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Pixel Tablet: Everything we know and what we want to see (Update: Jan. 26)
Update: January 26, 2023 (18:11 PM ET): We’ve updated the Pixel Tablet rumor hub below with new images and details about the rumored Pixel Tablet Pro.
Original article: The last time Google launched an Android-based tablet was in 2015 with the Google Pixel C. After that one-and-done device, it switched things up by launching the Google Pixel Slate, based on Chrome OS. After that also failed to gain traction, Google formally announced it was exiting the tablet market completely. However, here we are writing about the imminent launch of a Google Pixel Tablet — a new Android-based tablet from Google.
Regardless of Google’s start-and-stop history with tablets, this is an exciting new product. In this article, we will tell you everything we know so far about the Google Pixel Tablet. Further down, we will tell you a few things we hope to see, too.
Will there be a Google Pixel Tablet?
A new Google-made tablet is definitely on the way and will be known as the Pixel Tablet. The company announced this back at Google I/O on May 11, 2022 and doubled down on it during the company’s Made by Google event in October that year. Along with the Google Pixel Tablet news, the company also launched the Google Pixel 6a, Google Pixel Buds Pro, Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, and the long-awaited Google Pixel Watch.
These devices will make up Google’s hardware ecosystem. Based on the company’s “ambient computing” ambitions, the devices will all work together seamlessly.
When will the Google Pixel Tablet release date be?
Google didn’t give a specific launch date for the Pixel Tablet. However, on stage at Google I/O, Rick Osterloh used purposefully vague language. “We’re aiming to make it available next year,” were his exact words. On October 6, Google was a little more definitive, specifically giving a launch window of 2023.
Related: Your guide to the best tablets
Assuming Google can get the tablet ready for 2023, it would probably launch it in either May 2023 at the next I/O or in October 2023 at its fall hardware event.
What features and specs will the Google Pixel Tablet have?
We’re still a long way out from the Pixel Tablet’s launch date, so we don’t know a ton about it. However, Google did divulge a few tidbits of information on specs and hinted at some features. Meanwhile, leakers and code-sleuths have filled in some gaps for us.
Google showed off the design of the Pixel Tablet during I/O. There were no subtle hints, either: the company showed the tablet from all sides, giving us a very solid idea of what to expect.
Interestingly, the Google Pixel Tablet looks like it came from the “old” Google design room that created phones like the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 5. The new design language we see on the Pixel 6, Pixel 6a, and Pixel 7 is nowhere to be found.
In fact, the tablet doesn’t look very modern at all. The front has large bezels all around, while premium tablets from Apple and Samsung have little-to-no bezels. This is interesting because Osterloh referred to the tablet as being “premium,” even though it doesn’t look it (more on this in a bit).
Finally, during the I/O keynote, you could very briefly see a set of pogo pins on the back of the tablet underneath the Google logo. This strongly suggested there would be ways to connect accessories to the tablet.
All of this was later confirmed in the Made by Google event. It turned out that the pogo pins on the back were there to connect with a smart speaker that doubles as a charger for the tablet. When connected to the speaker, it takes on a form looking somewhat similar to Google’s Nest Hub and becomes a smart display.
In December, the Pixel Tablet reportedly popped up on the Facebook Marketplace. The listing appeared to show the device in all its glory and came with a price tag of $400. This appeared to be a prerelease device, however, and it’s difficult to tell if there are identifying details embedded in the device that would allow Google to brick the tablet.
In one of the photos, you can see the tablet turned on. Another shows the tablet showing the storage page. And there’s an image of the tablet connected to the Nest Hub Max-like dock.
A leak in January, provided leaker Kuba Wojciechowski, gave us a few more shots of the device.
Confirmed specs and features
So far, one of the few things we know for certain about the hardware inside of the Pixel Tablet is that it will run on Google’s Tensor chipset. Given that we won’t see the tablet until 2023, we figured it would likely come with the second-gen Tensor. Google did confirm during the October 6 showcase that the tablet will indeed run on Tensor G2.
It was also mentioned during the conference that Google has been working with developers to ensure Pixel Tablet apps can take advantage of large-screen features like split-screen and stylus support.
See also: Google Tensor vs Snapdragon 888 series
Other than that, the only other thing we know for certain is that Android will power the tablet. Out of the box, it will come with Andriod 13. With Android 13, the tablet will have Google’s Material You feature that allows users to blend their apps with the color of the background.
Now for the speculation. A listing discovered by NuGiz (via 9To5Google) suggests that the Pixel Tablet might get stylus support. The publication found a Google tablet codenamed “Tangor” in a list of Universal Stylus Initiative (USI) products. USI aims to create a standard for active pen input so that any supported accessory works with every certified device. A number of Chromebooks already feature USI support.
In an APK teardown of a pre-release version of the Google Home app, 9To5Google found two distinct dock accessories associated with the codename Tangor. The two docks also had codenames, which were “Yuzu” and “Korlan.”
This was corroborated by Google’s statement mentioned earlier saying that it was working with developers to make sure Pixel Tablet apps can take advantage of stylus support. Also, we now know that the smart speaker was likely one of the docks mentioned in the teardown.
Speaking of the stylus, another APK teardown conducted by 9To5Google revealed lines of code hinting that Google could enable Fast Pair battery alerts for the stylus when power gets low. Additionally, the outlet also found code suggesting there could be a note-taking that may work with any USI stylus.
Another APK teardown by 9To5Google revealed that Google Assistant and Google Discover may get redesigns on the Pixel Tablet. For Google Assistant, it appears that answers could show up on the right side of the screen instead of the center, but the feature could maintain its light bar. As for Google Discovery, it looks like there may be one change that replaces the search bar at the top with a greeting. It was also later revealed that Discover would add a third column to the UI with the articles placed in cards.
Some code-sleuthing has told us a lot about the Pixel Tablet.
Elsewhere, code-sleuth Kuba Wojciechowski found evidence that very strongly suggests the Pixel Tablet is not designed to leave the house. According to AOSP code, the tablet will lack a modem, GPS, proximity sensors, and a barometer. This would make the tablet pretty useless if not connected to Wi-Fi at home.
Late in September, a leak revealed what could be the display size and storage size for the tablet. According to Kuba Wojciechowski (via 91Mobiles), the Pixel Tablet may have an 11-inch display, could support Wi-Fi 6, and have Google’s first-party USI 2.0 stylus. Additionally, the device could offer 128GB and 256GB storage options.
The following month, Google Keep announced updated keyboard shortcuts for Android that would align more with the web experience. Along with that announcement, the team provided a gif of the shortcut being used. It’s possible that the gif they provided is a screen recording taken from the Pixel Tablet. If it is, it would be one of our first looks at the Pixel Tablet’s software in action.
In September 2022, Wojciechowski discovered code that hinted at a Pixel Tablet Pro. It was later discovered by Wojciechowski that the Pro model may in fact be the Pixel Tablet that’s releasing in 2023 and the other model was canceled. The only difference between the two may have been that the canceled model used the original Tensor chip and the Pro model uses the Tensor G2 chip.
Finally, we have some information on camera support. According to some leaked code found by 9to5Google, the Pixel Tablet could lack support for 4K video recording. It would also lack support for many of the photo/video features found on the Pixel 7 series.
What will the Google Pixel Tablet price be?
We do not have any pricing information to divulge yet. We can definitely speculate, though, based on some crucial factors.
As mentioned earlier, Google refers to the tablet as being “premium” even though it looks like it will be anything but. Now, Google could be using the term “premium” to refer to the hardware and user experience, but the price could still be lower than what you would expect from an iPad Pro or a Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. It would be an eminently smart business move for Google to try to undercut competitors here, which could keep the price fairly low.
Likewise, remember that one of the biggest reasons for the failure of the Pixel Slate line was how expensive they were. Also, remember that the Pixel 6 line has been the most successful Pixel phone in recent years, and they are priced very competitively. With all this in mind, it would make sense for the Pixel Tablet to be at least affordable.
Google Pixel Tablet: What we want to see
Over the past eight years or so, Google has essentially handed the tablet market to Apple. Google’s attempts at creating its own tablets were weak at best, and the company barely made any tweaks to Android to help it accommodate larger screens from other manufacturers.
In other words, Google has a lot of catching up to do if it wants the Pixel Slate to be competitive. Here are the things we hope to see.
A tablet-focused Android fork
When Apple launched the first iPad, it came with iOS — the same operating system that appears on iPhones. However, in 2019, Apple launched iPad OS, a fork of iOS that caters specifically to iPads.
Related: The best iPads you can buy
If Google is smart, it will adopt this strategy. The version of Android that appears on smartphones is simply not optimized for larger screens. Sure, Google started to rectify that with Android 12L, and Android 13 contains all of 12L’s optimizations. However, there’s no reason to bog down the phone version of Android with code designed specifically for tablets. Even when you take foldable displays into account, a tablet’s screen is not the same as a phone’s.
To its credit, at Google I/O 2022, the company did make a few announcements of things it’s doing to make using an Android tablet a better experience. One of these is making it easier to find tablet-optimized apps on the Google Play Store. It also stated that it’s working with developers to create apps that take advantage of a large screen. So it sounds like Google is on the right track, but we’ll see if Google is able to land the plane.
Innovative hardware accessories
We know the pogo pins on the back of the Google Pixel Tablet will allow it to attach accessories to the tablet, like the charging speaker dock. But will there be other accessories? The most obvious accessory we can think of for this is a keyboard.
However, we’ve seen plenty of tablet keyboard folios, as first popularized by the Microsoft Surface line. Nowadays, iPads and Galaxy Tab devices have them, too. People will want this for sure, but it’s not exactly innovative.
The question Google should be asking itself is what can't an iPad do?
Turning into a smart display when docked is a great step, this is something Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung don’t offer. Even Amazon doesn’t have anything quite like this. But is there anything else that Google will be able to think of?
It would be really cool if Google came up with even more ideas along these lines. What can’t we do with an iPad? Whatever answers you can come up with for that question, that’s what Google should try to do.
A low price
Above, you can see the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. It is an incredibly powerful Android tablet with an MSRP of $1,099. This is the same starting price as the most recent iPad Pro of similar size. If the Google Pixel Tablet lands at a similar price, it will undoubtedly fail.
Google’s last two attempts at entering the tablet market involved very expensive hardware. Buyers balked, and they failed. To not make the same mistake for the third time, Google needs to price the Pixel Tablet aggressively.
The standard iPad starts at $329. That’s the price Google should be at least attempting to go for. It needs to get as many people as possible to buy this tablet to build out its hardware ecosystem and prove it can succeed in making an Android tablet people love to use. If it’s too expensive, people won’t give it a chance, and it will be the third round of failure for Google.
Unfortunately, Google referred to the Pixel Tablet as a premium device at Google I/O. We have our fingers crossed that Google doesn’t conflate “premium” with “expensive.” The thing keeping us hopeful is the Pixel 7. That phone is just $600 — which is a downright steal for what you get — and would be considered a “premium” phone. Still, Google won’t move many of these tablets if an iPad is on the shelf right next to it for hundreds less.
That’s everything we want to see on the Google Pixel Tablet. Which features do you hope for most? Be sure to vote in our poll below.