You probably want a great mobile device for using social media or accessing your email on the go, but you may not have a ton of money to spend.
Can you really get a worthwhile tablet by only spending $50 or less?
The answer is a resounding “yes!” so long as you learn to manage your expectations.
Android or the Amazon Fire OS will be your only options at this price point, as you won’t find any iOS devices at under $50.
While you won’t get blazing fast speeds or extremely high end displays, there are three tablets currently available that are well worth buying at $40 – $50.
Want the best bang for your buck?
These three picks are great starting devices for any of these kinds of users:
- College students reading digital books and posting on Facebook
- Parents watching Netflix and playing games while sending work emails
- Young kids learning the ropes of downloading apps and pulling up YouTube.
If you want something with better specs for all your productivity or gaming needs. Check out our:
Ultra-budget tablet pick: Under $100
Mid range budget tablet pick: Under $200
..or browse our Tablet by budget series to get our experts’s most recommended tablets falling under different budget constraints.
In A Hurry? Here’s The Winner From 15 Hours Of Research
Amazon Fire 7
Why is it better?
- Slim, lightweight design
- Solid performance and fast speed for low price
- Extra Amazon features like Alexa and Prime
The Lineup At A Glance
Review of the best cheap tablet under $50
1. Amazon Fire 7 – High Performance
- Best specs at the price point
- Alexa compatible
- Google Play store compatible
- Can’t stream video in 1080p
- Low quality sound
In terms of entry level tablets for first time buyers, you can’t really beat the Fire 7. With a host of great features, an overall comfortable design, and a very reasonable price tag, this is the best cheap tablet on the market right now.
Key features & details
2. Ematic Quad Core EGQ347BL – Cheap Android Tablet
- Light weight
- MicroSD card slot for extra storage
- Very short battery life
- Will struggle with advanced Android games
Don’t want to go with an Amazon-branded product and prefer to stick with the straight Android OS? The Ematic will be your best cheap tablet choice, offering the same basic specs as the Fire 7 but without all the eReader focus.
Key features & details
- Bigger starting storage space than other models
- Newer version of Android OS
- Heavier than other budget tablets
- Fairly low battery life
While less attractive than the Ematic and more sluggish than the Amazon Fire, you can’t beat the price of the RCA Voyager. If price is your main concern and you just want a cheap tablet for basic usage, this is a good starting pick.
Key features & details
Criteria Used For Evaluation
While you want a budget option, you should still expect fast touch screen response time and very little lag while web browsing.
In our research, we’ve found that the vast majority of negative reviews for budget tablets focus on slow app load times, freezing when running multiple apps, and general sluggish behavior.
Manufacturers may cut corners when offering low priced models, and you want to avoid all of those issues as much as possible. For most users, we recommend a minimum of a quad core CPU, 1GB of RAM (or more if possible), and 8GB of flash storage for a budget tablet. Anything less than that won’t offer acceptable performance for streaming video or using apps.
2. Versatile Connectivity
Most people buy a tablet as a secondary device rather than their main computer, so you want to pick a model that can do a little bit of everything and connect to other hardware even if you pick the cheapest model available.
Do you plan on using GPS for finding addresses, downloading apps to play games in line at the store, streaming Netflix videos on break at work, or reading eBooks in your down time?
No matter the price, your tablet should be able to do anything a laptop can do and then some. Don’t forget about the connectivity options either, as we recommend picking a tablet that can use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, miniUSB, and at least one other type of connection. Whether that’s microSD, HDMI, or a full size USB port is up to your individual needs.
Nearly everyone drops their portable device at some point, so even when picking a tablet based on a limited budget, you want your investment to be able to survive normal wear and tear.
Even if you bought an extended warranty, broken tablet screens are typically more expensive to replace than just simply outright buying a whole new device. Because they are less bulky than a full laptop, it can be easy to accidentally drop a tablet or knock it off a countertop.
4. Comfortable design
You’ll notice most tablets at this price range are the same size, but not all of them are designed in the same way, as some are flat out more comfortable than others.
Whether you leave your tablet on your lap or hold it upright in your hands, you want to be comfortable 100% of the time. Before making your final purchase, you need to make sure your tablet has a comfortable hand design and isn’t too heavy to handle for long periods.
We recommend 7 to 8 inch tablets that are under a pound for maximum comfort if you plan on holding the device directly for long periods.
5. Screen quality
At budget prices you’ll always get lower screen resolution, but you can still find some models that are much clearer than others.
After performance issues, the #2 cause of negative reviews in our research was easily low screen quality that resulted in fuzzy text and eye strain. Be certain not to overlook this critical feature!
We recommend a minimum of an 1024 x 600 resolution and in particular would urge buyers to look for models with an IPS display. If you can find a model with 1080 resolution instead, that will offer much better quality when streaming YouTube videos or watching your Amazon Prime movie collection.
- Marcus Herbich,Amazon Fire 7 Tablet Review, NotebookCheck
- Brian X Chen,What You Get (And Don’t Get) For A $50 Fire Tablet, NY Times