Here atÂ Android Authority, we tend to put a lot of focus on the high-profile releases of the year. Invariably, most of these tend to be premium devices â€” the best on offer at any moment. However, just because something is objectively â€œthe best,â€� it doesnâ€™t always mean itâ€™s the most utilitarian. A Galaxy Note 20 Ultra might be one of the best phones you can buy, but that doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s the best phone for your pre-teen child.
With that in mind, I want to bring some attention to an oft-overlooked segment of the tech world: cheap Android tablets.
The tablet market, in general, has fallen out of favor over the past five years or so, at least in the Android world. While Appleâ€™s various iPad lines are still doing quite well, only a handful of OEMs make Android tablets at all. Even then, most of the marketing focus is on the high-end iPad Pro competitors.
However, as with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, a Galaxy Tab S7 Plus isnâ€™t always the best tool for the job. In fact, Iâ€™d argue that most folks should skip the high-end tablets and go straight for the budget models. Hereâ€™s why.
Cheap Android tablets: The workhorses
In my house, one of the screens I touch the most is what I call my kitchen tablet. Itâ€™s a Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 that sits on a stand on my kitchen counter. I use it for accessing recipes in my OneDrive storage, watching how-to videos on YouTube, browsing the web looking for new recipes, and simple actions such as measurement conversions.
Because itâ€™s a lower-end device â€” its MSRP is only $230 and I paid much less than that during a Black Friday sale â€” I donâ€™t need to care much about it. If it gets splattered with melted butter, itâ€™s not a big deal. If I grab it with my hands covered in flour, I donâ€™t need to worry about immediately cleaning it off. And, if I accidentally drop it on the floor, some cosmetic damage wonâ€™t devastate me.
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Despite its price tag and how poorly I treat it, the tablet does everything it needs to do. Web searches are fast and the LCD display is fine for my needs. Even the battery lasts for over a week (depending on how busy I am in the kitchen, of course). If it does run low on juice, it doesnâ€™t take too long to top it up with the 15W USB-C charger either.
My 'kitchen tablet' is integral to my life and gets used every day.
The cameras are bad, yes, but who cares? Iâ€™m not using it to take any pictures. The Snapdragon 662 chipset isnâ€™t powerful enough for high-end gaming, but I donâ€™t need that, either. Its lack of an NFC chip and low RAM and internal storage also donâ€™t matter. It does what it does and thatâ€™s it.
As I said, I use this cheap Android tablet nearly every day. I own plenty of devices that cost much, much more than $230 that I barely ever use. It is pretty remarkable when you think about it.
The kitchen isnâ€™t the only useful spot
I use my tablet for kitchen duties because thatâ€™s where it makes the most sense for me. However, you might be the kind of person who orders take out every evening and doesnâ€™t know a spatula from a ramekin. Thatâ€™s fine, but thereâ€™s probably an area where a cheap Android tablet would be useful for you.
If youâ€™re often in the garage, a â€œgarage tabletâ€� might be a good investment. You could use it for YouTube how-to videos just as I do in the kitchen. You could also use it for finding manuals and schematics or even quickly ordering replacement parts for whatever youâ€™re working on.
Maybe you have a studio where you get creative with arts and crafts. A tablet in there would be great for finding some inspiration online with Pinterest. You wouldnâ€™t need to worry about getting glue or paint on it either. Do you have a room where you work out? You could have a tablet in there for fitness instructions or simply use it as a huge stopwatch. Musicians, designers, model builders, tinkerers, PC builders â€” any activity where your hands get dirty or things get chaotic could benefit from a dedicated cheap Android tablet at the ready.
The point is that spending $300 or more on a tablet sometimes is completely unnecessary. In fact, sometimes getting the â€œbestâ€� is actually worse than going as cheap as possible. And with things being as they are, there are a whole lot of discounts out there.
Yesterdayâ€™s flagship is todayâ€™s budget model
The Galaxy Tab A7 has been terrific for my needs. However, itâ€™s far from your only choice. Not only are there many different budget tablets from Samsung, LG, Amazon, and others, but thereâ€™s also a huge used market for tablets.
Additionally, you can find some great discounts on newer flagships with cosmetic issues. A 2019 Galaxy Tab S6 with a cracked back panel would go for cheap. If youâ€™re just going to use it in your garage anyway, who cares if itâ€™s not in tip-top shape? Likewise for cosmetically damaged iPads.
Donâ€™t forget about Amazon tablets, either. With those, you donâ€™t want to go too low-end or youâ€™re going to face performance issues. However, a brand new Fire HD 10 will likely meet your needs and only set you back about $150. Of course, removing the ads and getting the fast charger will raise that price by quite a bit, but what you do there depends on your budget.
The key takeaway is that a cheap Android tablet might not be the sexiest piece of tech you own, but it could end up being one of the most useful. Sometimes value trumps specs.