We all know how difficult it is to be a student nowadays and how much money you need to spend on textbooks, rent, and all the necessary snacks to fuel those last-minute study sessions. Since it’s basically impossible to get a full-time job and attend classes at the same time, most students have to rely on help from their parents – which is usually not nearly enough.
On top of that, the global Coronavirus pandemic has forced most schools and universities to switch to online classes and exams. While this may sound a bit better on paper in terms of the amount of supplies needed, some students had to invest in a better computer in order to be able to keep up with their studies.
Tablets can also be a decent alternative, although there are some tasks that are not quite so easy to accomplish with a touchscreen. On the other hand, they are much cheaper than a laptop or a notebook, and they can at least allow students to watch lectures and take notes.
What Should You Look for in a Good Budget Tablet?
Even though the goal is to save money, there are some things you shouldn’t skimp on when buying a tablet. That leftover cash may be nice to have for a few days, but you will have a hard time making use of your new tablet if it’s too slow to handle a video stream or if the screen is not big enough for your day-to-day activities.
Here are some of the things you should consider before buying a tablet:
- Screen size. Since we are talking about budget tablets, huge screens are not in the cards anyway, but that doesn’t mean you should go with the smallest one either.
- CPU & RAM. A slow CPU means that apps will run poorly or freeze on you constantly, which is obviously annoying. In addition, not enough RAM will make it impossible to open too many apps at the same time, and that may be a problem if you are trying to multitask.
- Camera quality. A lot of students may want to use their tablets as their go-to devices for attending online classes. A good camera is important if you want your teacher to be able to see you clearly.
- Microphone quality. Although you can solve this by connecting a separate microphone or a pair of headphones with a built-in mic, not everyone has these things lying around.
- Wi-Fi capabilities. All tablets come with Wi-Fi – that’s pretty much a given in this day and age. However, some budget tablets feature weaker Wi-Fi receivers, which means that you have to sit pretty close to a router in order to get a decent signal.
- Decent battery life. Video streams are pretty hard on the battery, especially if you need high screen brightness in order to see what’s going on. Having to constantly keep your tablet hooked to the charger kind of defeats the purpose of having such a mobile device.
10 Best Tablets for College Students on a Budget
With all that out of the way, here are some of the best budget tablets you can buy right now. Each one of these should serve a college student quite well, while also being very affordable and capable in terms of overall specs.
1. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1”
The Galaxy Tab A from Samsung rides the line between affordable and medium-priced, which means that it also packs very good specs – not to mention the generous screen size.
The base model offers 32GB of storing space, although you can also buy 64GB and 128GB models if you want more space. In addition, you can also expand your storage by adding a Micro SD card, thanks to the included Micro SD slot.
The tablet also runs on Android 9, which is quite recent and still supported by the majority of apps. You get 2GB of RAM, an octa-core CPU, as well as a 1920 by 1200 display resolution, which is not bad at all at this price.
In terms of cameras, the Tab A comes with a 5MP front-facing camera and an 8MP rear camera, the latter of which includes autofocus as well.
- Great resolution and good screen size
- Powerful CPU
- Both cameras offer decent image quality
- Storage can be expanded up to 512GB with micro SD cards
- Great battery life
- Thin bezels
- The base model comes with only 2GB of RAM
- Does not support a SIM card
2. KOOA 10.1”
If you are looking for specs and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, the 10.1-inch model from KOOA is a good way to go – provided you are fine with some of its downsides as well.
To begin with, the tablet comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which is a lot more generous than a lot of other tablets on the market. However, you will have to make do with a lower screen resolution, since this one runs at 1280×800.
Perhaps the most surprising thing of all is the fact that you get dual SIM card support, which means that you can also make phone calls. This can also come in handy if you are not in Wi-Fi range and you need 3G to browse the Internet.
As far as the cameras are concerned, the front one is only 2MP, which is a bit of a bummer. On the other hand, you get 8MP on the rear camera, which should allow you to take some nice photos if that’s your hobby.
- Great specs for the price
- 4GB of RAM is plenty for most Android apps
- Big IPS screen
- 64GB of storage right out of the box
- Supports dual SIM and 3G
- The front-facing camera is a bit underwhelming
- Storage can only be expanded to 128GB
3. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0”
If the 10” model of the Tab A is a bit too expensive for you, the 8.0” might be exactly what you are looking for. In fact, you get many of the same features in terms of specs, so you are not giving up too much performance in return.
The processor is a quad-core that runs at 2.0GHz, and you also get 2GB of RAM with the 32GB version. On top of that, this model also comes with a MicroSD slot, which means that you can extend its storage capabilities to up to 512GB.
As far as the screen is concerned, the resolution is lower than on the 10” model, but not by a lot. 1280 x 800 offers a very decent pixel density at this size, so it’s not much of a compromise in terms of image quality.
The 8MP rear camera is taken directly from the 10” version as well, and the front camera is not too bad either. In short, the smaller screen is the most obvious change because everything else is not that far off.
- Good pixel density for an 8.0” tablet
- Up to 512GB of storage using the microSD slot
- Very good battery life (up to 13h)
- Great camera combo
- Sleek bezel design
- Only 2GB of RAM, same as the bigger version
- No 3G or SIM support
4. Lenovo Tab M8 8.0”
Lenovo is a pretty well-known company around the world, which means that you can expect a lot more in terms of QC and customer support. Their products are also quite competitive in terms of price, which is why the Tab M8 makes it on our list as well.
While not much bigger than a modern smartphone, the 8” screen runs at a decent 1280 by 800 resolution, which makes it a good choice for watching YouTube as well. The CPU is a quad-core running at 2GHz as well, so you won’t have any issues streaming HD videos.
In terms of connectivity, the tablet supports Wi-Fi only, so you are out of luck if you are looking for 3G support. Naturally, that also means that you cannot use it to make phone calls, which can be a significant drawback for some people.
The storage capabilities are not bad either, even though the base model comes with only 32GB of space. Thankfully, you can easily expand it by adding a microSD card.
- Good screen resolution
- Great specs for the price
- Decent cameras (8MP back / 2MP front)
- Storage can be expanded with a microSD card
- Features a metal back cover
- Great battery life (18h)
- No SIM support
- Could use a bit more RAM
5. ZONKO 10.1”
If screen size is important to you, this ZONKO tablet offers a fairly big diagonal size, together with a satisfactory resolution to go along with it. It may not be the fastest tablet in terms of specs, but it’s certainly packed with many interesting features.
The first one of these features is the fact that you can use the tablet in dual SIM mode, which allows you to also make phone calls or browse the Internet using 3G cellular data. Obviously, Wi-Fi is also part of the deal, as is Bluetooth if you need to connect various accessories.
Another interesting fact is that the tablet supports Android 10, which is about as new as it gets – excluding, of course, the new Android 11. As such, you should get access to basically every modern app on the market.
The cameras are not bad either, but it’s worth mentioning that the front-facing camera is positioned on the side bezel instead of at the top of the tablet. Hence, you are forced to use it in landscape mode, which may be a problem.
- Supports dual SIMs
- Works with Android 10 as well
- Big diagonal
- The internal memory can be expanded (up to 128GB)
- Adequate battery life
- Not the fastest in terms of specs
- Weird front camera placing
6. Vankyo MatrixPad S10 10.1”
The 10.1” MatrixPad S10 from Vankyo offers decent performance at a great price – all while also allowing you to enjoy a fairly big screen. The resolution is a standard 1280 by 800, which is pretty great for watching videos or making video calls.
The CPU is a quad-core running at 1.3GHz, which is a bit low in terms of frequency. However, it can definitely pull its weight if you are not planning on running too many apps at once, and it’s definitely enough for most university-related workloads.
The default storage capacity is 32GB, with the option to expand it all the way up to 128GB using a microSD card. We’ve seen better in terms of max storage, but 128GB should be enough for most people.
There is no SIM support on this tablet, unfortunately, so you won’t be able to make calls or use cellular data for web browsing.
- Big screen and a decent resolution
- Expandable storage
- Includes a USB Type-C port and a headphone jack
- Minimal bezels
- Works with Android 9.0
- Slightly outdated CPU
- Only 2GB of RAM
- No SIM support
7. Dragon Touch Max10 10.1”
It’s quite amazing to see such great specs at such a low price point, which is exactly why the Max10 tablet from Dragon Touch deserves a shot. Granted, it’s a bit more expensive than many other tablets on this list, but you are definitely not throwing away that extra cash.
Hence, you get an octa-core processor running at 1.6GHz, 3GB of RAM, as well as 32GB of storage space. Obviously, the storage can be expanded with a microSD card, and you can go all the way up to 128GB.
The other good news is that this tablet supports Android 10, which means that you are not lagging behind in terms of running the latest apps. In addition, the screen resolution is a very respectable 1920 by 1200, which is a smidge above FullHD.
The camera placement might be an inconvenience for some people, mainly because both the front-facing camera and the rear one are placed on the side of the tablet. Lastly, there is also no SIM support.
- Big screen and nice resolution
- 3GB of RAM and an octa-core CPU
- Runs Android 10
- Supports dual-band Wi-Fi
- Expandable internal memory
- Annoying camera placement
- Lacks SIM support
8. ZONKO 10.1”
Even though this 10.1” tablet from ZONKO is not exactly a slouch in terms of specs, it’s quite clear that the company focused on stuff like 3G support and dual SIM. Hence, don’t expect a lot in terms of performance.
The CPU is a quad-core running at 1.3GHz, which is a bit low for this day and age. On top of that, you are also getting only 2GB of RAM, which doesn’t quite cut it anymore, especially since this tablet runs Android 9.
On the other hand, you can use it with a dual SIM, which is a great deal at this price. Being able to access the Internet even when you are not near a Wi-Fi hotspot can be a big deal for many people.
The two cameras are nothing too special either, mainly because the rear camera is only 5MP. It’s not much of an inconvenience if you are not interested in taking pictures, and the front-facing camera should be good enough for video calls anyway.
- Big HD screen running at 1280×800
- Supports dual SIM and 3G
- Runs on Android 9
- Decent battery life
- Fairly thin bezels
- The specs are not the greatest
- The rear camera is a bit outdated
9. Hoozo 10.1”
The Hoozo 10.1” model is where the low price starts taking its toll in almost every regard, which means that you shouldn’t expect an awful lot of performance. The big screen is one of the only remarkable things about this tablet, so keep that in mind before adding it to your shopping cart.
The CPU is a quad-core running at 1.5GHz, which is not bad at all. On the other hand, you have to make do with only 1GB of RAM, and that’s a bit harder to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Many apps will struggle with so little memory, and it’s also not a great idea to open multiple programs at once.
There’s also the fact that the entry model comes with only 16GB of storage, even though you can expand this with a microSD card. On the other hand, being able to pay less for the tablet while still being able to upgrade its storage is not a bad deal either.
As you can expect, there is no SIM support and no 3G either, so you will have to work with Wi-Fi at all times. In addition, the tablet comes with Android 8.1, which is a bit outdated at this point.
- Very big screen at a very low price
- Good resolution (1280×800)
- Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5Ghz)
- Expandable storage
- Decent battery life
- 1GB of RAM doesn’t cut it in 2020
- 16GB of storage is a bit low
- Comes with Android 8.1
10. Dragon Touch M7 7.0”
If you are really strapped for cash, and you do not mind giving up on-screen real estate, the 7-inch model from Dragon Touch can definitely be a good little helper for your studies. Granted, it can be difficult to follow a lecture on such a small screen, but the specs make it a pretty fast little machine.
As such, you get a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU, which is not bad at all. On top of that, you are also getting 2GB of RAM, which should be enough for most modern apps.
The 16GB of storage is definitely not enough for all of your photos and apps, although at least you can expand it with a microSD card.
- Very affordable
- Decent CPU performance
- Expandable storage
- Supports Android 9
- Very portable, thanks to its small size
- The screen is a bit too small
- No SIM or 3G support
Is a Tablet Worth It for College?
While not as powerful as a laptop, a tablet can certainly come in handy in class, mainly thanks to the fact that it’s very light and easy to carry around in your backpack. You won’t be able to do much writing on it if you are not using a separate keyboard, but it can be great for quick drawings or short notes.
Can I Use a Tablet for Online Classes?
In short, the answer is yes – you can use a tablet for online classes. However, it depends on the platform used by the university and/or your teacher. In addition, weak CPUs can have issues when it comes to streaming video, so make sure your tablet is powerful enough to handle video calls.