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Best Tablets for $300 or Less

Apple has a $330 iPad. But these devices are even less expensive—and they may have everything you want.

Photo: Apple

A premium tablet can cost about $1,000 these days (see the iPad Pro), but that doesn't mean you have to be a big spender to purchase a model that meets your needs.

In 2018, for example, Apple released a high-performance 9.7-inch iPad that costs $330. It’s a good option for consumers who want access to the iOS App Store but don’t need iPad Pro-level security features like Face ID facial recognition.

But there are even less expensive alternatives from such companies as Amazon, Huawei, and Lenovo, including devices priced below $100.

They may not have the sharpest screens you can find, top-tier cameras, or dazzling processing speeds. However, if you’re looking to read e-books, stream video, or browse the web on a screen bigger than your smartphone's, the best tablets priced below $300 are solid options.

All the tablets in our ratings are graded by our testers on nearly 240 data points. The ones we've picked out here are more than adequate for web browsing and watching episodes of “GLOW” on Netflix.

As an added benefit, you can expand the storage on all of them quickly and inexpensively by using their built-in micro-SD card readers, an option no iPad offers.

1

Amazon Fire HD 8 2018 (16GB)
Amazon Fire HD 8 2018 (16GB)

    Amazon Fire HD 8 2018 (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 $119-per-year Amazon Prime subscription, the tablet will provide you with access to content including movies, music, and books.

     

    Our testers found the 8-inch display to be bright and legible, even under intense light. The SD card slot allows you to expand that 16GB of storage with a memory card. As for battery life, the Fire HD 8 clocked in at 10.6 hours in our web-browsing tests and 7.9 in our video-viewing tests.

     

    Keep in mind, though, that the model uses a customized version of the Android operating system known as Fire OS. The biggest downside? You don't get access to apps like Gmail and YouTube via the Google Play store. Instead you have to settle for the generic alternatives offered in Amazon's app store.

    2

    Huawei MediaPad T3 8 (16GB)
    Huawei MediaPad T3 8 (16GB)

      Huawei MediaPad T3 8 (16GB)

      This 8-inch tablet runs a familiar version of Android, which means you’ll find the Google Play store, Gmail, and YouTube built right into the device.

       

      As with the Kindle Fire above, this model won't breeze through every task—don’t expect to be playing too much Fortnite on it, for example—but it’s powerful enough to handle typical tasks such as web browsing, e-book reading, and video streaming.

       

      And the screen on this tablet received a Good rating from our testers, too. It’s bright and legible under intense light, though the colors are a touch on the dull side. But for about $100, this is a great value for people who want a tablet that can access a full range of Android apps.

      3

      Lenovo Tab 4 8 (TB-8504F) (16GB, 2GB RAM)
      Lenovo Tab 4 8 (TB-8504F) (16GB,...

        Lenovo Tab 4 8 (TB-8504F) (16GB,...

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

        The screen offers very wide viewing angles, which makes it good for sharing a slideshow with colleagues or a movie with friends.

        Slim and compact for its size, the tablet weighs only 0.8 pounds. And it will provide nearly 11 hours of web browsing and more than 15 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. It's lightweight, and the battery life—11.8 for web browsing, 10.4 for video viewing—will get you through the day 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 earns just a Fair rating.

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

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          Nicholas De Leon

          I've been covering consumer electronics for more than 10 years for publications like TechCrunch, The Daily (R.I.P.), and Motherboard. When I'm not researching or writing about laptops or headphones I can likely be found obsessively consuming news about FC Barcelona, replaying old Super Nintendo games for the hundredth time, or chasing my pet corgi Winston to put his harness on so we can go for a walk. Follow me on Twitter (@nicholasadeleon).