Review: The LG G Pad 8.3 LTE from Verizon Wireless
LG has been on a roll lately. Devices such as the Optimus G, Nexus 4, G2 and Nexus 5 have sold fairly well, received very positive reviews and have made LG one of the more successful manufactures of Android smartphones around lately. However, LG hasn’t had the same luck when it comes to the tablet market. Their first effort, the Optimus Pad from early 2011, was fat, heavy, insanely expensive and featured 3D gimmicks that no one ever asked for. Not surprisingly, it didn’t sell all that well.
Perhaps as a result of that failure, LG ended up ignoring the tablet market for the next couple of years. Thankfully, LG made the decision to re-enter the tablet business recently and their latest effort looks to be a much better offering. It would appear that LG has taken what they’ve learned from their recent smartphone successes and applied that magic to a tablet. Enter the LG G Pad 8.3 LTE, a tablet that is free of any 3D gimmickry and isn’t fat, heavy or insanely expensive.
So does the LG G Pad 8.3 LTE have what it takes to compete with all of the other Android-powered tablets out there? Read on for our full review.
LG G Pad 8.3 LTE Unboxing
The Verizon Wireless LG G Pad 8.3 ships with a USB wall adapter, a Micro USB cable for charging and transferring data, and a handful of user manuals to help you begin using your new tablet right away.
It also ships with what has got to be the most informative screen protector We’ve ever seen.
LG G Pad 8.3 LTE Design & Hardware
Constructed from a combination of high-quality plastic and brushed metal, and with a body that is only 8.3mm thick and features lovely rounded corners, the LG G Pad 8.3 LTE is a slim, attractive and well built little tablet.
It measures 8.5 x 5.0 x 0.33 inches and weights in at a hefty 11.9 ounces. Making it a tad larger and heavier than the similarly priced Nexus 7 tablet, which measures just 7.9 x 4.5 x 0.34 inches and weights only 10 ounces. So is that increased screen real estate worth having slightly less portability? In my opinion, yes. After using the G Pad’s 8.3 inch display for a few weeks, my 7 inch tablet has began to feel a bit more cramped than it used to.
Speaking of that 8.3 inch display, it is protected by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 2 and features a IPS (In Plane Switching) LCD panel with a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. That makes for a pixel density of around 273 pixels per inch. Overall, this is a great looking display. It offers very sharp visuals with vivid and accurate colors and very wide viewing angles. In a word, it’s gorgeous. The only cause for concern when it comes to this display is its brightness levels. While not dark enough to make using the tablet less enjoyable, it is slightly dimmer than other tablets when compared side-by-side and at full brightness levels.
The front of the G Pad is free of any physical buttons that would take up space below the display, which allows this tablet to remain fairly compact for how large its display is. While not as pocket-friendly as a 7 incher would be, this tablet can still be managed fairly easily. Situated directly above the display, you’ll find the slate’s 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat.
The rear, which kind of reminds me of a BlackBerry Storm, is covered in brushed aluminium that makes the G Pad 8.3 feel very solid in the hands. However, this metal panel does show fingerprints and smudges easily and is less grippy when compared with other tablets such as the Nexus 7. While tiny, the two rear-mounted speakers have plenty of volume and sound clear even at high volume levels.
I personally do not have any desire to take pictures with a tablet, so I have no problems with the unimpressive, 5 megapixel rear-facing camera that is located towards the top. This camera is exactly what you should expect from a tablet camera. It will capture videos in 1080p at 30fps, but doesn’t include a flash, so it won’t be very useful in low-light situations. Even in perfect lighting conditions, it probably won’t match the quality you’d get from any modern smartphone anyway. As is the case with most tablet cameras, it is great that they included it, but most users will happily stick with using their phone’s camera instead.
Moving along the device’s outer edges you’ll find absolutely nothing on the left side and a power button and volume rocker on the right side. The top edge includes a IR blaster, headphone jack and a port door for the micro SIM and micro SD card slots, while the bottom edge is home to a microUSB port for charging and data transfers.
The G Pad 8.3 LTE ships with only 16GB of internal storage, so it’s nice to see that LG included a microSD card slot for users who wish to expand their storage space. The slot on the LG Pad 8.3 LTE will support cards that are up to 64GB in capacity and worked perfectly with my personal card.
Internally, the LG G Pad 8.3 LTE is powered by a 1.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB worth of RAM. With those hardware bits under the hood, the G Pad 8.3 LTE is a rather speedy performer for normal, everyday use. If you’re a fan of benchmark scores, you’ll be pleased to learn that the G Pad 8.3 LTE ranked higher than both the Nexus 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 in each test we performed. Benchmarks only tell part of the story though, how a device actually performs in real use is far more important. Thankfully, the LG G Pad 8.3 LTE is easily one of the smoothest performing Android tablets we’ve ever used. Navigating the home screens and applications menus was as smooth as it gets and launching apps happened in an instant.
Overall, I am impressed with what LG has done with the design and hardware for the G Pad 8.3 LTE. Nothing about it looks or feels cheap in anyway, it provides a very smooth user experience and little touches like the chrome bezels that surround each speaker grill show that LG put a lot of effort into making this a beautiful device. LG has been stepping up their approach when it comes to design, build quality and performance lately and the G Pad 8.3 LTE is a perfect example of just how far they’ve come in a relatively short amount of time.
The LG G Pad 8.3 LTE is a tablet that looks, feels and performs like it should have had a much higher price tag.
LG G Pad 8.3 LTE Software
On the software side of things, the LG G Pad 8.3 ships with Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) along with LG’s Optimus UI custom skin. For the most part, using the software on this device feels like using a stretched-out version of the LG G2, which is a good thing. Optimus UI has grown to become one of our favorite custom skins for Android and everything we love about it is on this tablet, including LG’s intuitive Knock Knock feature, which is still the absolute best way to wake a sleeping device.
If you’re a fan of the modifications LG has made to Android for any of their recent smartphones, you’ll probably be very happy with what they’ve done on the G Pad 8.3 LTE.
Out of the box, the LG G Pad 8.3 LTE offers three home screens worth of space for application icons and widgets. Users can add or remove screens as needed and can also choose between two different, pre-installed themes. Along with the default themes, the LG G Pad 8.3 LTE can also run user created themes. These custom themes can be used without rooting the device and include modified application icons and new wallpapers to enable users to easily customize how their tablet looks.
The customization options don’t end with how the software looks either, it actually continues on to how you’ll interact with it. The LG G Pad 8.3 features on-screen buttons instead of the physical buttons found on many Android devices. Since these buttons are fully controlled by software, it is possible to customize their layout. So if you’re old Android device had the back button on the opposite side, you can change the G Pad’s button layout to match what you have grown used to.
All of the applications you’d expect to find on an Android 4.2.2 device are here, including Google apps such as Gmail, Maps, Hangouts, Keep, YouTube and Google Now. You’ll also find several pre-installed and non-removable applications from Verizon Wireless, including My Verizon, Messages, Mobile Hotspot, VZ Navigator, and Redbox Instant.
Most of LG’s in house applications are here as well. You’ll get LG Qslide which makes multitasking easier and the incredibly useful Quick Memo for capturing screen shots and scribbling a memo on top of them. The most exciting newer additions to LG’s application line-up are QuickRemote and QPair
QuickRemote uses the G Pad’s built-in IR blaster to allow your tablet to act as a universal remote control for home theater equipment. Setting up QuickRemote involves pointing the Tablet towards the item you want to control and then following a few on screen prompts. Once configured, QuickRemote worked very well for controlling all of my equipment that uses infrared technology, including each of my televisions, DVD Players and my Comcast cable boxes.
Surprisingly, the IR blaster on this tablet is usable from a greater distance than the one found on many of my dedicated remotes. Having a feature like this included on mobile devices is so useful. After all, remotes tend to disappear far more frequently than smartphones or tablets do.
When paired, call notifications from your phone appear complete with caller ID information and an option to ignore the incoming call, text messages can be read and replied to directly from the tablet and all QuickMemo files that are saved to the G Pad’s gallery will automatically be saved to the gallery on your paired phone as well. It can also be used for locating either your missing tablet or phone by sending a signal to play a loud ringer even while the missing device is in silent mode.
QPair also includes a feature that adds shortcuts to applications that you’ve recently used on the companion device. Tapping the shortcut will open the app you’ve just used on your tablet on your paired phone and vice versa. Of course, for this feature to work, you will need to have the particular application installed on both devices.
Verizon’s 4G LTE network is fantastic in my area and the LG G Pad 8.3 LTE had no problems taking full advantage of it. I routinely experienced speeds of 20+ Mbps down and as high as 14 Mbps up, which is plenty fast for any task you might need to accomplish online, including streaming HD videos.
For electricity, the LG G Pad 8.3 LTE is equipped with a 4600 mAh battery that easily lasted more than a full day worth of fairly frequent use per charge. As is the case with most tablets, the screen is the biggest battery drainer on the G Pad. So activities such as watching movies and long gaming sessions will drain this battery significantly faster, but for normal day-to-day use, this tablet’s battery life should be more than adequate for most users.
With the ideal balance of portability and size, the LG G Pad 8.3 LTE makes a great option for anyone looking for a Android tablet that is a bit larger than 7 inches but not quite as large as 10 inches.
The full HD display looks fantastic, it performs well, its battery life doesn’t disappoint and having a Verizon 4G LTE connection to use while away from WiFi is very convenient. The bundled software from LG includes several great features and applications, which are enjoyable and easy to use, and provide a ton of customization and productivity options. The only minor complaint we have with this tablet is it still hasn’t received an update to Android KitKat yet, but that should be resolved soon enough and things will only improve once it has been.
In a nutshell, the LG G Pad 8.3 LTE is a winner.