This story is part of, CNET’s guide on everything you need to know and how to make sure you get the best deal.
(June 21-22) always brings solid deals on tablets, but it’s not a good idea to jump at the cheapest one you see.
Here, we are keeping an eye on Kindle Fire tablets and iPads and Kindle Fire tablets, and here’s what you should keep in mind for each brand:
- Apple’s iPads often sell for a bit less than their list price, so long as you don’t buy at the Apple Store proper, where the price is basically never cut. So you may see some decent discounts right now ($30 to $50, or even more), but we may also see better deals during upcoming Prime Day sales at Amazon and elsewhere.
- Amazon’s Fire tablets nearly always get deep discounts across the board during Prime Day and Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Those two times of year are almost always the best time to buy.
- Amazon’s Thursday press release confirmed a big Fire tablet deal, the HD 10 for $80. But that deal isn’t starting until Monday (at the latest).
What this all means is that you should wait until Prime Day to buy a tablet (especially a Fire), even though you may see some decent discounts right now. We’ll continue to monitor Amazon as well as its competitors such as Best Buy, Target and Walmart — all of which have announced Prime Day counter-sales — for any price drops on these or other popular tablet brands.
Early Prime Day iPad deals
The eighth-gen iPad features a 10.2-inch display powered by the A12 chip. The 32GB model has a list price of $329, but it’s down to $299 at Amazon. We saw it dip to $279 last year at Costco, and it’s possible we’ll see this baseline iPad drop during actual Prime Day or one of the counter-sales.
Read our iPad 2020 review.
Apple’s 10.9-inch iPad Air delivers a lot of what the iPad Pro does, but at a lower price. That great value earned it our Editors’ Choice award last year, but the newer Pro raises the bar (albeit for more money).
Read our iPad Air review.
Early Prime Day Fire Tablet deals
Amazon’s Fire HD 10 is the biggest and most powerful tablet that the company offers, and it recently got better. The 2021 revision launched in April with more RAM, a 10% brighter screen and a slightly updated design. Like its 2019 predecessor, the new HD 10 starts at $150. The recharged Fire HD 10 Plus offers wireless charging, an extra gigabyte of RAM and a “soft touch, slate colored finish” for $30 more — $180.
Right now, if you buy two Fire HD 10 models, you’ll get $75 taken off the top ($225, down from $300). The discount is applied at checkout. On Prime Day, individual prices will drop up to 50%, putting the model at a price worth waiting for ($80).
The Fire HD 10 comes packed with benefits for Prime subscribers, making it easy for members to stream and download movies, TV shows and games. The Fire tablets don’t use a pure version of Android, but instead Amazon’s Android-based Fire operating system, and pulls apps from the Amazon App Store. You can still get apps from Google Play, but you’ll have to install the store yourself — meaning gaming enthusiasts have access to all of their favorite mobile games for an excellent gaming tablet experience.
Prime Day deals coming soon
Deal confirmed starting soon: This $140 unit will sell for $70 on Prime Day, beating its previous all-time low of $80.
This child-friendly version of the Fire HD 8 tablet adds a padded case, parental controls, a two-year warranty and a one-year subscription to Kids Plus (formerly known as FreeTime Unlimited), which normally costs $3 a month and gives you access to a bunch of kid-friendly content. It’s not really suitable for remote learning, but it’s a much more affordable option than giving a young child a full-on iPad.
Other potential Prime Day tablet deals
Price worth waiting for: Normally $90, this sold for $55 last November.
The Fire HD 8 (8-inch screen) was updated in 2020 with a faster processor, USB-C charging, better Wi-Fi performance, 2GB of RAM (up from 1.5GB) and a bump from 16GB to 32GB of storage in the base model. Its HD screen is sharper than the entry-level Fire 7, but it’s not nearly as sharp as iPad displays. The HD 8 Plus adds wireless charging and slightly better performance, thanks to 3GB of RAM.
Read our Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) review.
Price worth waiting for: Normally $110, this sold for $75 last November.
The Fire HD 8 Plus adds wireless charging and more RAM (3GB instead of 2GB), with performance that improves on the standard Fire HD 8. The tablet should charge just fine on most wireless charging pads.
Read our Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus review.
Price worth waiting for: Normally $50, this sold for as low as $30 last November.
Fair warning: We really think you should pay up for a Fire HD 8, which is a much better, faster tablet than the entry-level Fire 7. But at $40 or less, this non-HD 7-inch model is going to be tempting for a lot of folks.
Price worth waiting for: Normally $100, this dipped to $60 last November.
This has all of the same extras as the HD 8 above, but it’s the childproof version of the smaller, more affordable Amazon Fire 7. You’re getting a 7-inch screen instead of 8, and a less robust processor.