One of the best tablet choices available on the carrier, so long as you're alright with the inevitable Verizon cruft
LG's rethought and refreshed take on Android tablets, the G Pad 8.3, is coming around on five months old and is generally a known quantity at this point. That's not stopping LG from releasing a new variant of the tablet toting Verizon LTE though, and (aside from being tied to a single carrier) it's a cellular-connected version that many have been clamoring for since the original WIfi-only version was announced.
Luckily for us, Verizon hasn't mucked with things too much, and you're going to get the same solid G Pad 8.3 experience with this version as you would with any other. You won't be charged too dramatically, either — Verizon is asking just $199 with a two-year contract for the G Pad 8.3 LTE, or a modest $299 going month-to-month. At those prices with these specs and features, this may be one of the go-to tablets on the carrier. Read along and see how we feel about the combination of LG's tablet and Verizon's network.
The same great hardware
Aside from some inevitable Verizon branding on the front, back and in the software, this G Pad 8.3 is the exact same externally as the original and Google Play edition versions. The tablet is a little heavier than many of its 7-inch counterparts, but you're getting a fantastic build quality and metal back to show for it. On the front you get the same great 1920 x 1200 display, and around the edges and back you have buttons and speakers in all the right places. A quick note is that the Micro SIM lives under the same flap on the top as the SD card does, if you're looking to put your own SIM in.
Some extra Verizon software
You'll find 15 Verizon-installed apps here, and you can't uninstall a single one.
As you'd expect with a device purchased from a major U.S. carrier, the G Pad 8.3 LTE has a few Verizon touches in the software. The first offenders here are Amazon apps, which come on most Verizon devices, and consist of seven different installs — not just Play Store stubs — that can be disabled but not uninstalled. Verizon then includes six of its own apps, and although My Verizon Mobile and Mobile Hotspot are useful none of these six can be uninstalled either. You then have a few odds-and-ends like iHeartRadio and Polaris Office 5 installed, along with the handful of LG apps that come standard on every G Pad 8.3.
The end result is 10.3GB out of the 16GB storage being available for you to use, and if you're the kind of person that wants to manage an SD card the G Pad 8.3 LTE supports those as well for additional storage.
Aside from the apps, the software is identical to what you'd find on the Wifi-only model right from LG. QSlide, Slide Aside, KnockON, Quick Memo, QPair and the rest are all here, toting the same Android 4.2.2 build number as well. You can still configure the on-screen buttons as well, although you're stuck with a set of pre-configured buttons to choose from, none of which removes the menu key. You probably know already how you're going to feel about LG's software customizations before picking up the G Pad 8.3 LTE, and the good thing to know here is that things don't change on this particular model. If you haven't had an opportunity to use an LG device lately, be sure to check out our in-depth reviews of the latest devices.
We're always hesitant to comment on network quality, because not everyone reading this lives in the same city (that'd be weird town, wouldn't it?). The best we can provide is anecdotal observations of the network in the cities we know and compare it to other devices on the same network — as long as everyone reading takes this with a grain of salt, we think that these kinds of observations can be useful.
All that being said, Verizon's is still having serious issues with its network in the downtown core of Seattle where I live. Going further, be it a coincidence of the time or not, the G Pad 8.3 LTE performed on the lower end of what I've experienced on other Verizon devices as well. Speeds in the middle of the day during the work week — aka the most saturated times for the network — were under 1mbps down and up, with nighttime speeds pushing around 5mbps down and up, but never above 10mbps in my tests.
Only you know what Verizon's network looks like where you live — just check before you buy.
At the daytime speeds, the device is pretty much unusable for anything requiring an active network connection — web pages take far too long to load, and don't even think about trying to stream music. At night things were just fine, and I didn't notice the network speed taking any specific hit to the performance of any task on the G Pad 8.3 LTE.
Although it may not be a huge issue now in 2014, it is also worth noting that the G Pad 8.3 LTE doesn't support Verizon's 3G network. Just like the Nexus 7 LTE for Verizon, you're going to have LTE and Wifi (of course) as your only network connection options. Whether or not Verizon likes to admit it, its network does still have plenty of areas that consist of only EVDO 3G coverage, and folks taking their G Pad 8.3 LTE to those areas will be hunting for Wifi. This issue gets smaller and smaller with each LTE tower upgrade, but it's definitely something to keep in mind — again, only you know how Verizon's network is where you live.
Still a top tablet offering on Verizon
Even with the few issues that Verizon has introduced to the G Pad 8.3 LTE, considering the tablet options on the carrier it still stands out as one of the best choices available right now. The standout tablet that gets ahead of it is likely the Nexus 7 LTE for most — it comes in $50 higher than the G Pad 8.3 LTE at $349 off-contract, but is just $49 right now if you want to sign away two years of your life. It has competitive hardware and screen quality, weighs less and is a little easier to use in your hands overall — and the software may be a plus for many as well.
The G Pad 8.3 LTE stands out with great build quality and a larger screen than the Nexus 7 LTE, and if you're a fan of (or are just familiar with) LG's software offerings it may be the leading choice when you head to Verizon for a tablet purchase. You can buy the LG G Pad 8.3 LTE from Verizon for $99 on-contract (promotional price) or $299 off-contract right now.