“It’s certainly cheap, but pick up Walmart’s Onn tablet and you’ll soon see why.”
- Near stock Android
- Google Play Store
- Slow performance
- Poor battery life
- Chunky, plastic design
- Micro USB port
- Walmart bloatware
Walmart sells everything and it focuses on offering low, low prices. That even extends to electronics, where its in-house Onn brand includes TVs, headphones, computer peripherals, and now tablets. The Walmart Onn Android tablet comes in two sizes: There’s a 10.1-inch model for $79 and an 8-inch version for $64, both containing the same hardware, though the 10.1-inch version has a slightly different external design. I’m reviewing the 8-inch tablet here.
These new tablets won’t trouble Apple, but they do bring some competition to the budget end of the market, which Amazon Fire tablets have been comfortably dominating for years. With unrestricted Android on board, rather than Amazon’s limited forked version that doesn’t have access to the Google Play Store, the Walmart Onn Android Tablet had the potential to be an irresistible bargain, but you know what they say: You get what you pay for.
When you open the box and slide out the plastic tray, you’re greeted by a chunky tablet with a plastic body. The plastic is navy blue and it has a cross-hatched texture on the back that helps with grip and shrugs off finger smudges. There’s an Onn logo at the bottom right, a speaker at the bottom left, and a 2-megapixel camera at the top left.
Flipping it over, there’s an 8-inch screen with thick bezels around it and a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera at the top. The right spine has a power button and volume buttons above. There’s nothing on the left side. The bottom edge houses the MicroUSB port for charging. Up top there’s a 3.5mm headphone port and an open MicroSD card slot.
You get what you pay for.
It looks and feels cheap, but it’s comfortable to hold and features gentle curves on the back, along with 2.5D glass, so there are no sharp edges. It’s a good size for reading in portrait or for watching movies in landscape.
The 8-inch IPS LCD display is basic and sports a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels. The glass is quite reflective, and with limited brightness the Walmart Onn’s screen is scarcely legible outdoors in direct sunlight or under bright lighting. I also found that it suffers from screen stuttering, so scrolling up a web page or playing video content with a lot of fast motion is not as smooth as I’d like, though that’s probably down to the processing power, which we’ll get to soon.
Because the speaker is on the back you have to be careful how you hold the Walmart Onn, or you can end up muffling the sound. The sound quality is poor; it’s no surprise to find that it lacks bass. It can go fairly loud, but if you crank the volume up, the quality drops and you’ll feel the whole tablet vibrate.
Easily the best thing about the Walmart Onn is the fact that it runs near stock Android 9.0 Pie and comes with the Google Play Store on board. Amazon’s Fire tablet range is stuck with a shoddy, forked version of Android with a limited selection of apps and games, which is its main Achilles’ heel. I’ve forgiven Amazon in the past because no other manufacturer matched it on price, but Walmart has changed that.
You can download and install the full range that Android has to offer on the Walmart Onn, and you’ll find Google’s apps available, including YouTube. Sadly, Walmart hasn’t completely resisted the urge to add things, so you’ll find a weird Walmart button to the left of your usual Android navigation options. Tap it and you’re greeted by an amateurish screen that gathers together Walmart’s bloatware, which can’t be uninstalled. Mercifully we’re only talking about five apps: Walmart, Walmart Grocery, Sam’s Club, Vudu, and Walmart eBooks.
This near vanilla Android 9.0 experience is going to be a big attraction for a lot of people and it’s a tangible advantage over Amazon’s Fire tablets. The Amazon Appstore is not keeping up with the Play Store in terms of new apps and games, or even updates for old apps and games. The feud with Google also means the YouTube app is absent from Fire tablets, though that dispute has reportedly been resolved and the app is due to return later this year.
There’s 16GB of internal storage in the Walmart Onn, with around 10GB free out of the box, but there is room for expansion via that MicroSD card slot.
It was apparent as soon as I fired up the Walmart Onn tablet that using it was going to be a frustrating experience, but I was unprepared for just how glacial the pace of this tablet is. There’s a pause after almost every tap and swipe.
Easily the best thing about the Walmart Onn is the fact that it runs near stock Android 9.0 Pie.
The Walmart Onn frequently pulls off that infuriating trick of making you think your touch hasn’t registered and then the screen scrolls down just as you swipe it again. Once you get used to waiting a beat for everything to happen it’s usable, but it never stops being annoying. Then there are occasions where touches really don’t register, and you end up waiting ages to confirm that it’s not just lagging again.
Here are some benchmark scores:
- AnTuTu 3DBench: 40,377
- Geekbench 4 CPU: 572 single-core; 1,549 multi-core
- 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme: 113 (OpenGL only)
As you can see, the Walmart Onn is not a speedy performer. In fact, it’s the slowest device we’ve tested in the last year, coming in just behind the Moto G6 Play, which is a year-old budget phone.
The Walmart Onn is predictably trounced by the Apple iPad Mini (2019) and well beaten by the Lenovo Smart Tab P10, but they cost $400 and $300, respectively. At a fraction of the price, it’s not the fairest comparison.
I wanted to put it up against the Amazon Fire 7 (2019), which costs $50, or the Amazon Fire HD 8, which Amazon just dropped in price from $80 to $60, but the benchmark apps don’t work with Amazon’s tablets. Sitting with the Amazon Fire 7 (2019) and the Walmart Onn side by side, I tried some synchronized tapping to load up Digital Trends in the browser and start the racing game Asphalt 8: Airborne and found that the Amazon Fire was a second or two faster in both cases.
That test was from scratch, with apps cleared from the Recents menu. Once the game loaded, there was no discernable difference in how quickly it opened. Both are described as having 1.3 GHz quad-core processors, and the Walmart Onn has 2GB of RAM, while the Fire 7 only has 1GB. That means you can have more apps open at once to dip in and out of with the Onn.
Compromises are inevitable in budget products, but I found the performance of the Walmart Onn annoying. I was able to play Asphalt 8 on it, but loading times were long, dropped frames were common, and it ran at the lowest graphical quality. Maybe if you’re not used to speedy devices, or you’re only looking for something to stream video and browse the web it will be tolerable.
To compound the poor performance, the Walmart Onn also manages to have the worst battery life of any product we’ve tested so far. It managed just 3 hours and 20 minutes in our video streaming test over Wi-Fi with the brightness cranked up to full. That’s more than a full hour less than the next worst performer, the Amazon Fire 7 (2019), which managed 4 hours and 25 minutes.
Walmart doesn’t reveal the battery capacity in the Onn tablet, preferring to suggest you’ll get five hours of mixed use. I was consistently surprised as to how quickly it ran down. You had better not stray too far from an outlet with this tablet.
You get a USB to MicroUSB cable and charger in the box with the Walmart Onn and it takes around two and a half hours to fully charge. Budget tablets seem to be the last holdout for MicroUSB ports, but I’d really like to see them switch to the reversible USB-C, not least because cheap tablets are frequently bought for kids and young kids struggle to plug Micro USB cables in, which often results in broken ports.
You can buy the Walmart Onn 8-inch Android Tablet online or in-store at Walmart for $64. The 10.1-inch version of the tablet will cost you $79.
It comes with a one-year limited warranty that covers defects in material or workmanship. Walmart also has a pretty good returns policy and there are stores everywhere, so it would be easy to return if you need.
The Walmart Onn proves that you get what you pay for. It’s a cheap, chunky, plastic Android tablet with an 8-inch screen that lacks punch and stamina. How that enticing price was achieved soon becomes clear when you start to use it.
Is there a better alternative?
There aren’t very many Android tablets worth buying, but when you dip below $100 the options dry up completely. If you want an Android tablet that comes with the Play Store, then there’s nothing better at this price.
Amazon’s Fire tablets are your only real alternatives if your budget won’t stretch. If you don’t mind being locked into Amazon’s Appstore, then the Amazon Fire HD 8 may be a slightly better option, but there’s very little in it.
If you can save up, the Apple iPad Mini (2019) is by far the best 8-inch tablet you can buy. The $330 iPad from 2018 should be considered as well, as it’s the most affordable iPad.
How long will it last?
The Walmart Onn feels like a durable device and the plastic body should survive bumps and minor falls, but there’s no water resistance. Physically, it should last a couple of years or even longer if you look after it. The fact it has near stock Android should make it easy to update, but I’m skeptical about whether Walmart will push security patches, much less new Android versions.
Should you buy it?
No, you should save up for something better.
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