8 Best Tablets for College Every Student Can Afford

Tablets are an ideal choice for people with a hectic schedule. They combine smaller form factors with quite respectable processors. The recent boom in popularity also means plenty of software support from larger institutions.

All of this makes tablets a perfect match for college students. But a perfect item for students needs to sit in the perfect price range. In this article we’ll rank some of the best tablet options for students. We’ll rank tablets by cost and compatibility with college life.

8. iPad Pro 9.7″

 iPad Pro Silver

When people discuss the best tablet for college, price is a huge concern. This keeps the iPad Pro 9.7″ lower in overall ranking. It’s among the most expensive of the top tablets.
But if one is comfortable with the price than it offers quite a lot.

The iPad’s processor is faster than most other tablets. Even with two cores this provides a considerably smoother level of performance than many other options.

The iPad Pro also utilizes a smart connector for native keyboard support. This gives a faster response time than bluetooth keyboards. It’s also notable for overall compatibility with OSX. This should push it further up on the list for mac owners.

One should note that it doesn’t support removable storage. This issue is somewhat mitigated by larger internal storage. The 256 GB of internal storage is comparable to most larger microSD cards.


  • Screen size: 9.7″;
  • Resolution: 2048×1536;
  • Processor: 2.16 Ghz x2;
  • RAM: 2 GB;
  • Expandable storage: N/A (256 GB internal);
  • Operating system: iOS 9.3.

7. Acer Chromebook R11

Acer R11 Chromebook

Acer’s R11 offers a very different take on tablet computing. The device’s claim to best tablet for college comes from sheer versatility. On the hardware side, one can easily convert it from tablet to laptop mode. The keyboard swings backward so that students can hold it like a traditional tablet. On doing so the operating system switches orientation and input style.

The R11 runs ChromeOS, and provides nearly perfect compatibility with Android 7.0. One can also extend ChromeOS to provide full support for Linux applications. This includes both graphical and command line based applications.

One should note that the Android support comes with one notable issue. The Android subsystem can’t access external storage due to sandboxing restrictions. This means that Android apps can only make use of internal storage and won’t see any SD/MicroSD cards.


  • Screen size: 11.6″;
  • Resolution: 1366×768;
  • Processor: 1.6 Ghz x4;
  • RAM: 2 or 4 GB;
  • Expandable storage: Up to 128 GB SD for ChromeOS;
  • Operating system: ChromeOS (Android 7.0 compatible).

6. Asus ZenPad S 8

ASUS ZenPad S8, best tablet for college

The best tablet for college should be able to stand up to a rough environment. And the ZenPad S 8 boasts some impressive hardware. The shell and overall hardware are roughly comparable to the more expensive iPad options.

A ZenPad’s screen is made with durable gorilla glass. And the frame consists of solid aluminum. These elements ensure that the ZenPad can stand up to rough conditions.

The screen also runs at an impressive 2048×1536 resolution. This is kept running smoothly through the use of an eight core 2.3 Ghz processor. The biggest downside comes from lack of solid upgrade paths.

One can only use up to 64 GB of MicroSD storage. And the Android operating system is slightly behind the times at 6.0. It’s a great tablet. But one best used by people who don’t expect it to grow with future needs.


  • Screen size: 8″;
  • Resolution: 2048×1536;
  • Processor: 2.3 Ghz x8;
  • RAM: 2 GB;
  • Expandable storage: Up to 64 GB MicroSD;
  • Operating system: Android 5.0 (Upgradable to Android 6.0).

5. Nextbook Flexx 9

Nextbook Flexx 8.9" 2-in-1

The Flexx 9 is another alternative to Android devices. Like the R11 it attempts to bring a desktop experience to tablets. It runs Windows, which provides the ultimate level of compatibility with desktop software. Students can even expect specialty software from classes to run on the Flexx 9.

The removable keyboard also keeps weight down in comparison to the R11. Its main downside comes from lack of RAM. 1 GB of memory is suitable for running an application or two. But it won’t stand up to much multi-tasking.

Even heavy use of the web browser can create noticeable slowdown. But if one needs Windows than the Flexx is a remarkably good tablet for the price.


  • Screen size: 8.9″;
  • Resolution: 1280×800;
  • Processor: 1.33 Ghz x8;
  • RAM: 1 GB;
  • Expandable storage: Up to 64 GB MicroSD;
  • Operating system: Windows 10.

4. Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus

Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus

The Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus is a perfect example of mid-range tablets. One will notice cost cutting measures. For example, the camera quality isn’t very impressive. And the casing feels a little flimsy in comparison to higher priced tablets. But the internals are surprisingly impressive.

Even the lowest tier model comes with an impressive amount of RAM. This makes multi-tasking fluid and easy. It also ships with Android 7.0, which future proofs the device to an impressive degree.

One can further improve it through the use of external storage. The Tab supports MicroSD cards up to 256 GB. Android 7.0 also allows users a choice of whether to fully integrate MicroSD storage with internal memory. In doing so one can seamlessly upgrade the functional storage on the Tab.


  • Screen size: 8″;
  • Resolution: 1200×1920;
  • Processor: 2.0 Ghz x8;
  • RAM: 4GB or 16GB;
  • Expandable storage: Up to 256 GB MicroSD;
  • Operating system: Android 7.0.

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7

A Galaxy Tab S2 is the best tablet for college students who want high level Android performance at a low cost. It’s among the best deals one can find on an upper tier android device. The S2 is also among the few choices for an inexpensive tablet running Android 7.0.

Like most devices with Android 7.0, one can integrate external storage into the main operating environment. The 3 GB RAM is enough to make multitasking feel fluid as well. But the most striking feature is a super AMOLED display.

The 1536×2048 resolution is comparable to most of the other tablets. But the S2 makes far better use of that display than the other options. The AMOLED display also makes it perfect for students who are studying subjects related to art.


  • Screen size: 8″;
  • Resolution: 1536×2048;
  • Processor: 1.9Ghz x4, 1.3Ghz x 4;
  • RAM: 3GB;
  • Expandable storage: Up to 256 GB MicroSD;
  • Operating system: Android 6.0.1 (upgradable to Android 7.0).

2. Amazon Fire HD 10

 Fire HD 10 Tablet with Alexa Hands-Free

The best tablet for college should be able to access e-books. And the Fire HD 10’s huge screen is a perfect match for digital textbooks. The larger screen can display even larger scanned documents without needing to resize pages.

The Fire makes use of an operating system based on Android 5.1.1. This means that the vast majority of Android apps can sideload onto a Fire HD 10. But FireOS provides a few nice features that aren’t present on standard Android devices.

The most notable difference from standard Android is Alexa. The Alexa voice support gives students the ability to control the tablet through speech. One can access the majority of a Fire’s capabilities through voice command. This voice support can be further enhanced through additional software packages.

The Fire’s overall construction is somewhat flimsy in comparison to the other tablets. As such one should carefully consider whether durability or screen size is more important. If screen size is the more important option than it’s hard to beat the Fire HD’s low overall cost.


  • Screen size: 10.1″;
  • Resolution: 1920×1200;
  • Processor: 1.8GHz x4;
  • RAM: 2GB;
  • Expandable storage: N/A;
  • Operating system: Fire OS 5(Android compatible up to 5.1.1).

1. Huawei MediaPad M3 8

HUAWEI MediaPad M3 Tablet-PC

The MediaPad M3 8 is among the best tablet for college students who want a solidly built platform. Many of the other tablets place special emphasis on one feature, such as screen size. The MediaPad is notable for sitting solidly at a mid-range point in almost every category.

It’s exactly as large, fast, durable and up to date as it needs to be. This makes it the best tablet for college students who want to do a little of everything. It’s also notable as one of the lower cost options for Android 7.0.

The overall build quality is also quite impressive. The aluminum casing provides durability which even many of the more expensive tablets can’t match.

It’s also one of the rare models which provides a fingerprint scanner. The Android 7.0 build even gives people some configuration options for the scanner. For example, it can be set to act as a back button when pressed.


  • Screen size: 8.4″;
  • Resolution: 2560×1600;
  • Processor: 1.8GHz x8;
  • RAM: 4GB;
  • Expandable storage: Up to 128GB MicroSD;
  • Operating system: Android 6.0 (Upgradable to 7.0).

Summing Up

In conclusion, it’s clear that there’s a lot of variation in lower priced tablets. The ranking shows which tablets have the best general applicability for students. But students should carefully consider the strengths and weaknesses of every device. This versatility also means that there’s a lot of ways to use these tablets. The best way to learn about a device is by discussing it with people, so feel free to leave a comment below.