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Top 7 Best Tablets Under $500 | 2023 Edition

Looking for the best tablet under $500? We test almost every tablet and here are our test winners in this price range.

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Lenovo Tab P11 Pro test

We have compiled a list of the best tablets priced under $500 with Android, iPadOS, and Chrome. These tablets come equipped with powerful hardware, high-quality display, and excellent software and workmanship, proving that you don’t have to break the bank to get a top-quality tablet.

Regardless of whether you value the strongest possible performance or a large display is your top priority – you will find what you are looking for in our list of best devices. Nowadays, you don’t need to spend $1000 to get a high-quality tablet with good performance and a nice screen. The best part is that many mid-range tablets come with pen and keyboard support. In our review, we also provide details on how good the accessories are.

Top Tablets Under $500: An Overview

  • Best tablet for under $500: Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 (on Amazon*). We get a high-quality 11.2-inch OLED display with 120 Hz and a resolution of 2560 × 1536 pixels for currently around $380. We also find it praiseworthy that the tablet is equipped with a generous 8GB of RAM and 256GB of hard drive storage. The tablet’s performance is also great for this price.
  • Top mid-range alternative: Xiaomi Pad 5 (on Amazon*). The Xiaomi Pad 5 is available for $415 and offers an impressive 11-inch screen with 120Hz and a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. In addition, the device offers a powerful processor and decent speakers. In the basic configuration, the tablet offers 6GB of RAM and 128GB of hard drive space. It has even already received an update to Android 13.
  • Sturdy 8-inch tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3 (at Amazon*). For around $450, lovers of small tablets get an excellent device with an 8-inch display and a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels as well as 60Hz. The performance of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3 is good enough for games like Fortnite. It is great that the S Pen is included. However, the tablet’s design looks a bit old-fashioned and it only offers one speaker.
  • A good alternative for students: Lenovo Duet 3 Chromebook (on Amazon*). The best thing about this 11-inch tablet is that the keyboard cover is already included. The device is available for around $375. It is also practical that the desktop version of Chrome is on board. It is also commendable that Google promises updates until 2030. Furthermore, the tablet offers a good screen with a resolution of 2000 x 1200 pixels and 60Hz. Unfortunately, the device only offers Android 9 and not particularly potent hardware. Gamers would rather reach for another tablet.
  • The cheapest entry into the Apple ecosystem: Apple iPad 9 (on Amazon*). The iPad 9 is currently available for $385. Thanks to Apple’s A13 processor, it is more powerful than the vast majority of premium tablets from the competition. The screen has a resolution of 1620 x 2160 pixels and 60Hz. However, the display is not laminated. The iPad 9 also offers a fingerprint scanner and it can be assumed that it will be supplied with up-to-date software for years to come, as is typical for Apple.
  • Affordable yet powerful: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (2022) (at Amazon*). For around $250 you get a good mid-range tablet that offers Android 12 and a very good S Pen stylus. The screen is solid and offers a resolution of 2000×1200 pixels. The design of the device is also high-quality. However, the tablet’s performance is merely sufficient and thus not a good option for gamers and users of demanding apps.
  • Big tablet for little money: Honor Pad 8 (on Amazon*). The tablet is already available for around $300 and offers a large 12-inch display with a resolution of 2000 × 1200 pixels and 60Hz. The device also has a decent design, very good speakers as well as 6GB of RAM and 128 GB of hard drive storage. Only the performance of the Honor Pad 8 is relatively weak and it is uncertain how many updates the tablet will receive.

The Best Tablets Under $500: All Details

Let’s take a look at the best tablets under $500 in detail.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2: Best tablet under $500

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 display

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 on* Amazon

If you are looking for a tablet with a great price-performance ratio, then we recommend the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2. For around $380, the tablet offers a high-quality 11.2-inch OLED screen with 120Hz and an excellent resolution of 2560 × 1536 pixels.

The Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 currently runs Android 12, and Lenovo promises a total of two updates for the operating system and three years of security updates. The device offers impressive performance as it includes a MediaTek Kompanio 1300T octa-core processor. This processor has the sufficient computing power to provide a smooth gaming experience and handle demanding apps. Even with the graphics setting “Extreme HD,” Apex Legends runs seamlessly.

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 boasts decent specifications, including 6GB RAM and 256GB hard drive space. It is also compatible with the Lenovo Precision Pen 3, which can be purchased separately or in a bundle with the tablet for 59 Euros. The stylus is of high quality, with 4000 pressure levels, a hard tip, a side button, and the ability to charge via induction on the back of the tablet. It is similar to the Apple Pencil in these features. Furthermore, there is an optional keyboard cover available that is of good quality.

In our battery test, the tablet achieved a runtime of 10.5 hours. For this test, we ran an HD YouTube video at maximum brightness in an endless loop. The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 is supposed to get two major Android updates. However, the device cannot yet keep up against the update timelines offered by major players like Apple or Samsung.

Also Read: Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 review

Xiaomi Pad 5: Top mid-range alternative

Xiaomi Pad 5 display

Xiaomi Pad 5 on* Amazon

The Xiaomi Pad 5 can be purchased for a starting price of $415, offering an 11-inch screen with 120Hz and a resolution of 2560×1600 pixels. You can conveniently access streaming services like Netflix in HD. However, the duration of future updates for the Xiaomi Pad 5 is uncertain, while it is currently running on Android 12.

The tablet’s performance is also convincing. It is equipped with a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 processor and 6B RAM. The Xiaomi Pad 5 is optionally available with 128GB or 256GB. Thanks to the powerful processor, you can play almost every game with the highest graphics settings.

In our battery test, the Pad 5 achieved a great runtime of 9 hours. For the test, we played an HD video on YouTube in a continuous loop. The tablet supports an active stylus that can be purchased optionally. The stylus is made of plastic, has two buttons on the side, and offers 4096 pressure levels. The stylus is charged via induction and offers a good writing and drawing experience. In addition, Xiaomi offers a matching, solid keyboard cover.

Also Read: Xiaomi Pad 5 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3: Robust 8 inch tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3 on* Amazon

If you are a fan of 8-inch devices and prefer Android over iPadOS, we suggest considering the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3. Its LCD display has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels and a refresh rate of 60Hz. Additionally, the touchscreen’s sensitivity can be adjusted, making it possible to use gloves. Another advantage is that it has a widevine L1, which allows you to enjoy HD streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Video.

Unfortunately, the tablet only has one speaker, whose sound is good but does not allow for true stereo separation. The tablet currently runs Android 13, which is the last major Android operating system version for the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3, but it will still be provided with security updates for a while.

It is great that the S Pen is already included. Like the Galaxy Tab Active 3, the pen primarily impresses with its robustness, and it is also IP68 certified. Otherwise, it is a normal S Pen with a pressure-sensitive tip and a button on the side.

The tablet comes powered by an Exynos 9810 processor which offers powerful performance and makes the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3 one of the high-performing 8-inch Android tablets. The device is available with 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage. The tablet comes in an LTE version which contains an earpiece for phone calls. Therefore, you can use it like a regular smartphone to make calls.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3 may look rather old-fashioned on the outside. However, it is also pretty robust. It is protected against water and dust according to IP68. A protective cover is also included in the purchase. The tablet is supposed to withstand drops of up to 1.5 meters with this. We did not check this in the test, but the device looks sturdy on the outside.

The battery life was only average in our test at 6 hours. We played HD videos on YouTube in a continuous loop. Overall, we get an excellent, powerful 8-inch tablet with a chic FullHD display in the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3. It is also cool that even Samsung’s DeX desktop mode is supported.

Also Read: Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3 review

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook: Good alternative for pupils and students

Lenovo Duet 3 Chromebook tablet

Lenovo Duet 3 Chromebook on* Amazon

The tablet costs around $375 and is an affordable option for students. It comes with a keyboard, and the Chrome browser is already installed on the device. The tablet is expected to receive updates until 2030. Unlike Android or iPadOS, the Chrome browser lets you install the same extensions as on a regular computer.

Since Chrome was initially a pure desktop operating system, it can also be operated flawlessly with a mouse and keyboard. Android apps can also be installed. The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook also has access to the Google Play Store. Thus, you can install most Android apps and games on this device as well. Only the Microsoft Office apps do not run on the tablet, but fortunately, there are good Chrome alternatives.

However, the computing power of the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook is not very strong. The tablet is equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor and is available with either 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB of internal storage. Moreover, the 10.1-inch display, which offers a resolution of 2000 x 1200 pixels, is rather mediocre. 

Furthermore, you cannot watch movies and series in HD with the Netflix Android app. This only works in the Chrome browser. We were also not convinced by the battery life of 5.5 to 6 hours in our test with the brightness turned up all the way and an HD YouTube video in an endless loop. If you mainly want to do writing tasks with your tablet, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook could still be the right choice for you.

Also Read: Lenovo Duet 3 Chromebook review

The cheapest entry into the Apple ecosystem: Apple iPad 9

Apple iPad 9 Review

Apple iPad 9 on* Amazon

The iPad 9, which is priced at $385, is considered an “entry-level” tablet. Despite its outdated-looking design with thick edges, it boasts advanced technology that makes it more powerful than many high-end tablets offered by competitors.

The tablet runs the latest version of iPadOS (currently 16.3.1). The device will probably be supplied with the latest software from Apple for about seven years. The screen has a resolution of 1620 x 2160 pixels and 60Hz. It is also very bright thanks to a peak brightness of 500 nits. However, it is annoying that the display is not laminated. Accordingly, an air gap is visible between the IPS layer and the touchscreen. This can be particularly annoying when drawing and writing with the Apple Pencil.

The performance of the iPad 9 is excellent thanks to Apple’s A13 processor with 3GB of working memory and either 64GB or 256GB of internal storage. A version with LTE is also optionally available. Apple’s proprietary chipset makes the tablet more powerful than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7.

The device is ideal for high-performance tasks such as gaming and using demanding applications like DaVinci Resolve, a newly released video editing program. The speakers on the device are of good quality for its price, but they are both located on one side. As a result, the device cannot produce true stereo separation when in landscape mode.

You can use the “old” Apple Pencil 1 with the iPad 9, which is great for writing and drawing, just like its successor. Additionally, the iPad 9 is compatible with the same Apple Smart Keyboard that worked with the last two generations and the original iPad Pro. The keyboard is well-made and typing on it is flawless.

During our battery test, we played an HD YouTube video on loop and found that the iPad 9 lasted only 6 hours. It’s worth noting that the iPad 9 comes with a fingerprint reader and can be expected to receive software updates from Apple for several years.

Also Read: Apple iPad 9 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022: Good value for money

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022 test

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022 on* Amazon

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite comes with a 10.4-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 2000 x 1200 pixels and a 60Hz refresh rate. The screen is fully laminated and bright enough, but a bit darker than the iPad 9. Streaming Netflix in HD is a seamless experience on this tablet.

The tablet has a sturdy, well-made metal case and is currently running Android 13. Samsung usually provides software updates for several years. The tablet’s hardware includes a reliable Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G chipset, 4GB of RAM, and either 64GB or 128GB of storage. Additionally, there is an option to purchase an LTE version.

Although the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022 is not geared towards gaming, it can still handle most games at low to medium settings without issues. Multitasking and using Samsung’s DeX desktop mode are smooth experiences. You can even use YouTube, an internet browser, and Word documents simultaneously without any limitations. However, if you run too many apps simultaneously in DeX mode, it may impact the tablet’s overall performance.

The two speakers on the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022 have good quality and are superior to those on the Galaxy Tab A8. The tablet comes with two keyboard options that function well, but the build quality is not very high. The tablet also supports the S Pen, which is great for drawing and writing.

During our battery test, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022 lasted for 7.5 hours while playing an HD video on an endless loop. The tablet comes with Android 12 pre-installed, and it can receive at least two more major version updates.

Overall, the tablet offers a solid display, satisfactory performance, up-to-date software, along with an impressive design.

Also Read: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022 review

Honor Pad 8: Big tablet for little money

Honor Pad 8 review

Honor Pad 8 on* Amazon

A 12-inch tablet for around $300? Yes, that actually exists. The LCD display of the device is not that sharp and only has a resolution of 2000 x 1200 pixels. However, this doesn’t bother at all when watching movies and series. When surfing the web, however, you will notice that texts and icons are not displayed as sharply as on competing models.

Despite being only available in a Wi-Fi version, media consumption on the Honor Pad 8 remains enjoyable because of its large screen, good contrast and color rates, and sufficient brightness of 350 nits. The high-quality build includes a fully laminated screen. The software is Android 12, using the Honor Magic UI 6 user interface. It is uncertain how many updates the device will receive.

The Honor Pad 8 has impressive sound quality with four speaker slots and eight built-in speakers (four for low frequencies and four for high frequencies). Although it doesn’t quite match the sound quality of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, it still sounds better than the Galaxy Tab S7 FE. Based on the Geekbench 5 benchmark test, the CPU performance of the Honor Pad 8 is slightly better than entry-level tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8, but it falls short compared to tablets of similar price in the 10 and 11-inch category such as the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite and Xiaomi Pad 5.

The graphics performance of the Honor Pad 8 is weak, causing most games to only be playable on low graphics settings. If you intend to use a tablet for gaming, it may be better to consider a different option. Additionally, in our battery test where we played an HD YouTube video on loop with the brightness turned up to a maximum, the Honor Pad 8 lasted for 6.5 hours.

The Honor Pad 8 is a good option for you if you want a tablet for entertainment purposes like watching your favorite movies and series, and you are not a heavy gamer.

Also Read: Honor Pad 8 review

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. pat

    April 19, 2023 at 6:18 pm

    once again no mention at all that PWM is used.Why do you not warn people about this? The screen may be excellen oled but recommending it if it may cause health issues, not even mention it?

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  3. Pingback: Samsung Galaxy Tablets Receive May 2023 Update

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