The best tablets under £250

There was a time when buying a cheap tablet was a bit of a lottery, but now it's easy to find some great tablets at veryreasonable prices.

In fact, with so many on the market, you might be wondering how to choose between them – and so, we've asked our experts to pick their favourites from the bewildering range available!

Hipstreet Electron 8" Wi-Fi

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Get it from Carphone Warehouse

  • RRP £129.99
  • 7-inch screen
  • Android 5.1
 
 
 
 
Hipstreet Electron

One of the most affordable tablets around – and certainly the cheapest on this list – the Hipstreet Electron is a great gadget for anyone shopping around on a budget.

We love the 8-inch screen, especially its surprisingly good viewing angle that makes it easy to use in both landscape and portait mode – something other cheap tablets can't always deliver on! We also really like the inclusion of a microSD card slot, which gives you even more storage space to install apps and store your files, music and photos.

While the Electron doesn't pack a particularly high-powered processor into its colourful shell, it's more than capable of streaming videos, browsing the internet and playing most games – although you might struggle to play something as graphically intense as Assassin's Creed Pirates without a little stutter.

The tablet's all-plastic design is standard for budget phones and tablets, but is actually less prone to scratches and chips than paint, aluminium or glass – making the Electron quite a hardy gadget to chuck in a bag or hand to a young child.

In fact, if you're thinking of getting the Hipstreet Electron as a family tablet, there's even a built-in 'EZ Mode', which simplifies the menus and features for even the youngest of users to understand.

All told then, this is a quality little tablet that, while hardly top of the range, punches well above its weight in terms of value for money.

Samsung Galaxy Tab E 9.6

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Get it from Carphone Warehouse

  • RRP £159.99
  • 9.6-inch screen
  • Android 5.1
 
 
 
 
Galaxy Tab E

While it may not have some of the standout features found on more expensive Samsung models, the Galaxy Tab E does everything you need from a tablet: streaming, gaming, browsing the internet, even sharing the screen to a Smart TV.

The 9.6-inch screen makes it great for streaming movies and TV shows, and it's also perfect for playing games that are a bit too cramped to play on a smartphone – like the fantasy RPG Shadowrun Returns or Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

While it may be a bit large to take out and about with you, the Tab E is more than capable of taking great photos, with a 5-megapixel camera on the back. The front-facing camera is only 2 megapixels, but that's more than fine for video calls, where bandwidth can be an issue!

Like other tablets in this list, the Tab E is another great choice for a family with children thanks to Samsung's 'Kids Mode', which restricts access to certain apps and features. This means your children can use the tablet without you worrying that they’ll delete all your contacts or empty your bank account in the Play Store!

While it's not the cheapest tablet on this list, the excellent Samsung build quality and fantastic screen make this a great option for those with a little more cash to splash – particularly if a decent-sized screen is high on your list of priorities.

Apple iPad Mini 2 Wi-Fi 7.9

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Get it from Carphone Warehouse

  • RRP £239
  • 7.9 inch screen
  • iOS 10
 
 
 
 
iPad Mini

Apple's iPad Mini 2 is a much more affordable version of the larger, regular iPad – but much more portable (and affordable). Indeed, while it only just squeaks in under the £250 limit, it's the cheapest iPad you'll find outside of buying a refurbished or second-hand model. And if you're already an iPhone user, you get the added benefit of having access to all the same apps you already enjoy on your phone!

The iOS operating system has some great family sharing features – so if you want to share your iPad with kids, you can protect your important apps, contacts and payment information from tampering.

iOS is also very fast, and works flawlessly with the hardware packed inside the tablet. Granted, the iPad Mini 2 isn't as fast or powerful as the newer iPad Minis to hit the shelves, but then it's far more affordable – making it perfect for people who want an Apple product without having to splash out for the very latest kit.

We particularly like the iPad Mini 2 because it lets you enjoy all the apps you have on my iPhone, but with a much bigger screen – and at the same time, it's small enough that you can carry it around the house almost unnoticed.

It might be a bit small for editing photos and the like when compared to the full-sized iPads, but for day-to-day tasks it works brilliantly. This tablet also has a surprisingly solid battery life, so you won't have to charge it every day!

At £239 it's certainly a bit of an investment – but if you're already an iOS user, the iPad Mini 2 is the most affordable way to get your hands on Apple's awesome OS in tablet form.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 7 Wi-Fi

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Get it from Carphone Warehouse

  • RRP £239
  • 7.9-inch screen
  • iOS 10
 
 
 
 

Smaller and more affordable than the Tab E listed above, Samsung's Galaxy Tab A is another great tablet to add to this list.

The 7-inch screen is fine for video streaming and the microSD slot gives you plenty of extra storage space to keep your movies, TV shows or music on without cluttering up the main memory. The display isn't quite at HD resolution, with only 800 x 1280 pixels – but on a screen this size, that doesn't really matter, and it's more than good enough to enjoy games and larger apps on.

Samsung tablets tend to have great build quality – and the Tab A is no exception. The screen is bright and colourful, with an excellent viewing angle if you're sharing it with someone sat next to you. And if you're not happy sharing a 7-inch screen, the Tab A also supports 'Miracast' – a feature that lets you broadcast the tablet's screen to a smart TV for easy viewing.

On the whole, this tablet behaves very similarly to the Tab E we picked above – although the key difference here is the smaller screen size. Smaller tablets are, of course, more portable – but not quite as good for watching videos or tinkering with spreadsheets.

With that in mind, the Tab E is a great option if you're looking for that trademark Samsung quality in a more affordable and portable package.

Summary

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One thing that became clear during our research is that it really helps to know what you want to do with your tablet.

Larger screens are better for viewing or using anything with lots of detail, like HD films or artistic apps. Smaller tablets, on the other hand, are much more portable, and quite often easier for a child to use – if you feel like sharing!

Whatever your needs, though, there are some great tablets out there – even if you're watching the pennies.

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