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Cheap tablets: what to avoid, what to look for

Buying an affordable tablet? Let us just say you are stepping into dangerous territory. Let us show you what you should look for, what you can expect and how to go about choosing the right cheap tablet.
August 10, 2015

Buying an affordable tablet? Let us just say you are stepping into dangerous territory. The low-to-mid-end tablet market is full of devices, but so many of them will make you regret your investment, as small as it may be.

That’s not to say there’s no good options out there when it comes to cheap tablets. In fact, we’ve seen plenty of good cheap tablets, but you will need to be able to identify them accurately, and that is why we are here today. In this guide we will show you what to look for, what to avoid and what you can expect out of these affordable tablets.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus with S Pen

Make sure the tablet comes with Google Apps pre-installed!

There’s a plethora of cheap tablets out there, and surely they manage to reach that lower price point by making some sacrifices. That’s OK when the tablet is simply a little slower or the screen is of lower resolution. We get it, but there’s no reason to take things as far as dismissing the inclusion of Google Apps support.

Google Play Store

And the problem is not exactly that you don’t have Gmail, Google Search and all those apps. You could just download them (or an alternative), right? Wrong! The problem here is that the Google Play Store is one of these Google Apps, and at this point the official application market is imperative.

Seriously, you are more than likely to have a horrible time using a tablet if you can’t get Google Play Store access. Sure, some of these pads may have other app markets, including Amazon’s, but those are simply not the same. Save yourself some trouble and go for a Google Apps-supported affordable tablet. There are plenty!

Affordable tablets don’t have to be dreadfully slow

I often see people buying super cheap tablets with specs that make me think we are back in 2010. Guys, affordable tablets don’t have to perform badly. We are at a point where technology can be more than usable even at lower price points.

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Let’s give you some examples: The ASUS MeMO Pad 8 comes with a 1.33 GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3745 processor and 1 GB of RAM. The Acer Iconia Tab is not bad either, sporting a 1.83 Intel Atom Z3745G quad-core SoC and 2 GB of RAM. Alternatively, the LG G Pad F 8.0 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset and 1 GB of RAM.

As you can see, all of these tablets come with well-known processors. They don’t have the specs of your dreams, but they will take care of most tasks just fine.

Take a good look at the display

Buying an affordable tablet usually means having to sacrifice on the display department. Because specs are usually sub-par and resources are limited, you will have to say goodbye to high definitions. The truth is you don’t always need super high resolution panels to get a good viewing experience, though. There’s other factors that come into play, such as contrast, brightness, color reproduction and more.


This is definitely something you will want to look into before you buy a cheaper tablet. I am personally fond of the Acer Iconia Tab 8 display. This gadget is only $179.99 and the screen resolution is fair at 1920 x 1200p. That’s not what makes its screen great, though, it’s the vivid colors and bright lighting that really take it to another level. Likewise, LG’s and Samsung’s lower-end tablets are also known for their good displays.

You will often have to deal with slow updates and older software

One of my main gripes about affordable tablets is how much manufacturers tend to ignore them after some months of their release. And this seems to be especially the case for tablets, as opposed to phones, as companies have been doing great with keeping budget phones up-to-date lately. Either way, just make sure you keep in mind that updates will usually come in slower (if they come) when you purchase a budget tablet.

The best advice we can give you is to go with a larger manufacturer that will be more likely to continue supporting your device. Also, try to buy the newest budget tablets, if this is a big deal to you.

Android update Google Logo

Make sure to see how old its current software is. You will often find that some affordable devices will still have Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or something insane like that. There is really no excuse for that to happen at this point.

Watch out for bad battery life!

This is a big one, considering most of us place high value on battery life. I have often seen people buy those $50 tablets, which seem to work well for a while, but don’t you dare unplug that thing! Some horror stories tell us about the occasional tablet lasting an hour on a full charge.

Of course, this is not the case with all affordable tablets, and I am sure it’s not a similar experience for most customers. The point is battery life is important, so try to find some reviews to see about how portable your new device really is.


Keep an eye on the brand

We are not really telling you to go with the big guys all the time, but there’s a certain sense of security you get from sticking with a larger manufacturer. You know they will try harder to deliver their promises, not to mention the fact that they will usually have better support and superior customer care.

We are past the point when tablets are over-priced. Even the big guys have to be able to keep up with the competition, which is brutal right now. With that said, just keep in mind that Samsung, LG, Acer and some other main players do have great affordable offerings. Also, look into the Xiaomi MiPad, if you can get a hold of one in your market. That device has stunning specs and only costs RM 799 (about $204 USD).


Forget about the camera

Many of you can attest to the fact that tablet cameras are no good most of the time. And this also applies to high-end tablet shooter. Photo quality is just not usually a priority when building a tablet, as they are usually meant for casual usage (video chatting, simple shots, etc.). Odds are your tablet camera will be average, at best.


I have always said that an affordable device doesn’t have to be a cheap one, especially in today’s market. We have great options to choose from, so try and do some good research before you hand out all that hard-earned cash.

Those are the main tips and suggestions we can give you, so now you are on the right track. I have used plenty of mid-end tablets that offer a great experience, including the ones i mentioned in the article (Acer Iconia Tab 8, ASUS MeMO Pad 8 and LG G Pad F 8.0).


Now it’s time to take it to the comments section! What can you guys tell us about your experiences buying affordable tablets? Any horror stories? Are there any other tablets you would recommend to the budget conscious? Also, what other tips can you give your fellow readers?

Be sure to also check out our own list of some of the best cheap tablets on the market!