The best cheap tablet you can buy at the moment is still the Galaxy Tab A for us. For about $233.35, it offers a balanced performance, good battery life and a razor-sharp picture. All newer models, unfortunately, have some rabbit foot.
In times when large smartphones with screen diagonals beyond the 5-inch limit are becoming more and more of a normal thing, one can ask oneself what one still needs a tablet for – because videos, photos and texts are now also showing up well on smartphones.
But while surfing and gaming, modern tablets with 10-inch displays offer advantages, as they are web pages as you know it from the computer. As a second device to a smartphone, tablets still have a reason to exist. But hardly anyone wants to spend a lot of money on a second device, so cheap tablets are particularly interesting.
Fortunately, cheap tablets have undergone a similar development, as is the case with the cheap smartphones: If you do not want to spend 500 euros or more for a high-end tablet like the iPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, you only have to make a few compromises
What delivers Samsung with the Galaxy Tab A for less than $233.35, is still impressive: The tablet is fast, has an excellent display and offers a great battery life. And the LTE version is one of the cheapest ways to surf on the go with a tablet.
Smaller cuts must be accepted for the price but nevertheless: The case is stable, but not nearly as elegant as an iPad, the internal memory could be larger and the cameras are not high-flyers. But that was already criticism. Otherwise, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A meets all the requirements for a good all-round tablet. And there you really can not complain about this price.
The Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite 10 looks better than our test winner at first glance: The metal case is not only sleeker but also more sophisticated than Samsung’s, three gigabytes of RAM makes multitasking a pleasure and a well-functioning fingerprint sensor provides comfort.
There is a simple reason why it still does not quite go with the new recommendation: The combination of processor and graphics chip is clearly too weak, especially for current games. If you do not gamble, consider the Huawei Tablet.
The Lenovo Tab4 10 Plus delivers a little more power than the Samsung tablet for a little more money. With pure Android, more memory and a 64-gigabyte option, it’s an ideal upgrade to our all-rounder for those who want more. However, it also costs much more, for the price of the 64-gigabyte version you get already an iPad.
The new Amazon Fire HD 10 is now also a serious alternative in terms of affordable tablets thanks to high-resolution display and more memory. However, you have to come to terms with Amazon’s service offerings and do without Google services like Google’s Play Store, which means you can only access a much smaller app offering. But if you are surfing or watching movies with your tablet, this is no limitation.
In the segment of cheap tablets for less than 300 euros, for some time now, there are more and more devices with Windows 10 in addition to various Android tablets. Microsoft has optimized its current operating system for use on tablets. At the same time, Windows 10 tablets also allow the execution of classic Windows programs. This is only worth it if mouse and keyboard are used in addition to the touch screen.
Android tablets are more user-friendly
With the Google operating system Android, however, everything is designed for finger operation. A media break like Windows does not exist. In addition, the Google Play Store offers a huge selection of apps, while the tablet applications in the Windows Store are still rather manageable. If you are looking for a cheap tablet for surfing, playing games and video playback, then you are right with an Android tablet like our test winner from Samsung.
Another advantage of Android compared to Windows is low maintenance. Just like PCs, Windows tablets need to be restarted for updates on a regular basis, they need antivirus protection, and they tend to slow down after many installations.
All this is almost completely gone for Android tablets. As uncomplicated “always on” devices, the cheap androids therefore still convince more than their Windows counterparts.
Although it has been published over a year ago, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A is still the best tablet for us, with little money. Whether this year still another new edition of the Galaxy Tab A appears, is unclear. Although Samsung sells a Galaxy Tab A (2017) in some Asian countries, but only with marginal technical improvements and so far only in the smaller 8-inch version. Rumours about a successor have not come true in spring 2018.
A cheaper tablet with decent performance and great battery life is currently not found.
Already 2015 released Galaxy Tab A offered a good performance, decent workmanship and a sophisticated software at a fair price. Nevertheless, it has never been enough for victory in our tablet tests. The reason for this was the spongy display with a no longer up-to-date resolution of only 1,024 x 768 pixels.
With the second edition of the Galaxy Tab A, Samsung has solved this shortcoming: The current version of the tablet brings 1,920 x 1,200 pixels on the grown from 9.7 to 10.1 inches (25.65 centimetres) screen. The touch screen is so crisp, the pixel density is very good 224 PPI (pixels per inch). By comparison, Apple’s iPad Air 2 also offers only 264 PPI with its eye-catching »Retina display«, while the predecessor of Tab A had to make do with a disappointing 132 PPI. In everyday life, with the new Galaxy Tab A, there are no more visible pixels.
But the display not only convinces with its high resolution, but it is also very bright and offers a good, balanced colour reproduction. Although the screen can not quite keep up with expensive high-end tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, in this price range we do not know anything better at the moment.
Good display and good performance for a low price
Conspicuous: The screen of the new Galaxy Tab A has an aspect ratio of 16:10, which is an advantage in films and games. The predecessor relied on the 4: 3 format also used by the iPad. It shows more black bars in movies but is perceived by many to be more comfortable reading websites, ebooks and other texts. Which format one finds better, apart from that is a matter of taste.
At the performance, Samsung has also screwed. In the 2016 version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A, an Exynos processor performs its service, its eight cores clocked at up to 1.6 GHz. In combination with the decent graphics chip, the Galaxy Tab A can be used in virtually any situation quickly and without jerks. Most games from the Google Play Store also run smoothly on the tablet. Only with elaborate 3D titles, some graphical details have to be downgraded to achieve smooth gaming.
On the Samsung Galaxy Tab A is running from the factory Android version 6.0.1. “Marshmallow”. Since summer 2017, an update to Android 7 aka Nougat is available for the affordable tablet; the newer 32-gigabyte version of the tablet comes already with the fresher Android version. Whether it also gets an update to the published in late summer 2017 Android 8 alias “Oreo”, we dare to doubt. After all: During our test update in April 2018, Samsung raised the Android security update to the level of December 2017 – many androids are travelling with even older software.
In its current version, the Android tablet from Samsung runs around and in our experience, error-free. The Koreans have made typical of Galaxy some graphical and functional changes to the basic system, but are manageable. Unfortunately, some pre-installed apps, such as the Microsoft Office Suite, can not be uninstalled.
In return, however, Tab A offers Samsung’s proven “multi-window” function the ability to display two apps in parallel. Thanks to Android 7, this works with virtually all apps from the Google Play Store.
If you decide to buy the Galaxy Tab A, you should definitely go for the version with 32 gigabytes of internal memory. The smaller edition is only recommended for a really good price. The reason: of the 16 gigabytes of internal memory can be used directly from the factory only about 10.5 gigabytes. When buying the Galaxy Tab A, it is best to order a suitable microSD card for photos, videos and music.
A fantastic job is done by the battery of the Samsung tablet. In typical surfing and video mode, the tablet can easily last 12 hours or even longer. Even under full load, the Galaxy Tab A only runs out of steam after about seven hours – even much more expensive tablets can often not keep up.
Battery life convinced
With the significantly improved and slightly larger screen, however, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A has also gained a bit of weight, the weight of the 2016 version is about 75 grams more. At 8.2 millimetres, it’s also a touch thicker than the first-time, which still measured 7.5 millimetres.
For the case, Samsung uses plastic instead of aluminium. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A does not win design awards – but it is still comfortable to hold and has a solid finish. Anyone who puts a lot of emphasis on good design has to look in more expensive fields anyway, for example, on our best Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2. The only higher-quality alternative in the budget segment is the Huawei MediaPad Lite 10 (more on the alternatives).
Samsung also offers the Galaxy Tab A as LTE version. With a SIM card can be surfed while on the go.
Samsung wants to have about 70 euros more for the LTE option, a very moderate mark-up. If you are travelling a lot and do not always want to look for open WLAN networks, then an LTE model is a real blessing. But most surf with the tablet at home on the sofa, which can save 70 euros.
Both models offer support for fast Wi-Fi in the AC standard and modern 5 GHz networks – in addition, Bluetooth is in the revision 4.2 on board.
The revised reissue of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A is not only well received by us. Almost all reviews praise the Samsung tablet for its good performance at a fair price.
In the extensive test on Notebookcheck reached the Samsung tablet a very good result of 84 per cent. Tester Manuel Masiero praises the very good display as well as the enduring battery of the inexpensive tablet:
»The battery life of the Samsung tablet trumps. Under full load, the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2016) only runs out of steam after more than 7 hours, and with the playback of a Full HD video, the battery will last for almost 15 hours. «
As for criticisms, Notebookcheck sees above all the scarce internal memory and the stereo loudspeakers. Although they produce a decent sound, when you work in landscape mode they only sound from one side, but the stereo effect is lost. Nevertheless, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A by Notebookcheck gets a buy recommendation, especially the LTE version :
»The LTE version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2016) is particularly interesting due to its low price: If it should be the cheapest 10-inch tablet with Android 6, LTE and Full HD display, there is practically at the time of testing no alternatives. If you can do without LTE, the tablet gets around 50 euros cheaper. «
Ingolf Leschke of Computer Bild is also in the same vein. In the test convinced the Samsung Galaxy Tab A especially with the great display, also the high speed of work is praised:
“The eight cores of the CPU rattle at up to 1.6 gigahertz, the chip can fall back on a two-gigabyte of RAM. So the tablet went through the tempo tests at a consistently high speed. «
As rather weak here are the cameras – for us anyway no purchase argument for tablets – and the scarce memory criticized. With a grade of 2.52 for the price class, the tablet still performs well. Especially the cheap LTE version gets an extra job. In conclusion, it says:
»Compared to the predecessor model, the 2016 Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 works faster and has a better display. On top of that, the operating system with the Android 6 version is up to date. And this combination is unique: Tablets with Android 6 and LTE wireless are not available at the moment, especially not for less than 300 euros. “
Another test of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A can be found at Winfuture. In addition to the decent performance and the great battery life, the redesigned display also comes off well here. Like Notebookcheck, tester Andrzej Tokarski also criticizes the somewhat unfavourable positioning of the speakers. But there is also praise for the very fair price.
If you are looking for tablets for less than 250 euros, will be killed by a huge offer. But among them are many models that do not convince in everyday life. Our tip: Stay away from extremely cheap no-name tablets, you will not enjoy it. The most interesting alternatives to the Samsung Galaxy Tab A are here for you.
The Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite 10 almost succeeded in displacing our favourite from the first place. The tablet looks surprisingly noble despite its low price, the metal case and the clean processing remind rather Apple instead of cheap androids. Especially in direct comparison, the Samsung tab looks almost clumsy.
Also, the display and the four speakers leave a good impression, even if the sound sounds a bit tinny at high volume. As a video tablet for services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or YouTube makes the Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite 10 in the test even better figure than our test winner. A well-functioning fingerprint sensor completes the features of the Huawei tablet.
On the software side, Huawei, like Samsung, offers a large number of customization options. The EMUI baptized factory surface is more reminiscent of Apple’s iOS, but it can be bent over the options just to personal preferences. Unfortunately, the operating system occupies a proud ten of the 32 gigabytes of memory, so that comparatively little space for apps and media remains – at least without SD card.
However, a much bigger problem with the Huawei tablet is system performance. The built-in Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 chipset is overwhelmed despite its eight cores with many tasks. While in simple actions such as web surfing on the tablet only by occasional stuttering, it is critical at the latest at games. Even comparatively simple mobile games like “The Simpsons: Springfield” or “Clash of Clans” make the Huawei Tablet work up a sweat. 3D games like “Asphalt 8” are barely playable even with down-regulated details.
The lack of performance can not only be felt but also measured: in benchmarks such as Geekbench 4 or 3D Mark, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A achieves up to 50 per cent more points than theMediaPad M3 10 Lite. That’s a pity since Huawei delivers a great tablet as well. Interestingly, especially the multitasking between several apps works better than with Samsung – the additional gigabyte of memory is noticeable.
The poor performance and the associated lack of resources for future, more sophisticated requirements through apps are reason enough for us to make the Huawei MediaPad M3 10 Lite “only” the top alternative, but not the test winner. Nevertheless, who whistles on games and above all a tablet for simple office and video tasks, gets a top-processed tablet for still a very good price.
Lenovo Tab4 10 Plus
The Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus is more expensive than our favourite but offers more hardware. This starts with the case: Lenovo equips the Tab 4 10 Plus with housing with a glass back. In terms of performance, too, Lenovo puts a bit on the Tab4 10 Plus: The tablet is powered by the midrange SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 625. It has enough power reserves for most apps and games from the Google Play Store.
The 10.1-inch display dissolves as our favourite with 1,920 x 1,200 pixels and convinces with good colour accuracy and high brightness.
Unlike most other tablets in this price range, Lenovo uses three instead of two gigabytes of memory on the Tab 4 10 Plus. This is especially noticeable in multitasking because apps need to be reloaded less frequently. The larger 64-gigabyte version even has four gigabytes of RAM.
With a price of just under 300 euros, it just barely belongs to the cheap tablets. However, the Lenovo Tab4 10 Plus is still quite new on the market, prices are expected to give way soon.
Amazon Fire HD 10
Compared to its predecessor, Amazon has not only screwed up performance but has finally made the display competitive. It now resolves with 1,920 x 1,200 pixels and presents videos, web pages and photos razor-sharp and colour-fast. In combination with the powerful stereo speakers, the Fire HD 10 is thus a capable media tablet.
But the Amazon Fire HD 10 also has its downsides. Most important: Amazon installs a completely separate version of Android called Fire OS on the devices. This is trimmed above all on the close dovetailing of the media services of the online giant. The Fire HD 10 offers direct access to the eBooks of the Kindle library, the media services Prime Video, Prime Music and Audible – and of course the own online department store. In short: The Fire HD 10 is designed primarily for the consumption of Amazon offers.
More serious is the lack of Google Play Store. Android apps can only be installed from the factory via the Amazon App Store. The is now reasonably well filled but lags behind in the selection and the timeliness of the Google Play Store. It often takes much longer for an app update to appear in the Amazon store – especially with online services, this can lead to problems.
Although there is the possibility to install the Google Play Store on the Amazon tablet without any loss of warranty, that’s a bit cumbersome. A step-by-step guide can be found here. Once set up, you can also use alternative browsers or Google apps like YouTube or Google Calendar on the Fire HD 10 2017.
If you can do without Google’s apps or if you do not mind a little extra work for the installation of the Play Store, you will find a tablet in the Amazon Fire HD 10 2017, which scores above all with an excellent price-performance ratio and very good hardware.