Walmart Onn Android tablet
“It sure is cheap, but grab Walmart’s Onn tablet and you’ll soon see why.”
Almost stock Android
Google Play Store
Poor battery life
Thicker, plastic design
Micro USB port
Walmart sells everything and focuses on offering low, low prices. This even extends to electronics, where its in-house Onn brand includes televisions, 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 featuring the same hardware, though the 10.1-inch version has a slightly different exterior design. I’m reviewing an 8-inch tablet here.
These new tablets won’t bother Apple, but they do bring some competition to the low-end segment of the market, which Amazon Fire tablets have comfortably dominated for years. With unlimited Android built in instead of 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 buy, but you know what they say: You get what you pay for.
Solid, budget design
When you open the box and pull out the plastic tray, you will be greeted by a chunky tablet with a plastic body. The plastic is dark blue in color and has a cross-hatched texture on the back that helps with grip and removes smudges from fingers. At the bottom right is the Onn logo, at the bottom left is the speaker, and at the top left is the 2-megapixel camera.
Simon Hill/Digital Trends
Flipping it over, there’s an 8-inch display with thick bezels around it and a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera on top. The right spine has the power button and volume buttons above. There is nothing on the left side. There is a MicroUSB port for charging on the bottom edge. Up top is a 3.5mm headphone jack and an open MicroSD card slot.
You get as much as you pay.
It looks and feels cheap, but it’s comfortable to hold and has slight 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 watching movies in landscape.
The 8-inch IPS LCD screen is basic and has a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels. The glass is quite reflective, and with limited brightness, the Walmart Onna’s display is barely readable outdoors in direct sunlight or bright lighting. I also found that it suffers from screen lag, so scrolling up a web page or playing video content with a lot of fast movements isn’t as smooth as I’d like, although that’s probably due to the processing power, which we’ll get to shortly.
Walmart Onn, left. Amazon Fire 7, right. Image used with permission of the copyright holder
Since the speaker is on the back, you have to be careful how you hold the Walmart Onn or you can muffle the sound. The sound quality is poor; it’s no surprise to find that it lacks bass. It can be quite loud, but if you turn up the volume, the quality drops and you’ll feel the whole tablet vibrate.
Vanilla Android with Play Store
Simply the best thing about the Walmart Onn is the fact that it runs close to stock Android 9.0 Pie and comes with the Google Play Store. Amazon’s Fire tablet range is stuck with a poor, forked version of Android with a limited selection of apps and games, which is its main Achilles heel. I have forgiven Amazon in the past because no other manufacturer has matched it on price, but Walmart has changed that.
You can download and install the full range of Android offerings on Walmart Onn, and you’ll find Google apps available, including YouTube. Unfortunately, Walmart hasn’t completely resisted the urge to add things, so you’ll find a strange Walmart button to the left of your usual Android navigation options. Tap it and you’ll be greeted with an amateur screen that collects Walmart’s bloatware that can’t be uninstalled. Luckily, we’re only talking about five apps: Walmart, Walmart Grocery, Sam’s Club, Vudu, and Walmart eBooks.
This almost vanilla Android 9.0 experience will be a big draw for many people, and it’s a tangible advantage over Amazon’s Fire tablets. The Amazon Appstore doesn’t keep up with the Play Store in terms of new apps and games, or even updates for old apps and games. The dispute with Google also means the YouTube app is missing from Fire tablets, although that dispute has reportedly been resolved and the app is set to return later this year.
The Walmart Onn has 16GB of internal storage, with around 10GB free out of the box, but there’s room for expansion via the MicroSD card slot.
With a snail’s pace
It was obvious as soon as I released the Walmart Onn tablet that using it was going to be a frustrating experience, but I wasn’t prepared for how icy this tablet’s pace was. There is a pause after almost every touch and transition.
Simply the best thing about the Walmart Onn is the fact that it runs close to stock Android 9.0 Pie.
Walmart Onn often pulls that mad trick of making you think your touch isn’t registered, then the screen scrolls down just as you swipe it again. Once you get used to waiting a bit for everything to happen, it’s usable, but it never stops being annoying. Then there are cases where touches really don’t register, so you end up waiting ages to confirm it’s not just lag again.
Here are some benchmark results:
- 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, Walmart Onn is not fast. In fact, it’s the slowest device we’ve tested in the last year, second only to the Moto G6 Play, which is a year-old budget phone.
The Walmart Onn is predictably beaten by the Apple iPad Mini (2019) and pretty much 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 compare it to the Amazon Fire 7 (2019), which costs $50, or the Amazon Fire HD 8, which Amazon just dropped from $80 to $60, but the comparison apps don’t work with Amazon’s tablets. Sitting with an Amazon Fire 7 (2019) and a Walmart Onn side by side, I tried sync tapping to load Digital Trends into the browser and launch a racing game Asphalt 8: Aerial and found that the Amazon Fire was a second or two faster in both cases.
Simon Hill/Digital Trends
That test was from scratch, with apps deleted from the Recents menu. Once the game loaded, there was no noticeable difference in opening speed. Both are described as having 1.3GHz quad-core processors, and the Walmart Onn has 2GB of RAM, while the Fire 7 only has 1GB. This means you can have multiple apps open at once that you can jump in and out of with Onna.
Compromises are inevitable with budget products, but I found the Walmart Onn’s performance to be disappointing. I could play Asphalt 8 on it, but load times were long, dropped frames were common, and it ran at the lowest graphics quality. It might be tolerable if you’re not used to fast devices or just looking for something to stream videos and browse the web.
There is no permanence
Adding to its 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 turned up to full. That’s more than an hour less than the next worst model, the Amazon Fire 7 (2019), which lasted 4 hours and 25 minutes.
Walmart doesn’t disclose the Onn tablet’s battery capacity, instead suggesting you’ll get five hours of mixed use. I was constantly surprised at how quickly it disappeared. Better not to stray too far from the outlet with this tablet.
You get a USB to MicroUSB cable and charger in the box with Walmart Onna and it takes about two and a half hours to fully charge. Cheap tablets seem to be the last holdout for MicroUSB ports, but I’d really like to see them switch to reversible USB-C, not least because cheap tablets are often bought for children, and young children have a hard time plugging in Micro USB cables, which often results in broken ports.
Information on price, availability and warranty
You can buy the Walmart Onn 8-inch Android tablet online or 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 materials or workmanship. Walmart also has a pretty good return policy and stores are all over the place, so it would be easy to return if you need it.
Walmart Onn proves you get what you pay for. It’s a cheap, chunky, plastic Android tablet with an 8-inch screen that lacks power and durability. How this attractive price was achieved soon becomes clear when you start using it.
Is there a better alternative?
There aren’t many Android tablets worth buying, but once you drop 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 alternative if your budget doesn’t stretch. If you don’t mind being locked into Amazon’s Appstore, then the Amazon Fire HD 8 might be a slightly better option, but there’s very little in it.
If you can spare the money, the Apple iPad Mini (2019) is by far the best 8-inch tablet you can buy. The $330 2018 iPad is also worth considering 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 drops, but it’s not waterproof. Physically, it should last for several years or even longer if you take care of it. The fact that it has almost stock Android should make it easier to update, but I’m skeptical that Walmart will release security patches, much less new versions of Android.
Should you buy it?
No, you should save up for something better.