It probably didn’t escape your attention that Apple’s new iPad mini with Retina display went on sale last month.
The new iPad mini saw a big boost in resolution, from 1,024 x 768 to the Retina-quality 2,048 x 1,536 screen. And Apple CEO Tim Cook boasted that this new device, along with the iPad Air, would ensure we had an "iPad Christmas" this year. In our review, we found that the new iPad mini packs all of the power of the iPad Air into a more portable package, and it scored a very impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars.
For those who aren't too concerned about a Retina display, the original iPad mini is still available starting at £249. But the iPad mini with Retina starts at £319 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model, and goes all the way up to £659 for a 128GB cellular plus Wi-Fi tablet.
For the budget-conscious, that might be a bit too pricey, while others might be wary of making the switch to iOS and buying into the Apple ecosystem.
Fear not, however, because there are a number of affordable Android tablets that will let you watch movies, check email, surf the web and more. We’re going to point out the eight best budget alternatives to the iPad mini in this article, so read on to see our more wallet-friendly selection of slates.
Also note that you can click on any tablet’s name to link through to our full review if you want to read up more…
Pros: Fast. Well-built. Excellent battery life. Great value for money.
Cons: No memory card slot, so some folks might want to consider paying a little more (£239) for the 32GB version.
Bottom Line: Google's Nexus 7 continues to set the bar for small-screen tablets with a perfect balance between price and performance. There’s really very little to moan about here.
Pros: Sharp screen. Fast processor. Extremely easy to use. Amazing live tech support.
Cons: Short battery life. Interface is highly geared towards buying things from Amazon.
Bottom Line: Amazon's 7in Kindle Fire HDX is the simplest high quality small-screen tablet you can buy, and ease of use doesn't come at the cost of performance. Note that the HDX 7 doesn’t run plain Android, but a heavily customised version of the operating system which Amazon calls Fire OS 3.0.
Pros: Excellent design and build quality. Great screen. Solid performance.
Cons: Limited storage space and no expansion. Tied into Amazon's ecosystem.
Bottom Line: The new Fire HD has the nicest design and best build quality of any tablet in its price bracket, and arguably the best screen. The downside is the lack of storage expansion, but if you’re happy living in an Amazon-centric world then this is still a great bargain tablet, and you’ll easily be able to put up with the compromises. As with the above tablet, the Fire HD runs Fire OS 3.0, a heavily modified version of Android.
Pros: Very smart thin and light design. Excellent display. Solid Wi-Fi. Acts as a universal remote.
Cons: Somewhat finicky touchscreen.
Bottom Line: The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is an excellent Android tablet that can multitask and serve as a universal remote. It was relatively expensive at launch (at around the £250 mark), but it’s now a more reasonable proposition price-wise.
Pros: Fast. Stylish and ergonomic. Excellent pen support. Acts as a TV remote.
Cons: Somewhat expensive. Slightly disappointing screen resolution.
Bottom Line: If you want a tablet with a pressure-sensitive pen for writing or drawing, the Galaxy Note 8.0 is a top choice. This is our least wallet-friendly alternative here, mind you, although it is still £20 cheaper than the iPad mini Retina – and you do get a lot for your money.
Pros: Excellent screen. Solid build quality. Reasonable performance. Great battery life.
Cons: Unnecessary software. Rotten sound.
Bottom Line: The Asus MeMO Pad HD7 is one of the most affordable tablets on the market, offering an excellent feature set and impressive performance at this price point.
Pros: Slim and well-built. Solid performance. Good multitasking interface.
Cons: Lousy front camera.
Bottom Line: The well-built 8in G Pad is a good smaller Android tablet. The Galaxy Note 8.0 (which we’ve already mentioned) might be a better choice for some, but if you’re not going to use the stylus, this slate is a tempting option and £60 cheaper.
Pros: Good build quality. Decent high resolution screen. Adequate battery life
Cons: Not exactly fast. Screen isn't perfectly responsive.
Bottom Line: The Hudl is a real contender for cash-strapped Brits. It boasts a good screen, solid build quality and perfectly adequate performance and battery life without the restrictions that come with Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD. If you’re looking for a second tablet for the family it’s a bargain, particularly if you can use some Tesco clubcard points.