LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition review

The LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition is a boon for die-hard stock Android fans, but it's missing some of the features that made the original tablet compelling in the first place.
Photo of LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition

The stock Android experience—the way Google intended—makes its first foray onto a non-Nexus tablet with the LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition ($349.99 direct). Like the Galaxy S4, HTC One, and Sony Z Ultra, the G Pad 8.3 GPE strips away all of the custom skinning and added features, leaving a vanilla build of Android on the same slim, fast, and well-built tablet we saw earlier this year. Unfortunately, LG’s QSlide multitasking was among the G Pad’s best features and it’s also gone on the Google Play Edition. The G Pad is a good option for purists who love the in-between screen size, but for everyone else, the $229 Nexus 7 remains a better value and our Editors’ Choice.

We already tested the original LG G Pad 8.3, so head over to that review for a full rundown on the design and features. The Google Play Edition is physically identical, so we’ll focus on the software and performance differences here.

Performance and Android
The GPE packs the same quad-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor with 2GB RAM found in the original G Pad. Performance in synthetic benchmarks was slightly improved across the board, which may attest to the resource-heavy extras found in LG’s Optimus UI. That said, you shouldn’t really expect much of a performance difference between the two in real world usage. Both are among the fastest Android tablets you can get right now, though models using the beefier Snapdragon 800 processor have a leg up on the G Pad. In our battery rundown test, which loops a video with screen brightness set to max and Wi-Fi on, the GPE G Pad lasted 5 hours, 16 minutes, which is right in line with the original’s 5 hours, 58 minutes in the same test. There’s a microSD card slot, but while it read our 64GB card fine, it couldn’t write to any microSD card. I’ve read similar reports elsewhere and we’re waiting on a reply from LG on the matter.

Like every other Google Play Edition device, the G Pad 8.3 dispenses with LG’s aesthetic flourishes and additional features. What you’re left with is a stock version of Android 4.4 with nearly blank canvases for home screens and zero bloatware to speak of. It’s Android direct from the source, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better experience. While I love the absence of bloatware and never really cared for LG’s visual taste, the company’s added features were actually pretty useful. Chief among them is QSlide, which let you run two apps at the same time in resizable floating windows of varying opacity. Also gone is QPair, which pairs the G Pad with any Android phone, sharing alerts for texts, incoming calls, and other notifications between your two devices.

Conclusions
The LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition is a fine tablet, and basically the only stock Android tablet you can get with a microSD card slot—a feature conspicuously missing from every Nexus device, though somewhat stilted here. But beyond that, it doesn’t make a compelling case for choosing it over the Nexus 7, unless you absolutely need a bigger canvas to work on. And hate LG’s skin all you want, but the Google Play Edition misses out on some genuinely useful features on the original G Pad. There’s also no price break between the original G Pad and the Google Play Edition, so this is really just for die-hard stock Android fans. Even then, I’d recommend saving the $120 and going with the Nexus 7. 

Specifications
Wi-Fi (802.11x) Compatibility 2.4GHz/5GHz
Screen Resolution 1920 x 1200 pixels
Dimensions 8.5 x 5 x .32 inches
Weight 11.9 oz
Screen Type IPS LCD
GPS Yes
RAM 2 GB
Camera Resolution 5 MP Rear
1 MP Front-Facing
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 16 GB
Screen Pixels Per Inch 273 ppi
Additional Storage MicroSD
Video Camera Resolution 1080p
Processor Speed 1.7 GHz
Bluetooth Version 4.0
Screen Size 8.3 inches
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core
Ports micro USB
Storage Type SSD

Verdict
The LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition is a boon for die-hard stock Android fans, but it's missing some of the features that made the original tablet compelling in the first place.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
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