Should you buy the iRULU 7-inch Android Tablet?

Best answer: Dated and forgotten, iRULU's 7-inch Android tablet is simply not a good buy. We'd suggest Amazon's Fire HD 8 instead. If you absolutely need something with access to the Google Play store, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is a good bet.

It wasn't a good tablet for its time

Even when you consider the time period in which it launched (2015) and the cost of the thing (less than most people's phone bills), the 7-inch iRULU 7 just isn't a good buy. It wasn't then, so it's certainly not now.

The tablet hit the scene with a weak processor, sub-HD resolution, very little RAM, and nothing unique to set itself apart from others in its range. We aren't expecting the world for $50, mind you, but there are factors unrelated to the technology itself which would have prompted us to write it off even in its heyday.

Early reviews of the product complained of shoddy battery life, constant freezing and lag issues, unresponsiveness in the touchscreen, and inconsistent wireless performance. That's a lot of critical negatives for something that's supposed to be one of your primary entertainment devices.

Software support has long been abandoned

As with many of these dime-a-dozen tablets, the iRULU 7 has been left on a very old operating system. It comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, an OS that was great for its time but feels a little stale compared to Android 9.0 Pie on all the latest devices.

This alone doesn't completely doom the tablet, as many of the apps in Google Play are still compatible with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. However, if you're hoping for continued maintenance, and security updates, you'd do well to scratch iRULU off your shopping list.

There are much better options in this price range

As we mentioned before, subpar hardware could be forgiven with the right software support and for the right price. If you aren't interested in spending more than $100 on an Android tablet, you still have some great options to consider.

We'd start with the Amazon Fire HD 8. It's a little bit bigger than you bargained for at 8 inches, but what you'll get is a tablet that still receives regular updates and all the latest features from Amazon. This includes the latest version of Fire OS with Alexa voice control baked in.

It has 1280x800 resolution for true HD goodness, a quad-core processor, 10-hour battery life, front and rear 2MP cameras, at least 16GB of storage with options for expansion with a microSD slot, and access to the Amazon Appstore and the entirety of Amazon's content ecosystem, including books, movies, and music.

The only downside to the Amazon Fire HD 8 is that it doesn't have access to Google Play. This may be a dealbreaker for some, especially considering Google Play is always the best place to get Android apps. That's not to say there aren't any good options in the Amazon Appstore, but the variety isn't as wide, and the latest app updates don't always ship out on time.

If you want something with Google Play and don't mind stretching your budget a bit, we'd recommend the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab A. Coming in at just under $100, it can mostly match hardware wits with the newer Amazon Fire HD 8. Its 720p display is plenty crisp for this size. With a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 1.5GB of RAM, it's not lighting the performance charts on fire, but it should handle all your multimedia needs and some light gaming. The 8GB of storage inside isn't much, but that can be expanded by up to 200GB by way of its microSD slot.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A also has a 5-megapixel camera on the rear flanked by a 2-megapixel sensor on the front, which we'd rate "just good enough" for video calling. Most importantly, it has access to Google Play, so you'll be able to get your Android apps from the undisputed best place to do so. The only downside is it's stuck on Android 5.1 Lollipop, and there most certainly aren't plans for that to change.

Quentyn Kennemer