Attention, Amazon: a new challenger has appeared in the cheap tablet world, as Walmart's $64 8-inch Onn tablet is priced to fly off shelves. Its big perk, in comparison to Amazon's Fire 7 tablet, is that it runs straight-up Android 9 (and not an Amazon-based fork of Android). That means you can get the Google Play store on this tablet, which you can't find on Amazon's slates. That means actual Gmail (and not a web view) and full syncing with the rest of your Google services. Its battery life, however, is annoyingly low, and its performance will stop you from multitasking. Still, the super-cheap tablet Onn tablet is worthy of consideration.
Onn tablet cost and availability
At $64, the Onn is the cheapest tablet in Walmart's Android slate lineup. While its price may seem a bit random, it's a dollar cheaper than the ad-free version of the Amazon Fire 7 tablet ($65). The device is available only at Walmart stores and Walmart.com (opens in new tab).
The $79 10-inch Onn has the same internals (and the same 1280 x 800-pixel screen resolution), while you can get that same 10-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard for $99. These tablets all include a $20 Walmart eBooks gift card.
Actually Android (with some Walmart)
The best feature of the Walmart Onn -- that it runs an unhampered version of Android -- is that it runs Android 9 Pie. Amazon has irked me for years by putting its Fire OS system, a fork of Android, on its Fire tablets, which forces users to rely on Amazon's own app store. This often pushes those users to jailbreak their devices, because there's no other way to get the Google Play app store, or any of Google's apps.
Of course, though, there's a Walmart-centric twist to the Onn's version of Android 9. In the navigation icon row at the bottom of the screen, you've got a Walmart button sitting to the left of the back, home and app-switcher buttons. And this Walmart button doesn't open up Walmart.com, but instead it sends you to a screen with big clunky buttons for Walmart, Walmart Grocery, Sam's Club, VUDU and Walmart eBooks.
And honestly, I prefer this method of in-product advertising over what Amazon does, where they put ads (dubbed "special offers") on your home screen unless you pay $15 extra. Walmart likely isn't wrong that its customers want to access its services, either.
The Walmart Onn sure is one plain tablet, alright. With a textured black plastic back and thick top and bottom bezels, you won't be surprised to find out the price of this slate is as low as it is. It's lacking alternate colorways, though, one of the few things that makes the Fire 7 (available in Plum purple, Sage green and Twilight blue) stand out.
At 12.2 ounces and 0.4 inches thick, the Onn is a bit heavier than the 7-inch Amazon Fire 7 (10.4 ounces, 0.4 inches), though its larger 8-inch screen excuses that.
The Onn's micro-USB port is on its bottom side and its headphone jack is on its top, right next to its SD memory reader. You'll find its volume and power buttons on the right side.
The Walmart Onn's dim, low-res screen -- which is below Full HD at 1220 x 800 pixels -- tests how low your standards can go. Watching a trailer for the Sonic The Hedgehog movie, I noticed that I saw artifacts in mustache and chin stubble of Dr. Robotnik, and the fields of Green Hills didn't look sharp, either, about a touch less pixely as the 8-bit original. On the good side, though, the blues of Sonic's fur and the greens of his eyes rendered acceptably accurate, as did the red of Dr. Robotnik's coat. I can't slam the screen too harshly for its resolution, though, as it's still sharper than the 1024 x 600-pixel Fire 7.
The fuzziness of the screen became even more apparent when I took a photo of a Mets logo, which looked blocky and jagged in the Onn's viewfinder. Also, the on-screen text of PUBG Mobile rendered practically out of focus, making me think I needed to clean its display with a closs.
According to our colorimeter, the Onn produces 73% of the sRGB color spectrum, which is a notch below the 78% rating from the Fire 7 and much less than the 111% tablet average.
The Onn emits up to 273 nits of brightness, which is on the meager side and much less than the 379-nit average. Even the $49 Fire 7 (335 nits) gets brighter than 300 nits. The Onn's dimness leads to a low range of viewing angles, as I saw color fade and images get obscured by light when I viewed it at 30 degrees to the left and right.
The Walmart Onn produces enough sound to fill a small office, but that noise is lacking when it comes to quality. Listening to a remix of Khalid's "Talk," I cringed as I heard the song's beat get a little crinkly and how the singer's smooth vocals were rendered a bit tinny.
Armed with a MediaTek MT8163 processor and 2GB of RAM, the Onn tablet's performance provides the bare minimum of torque, practically wearing its price on its screen. While it's speedy enough when you're browsing the web and opening apps, little things took forever.
Take, for example, when I had the Gmail app open and rotated the screen from portrait to landscape, which took so long I had to share the process with the Laptop Mag team. One colleague counted aloud as it took 2.5 seconds to move between modes, in a moment that left her too shocked to laugh.
I found the Onn's 8-inch touch screen decently responsive to taps as I navigated Android menus and Google apps. Scrolling on the tablet is a mixed bag, with menus moving smoothly in the Gmail app, but actual emails stuttering as I tried to scroll up and down.
When I tried playing PUBG Mobile with the Onn, to see how well it would run, I quickly saw the error of my ways. And although the Onn offers Android's split-screen mode, you might as well forget it's there. I saw a lot of stutter when browsing a Chrome tab and watching a YouTube video at the same time.
The Onn earned a lowly 1,415 on the Geekbench 4 general benchmark test, a fraction of the 5,105 tablet average. The Fire 7 score a 1,192 on the Geekbench 3 test (we have yet to test it on Geekbench 4).
The biggest flaw in the Walmart Onn is its short battery life that will force frequent refueling. The Laptop Mag Battery Test (web surfing at 150 nits) drained the tablet of its charge in a short 5 hours and 29 seconds, which is one of the lowest scores I've seen in the 4-plus years I've worked at Laptop Mag. That time is nearly half the 9:50 category average and almost 1.5 hours less than the 6:53 from the Fire 7.
Surprisingly, Walmart actually promotes this battery life, on the box, which reads "Battery Life: 5.5 Hours" underneath other specs.
So, if you haven't been shamed away from taking photos with a tablet before, the front and back cameras in the Walmart Onn might convince you. As I tried to take photos in our office, the viewfinder was so dark and blurry I had to turn it off before I could feel queasy.
Taking it outside, I captured an image of traffic with its 2-megapixel rear camera that just looks wrong, as my colleague Gianna Sergovich (one of our photo editors) told me it looks "very purple." It's so off that I almost thought I'd accidentally applied a sepia-tone filter. Selfies shot on its 0.3-megapixel front camera are even less detailed, with all light sources causing sections of your image to get blown out.
I want to commend Walmart for by selling a true Android tablet under $70. But I want to be very clear about the kind of tablet you're getting here. It's serviceable and nothing more. The design is plain, the screen is on the dim side and the performance can be laggy.
For a brighter screen, longer battery life and an extra $14 in your pocket for a tablet case, check out the $49 Amazon Fire 7. But if you want the Google Play store and Google's apps, the Onn Tablet is worth a look.
Credit: Laptop Mag