Not everyone wants to spend iPad money on a tablet. And not everyone wants a massive 10-inch tablet. For those people the LG G Pad 7.0 might be rather appealing - it’s much smaller than an iPad Air, and even cheaper than a Nexus 7.
For £140, you get a neat little 7-inch tablet with a surprising wealth of features, including a couple of bits often missing from much more expensive devices.
There must be a catch, right? Of course there is. But for a casual-use tablet, LG’s latest is a perfect fit for many people’s lounges.
READ MORE: Apple iPad Air review
Black hides a multitude of sins
What the LG G Pad 7.0 doesn’t have is a big design personality. As with many lower-cost tablets, it looks pretty anonymous.
Essentially, it's a small slab of plastic. No design flourishes, no bright colours. It’s not the sort of tablet to feature in a TV advert where a man with a deep voice tries to convince you it’s going to change your life.
That’s not what the G Pad 7.0 is about. Instead, it’s practical. It’s small. It's inoffensive and cheap.
And, bascially, it’s also fairly nice. The plastic of the back is silky-smooth with a slightly soft finish, there’s not too much screen bezel and adults can hold it in one hand. It’s pleasantly curvy.
It also feels reasonably well-made. The top of it is covered by smooth toughened glass, and while it’s not hard to make the edges of the screen ripple under pressure (and only the edges, unusually), it feels as though the LG G Pad 7.0 can withstand at least a little abuse.
It comes in white and black, but while there are blue and orange versions available elsewhere these don’t seem to have made it to the UK. Yet.
Granted, it’s not as flash as the metal LG G 8.3, not quite as nice as the Nexus 7. But it’s not bad, and for the money that in itself is fairly impressive.
It’s flexible, too. You only get 8GB of internal storage, but there’s a plastic flap hiding a microSD card slot on the top edge. This is a must if you want to put your tablet to work as a little movie jukebox.
King of the couch potatoes
The G Pad has a hidden trick nestled next to its memory card slot. It’s an IR transmitter, something you almost never get in a low-cost tablet. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 has one, but it’s a bit more expensive.
It sends out the same kind of signals as the remotes for your TV, Blu-ray player and so on, and with the help of the QRemote app, you can nudge your remotes into retirement at the back of the cupboard. You just need to teach the tablet which remotes it needs to emulate, and there’s a built-in database which should have you covered.
While 7-inch tablets are generally considered portable, this transmitter gives the G Pad 7.0 loads of lounge brownie points. It works pretty well, but those looking to replace an old Logitech Harmony universal remote may be a bit disappointed as you can’t do more advanced things like macro commands. To be fair, they were often a bit hit and miss anyway.
There’s one more stand-out feature in the LG G Pad 7.0. It’s not quite as good as the remote-squishing QRemote, but again it’s about making the tablet even more useful at home. QPair hooks the tab up to your phone, letting it get notifications from your mobile.
It works using Bluetooth, so your phone will need to be in range for this to work. And if you keep your phone in your pocket getting double notifications is a bit annoying. But if your life is like an advert and you drop your phone onto a wireless charger as soon as you get home, it’s just the ticket.
Aside from these two extras, the LG G Pad 7.0 is pretty much the sort of tablet we expect for £140. But hey, in some rivals, you don’t get any little extras.
Not quite razor-sharp
The LG G Pad 7.0 screen is reasonably decent, but not on the same level as the slightly pricier Nexus 7.
Its 7-inch screen packs in a 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution. With 216ppi, it’s not super sharp, but it’s also nowhere near as blocky as this tablet’s 10-inch brother, the LG G Pad 10.1.
There’s also no automatic brightness setting, so you have to set the backlight level manually. This is actually a bit of a pain, because if you set it too high, the screen actually looks worse.
Colours also lack the pop you get from some better screens. There are a few for under £200, too: the Nexus 7 and the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 to name two. Reds look a bit muted, robbing life from the display in a way that’s initially hard to put your finger on.
The LG G Pad 7.0 doesn’t have a terrible screen, though. It uses an IPS panel, giving you nice and wide-angled viewing, and the backlight goes painfully bright, mitigating the pretty reflective screen.
There are good bits and bad bits, but the balancing acts works as the tablet is so affordable while fitting in features you don’t get elsewhere.
READ MORE: Google Nexus 7 review
UI makeover, stat
Part of what makes the LG G Pad 7.0 initially lack that bit of pop in person isn’t the actual screen, but the software. The tablet uses a custom LG interface that feels a little bit behind the times in terms of its visual style.
It’s not hugely tasteful, lacking the clean and simple approach that most other manufacturers have started to adopt. But mainly, it’s just not that pretty.
There’s an easy fix, though. Install the Google Now Launcher from Google Play and the ‘default’ Google UI takes over. It’s much nicer-looking, and really classes-up the tablet’s act – making it more pleasant to both look at and use.
Screen: 7in 1,280 x 800 IPS Processor: Snapdragon 400 quad-core 1.2GHzRAM: 1GBBattery: 4000mAhCamera: 3.15MP rear, 1.3MP frontDimensions: 189.3 x 113.8 x 10.1 mmWeight: 293gMemory: 8GB (expandable using microSD)
The LG G Pad 7.0 packs in a few neat software features in addition to QPair and QRemote, and split-screen multi-tasking is the most obvious of the lot.
Using a button in the soft key bar, you can run two apps on-screen at the same time. This sort of stuff has been around for years now, but it’s not often given such a spotlight on a 7-inch tablet.
It works pretty well, too, allowing you to browse the web and play a YouTube video at the same time. Don’t expect masses more than those sorts of low-level antics, though, as the LG G Pad 7.0 does limit the apps you can use with this dual window feature.
There are quite a few stuttery moments when using the LG G Pad 7.0, but this all seems to be down to the software, as it’s improved a bit by using the Google Now Launcher.
It's odd, because the actual hardware running things is fairly good. The G Pad uses the super-popular Snapdragon 400 dual-core 1.2GHz chipset seen in reams of devices from entry-level phones such as the Motorola Moto G right up to ones costing around £300. For a £140 tablet, it’s the perfect fit.
It also means the tablet can easily handle high-end 3D games without seeming like a wheezing couch potato whipped into running a marathon. You only miss out on a few little graphical effects in some of the more ambitious games compared to a top-end tablet, and all the titles ee tried ran smoothly.
In the Geekbench 3 benchmark, the LG G Pad 7.0 comes out with 1138 points, which is exactly what you’d expect from a tablet of this spec.
This sort of power also gives the LG G pad 7.0 more than enough power to tackle Full HD videos, although you’d be better off sticking to 720p as the screen isn’t going to make the most of anything more detailed anyway. There’s no good video player app pre-installed, though, so you’ll need to seek one out from Google Play.
Games do show up the lower screen resolution a bit, too, so if you’re going to use the tablet an awful lot for entertainment you might want to consider upgrading to either the Nexus 7 or LG G Pad 8.3 – both of which have 1080p displays. Of course, both are also a fair bit more expensive. This isn’t a no-compromise tablet, but it is nice ’n’ cheap.
Definitely not the best camera around
In some areas, the LG G Pad 7.0’s dedication to plugging in features rather than specifically good features is a bit too apparent. It’s most obvious in the cameras, because they are, quite frankly, rubbish.
We could live without the rear camera on most tablets, but we still put the G Pad's snapper through its paces.
It’s dreadful, with a low-res 3.15-megapixel sensor, a weirdly zoomed-in lens perspective and really rather poor image quality. Unless your phone cost less than £50, it will almost certainly do a better job.
The front camera is better, but only because we have such low expectations of selfie cams. It has a 1.3-megapixel sensor with the same sort of grainy, undersaturated images you normally get from such a camera.
Looking for excuses for LG, perhaps it just wanted to make the LG G Pad 7.0 the ultimate low-cost family tablet, and dual cameras were part of that package. If you’re deafened by the sound of us clutching at straws, we apologise.
Having said that, tablet photography deserves its very own level in gadget hell, and there should always be another smartphone or dedicated camera on hand, which you should always use instead anyway.
Sound and Stamina
We’d much rather LG left one camera out and improved the internal speakers a bit instead.
The two rear speakers both sit at the bottom end, which means that they don’t provide a good sense of stereo.Not to mention the fact that they're facing the wrong way.
While output is better than some low-end phones, the tone isn’t anything to write home about either, sounding a bit harsh and thin when the volume’s pumped up. If you want to watch a whole movie, we recommend grabbing your headphones.
The LG G Pad 7.0 redeems itself a bit with its battery life, though. Despite only having 4000mAh unit, it lasts for over 11 hours of video playback. This makes it a bit of a heavyweight in this area, clearly outperforming the Nexus 7.
The LG G Pad 7.0 is not the kind of tablet that’s going to get pulses racing. It’s a low-cost device, and there are signs of that, particularly in its screen.
However, it also gets you a bunch of features not often seen in smaller tablets. The IR transmitter gives it lounge skills missing from the Nexus 7, multi-tasking is given a lot of promotion for a tablet this small and it can pair with your phone for extra notifications juice.
Needless extras? Depends on your outlook, but we’d argue not.
While we’re not huge fans of the UI style, with a few little tweaks you can turn the LG G Pad 7.0 into one of the better and more feature-packed tablets available for this sort of money.