LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play edition review – the best of two worlds

December 20, 2013

    The LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play edition launched as an unexpected, but totally welcome surprise, offering supporters of pure Android an interesting new option in the small tablet space.

    With its crisp display, stealthy  black color scheme, and the reassuring hardness of aluminum, the G Pad 8.3 GPe is certainly a good looking device. And its innards are nothing to scoff at. But at $350, the tablet is no impulse buy for most of us, especially considering the competitors out there going for the same or a smaller price. Is it worth it?

    We’ve already covered the G Pad 8.3 extensively in our review of the regular version, so we’re going to be briefer in our look at the Google Play edition. We’ll focus on how Google’s version of Android performs in the hardware environment of the G Pad, and how it compares, functionally and visually, to LG’s implementation of Android. We’ll save most of the comparisons between the G Pad GPe and the Nexus 7 for an upcoming full versus. Let’s dive in.

    Design, build quality, and display

    Like all Google Play edition devices, the GPe G Pad is identical in terms of build and hardware with its branded counterpart. You get the same aluminum and plastic build that we appreciated when the device first came out, in the same sleek package. The tablet’s width is close to the span of the average human hand, but it doesn’t push that limit, a purposeful choice of LG’s that we appreciate. That means you get the biggest possible display area, but you can still grip the tablet with just one hand.

    LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition GPE aa 5

    When we reviewed the Optimus UI-running model, we had a white/silver version, but the Google Play edition comes in black, and it looks gorgeous. The subtle contrast between the black brushed aluminum and the matte black plastic is appealing, giving the device a stealthy look without becoming too utilitarian.

    LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition GPE aa 7

    The Full HD IPS LCD display is beautiful, even if it’s not as sharp as the 7-inch panel of the same resolution of the Nexus 7. Most users won’t even notice the difference, never mind find it jarring, but it’s there. Viewing angles and colors are great, but the G Pad is less bright than the Nexus.

    LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition GPE aa 8

    Overall, there’s little to quibble over at the outside of the G Pad 8.3 GPe. Check out our review of the standard G Pad 8.3 for a more in-depth look at its build and display.

    Hardware and performance

    The Google Play edition of the LG G Pad 8.3 is packing a Snapdragon 600 SoC, matching a quad-core processor clocked at 1.7 GHz with a capable Adreno 320 GPU. There’s 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and something we will probably never see on a Nexus device, a microSD card slot. For media junkies, that means a potential extra 64GB of storage just waiting to be filled with movies and tunes.

    With the notable exception of NFC, the usual bevy of connectivity and sensors is present and accounted for. This is a WiFi only device, so if you want always on net access, the Nexus 7 LTE may be the better choice. Speakers are nice and loud, and there’s an infrared blaster that we couldn’t get to work with any app that we tried, though a future update may change that in the future.

    LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition GPE aa 6

    Even if it’s just a Snapdragon 600, the processor inside the G Pad GPe does its job admirably, helped in part by the streamlined nature of stock Android. You’ll have to look hard to find anything better in this class.

    There’s not much to say about the 5MP camera on the G Pad 8.3 Google Play edition, other than it does a decent enough job, for a tablet camera. There isn’t even the slew of features that LG put into the app of the original version, so there aren’t any bells and whistles for you to play with. All in all, it’s a good camera to have as a (second ) backup or just for some casual shooting.

    Software

    There’s a stark difference between the over the top Optimus UI and the minimalist pure Android, both in terms of feature set and design. The latter is a matter of personal taste, but many dislike the cluttered, somehow heavy handed – the best example is the notification dropdown – look of Optimus UI. Others see its merits, and LG’s overlay also has a few interesting software features to its name.

    LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition GPE aa 3

    Because, more or less, we all know stock Android, let’s just briefly go through the features that you may miss from Optimus UI. First, you lose QSlide apps, which are small overlay apps that float on the homescreen, similar to Samsung’s or Sony’s implementation, useful for multitasking. Also gone is the Slide Aside feature that lets you “slide” three apps to the side to keep them in memory and recall them with a swipe from the left gesture. This is not a big deal, as the recent apps button in the stock nav bar does the same job just fine.

    Probably the only software feature that we would really have liked to see on the G Pad GPe is Knock On, which lets you wake up the tablet with a simple double tap on the screen. Especially for tablets, it’s a great little functionality that really helps with handling.

    LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition GPE aa 4

    Stock Android on the Google Play edition of the G Pad 8.3 is as fast and clean as you know it, and we’re glad to report that we didn’t encounter any major bugs, like owners of the Z Ultra GPe experienced prior the Android 4.4.2 update. Speaking of which, any GPe device gets fast (though not Nexus-fast) updates, so if having the latest version of Android is high on your priority list, you’re in luck.

    LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition GPE aa 2

    Pricing and final thoughts

    The GPe edition of the LG G Pad 8.3 goes for $350 in the Play Store, just like the version running Optimus UI. Buying it means giving up the software features that LG built into its implementation of Android, in exchange of the cleaner, faster, and arguably nicer user interface of Google’s Android.

    If you already made up your mind to go stock, the big question is what does the $120 extra you’d have to pay for the G Pad GPe compared to the Nexus 7 bring you? Objectively, it’s a larger screen, a microSD card slot, nicer speakers, and a more premium look and feel. Subjectively, these benefits may not mean that much to you, and, at the end of the day, both devices accomplish the same tasks in about the same way.

    Taken on its own, the LG G Pad 8.3 GPe is definitely a great tablet that delivers a lot of bang for the buck. There’s no real issue stopping us from recommending it for anyone looking for a good Android tablet.

    Comments

    • Rico San

      Definitely want to replace my Nexus 7 (2013) with this. Bigger screen and microSD!

      • Suryawan Pranata Suryawan

        but with less ppi and smaller internal memory (only 16gb)

        • Eric Turner

          I guess you missed the part where he said microSD, as in expandable memory which is the same as more memory….

          • Suryawan Pranata Suryawan

            i prefer larger internal storage than small internal with microSD slot :) , yeah you cant fully installing your apps in your microsd

            • mustbepbs

              With Apps2SD, who cares?

            • MrMagoo

              You also don’t know which N7 he has, beit the 16GB version or the 32GB version. So in the end, he could just be gaining an SD card slot, and 64GB of storage!

            • Ugslick

              You can quite easily tweak it to treat the sd card as internal storage. So there is no issue. Also 16gb is more than enough for apps, unless you are installing every single free app on the playstore.

            • A_Noyd

              Not true. Some of the latest games take up a ton of space. Bards tale with the better graphics option takes up over 4 gigs. Need For Speed takes up over 2 gigs. You can use it up fast.

            • Guest

              You COULD… of course.

            • A_Noyd

              FolderMount app allows you move the data to the SD card. I have 20+ gigs of apps on my 16GB tablet, and it works perfectly that way.

    • Jayfeather787

      I do like the Sd card.

    • Mozaik

      how powerful is adreno 300 gpu of lg 8.3

      • Suryawan Pranata Suryawan

        adreno 320 :)

        • Mozaik

          but in article its written adreno 300 gpu. either its mistake in the article or am i wrong.

          • Suryawan Pranata Suryawan

            SOC snapdragon 600 using adreno 320 as the GPU , more detail here http://www.qualcomm.com/snapdragon/processors/800-600-400-200/specs

          • renz

            the writer most likely did not mention specific variant and just write it up as adreno 300 series. since it is snapdragon 600 most people know it is adreno 320 inside

            • Joshua Hill

              Or more likely it was a typo.

      • MrMagoo

        It’s the same hardware that’s in the S4 and HTC One. Processor and GPU.
        And I think those two have been proven to be adequate.

    • MasterMuffin

      Me gusta! I’d buy this over Nexus 7 any day!

      • juvon Sam

        Yo yo honey Singh. Gusta!!!

      • henrypotter1

        Another tablet to recently launch with impressive features and even more impressive price is the Pipo M7 Pro, which matches most of the features of the LG G-Pad but retails for $249 — and offers an 8.9-inch 1900×1200 display (Samsung PLS screen), a Quad core processor (1.6 GHz) – 2GB, Dual Band WiFi, built-in GPS, MicroSD slot, HDMI, two MicroUSB ports, and Android 4.2.2 (with Android 4.4 Kit Kat upgrade available). Plus an option to run either Android O/S or an intuitive Windows-style Interface. There’s also a 3G HSPA+ edition priced $25 more which works with wireless carrier plans through T-Mobile, AT&T, & Straight Talk. a 10-inch edition, the Pipo M9 Pro ($270) is also available and the 3G version (priced at $309) is one of the first tablets to offer Voice Calling function and works great with bluetooth headsets. Tab l e t Sp r i nt — is one of the first U.S.resellers to offer the Pipo Pro series — and also features a few other new tablets to launch in December and January worth considering.

        • Suryawan Pranata Suryawan

          you mean 1920×1200?
          1920×1200 with rockchip quadcore….

          HELL NO!!!

          • Andrew T Roach

            Rockchip’s Quadcore performs as good as the 1.6ghz Exynos quad in the Note 2 and sports the same GPU. It can handle the resolution.

          • racemartin

            I purchased a Pipo M6 six months ago along with another tablet with a Rockchip processor and the power is more than enough to handle most tablet needs and I’ve seen no significant difference compared to the performance of my Nexus or 2012 iPad – Don’t knock Rockchip too hard, it’s a solid chip and they look to offer a good line up in 2014 with a multibillion dollar expansion that includes their new octacore chip – 50 million chips sold last year with 80% of their sales Internationally is pretty impressive and if they were that bad no one would buy them.

      • filaos

        90% same hardware for 50% more bucks. Useless device.

    • Bone

      The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 + Play Store / Google ROM is by far the best tablet option money can buy IMO, 2,5k industry best display, SD800 chipset, ultralight build and very good price point, especially with Amazon deals going as low as $320.

      • Jayfeather787

        I agree, but I have a question. Is the Fire’s bootloader locked? If so, can it be easily unlocked.

        • A_Noyd

          Yes it is. Still running only modified versions of the stock Fire O.S.

          • Jayfeather787

            awwww

    • jack

      Shit

    • Joshua Hill

      ‘ there’s an infrared blaster that we couldn’t get to work with any app’

      Reportedly the current batch of GPE phones have the same problem. The IR blaster is not meant to work on GPE’s but if you do get it working we’d all like to know how :)

    • Harry

      Only gripe is the unusable ir blaster. Kit Kat supports it too which makes it even worse. I did skip on this non-gpe version even when it was on sale for 249. Great tablet otherwise. Good cases are hard to come by though.

    • Ah X Hei Lyh

      I absolutely want this as I already own a G2 and it is very convienient to link them up by using the “Q pair” function so whenever I am processing my job on G2, never ignore the incoming call again, simply answer the call throygh G-pad

    • joejoe5709

      This is the only thing in my mind to rival the Nexus 7 for specs and value. And in the the 8″ category I’m pretty sure it’s unrivaled. LG will sell a million of these things. The extra $120 is definitely evident in the added features and an SD card is extremely useful in a media-oriented tablet – even more so than a phone. Some people refuse to purchase a device without one so that’s definitely a huge selling point. If it were a little smaller overall and sported a Snapdragon 800 at the same price, we’d have a deal. Otherwise it’s not worth replacing or upgrading my N7.

      Compared to this, I still like the Nexus 7 a lot. I loooove the smaller form. It’s so small and light sometimes I actually forget it’s in my pocket or at least it doesn’t feel much larger than my G2. But I do wish the screen was a teensy bit bigger. Bezels are great, but the Nexus 7′s bezels are a bit overkill. Shrink those suckers down and give me a 7.5″ screen. Too big of a screen and ppi gets a little fuzzy so 7.5-7.7″ seems perfect to me. Hmmm maybe the next gen Nexus 7?

    • vespa5

      The color gamut isn’t mentioned much here in this article. I got mine a week ago and I have to tell you, the brightness can be quite the issue. At 100%, the brightness doesn’t even come close to my N7 (2013) at 50%. And just try to compare side by side in regards to colors. There’s something not right about the color definition of the LG G Pad. It’s almost safe to say that it’s inaccurate. I returned it and decided to count my blessings because the N7 2013 is definitely the best bang for your buck

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