Not long ago, if someone asked for a 10-inch tablet recommendation under $200, I would have told them, without hesitation, to get an Amazon Fire 10 HD. It had the best mix of value, performance, and display quality in the category. Sure, they'd have to install the Play Store manually, but similarly-priced Android competitors couldn't compete on functionality alone.
The Lenovo Tab M10 Plus changes that. Its stellar combination of an excellent display and smooth performance proves that sometimes, you really can have your cake and eat it, too.
The Lenovo Tab M10 Plus provides an excellent display and viewing experience, all for a price that will still let you afford Netflix at the end of the month. It might not compete on specs with more powerful tablets, but if you're looking for an exceptional streaming machine, this more than gets the job done.
- Brand: Lenovo
- Storage: 32, 64, or 128GB, microSD card slot for expandable storage
- CPU: MediaTek Helio G80
- Memory: 3 or 4GB
- Operating System: Android 12
- Battery: 7,700mAh
- Ports: USB-C
- Camera (Rear, Front): 8MP, front and rear
- Display (Size, Resolution): 10.6" 2K (2000x1200) IPS LCD
- Price: $149
- Size: 10.6"
- Connectivity: Wifi 5 2.4 and 5GHz, Bluetooth 5.0
- Measurements: 0.29"x9.89"x6.25"
- Headphone jack: Yes, 3.5mm
- Amazing display
- Solid build
- Competitive price
- Poor buttons
- Minor performance slowdowns
Price and availability
The Lenovo Tab M10 Plus is available through Lenovo's site and Amazon starting at $150. The base configuration comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, with configurations available up to 4GB and 128GB, respectively. I recommend spending the extra cash for the 4GB version. The extra RAM helps Android run smoothly at a minimal additional expense.
Design, hardware, and what's in the box
The Lenovo Tab M10 Plus's premium build quality is apparent when you pick it up. It's primarily made of metal, but a portion of the back is soft-touch plastic, allowing for signal reception. The area covered by soft-touch plastic also extends out to the frame. At 465g (just over one pound), the M10 Plus isn't too heavy to hold but feels rigid and well-built, adding to the premium feel.
The chassis' excellent build quality doesn't carry over to the buttons. The power and volume buttons are covered by the same plastic as a portion of the frame. The result is a mushy experience where you never know if you've pressed the button.
Aside from the buttons, I'm happy with the design. Lenovo claims its speakers are Dolby Atmos-tuned, which are reasonably loud and produce rich sound.
Despite its budget price, Lenovo hasn't ditched some fan-favorite features. You'll find a microSD card slot for expandable storage along the top of the tablet, and a 3.5mm headphone jack remains present for your old-school wired earbuds.
In the box, you are greeted with the device, a 10W charger, a USB-A to USB-C charging cable, and a SIM card tool to access the microSD slot. I appreciate them including one, even if it will end up in my SIM card tool art exhibit.
The Tab M10 Plus' display is the star of the show. It sports a spacious 10.6-inch 15:9 IPS panel. At this price, you're still stuck at 60Hz, but compared to the 720p display on the second generation M10 Plus, this model packs a high-res 2000 x 1200 resolution. At 400 nits, the display gets bright enough for indoor viewing, but your retinas are never in danger of damage. Outdoor viewing is acceptable in direct sunlight.
Video streaming looks incredible in 2K. Most people are after a tablet for watching movies, TV shows, and other media on the go. This display is perfect for that. YouTube playback benefits from the boosted resolution. And, thanks to the Tab M10 Plus running full Android, quality settings are available in the YouTube app without having to sideload like you would with a Fire Tab 10.
The colors on the display are saturated with good contrast. However, if you need a color-accurate display, this one isn't for you. The color gamut is 72% of NTSC. Overall, it's hard to beat the quality of the panel under $200.
Out of the box, the Lenovo Tab M10 Plus runs Android 12 with a promised update to Android 13 later in 2023. Security updates are slated for the M10 Plus until 2025. It's a relatively stock Android experience. Like the Google Pixel devices, Material You can match your system UI colors to your background photo.
Some of the headaches of the stock Android experience are here as well. Toggling Wi-Fi is a chore that requires you to pull down, go into the internet menu, and then select your Wi-Fi setting. Lenovo changed this process on its P11 Pro tablet, so I'd like to see that update made here.
That's not to say Lenovo hasn't customized the experience. The company included pen software to function with its optional Precision Pen 2 stylus. It allows for handwritten memos and drag-and-drop capability in Google Docs, but the pen will set you back an additional $56. It's pricey, considering the entire tablet is only $150, and I wouldn't recommend purchasing it unless you need that extra productivity.
A frustrating ad showing up in the notification panel.
The biggest software drawback is also the biggest drawback of the entire device: bloatware. If you didn't realize the M10 Plus came with games installed, it is more than happy to tell you. Notifications from a game called Swing Man are frequent, and the game has more ads than the Super Bowl.
Tablets in this price range might be subsidized partly by pre-installing these apps. Lenovo and others should follow Amazon's lead by allowing the end user to pay a little extra to opt out of these apps and ads.
Besides the bloatware, the software on the Tab M10 Plus is clean and well-designed. Stock Android is always the best option for budget to mid-range processors as it provides a fluid experience while not taxing the CPU unnecessarily.
The Lenovo Tab M10 Plus surprised me with its performance. Usually, a budget tablet with an excellent display comes at the cost of a decent processor. The MediaTek G80 does a great job of keeping up with daily tasks, video playback, and light gaming.
No one will confuse the G80 for a flagship processor. The MediaTek keeps up with most of my workload, but sometimes it felt crushed under the pressure. When overwhelmed with notifications, it pauses for a moment instead of stuttering, which is preferred. The difference between the Tab M10 Plus performance and other budget tablets is like that between a car going 60 mph that stops short every few feet and a car going 30 mph consistently. You may get to the destination at the same time, but one experience was significantly better.
It's not a gaming tablet, but high-end games can get by at lower settings.
The M10 Plus easily handles several Chrome tabs, Instagram, and Twitter. Bouncing back and forth between these apps was a breeze. The 4GB of RAM was more than enough to keep everything cached with minimal reloads. Split-screen also performed well. The split-screen experience is smooth with apps like Twitter that allow for it.
Gaming is pleasant on the M10 Plus. Call of Duty Mobile runs smoothly at low graphics settings. It is capable of medium settings but at a cost to FPS. I could still enjoy the game at low graphics settings with minimal frame drop. Medium settings saw a few dips in frames, but the overall experience was still playable.
Battery life: How long does it last?
Lenovo claims the Tab M10 Plus can handle 12 hours of video playback on a single charge, which checks out in testing. The 7,700 mAh battery is impressive. It streams hours of 2K content, and the battery drain is negligible when the tablet is idle. I left the M10 Plus overnight, and when I returned the next morning, it only dropped by a single percentage point.
Charging speeds are decent, but only if you swap to a more powerful charger. Lenovo includes a 10W charger, but the M10 Plus can charge at speeds up to 20W. At 10W, it can charge from 0% to full in under five hours. When you up that to 20W, the charging is cut down to three hours.
Camera: Not the most impressive
Like you'd expect from other tablets in the same price range, the Tab M10 Plus' camera system is not impressive. The 8MP rear lens will work for document scanning and can produce a mediocre image in good lighting. It has a portrait mode in the camera software that does an acceptable job of identifying the main subject and blurring the background, but that's not enough to make up for its poor quality.
The front-facing 8MP camera is acceptable for basic tasks like Zoom calls or joining online classes. It features the same portrait mode capability as the rear-facing camera. While it does a similar job of identifying the main subject, the portrait effect isn't as sharp. The depth effect of the portrait mode was minimal compared to the rear camera.
Any tablet in this price range cannot avoid the orbit of the Amazon Fire 10 HD. Still, the M10 Plus compares favorably. While the Amazon Fire tablet has better support, a better ecosystem (Kindle, Amazon Video, Luna), and still is the better device for kids, the M10 Plus features a better display, battery life, and overall performance. The Lenovo also has the added benefit of running a full version of Android 12, while you are left sideloading if you want the Google Play Store on your Amazon tablet.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 is about $80 more and contains a smaller battery. You could spend the extra money if you enjoy One UI 5, but you are better off saving the cash and picking up Lenovo's slate.
Should you buy?
If you want a premium content viewing experience with a budget under $200, the Lenovo M10 Plus should be at the top of your list. The display makes movies and YouTube playback immensely enjoyable. I like that it can back up a wonderful display with performance that, while not perfect, is still good enough for the price.
Between the build quality, the display, and the battery life, the Lenovo Tab M10 Plus proves that, sometimes, you can buy a well-balanced tablet without having to sacrifice the Play Store to get it.