There’s one basic rule of thumb for finding amazing deals on tablets. And that is to wait for Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Samsung and other tablet manufacturers to release a new model and then swoop in and buy the newly “outdated” version and score a tablet on sale.
Tablets are not essential the way phones and laptops or desktops are. That means people continue using their tablets longer than they use their mobile phone and PC. Sometimes when a company puts out a new generation tablet, few consumers can actually see the ways it’s better, or even how it’s different. To explain why people hang on to tablets for so long, a tech reviewer at Android Authority said, “Tablets simply aren’t used frequently enough to feel the daily pain of an older OS version.”
Most folks shopping for a tablet aren’t looking for an essential work device. They want a portable browser they can use for apps, to stream videos and play games. So here are a few tablet buying do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when you set out to research your next tablet, and a few ways for you to catch a deal with tablets on sale.
- Buy a refurbished model. These pre-owned tablets are restored, repaired, cleaned, and given intensive quality checks.
- Purchase a tablet that runs on the same operating system as your phone and PC. It makes it easier to sync all of your devices if they run on the same OS.
- Sample different screen sizes before assuming you have to have the largest screen. While big screens are nice, people are often surprised at how comfortable they are watching videos and playing games on mid-size screens. And they’re a better deal, too.
- Create a Google alert to notify you when there’s an announcement about tablets on sale, a price drop, or a release date for a new model. That means that older generation tablets will get knocked down a to a lower price point.
- Check for price reductions and sales on days leading up to and including Black Friday and Cyber Tuesday.
- Check prices on Amazon Prime Day, especially if you’re in the market for a Fire tablet.
- Don’t assume you need to buy the newest device, unless it has a feature or function you specifically need.
- Don’t get a data plan. Most people do not need to pay for mobile data to use a tablet.
- Don’t pick a tablet based solely on appearance. What’s on the inside is more important than how it looks on the outside.
When buying a new or refurbished tablet, consider screen size, which operating system it runs on, apps and accessories. Here are some new and refurbished tablets on sale that meet these criteria.
Tablets for Sale
|iPad, 6th Gen, WiFi||Space Gray||9.7″||128GB||$499.99|
|iPad, 7th Gen (WiFi only)||Gold||10.2″||128GB||$429.99|
|iPad Mini 4||Space Gray||7.9″||128GB||$223.99|
|iPad Air 2||Space Gray||9.7″||64GB||$348.99|
|iPad Mini 4||Space Gray||7.9″||64GB||$233.09|
|iPad Mini 3||Gold||7.9″||64GB||$220.09|
|Amazon Fire HD 8||Black||8″||32GB||$454.00|
|iPad, 7th Gen||Space Gray||10.2″||32GB||454.00|
|Amazon Fire HD 8, 7th Gen||Black||8″||32GB||$109.99|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab A||White||10.1″||16GB||$279.99|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab A||Black||10.1″||16GB||$277.99|
|Amazon Fire HD 8||Black||8″||16GB||$79.99|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1||Black||13″||256GB||$1,810.95|
There are three main operating systems: iOS, Android and Windows. iOS is Apple’s operating system. Google, Samsun and Lenovo run on the Android OS. Amazon Fire tablets run on the Fire OS, which is an Android system but won’t sync with other Android devices. Also, the Fire doesn’t run Google apps or services. Microsoft’s operating system is Windows.
Most people like running the same OS across all of their devices. Depending on what you want a tablet for, you might not miss this feature. But it’s convenient.
Standard tablet screens range from seven to 12 inches. Larger tablets typically cost more, but high-priced devices usually also have more storage and power and run faster. So they’re good for streaming videos, browsing the web, using apps and playing games. Smaller tablets with less storage and power are perfectly fine for browsing the web, reading books, taking photos, listening to music and podcasts.
For reading and browsing the web, consider getting a square, 4:3 screen. Widescreens, 16:10 or 16:9, are better for streaming video formats and gaming.
Newer generation high-end iPads and Android tablets come with word processing, spreadsheet and presentation apps. These are useful if use your tablet for work and recreation, but these apps are not necessary if you want a tablet to rewatch Game of Thrones and play video games. Some tablets operate almost exactly like a compact laptop. The more pro apps you need, the more you’ll spend.
Accessories will add to the price of your tablet. Some accessories are useful, but won’t improve the way your tablet functions. And lots of accessories are pretty cool, but only work with newer, pricier tablets. Screen protectors and cases will help prevent scratches, dents and cracked screens. A wireless mouse, keyboard and stylus (like the Apple Pencil) will make your tablet easier (and more fun) to use.
Most Versatile Tablets
Apple tablets win the most-versatile category by a mile.
Apple iPad Accessories and tablets for Sale
This 10.2-inch 7th generation iPad is the most popular tablet by Apple and appeals to the broadest user base. Other than a slightly larger screen, it’s pretty similar to earlier models, which were named top tablets on a variety of best-of lists the year they came out.
Apple sells the 32GB version for $329, or $429 for 128GB. However, you can save a few dollars with Apple Trade In. The company will refund up to $460 on an eligible trade-in device. Apple has a dedicated page for refurbished iPads. As of this writing, they don’t have a refurbished 7th generation iPad, but they do have a 5th generation 32GB iPad for $219. The biggest difference between the two models are the processor (A9 versus A10 Fusion) and the older 2019 model has an Apple Pencil and a smart connector for accessories. The 7th generation iPad is also heavier than older models.
iPad 9.7-inch 32GB 5th Gen, $285
iPad 9.7-inch 32GB 6th Gen, $329.97
Apple iPad Pro Tablets for Sale
Some people are addicted to the thrill of buying the latest gadgets because they have all the newest tools and features. The 11 or 12.9-inch Apple iPad Pro with liquid retina display added extra screen space by eliminating the home button. Add-on accessories include the Apple Pencil and keyboard. The 2nd gen Apple Pencil is $129 at Apple, but you can get a better deal on an Apple Pencil by purchasing 1st gen model ($99). And the smart connector makes it easy to use the Magic Keyboard ($99 at Apple or $94 at BHphotovideo.com) or Smart Keyboard Folio ($179 at Apple). Both are separate keyboards that attach to the tablet magnetically.
iPad Pro, starting at $799
iPad Pencil, 1st Gen, $99
Best Android Tablets for Sale
If you have a PC and an Android phone, you probably want to stick with an Android tablet.
Galaxy Tab S5e
The Android tablet most comparable to an iPad is the Galaxy Tab S5e ($400 for 64GB, or $480 for the 128GB). The ultra-slim and light 10.5-inch tablet isn’t even the newest generation Galaxy Tab. That would be the S6 ($650 for 128GB or $730 for 256GB). But reviewers say the S5e is a better buy.
The Galaxy Tab’s main selling point is the screen. A reviewer at Digital Trends said, “There’s just so much color and life, that even videos you’re familiar with take on a new look.” But the Tab is also great for reading ebooks and playing video games.
The most notable differences between the S5e and S6 is that the new generation S6 has more power, a dual camera, and a Bluetooth S Pen. But the two gadgets still have a lot in common, including screen size and resolution, OS, speakers, GPS and USB. The S5e is also slightly lighter than the S6.
Considering how alike these two tablets are, the S5e is a much better deal at $250 less.
As of this writing, BestBuy.com had an open-box 128GB Galaxy Tab S5e for $437 or $360 for a 64GB model, which is a savings of more than $40.
Best Budget Tablets for Sale
There are a few inexpensive tablets on the market, but few match the features and functionality found in Amazon Fire tablets.
Amazon Fire HD 10
The Amazon Fire HD 10-inch 32 GB tablet, $149.99 (or $189.99 for 64 GB), is perfect for anyone who has simple tastes in technology. If you just want to play a games, browse the web and stream movies and videos, there’s no reason to get anything fancier. And reviewers agree that Alexa voice assistant integration makes the Fire one of the easiest tablets to navigate.
Now, $150 is extremely reasonable for a tablet of this caliber. But you can actually do a little better because the Fire HD 8 ($89.99) is pretty similar in terms of functionality. Even the packaging is slightly better. The Fire HD 10 is a little bigger and has more storage—34GB vs 16GB—but it’s also bulkier than the HD 8. Neither device is overly “specced out,” but they have the basics: a headphone jack, 2MP camera, and microUSB port.
Where you’ll see the biggest difference between the HD 10 and HD 8 are in display size and screen quality. BestBuy.com has the Amazon Fire HD 8 for $80, but we found a refurbished model for $70 at Amazon.
Amazon Fire HD 8, $80
Best Tablet for Kids
There’s no competition when it comes to tablets for kids. Not only are Amazon Fire tablets dirt cheap, but the Kids Edition devices are literally designed to withstand abuse.
Ordinarily, Fire tablets are pretty limited in terms of features and functionality. But how much functionality does a 10 year old need? Video streaming? Check. Games? Check. Kid-friendly and parent-approved apps? Check. The Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 aren’t the newest Kids Edition tablets in the Fire ecosystem. That would be the HD 10. But the differences between the three tablets are pretty minor.
|Fire 7||Fire HD 8||Fire HD 10|
|Screen Size||7 inches||8 inches||10 inches|
|CPU||1.3-GHz quad-core processor||1.3-GHz quad-core processor||2.0-GHz quad-core processor|
|Weight||10.1 ounces||13 ounces||17.8 ounces|
|Size||7.6 x 4.5 x 0.4 inches||8.4 x 5.0 x 0.4 inches||10.3 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches|
|Storage||16 or 32GB||16 or 32GB||32 or 64GB|
The best part about purchasing a Kids Edition Fire tablet is the two-year guarantee that Amazon says is fully and truly “worry free.” They say, “If it breaks, we’ll return it and we’ll replace it for free.”
The Best 2-in-1 PC Tablet
This year Microsoft introduced the Surface Pro 7 PC tablet to favorable reviews. It’s an ultra-light and versatile two-in-one convertible laptop. That means it’s technically a PC, but is as portable as a tablet.
By comparison, the Surface Pro starts at a stunningly low $750. That gets you an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and 12GB of storage. Of course, the more you spend, the more you get. There’s also a $2,300 Surface Pro with 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage and a Core i7 CPU. But since you’re reading this article, we assume you’re interested in using your Surface Pro for browsing, streaming, playing games, and then for occasionally doing some work. In that case, there’s really no need to spend more than $750.
If you’re really in a deal-seeking mood, head over to BestBuy, where you can get a Surface Pro 7 for as low as $699 (open-box).