more powerful processor, the Snapdragon 720 G, which improves its performance. While the tablet is available for around $400, its price may still drop. Overall, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a good option for those looking for an inexpensive tablet with quality features.
Oppo Pad Air
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Android tablets are facing a tough competition with the dominance of the iPad. Oppo, a Chinese brand, is trying to add to its smartphone catalog by introducing the Pad Air, an affordable tablet that aims to make a name for itself. Although it is not perfect, it has convincing features.
The design of the Pad Air is very basic, with a simple plastic back that doesn’t collect fingerprints. The grip is easy, with the buttons placed in a simple position. Although the edges are slightly sharp, using it for extended periods remains comfortable.
The biggest strength of the Oppo Pad Air lies in its technical specifications. It has a Snapdragon 680 chip and 4 GB of RAM, which allows it to run mobile games. It also has a 7100 mAh battery, giving it a long battery life for versatile use.
The Pad Air runs on ColorOS 12, which is already present on Oppo smartphones. The software works perfectly with the tablet. However, the only drawback of the Pad Air 2022 is its touch screen, which lags behind its competitors. It has an LCD panel with relatively little brightness, which is a real disappointment.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite is a budget-friendly tablet that is perfect for those looking for an affordable option. This small tablet boasts an 8.7-inch screen (1,340 x 800 pixels) and is only available in the Wi-Fi version. It is ideal for those on-the-go or for reading.
This tablet is designed for family use and is easy to hold in one hand. With its slim profile of less than a centimeter and lightweight construction, it is easily transportable and can be taken on trips or used as a small side table. It is perfect for viewing content on a larger screen than a smartphone or for reading e-books.
However, at this price point, it is not intended for gaming or professional use. It is equipped with a Helio P22T processor from MediaTek, which is not capable of running 3D. Despite this, the tablet’s modest 5100 mAh battery can last for two to three days.
The Redmi range of Xiaomi includes tablets, just like its smartphones. The Redmi Pad is an affordable tablet that aims to compete against Apple’s entry-level iPad. It is not a cheap-looking product as it has a beautiful and thoughtful design.
The Redmi Pad boasts a good-quality screen with a 10.61-inch diagonal display using LCD technology that can show a 2K definition. It has a brightness of 400 cd/m², making it suitable for indoor use. However, it may struggle in bright sunlight due to its lack of brightness. It also features a 90 Hz refresh rate.
On the other hand, its internal power is a bit weaker, with a Helio G99 chip from MediaTek coupled with 3 GB of RAM. While it can handle a few games, more demanding titles are not recommended. Nonetheless, the Redmi Pad works great for everyday applications.
Where the inexpensive tablet from Xiaomi really stands out is in its battery life. It is equipped with an 8000 mAh battery that can last up to a week with two hours of use per day. Additionally, it comes with an 18W charger that provides a relatively slow charge for the tablet. The Redmi Pad is available starting at $279.
Honor Pad 8
Honor, a brand known for producing affordable tablet devices, also offers a budget-friendly tablet called the Pad 8. The design of this tablet is quite standard with a rectangular block and an aluminum frame. It doesn’t have any fancy features, but it can be used in both portrait and landscape modes.
The tablet’s touch screen is of high quality, with an 11.97-inch LCD panel, ideal for entertainment and streaming activities. The screen has a refresh rate of 60 Hz, and during testing, it was noted to have a brightness of 410 cd / m² and a fairly cold color temperature of 7323 K.
The Honor Pad 8 is running the Snapdragon 680 processor along with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. This configuration is capable of running most software applications used in daily life, but it may not be able to handle high-performance 3D mobile games like Genshin Impact.
The tablet comes with a 7250 mAh battery that can last for several hours throughout the week. It can be fully charge in just two hours with a 22.5 W charger. The MagicOS software that comes with the tablet offers only basic features, but the main things are present.
With the rise of smartphones with increasingly larger screens, the demand for tablets has decreased. Therefore, manufacturers have focused on making tablets more productive with the addition of keyboards or styluses. Tablets are still great for browsing, but they are also becoming more popular as creative tools, such as the iPad Pro.
However, less expensive tablets can also serve as secondary devices for tasks such as watching movies or reading e-books on the go. When it comes to operating systems, there are two main options: iPadOS and Android. iPadOS has a larger catalog of applications and is better suited for intensive use, work, or creative tasks. Android, on the other hand, is available on tablets at all price points and is suitable for basic web browsing.
Most tablets in the entry and mid-range offer screens between 10 to 11 inches, which is a good compromise between smartphones and laptops. While there are 12-inch tablets available, it may be more practical to opt for a PC at that size. Tablets with screens smaller than 10 inches may not be as enjoyable for watching long videos. But an 8-inch tablet is ideal for reading. It ultimately depends on the individual’s needs to choose the appropriate screen size.