Winter is coming, and with it, comes possibly the most fruitful time of the year for both electronics retailers and tech consumers. Yes, you can find compelling promotions on Android gear from January to December nowadays, as competition heats up, manufacturer profits shrink, and upgrade cycles are shortened.
But the best deals on smartphones, tablets, wearables and everything in between still allow you to spend the holidays without worrying the bank accounts are empty, or you’ve been left behind by the latest wave of fall releases.
Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, they’re all nigh, and while technically the onslaught of discounts isn’t in effect yet, some of the best small Android tablets can be had for historically low prices. Is it likely they’ll drop any further? Hard to imagine, especially as far the first few models on our list of the best 7-inch tablets around are concerned:
- Amazon Fire 7 – $49.99
- Toshiba Excite Go – $75
- Lenovo Tab 2 A7 – $80
- BLU Touchbook G7 – $88 GSM unlocked
- Acer Iconia One 7 B1 – $90
- Asus ZenPad Z170C – $94
- LG G Pad 7.0 – $105 AT&T GSM unlocked; $80 Wi-Fi only
- Amazon Fire HD 7 – $130
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 – $143
- Asus/Google Nexus 7 2013 – starting at $149
Is this the world’s best 7 inch tablet at the moment? Hardly. But it’s easily the cheapest, and if you buy five units, the sixth comes free. As always, Amazon doesn’t care about profit margins on hardware sales, aiming instead to draw as many people as possible away from Google apps, and hooked on their own software ecosystem.
That said, the Fire OS 5 Android “fork” is much less intrusive than its predecessors, and most important of all, microSD storage expansion is now permitted. Well, it should really be compulsory on slates with just 8 gigs of internal space, even if the 1,024 x 600 pix res screen will make you think twice before trying to consume or hoard video content.
The main (only?) selling point of this decrepit KitKat-running gadget has been suppressed by Amazon’s newest ultra-low-cost effort, so Toshiba may as well retire the Excite Go. Unless you absolutely need to have Intel inside every device you own.
Still no Lollipop update? Afraid not, though it’s planned, and could make its way over-the-air any day now. On the plus side, the 8-hour advertised battery life sounds pretty good, and it’s all thanks to a frugal but respectably zippy quad-core 1.3 GHz MediaTek SoC.
The 1,024 x 600 display also plays its part in conserving energy, albeit it’s not necessarily a strong suit of the A7.
SIM-free phone specialist BLU hasn’t produced a lot of tablets so far, and this G7’s marketing is almost nonexistent, despite only a few months having passed since its launch. Then again, anyone would be ashamed to aggressively promote a gizmo featuring 512 MB RAM, 4 GB ROM, a dual-core MediaTek chip, and 3,000 mAh (!!!) battery in late 2015.
That’s not a tablet, it’s a toy, and the best you can hope to get is a decent e-book reading experience. Relatively smooth web browsing, with a couple of tabs open max, too. Oh, and 3G voice call placing and receiving.
Released with pre-loaded Jelly Bean, brought up to KitKat recently, and unlikely to ever score a Lollipop makeover, the B1-730HD is at least 720p-capable, not to mention it can accommodate 16 gigs of data locally.
Sure, microSD cards aren’t overly expensive, but if you’re looking to spend less than a Benjamin on a nice Christmas gift for a loved one, it’s best to keep the slot empty. Too bad the screen bezels are, well, horrible. What’s that, a 50 percent display-to-body ratio? Come on, Acer, you can do better than that!
One of the newest best small Android tablets available on Amazon, this obviously runs Lollipop off the bat (version 5.0), rocks much slimmer borders, the same spacious 16 GB ROM, but a non-HD 1,024 x 600 IPS panel.
Compromises were mandatory to attain a premium design, with ergonomic rounded edges, a fashionable leather back pattern, polished metallic frame, and 8.4 mm profile. Somehow, the 7-inch ZenPad also promises 8 hours of endurance on a single charge, at a measly 265 grams weight, which is probably unfeasible in real life.
Can’t decide between the older, pricier, KitKat-stuck but cellular-enabled model, and the newer, cheaper, Lollipop-boasting but Wi-Fi-limited configuration? We reckon the former is the smarter buy overall, with LTE speeds, Snapdragon 400 power, 16 GB internal storage, and a 5 MP rear camera.
The latter isn’t half bad either, in spite of its missing LTE modem, adopting a Snapdragon 410 processor that should help with autonomy.
Justifying the existence of this OG isn’t easy at almost three times the introductory price of the 2015 Fire 7, particularly sans microSD support, and with an older, uglier, clunkier Fire OS 4 UI. Why is the Fire HD 7 on our list of best current small tablets then?
As the moniker suggests, the display sports HD resolution (1,280 x 800 pixels), and furthermore, you get 1.5 GHz quad-core punch, Dolby Audio stereo sound, 8-hour battery, and a slightly more robust build.
Honestly, the sole reason this made the cut is the brand name on it, and the hope it’ll be discounted come Black Friday. $100 would likely be a fair price to pay for Android 4.4 software with TouchWiz atop, a 1,280 x 800 TFT screen, thin bezels, 8 GB flash memory, 1 GB RAM, 3 and 1.3 MP cams, microSD capabilities, a quad-core Marvell SoC, and all the connectivity bare necessities.
It says a lot about the market’s evolution, or rather stagnation, that a two-and-a-half-year-old earns a well-deserved top ten spot, not having to resort to extreme price cuts… yet, and running a newer Android iteration than every single one of its rivals.
Yes, Marshmallow goodies are available OTA for this OG beast, which remains a stunner in the display res department, with 1,920 x 1,200 pixels, and a multitasking champ, courtesy of 2 onboard gigs of random-access memory.