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LeapPad Ultra review

Michael Sawh



Our Score



  • Better quality 7-inch screen
  • Improved battery life
  • Closed web environment


  • Expensive apps
  • Sluggish performance
  • Storage is not expandable

Review Price £89.99

Key Features: 7-inch 1,024 x 600 screen; Built-in Wi-Fi; 2-megapixel front-facing and rear-facing camera; 9 hour battery life; Child safe web browser; 800MHz processor; 8GB internal storage

Manufacturer: Leapfrog

What is the LeapPad Ultra?

Picture this Christmas Day scenario. You’ve just unwrapped a shiny new iPad Air and as you retreat to the sofa to watch the Only Fools and Horses Christmas special for the eighth time a little pair of hands gets hold of the Apple tablet and stumbles across a naughty web page or even worse, spends hundreds of pounds on more Candy Crush lives.

The LeapPad Ultra is a 7-inch tablet for kids that could stop that very situation from happening. The follow-up to the LeapPad 2, the third generation tablet from LeapFrog designed for children aged 4-9 runs on its own operating system and now features built-in Wi-Fi so you can surf the web and download apps directly to the homescreen.

Priced at £89.99, the Ultra is cheaper than the Nexus 7 2, the Tesco Hudl and Advent Vega Tegra Note 7 although you will have to make do with a slower performance in favour for a design that’s built to take some damage.

SEE ALSO: Most popular tablets this Christmas

LeapPad Ultra: Design

The differences between the Ultra and a ‘proper’ 7-inch tablet are light and day. It’s more toy than tablet with its heavy-duty plastic body and chunky, easy to press buttons. The bezel around the screen is raised to protect the display when dropped and the grey soft touch plastic on the back makes the Ultra nice and comfortable to grip. Comfort is a big deal especially when you realise that weighing in at 1.2kg, it’s significantly heavier than the LeapPad 2 (771g) and more cumbersome than the iPad Air (490g).

Like the LeapPad 2, there’s a main camera on the back along with the on/off button and micro USB charging port. Up top are the volume buttons, headphone jack and the cartridge slot. Beside the screen is the front-facing camera and down below are the navigation and home buttons. The stylus is tethered at the bottom and fits snug into a stowaway compartment on the right hand side.

We never expected the Ultra to match the slimline profile of the iPad Air or the Nexus 7 2 because that’s not really what it’s all about. It is reassuringly robust and feels like it can withstand the odd drop or two and crucially is nice and easy for little hands to hold.

LeapPad Ultra: Screen

Here’s where the Ultra has undergone its most significant change moving from a 5-inch 480 x 272 resolution display up to a 7-inch 1,024 x 600 pixel display. That matches the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 for screen resolution and just as Samsung’s 7-inch underwhelmed, the Ultra’s screen is far from Retina screen quality.

Colours are generally good, the screen is nice and bright and viewing angles have improved compared to the LeapPad 2. This is more than suitable for playing some pretty basic-looking games and reading books, it’s just simply no match for the sharpness and clarity of the 7-inch panels packed into the Nexus 7 2 or Kindle Fire HDX 7.

Screen responsiveness is similarly on the average side. Using the stylus with the touchscreen display is often the best way to interact with apps and the lag is noticeable when writing or selecting content. It’s perhaps to be expected from such a basic plastic stylus and such a decent but not great screen.

When we put it in front of our four and five-year old test subjects, there were very little complaints about the screen quality for reading and gaming and that is what really matters.

LeapPad Ultra: Cameras

Like the LeapPad 2, the Ultra packs in two cameras; a two megapixel one on the back, and a matching one just above the screen. Neither produces what you’d call great photos, and low-light performance is as noisy and poorly focused as you might expect.

There’s a Photo Fun app to edit images grabbed with either camera letting you add funny hats or items into the background and while there doesn’t appear to be too many other apps that take advantage of the pic-grabbers it’s handy if you don’t want little ones to be playing around with your standalone camera.

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December 20, 2013, 2:45 pm

I have an Original LeapPad, the Leapster Handheld, and 2 Leapster 2's in my household.
They were all dropped like a hot potato last Xmas for a Nabi2 Tablet. This is a very secure (well mostly...won't go there it's complex) tablet which allows you to load games like angry birds, and uses a whitelist approach to website access. It has a Tegra 3 chipset and a clever bumper which protects it from drops.

Not without it's negatives, mainly the poorly designed charger, which doesn't utilise the microUSB port, but a DC style charging pin which has been broken several times - thankfully there are now 3rd part offerings on ebay/amazon to replace the cable cheaply.

It's held it's price - lord knows why, as it's been out over a year and other tablets have caught up. Still very good and in daily use by my lot. Money well spent, better than the Playbook I bought for similar money 9 months prior to the Nabi.

We never purchase many games for the Leapsters, and they were massively expensive for what they were. The LeapPad had poor build quality.

I now have a collection of unused LeapPads. Frankly, I wouldn't touch this with a bargepole.

Alex Walsh

December 23, 2013, 10:13 am

Just sold one of these. It's horrendous. The console is very heavy, a 4 year old can't hold it one handed for example. It also has a resistive touch screen- yes you can pretend it's 2004 again! You had better get used to watching the little rotating circle because that's pretty much all you'll see. It's so sluggish that all of the kids got bored waiting for it to transit between screens and went off to play on my wife's iPad instead.

Granted, it's cheaper than an iPad but you wont have to buy too many games to reach price parity- they're very expensive. We bought some Nook HDs for £79.99 instead. There are plenty of apps available for kids on Android and they're much more usable. There is the added bonus of being able to stick some films on a micro SD card for long car trips too. For security we've installed the Android version of K9 web protection and have been very pleased with it.

Natalia Locke

December 25, 2013, 12:08 pm

Not happy with it. Can't pass the registration stage: keep getting a message "your email and confirm email address do not match". They do. Want to smash it up


January 11, 2014, 12:43 pm

LEAPPAD ULTRA- We got one for our son, for xmas 2013 and I am on the second leappad ultra already, this one is just as bad as the 1st, on the washing your pet an area of the screen does not respond, so you can not dry the pet. ( one very unhappy little boy) is anyone having this problem? is this it worth getting a replacment again or am better of getting money back. My son loves to play my Kindle so thinking maybe better of getting him one of them.


January 19, 2014, 10:12 pm

We are now on our 2nd leappad!!!! This one is only going on 2days old and wont turn on just like the last one!!! The money I dam payed for isn't worth having an upset child every 10mins when he cant play with his own toy!!! Will be taken it back this week and asking for my money back, am so over this will not be touching anything to do with leappad again!!!!!!!

Annette Reddmond

December 21, 2014, 1:30 pm

Sorry can anyone tell me do u have to have internet access to play the games o
nce downloaded

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