Product Reviews

Welcome to Consumer Reports.

We’re so glad to have you as a member. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed.
A child with a white stylus working on a tablet.

Best Tablets for $300 or Less

Apple just announced a new $329 iPad. These devices are even less expensive—and all come recommended by CR's testers.

The selection of low-cost tablets got a little deeper on Tuesday when Apple unveiled a new, budget-priced iPad during an education-themed event at Chicago's Lane Tech College Prep High School.

Designed to pair with the Apple Pencil stylus, the new iPad comes with a 9.7-inch display, a fingerprint sensor for secure log-in, improved cameras, and a 10-hour battery life, the manufacturer says.

The 32GB model has a starting price of $329, just like the 2017 model. A model with Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity is available for $459. The new iPads can be ordered online right now.

Apple isn't the only company making powerful, budget-friendly tablets these days. In fact, it's easy to find well-designed alternatives from Amazon, Asus, Lenovo, and Samsung. The models below come with high-definition displays and ample battery life, and all are recommended by our testers, who graded each one over two weeks on nearly 240 data points.

Better yet, if you like recording video or downloading movies to take on the go, the storage on all these tablets can be expanded quickly and inexpensively by using the built-in micro-SD card reader—something no iPad can do.

We look forward to testing Apple's claims once we purchase the new iPad and get it into our labs. In the meantime, here's our list (in alphabetical order) of the best tablets for $300 or less. 

1
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 (16GB)
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 (16GB)

    Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 (16GB)

    If you're willing to overlook some shortcomings, the $80 Amazon Fire HD 8 is a steal. The display is admirably good, and if you're already on the hook for a $99-per-year Amazon Prime subscription, the tablet will provide you with access to a bevy of content, including movies, music, and books. The Fire HD 8 also claims top honors on this list for battery life, clocking in at 15 hours in our web-browsing tests and 13 in our video-viewing tests.

    So what holds it back? The middling cameras (front and back) and the fact that the Fire HD 8 lags behind other models when running graphics-intensive apps, which can be troublesome if you're hoping to use it to shoot and edit video.

    Also keep in mind that the device uses Amazon's Fire OS 5.4 operating system, which, unlike other Android-powered tablets, forces owners to use Amazon's app store in lieu of the Google Play store.

    2
    Asus ZenPad 3S 10 Z500M (64GB)
    Asus ZenPad 3S 10 Z500M (64GB)

      Asus ZenPad 3S 10 Z500M (64GB)

      If you're looking for a tablet with a bigger screen (for epic movies), consider this 9.7-inch model from Asus. It has a top-notch display and clocked just over 8 hours of battery life in our labs for both web browsing and video viewing. That's impressive for a tablet priced just under $300.

      What's more, this ZenPad comes with 64GB of storage, over four times the amount you find on most budget-friendly tablets. That means you get more room for apps, games, and movies.

      3
      Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus (TB-8704F) (16GB, 3GB RAM)
      Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus (TB-8704F)...

        Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus (TB-8704F)...

        This 8.1-inch tablet earned high marks from our testers for its display, versatility, and camera performance. In fact, in our ratings, it's the top-performing small tablet not made by Apple.

        Very wide viewing angles make the screen good for sharing a slideshow with colleagues or a movie with friends.

        Slim and compact for its size, the tablet weighs only 0.7 pounds. And it will provide nearly 10 hours of web browsing (and more than 11 hours of video watching) before you need to plug it in.

        4
        Samsung Galaxy Tab A 7.0 SM-T280 (8GB)
        Samsung Galaxy Tab A 7.0 SM-T280...

          Samsung Galaxy Tab A 7.0 SM-T280...

          Priced at about $130, this 7-inch tablet impressed our testers with its ease of use and versatility. The images produced on the camera are very good, but the unit falters when shooting video. It's lightweight, and the nearly 12-hour battery life will get you through the workday, not to mention many a road trip.

          Be prepared to make some concessions, though. The display is somewhat dim—particularly under indoor lighting conditions—and the tablet struggles when running demanding graphics applications. For everyday tasks such as web browsing and email, the speed is just fair.

          And the tablet comes with a paltry 8GB of storage. But, as I pointed out earlier, all the models on this list let you expand that storage with a microSD card

          Consumer Reports is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to helping consumers. We make it easy to buy the right product from a variety of retailers. Clicking a retailer link will take you to that retailer’s website to shop. When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission – 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our mission. Learn more. Our service is unbiased: retailers can’t influence placement. All prices are subject to change.
          Tercius Bufete

          I'm an avid photographer and tech nerd with a passion for writing about gadgets and consumer technology. Originally from Los Angeles, I'm now an East Coast resident searching for the perfect burrito in Brooklyn. Follow me on Twitter (@tercius).