Google’s just another carrier, or at least that’s what it’ll tell you. Just as Verizon and AT&T customize every device they sell, with apps and services and robotic ringtones, Google’s selling its own flavor of some of the most popular devices on the market. It just so happens that Google Play Editions’ “customizations” are in fact reversions — from the HTC One to the Samsung Galaxy S4, Google strips all added features and functionality and reverts back to the purest Android experience.
The LG G Pad 8.3 is the first tablet with a Google Play Edition, a completely stock 8.3-inch slate for $349.99. It’s not a Nexus device like Google’s other two tablets, but it has the latest version of Android, untouched by any carrier or manufacturer.
It’s right here, on my desk, next to LG’s skinned version. That one’s also $349.99, with an identical spec sheet and the Korean company’s idea of what Android is supposed to look like. So here’s the simple question: who’s right? Google’s a purist, LG a consummate tweaker — which turns the same parts into the better tablet?
The answer’s not as obvious as I thought.
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