LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition review: Dependable tablet gets pure Android facelift

In fact, along with all the basic task-managing apps (like the calculator and alarm clock), all the other Google apps take up just one page of the drawer. This includes Chrome, Currents, Drive, Gmail, Plus, Hangouts and Keep. There's also Maps, Photos, apps for all the Play Store portals, Quick Office, Wallet, and YouTube.

Lastly, there's the a deeply integrated version of Google Now. You can launch this feature either by saying "Okay Google," or by swiping from the bottom of the home screen.

Hardware features
Inside the tablet is a quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 processor, a Qualcomm Adreno 320 GPU, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. It also supports 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5GHz) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 LE. You'll also get a gyroscope and an accelerometer. To see how these innards compare to others, check out the chart below.

Device CPU GPU RAM OS tested
LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 processor Adreno 320 (single-core) 2GB Android 4.4.2
LG G Pad 8.3 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 processor Adreno 320 (single-core) 2GB Android 4.2.2
Google Nexus 7 (2013) 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro Adreno 320 (single-core) 2GB Android 4.3
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (8-inch) 1.5GHz quad-core Exynos 4 Dual (4212) Mali T400MP4 (quad-core) 1.5GB Android 4.2.2
Apple iPad Mini 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 PowerVR SGX543MP2 (dual-core) 512MB iOS 6.1.3

Performance
The Corning glass HD IPS touchscreen has a 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution and 273ppi. The display is not only responsive and sensitive to the touch, but also crisp and sharp. I think it's a great size for watching movies and playing games. After using it for a while, the "smallness" of the Nexus' 7-inch screen is strikingly apparent.

Though previous observation showed that the G Pad's screen looks dimmer compared to its competitors (especially when viewing a white swatch), the display, in general, is great. It's sharp, and it has a wide viewing angle. It's also easy to view outdoors in sunlight, and text and menu icons look smooth. For information about the tablet's display and its brightness and contrast ratio, head over to the initial LG review .

LG G Pad 8.3 GPE (NOVA 3)
With its Snapdragon 600 processor, the tablet operates swiftly and smoothly -- at times faster than LG's original model. Josh Miller/CNET

Though Google's G Pad has identical hardware as its LG original counterpart, I noticed slight, but still marked improvements with the former's internal speeds. True, the latter performed quickly and reliably enough already, but it was clear that basic things like opening the app drawer, launching Chrome, and returning to the homepage, took just a hair longer when compared to Google's device.

The pure Android tablet also executed more complicated tasks consistently faster as well. Loading the first level of N.O.V.A 3, for example, took 32 seconds, which is 2 seconds shorter than the original G Pad and on par with the Nexus 7. And while neither devices outperformed the Nexus for our 3DMark tests (save for the Physics Test portion), Google's model always scored better than the LG version. In addition, it beat out the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 and the Apple iPad Mini as well. (For more on the 3DMark test, click here .)

N.O.V.A. 3 Level 1 load time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
3DMark (Normal, 720p)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Graphics Test 1, 720p (GPU, in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Graphics Test 2, 720p (GPU, in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Physics Test, 720p (CPU in frames per second)

Similar to the majority of tablets on the market, the device's cameras were decent, but not overly impressive. Objects that were taken up close or in slightly dim lighting came out grainy with a notable amount of digital noise. Colors also looked muted and edges often were blurred or out of focus.

Since it doesn't have LG's built-in camera and photo editing software, you won't get features like pausing while recording, activating the shutter with a voice command, or selecting live effects that comically distort your face. However, you will get HDR shooting, four scene options, panoramic shooting, and Photo Sphere (which has been available since Android 4.2). It stitches together pictures taken from every angle at a single point, and creates engrossing 3D-esque photos.

Anecdotally, the device's 4,600mAh battery lasted well enough. It can definitely survive the workday with medium usage and screen brightness cranked all the way up. Though I will update this review when CNET lab test results come in, LG's previous G Pad lasted 6.4 hours of testing. More tablet testing results can be found here .

LG G Pad 8.3 GPE (camera)
The device has a 1.3-megapixel camera in the front and a 5-megapixel shooter in the rear. Josh Miller/CNET

Conclusion
When the LG G Pad 8.3 initially launched, I said it was expensive compared to its rivals, which at the time included the iPad Mini, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 , and the Google Nexus 7. The 7 had the most glaring price difference: if you choose the equivalent 16GB, Wi-Fi only model, it was $121 less than the G Pad, and had all the software benefits of a Google-branded device.

With the Play Edition of the G Pad, however, things get a bit more nuanced. Since it's sized between the 7 and 10 tablets, its price falls somewhere in the middle too. Though $350 is still a decent amount of money to fork over, Android fans will enjoy the extra inches of screen real-estate, software updates, and simplified UI. Plus, the faster performance speeds should be welcomed by all, no matter how much you like the vanilla OS.

However, with the launch of Google's G Pad, comes a lower $299 price with LG's original model. That's $50 back in your pocket for essentially the same tablet -- a tablet that was fast and reliable to begin with.

If you're looking to save dough and don't mind a smaller screen, the Nexus 7 is still the reigning king of small-sized tablets. But if you want something a bigger, can live without pure Android, and don't need updates the moment they're available, go for LG's original G Pad version. If you're set on the stock Android version of the OS, however, and the Nexus 7 just isn't big enough, then Google's edition of the G Pad will be worth the extra $50.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition

Part Number: CNETlgGPad8.3GoogleEd Released: Dec. 10, 2013

MSRP: $349.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Dec. 10, 2013
  • Wireless Connectivity Bluetooth 4.0
    Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Weight 0.74 lbs
  • Type Android 4.4 (KitKat)
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