The Best Tablets to Buy in 2020 – $149 to $399

The best advice I can give for anyone looking for a 7-inch tablet is to avoid Amazon’s Fire line of tablets, avoid anything with Android Go instead of standard Android, and limit your expectations. For a full in-depth explanation of the flaws in Amazon Fire tablets, please see my other post regarding the Amazon Fire 7.

While the Fire 7 and other 7-inch tablets may enough for running basic apps, I would recommend a full size 10-inch tablet for uses like gaming and productivity.

The only smaller tablet I can recommend is the 7.9-inch iPad mini priced at $399. The iPad mini provides all the benefits and advantages of an iPad with a smaller overall size, weight, and thickness compared to other iPads. While there are some small tablets on Amazon.com, they may struggle to run apps and games reliably as none of them have the capability of the iPad mini.

My best recommendation for a mid-range tablet would be the standard 10.2-inch iPad priced at $329. With Apple’s optimization and support its one of few tablets that can reliably run both apps and games very well at this price point. It is a great option for multitasking and productivity. iPad models also typically offer a wide variety of accessories as well as continued support and software updates from Apple for multiple years. The standard iPad is the best value among Apple products as it uses the same processor as more expensive models while remaining at the entry level price point.

The Samsung Tab A7 is the best value of options with Android. With pricing at $229 for 32 GB internal storage, it is one of the most inexpensive tablets to offer a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, which typically offers better reliability than cheaper tablets with Mediatek processors. It offers a full HD display as well as fast charging. While the Snapdragon 622 processor in the Tab A7 runs most games with at least moderate quality graphics, it still won’t be as effective as other higher priced tablets when running complex games with ultra graphics. While this tablet can run games, it may be best suited for anyone looking for a productivity or education device.

Another option from Samsung is its S6 Lite model priced at $279. Compared to the Tab A7, the S6 Lite includes double the internal storage at 64 GB, has an additional gigabyte of RAM at 4 GB, has an additional 3 hours of battery life (according to Samsung), and features features Samsung’s own Exynos processor which is slightly faster than the A7’s Snapdragon 622. It also includes a S Pen with the tablet at no additional cost.

Finally, the most inexpensive tablet of all my recommendations would be Lenovo’s M10 FHD Plus. This 10-inch tablet features a full HD display, octo-core Mediatek processor, 32 GB of internal storage, 2 GB of fast DDR4 RAM, running pure full Android 9 with Google Play. This tablet does a great job of combining inexpensiveness with capability at just $149, the lowest of all my recommendations. At $199 there also is the option of upgrading to 64 GB of internal storage and 4 GB of RAM. However, this may sometimes even be discounted to $179. Lenovo also offers an official case and screen protector from their web store. The only drawback to this lower priced tablet, is that is not Widevine certified which means it lacks the ability to play HD video from streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Disney Plus among others. HD videos from YouTube or played outside of premium streaming apps still work normally. This is overall a great low priced tablet for productivity, education, and light gaming. The upgraded model with 4 GB RAM greatly improves its multitasking ability as it is able to keep more apps open in the background.

Keep in mind that all of the Android tablets I have listed here support expandable storage through a micro SD card. Tablets running Android 6 or later can insert a micro SD card to increase the amount of overall storage on the device. This can be useful for offline videos, downloads, or large games.

I do not recommend spending more than $399 on an iPad or Android tablet, as this is the starting price for the Microsoft Surface line of tablet PCs. For the price of an iPad air, iPad Pro, Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 or S7; various Microsoft Surface tablets are also available which run full versions of Windows in a tablet form factor.

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