LG G Pad 8.3 review

October 30, 2013
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LG is on an upward trajectory in the world of consumer electronics and its increasingly popular smartphones are the main driving force behind this growth. But, while smartphones are very important, the Korean manufacturer just couldn’t ignore anymore the tremendous growth of the demand for tablets.

And so, following a two-year hiatus, LG launched a new tablet this fall, the G Pad 8.3, an aluminum-clad mid-sized device that LG hopes will stand out in a sea of competing offers.

Is the LG G Pad 8.3 worthy of a place on your shopping list this holiday season? What are the core strengths and weaknesses of LG’s shiny new device? We take a look at all the things that matter in our LG G Pad 8.3 review. Let’s dive in.

Design and build quality

LG made a point of the G Pad’s dimensions, which, it claims, are the result of research into the average span of the human hand. The manufacturer wanted to maximize the size of the display, while still keeping the width of the device small enough so it can be held in one hand. And indeed, the G Pad is easy to handle, and we often found ourselves using it like an oversized smartphone.

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The button layout is conventional: the power button and the volume rocker are located on the tablet’s right side, when used in portrait mode. We liked that the buttons are slightly protruding, and therefore easy to operate, which isn’t the case with other tablets of similar design.

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The most striking design feature of the G Pad 8.3 is the aluminum backplate, which gives it a durable and premium feel. The metal contrasts nicely with the black/white plastic body, and the two-tone look is very attractive. On the front, it’s all plastic; the device has the asymmetrical bezels that manufactures currently favor, and the two wider bezels are just thick enough to give thumbs a nice resting place when you hold the tablet in landscape mode.

Display

We’ve been spoiled with some great displays on tablets lately, but the G Pad doesn’t disappoint in this department. With a resolution of 1920 x 1200, the 8.3-inch IPS LCD panel is rated at 273 pixels per inch. Black levels are satisfactory, and the good sharpness is complemented by colors that are far from dull, but not very vibrant either.

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Coming in at just the right size, the display of the G Pad 8.3 is great for gaming, reading, or watching movies. One small issue, if we can call it that way, is the thin black stripe around the rendered area of the display, which adds a bit of width to the overall size of the bezel. This is especially visible on the white version of the device.

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Performance and hardware

The LG G Pad 8.3 is powered by a Snapdragon 600 processor, comprising of a quad-core CPU clocking in at 1.7GHz and an Adreno 320 GPU. This is the configuration that was considered top-end at the beginning of the year, but the Snapdragon 800 has superseded it in the recent months. Does that mean that the G Pad is underpowered? Not really.

Even with the growing number of processing-intensive features that LG baked into Optimus UI, we haven’t come across any true stutter or lag when perusing the G Pad, even when we tried out the Slide Aside multitasking feature. Gamers will be pleased to learn that demanding games like Dead Trigger 2 pose no trouble to the G Pad, which is fitted with the standard these days of 2GB of RAM.

There’s the usual assortment of bells and whistles on the G Pad 8.3, with the notable exception of NFC. You do get however, a microSD card slot (located on top, behind a plastic flap) and an infrared blaster that lets you control TVs and other electronics. The connectivity options include dual-band WiFi and LTE, but the latter is only available in some markets for now, primarily in Europe.

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The stereo speakers located behind the aluminum back of the G Pad are very loud for a tablet, and that’s a good thing because, due to their positioning, they’ll often be muffled.

Battery life and camera

The battery on the G Pad is a 4600 mAh unit that LG claims should be good for about nine hours of usage. However, our own quick testing indicates that heavy usage will drain the battery of the device in about seven hours. Of course, your mileage may vary, but there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get some respectable battery life out your G Pad 8.3.

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Unsurprisingly, the camera on the G Pad is nothing to write home about, as you can tell even from the specs – 5MP with no flash unit. But the G Pad 8.3’s camera fails the real test, that of image quality: colors are dull, sharpness is lacking, and images will have an amount of grain even in good lighting. The app is similar to that on the LG G2, but the few interesting software features don’t compensate for the core problem of image quality.

Software

LG equipped the G Pad with many of the software features it implemented on the Optimus G and more recently in the G2. If you want to get yourself acquainted with them, the best way is to simply swipe down the notification shade, where you can find most of them.

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If you’re unfamiliar with LG’s software additions, there are many so-called Q functions to learn – Q Slide, for instance, similar to Sony’s implementation of Small Apps, lets you open up app overlay for some quick multitasking. There’s a Memo app for taking notes, but you can also use for that the tool that lets you take a screenshot and edit it in a pinch.

Perhaps the most interesting software feature on the G Pad is Slide Aside, LG’s gesture based multitasking implementation. Swipe with three fingers to the left in any app to put it aside in the memory. Then swipe to the left to open the stack, which can hold several applications in standby, and put an app back into focus. It may be an intuitive way to deal with switching between apps, but we didn’t find it that fast.

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Another notable feature in the G Pad’s arsenal is the ability to connect a smartphone to the tablet through a feature called QPair. This should work with any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, though, unsurprisingly, it works best with the G2. We liked that the pairing is as simple as tapping two buttons in apps running on both devices, and, from there, it’s straightforward to do other tasks, such as responding to texts, opening up an app that you have running on the other device, or even declining calls. There’s no option to answer calls on the tablet however. Q Pair is not an essential feature by any mean but many users may find it convenient.

Pricing and final thoughts

The G Pad 8.3 is a middling offering and that reflects in its $350 price tag, which is somewhere between entry-level devices and high-end tablets with lots of extra features. That’s for the WiFi version; the cellular model will set you back a little more (it now sells for around €350 in Europe).

All things considered, we think that the G Pad 8.3 is a good comeback device for LG, and leaps and bounds better than its earlier efforts in the tablet space. The device doesn’t truly shine in any specific area, but its design, build quality, display, and some of the software features all make it worthy of your attention.

If you want a reasonably-powered, good looking tablet that you can use with one hand, the G Pad 8.3 is one of the best choices you can make right now. Be sure though that you’re okay with the software, lackluster camera, and aging processor before you hand over your credit card.

Comments

  • JonDuke19

    I can’t believe it’s still not here in Canada. I even called LG Canada and their own employees don’t know what the product is… Ridiculous!

    • Mark Nguyen

      Right there with you – it seems the only real logical step up from a Nexus 7 and I want one in hand!

      • Denz317

        Come on LG what date will it be released in the UK ?. Its def on my shopping list. :)

    • Connor

      I think it will be released world wide on November 3. It’s only available online at Best Buy in the USA right now, not even in store yet.

  • Red Right Return

    Mine arrives today!

    • Red Right Return

      It’s here and so far I’m very impressed with the build quality. The black is exactly how I wanted it to look.

      • JonDuke19

        Lucky you… I wish I could order mine. I’ve never seen a company release something in the US and not announce at least a date for Canada…

        • Red Right Return

          I’m sure it will be available there in the next week or so.

          Holding this in my hand it feels solid like an iPad Mini. I love the metal back. I’m still charging it to full, but if you have any questions let me know.

          • dpskfromWA

            How’s the sound quality and stereo separation? I’d like to use it for movie viewing when away from home.

            Also, what storage configuration did you buy?

          • Red Right Return

            I’m very happy with the sound quality. The only issue I see is the speakers are on the back of the device. I haven’t tried it with headphones yet, but this is definitely the best tablet I’ve ever owned (my last one was a Nexus 7 2012).

          • dpskfromWA

            Thanks. I had purchased then returned the 2013 Nexus 7 model right after it came out. Mine had the screen sensitivity pinch bug so I was able to get a full refund from Office Max. While the 2013 Nexus 7 has a great screen and nice sounding speakers, it’s size was just a bit too small for my liking. I’m looking forward to checking out the G Pad 8.3 when it arrives at my local Best Buy. Will probably end up buying on as it seems just the right fit for my needs (no – I’m not a plant from LG ;-) ).

          • Red Right Return

            Me either. I’m just a normal guy who purchased mine from BB last Friday via their web site. I should have done express delivery, but oh well, its here now. I needed a bigger screen too, that’s exactly why I wanted the Gpad. I think you will like it.

          • dpskfromWA

            Many thanks! Did you get the 16GB or 32GB model? I figure since it has a micro SD slot, 16GB suffices just fine. You can add more storage later – which is a BIG plus over any iPad.

          • Red Right Return

            Just the 16GB model. I’ve already put a 64GB microSD on my wishlist for my birthday in a few days. :)

          • dpskfromWA

            Cheers – and thanks for providing all the feedback. Hope you get that b-day present.

          • A_Noyd

            I have not seen a 32gb version of this tablet available anywhere. If you see one, please link it here.

  • Balraj

    Qpair “There’s no option to answer calls on the tablet however”
    Seriously? Lol

  • RaulT

    I have to think about it due to its HIGH price.

  • Red Right Return

    The really sad thing is that this site is the only one that bothered to review it, and that is a shame because it is a great quality tablet and a great size. All the other sites are frothing at the mouth over the new iPads.

    • Mike O

      I’ve read TONS of reviews of this tablet and they are overwhelmingly positive.

  • Dean_TO

    I pick mine up from the Best Buy store in Buffalo on Saturday. I can’t wait. I am sue it will be priced higher here in Canada when it finally gets released.

  • jarexc

    Come on, in Poland LG G Pad is available from 2 days I think:D

  • E.T.

    Have you run Antutu X on it?

    • Red Right Return

      I just run it on my black LG GPad 8.3. The results after loading all of my applications and using the stock LG ROM (of course I don’t think there are any others out yet): 22458 was the score.

      • Jayfeather787

        Good score, my Nexus 7 got a little bit above 20,000. I guess that 1.7 GHz makes a big difference over the 1.5 GHz in the Nexus 7.

  • Red Right Return

    Wow this thing is awesome. The stock LG skin isn’t bad at all. Like all the extra little animation effects and the windowed applications. Its fast as heck and the screen is soooooo vibrant. I’m so happy I got this tablet!

  • Nathan Buffington

    In depth comparison between Nexus 7?! I can’t decide!!!!!

    • filaos

      My wallet has…

      • Nathan Buffington

        True..

      • Red Right Return

        Have fun with that buggy and smaller screen.

        • Nathan Buffington

          The screen isn’t buggy

          • Jayfeather787

            Neither is mine. I do prefer the Nexus 7 because it has similar specs, and the it depends on what you want for screen size. I have the Nexus 7, and I like the screen. I would like to have a 8.3 inch screen like the GPad, but I prefer the Nexus 7 operating system much more. Also, the Nexus 7 should get an update to Kit Kat very soon, whereas, the GPad might take a couple months.

  • AndroidBrian

    Experia Z Tab 10.1 is better and not much morr than this. Currently on Amazon for $430 with Amazon $50 gift card.

  • filaos

    350$… are they mad ?

    • dpskfromWA

      I’m sure there’ll be many sales before Christmas.

    • Red Right Return

      Worth every penny if you ask me. Blows away the iPad Mini and Nexus 7 (2012) I had.

      • filaos

        It’s nearly the price of an iPad Mini… Retina. You know, the one with a monstrous processor, a bigger screen (4:3 ratio), more tablets apps than you can wish and probably best battery life around.
        I certainly would buy a Nexus 7.2 (so much cheaper, still comparable to the GPad). But this ??

        BTW, thank you AA for reviewing this one.

        • Red Right Return

          iPad Mini has iOS, iTunes, and Apple Store. Three strikes and you are out with that toy-like UI and walled garden. No thanks. I don’t like 4:3 ratio either. Nexus 7 is too small – and this 8.3 screen is exactly what I was looking for. You get what you pay for. Isn’t that what Apple fans always say?

          • Jayfeather787

            Agreed with everything you said.

        • dpskfromWA

          Comparing pure screen size in inches between the G Pad 8.3 and iPad mini isn’t necessarily the best measure. The 4:3 ratio of the iPad mini vs. the 16:10 ratio on the G Pad 8.3 make them different products for different tastes. As for me, I prefer a 16:10 ratio on computer screens and tablets by a wide margin. In my opinion, it’s the best balance between usability for reading in portrait mode and watching movies or gaming in landscape mode. My next preference in a tablet is the 4:3 ratio of the iPad mini (which is a very compelling device). The 16:9 widescreen ratio (like on the Surface tablets) is just an odd choice for a tablet, but great for a large HDTV that’s ALWAYS in landscape mode. Stick a 16:9 ratio screen upright in portrait mode and it’s just ungainly.
          However, I’d guess if you hold the iPad mini (7.9″) next to the G Pad 8.3″ you’d find the screen real estate and usability is pretty darn close to each other.

          • filaos

            I’m surely not getting an iPad 2. I know it’s more than beginning to show its age.
            The Retina Mini is way more powerfull.
            Totally agree your point about screen ratios. Considering I never use a tablet to watch movies (mostly browsing and reading), I myself prefer 4:3.

          • dpskfromWA

            >”I myself prefer 4:3″

            Which is why I’m glad there’s so many choices to suit everyone’s preferences. I’m actually tempted by the design of the iPad mini retina. However, IOS is too limited for my needs.
            Cheers

  • mustbepbs

    Best tablet I’ve ever owned. Really hoping for dev support, though! Bring on CM!

  • JonDuke19

    I made peace with the fact LG does not care about Canadians. They don’t want our money. I spoke to their employees… they still don’t know what a GPad is… I tried Best Buy Canada.. they told me, maybe next year… I checked every corner of the internet… I even go a reply from the LG Facebook page saying “I don’t know”.

    So I gave up…. I couldn’t buy a Galaxy 8 nor Note 8 because.. for that type of money, I need specs.. which are not there. Couldn’t get a Acer because.. Acer… So… I looked for the lightest Android tablet with a bigger screen than the minuscule 7 inch… and bought the Sony Xperia Tablet Z… Same specs as the G Pad, higher price tag and about 150g more. It’s a 10″ also.

    But overall, I am very satisfied. Maybe, if LG take their heads out of their asses and release the darn tablet before we hit december, I’ll go bring the other one back, but every day I play with it, the more I want to keep it…

    LG is seriously missing the boat on that one.. for Canada.

  • John-inge Anthonsen

    Bought this LG G pad today in white and cant wait for it to arive :) Thank you for the great rewie,you,re the best :)