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google pixel tablet pixel phones android homescreen 1
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
aa2020 recommended

Google Pixel Tablet review: Should you buy it?

Is it a smart display? Is it a tablet? Yes. Sort of.
By

Published onJuly 8, 2023

aa2020 recommended

Google Pixel Tablet

The Google Pixel Tablet is a strange yet endearing return to the tablet market for the Big G. When docked as a smart display it lacks some of the key features that makes a Nest Hub tick and as a standalone tablet it loses every spec race against strong competition, but its quirky ambition to be both a basic smart home hub and a Pixel-ified Android tablet will appeal to those already invested in Google's growing product ecosystem.

What we like

Unique Nest Hub-like dock
Decent battery life and reliable charging
Good audio on and off the dock
Pixel-exclusive software features
Long-term update policy

What we don't like

Lacks several key Nest Hub features when docked
Sluggish 60Hz display
Tensor G2 gets hot
Low-res cameras and limited video options
Exorbitant price for additional docks that do nothing on their own
aa2020 recommended

Google Pixel Tablet

The Google Pixel Tablet is a strange yet endearing return to the tablet market for the Big G. When docked as a smart display it lacks some of the key features that makes a Nest Hub tick and as a standalone tablet it loses every spec race against strong competition, but its quirky ambition to be both a basic smart home hub and a Pixel-ified Android tablet will appeal to those already invested in Google's growing product ecosystem.

Google Pixel Tablet review: At a glance

  • What is it? The Google Pixel Tablet is the first Android-based tablet from the search giant since 2015’s Pixel C. It comes with a bundled Charging Speaker Dock, which transforms it into a smart display with an improved speaker and Nest Hub-like features. The Pixel Tablet is powered by custom Tensor G2 silicon, has a 10.95-inch LCD display, front and rear 8MP cameras, and a 7,020mAh battery.
  • What is the price? The Google Pixel Tablet is available from $499 in the US for the base model with 128GB storage, or $599 for the 256GB storage variant. It is priced at £599 in the UK and €679 in selected European markets.
  • Where can you buy it? You can buy the Pixel Tablet from the Google Store, Amazon, Best Buy, and other major retailers.
  • How did we test it? I tested the Google Pixel Tablet for two weeks. The review unit was purchased by Android Authority.
  • Is it worth it? The Google Pixel Tablet's unique feature set fills a very particular niche. For those that want an authentic Nest Hub experience, the Pixel Tablet isn't quite there yet, nor is it entirely on the level of other Android tablets in its price range when taken spec-for-spec. But if you're on a strict $500 budget and in the market for a basic smart display and a simple-to-use, reasonably-sized Android tablet, then the Pixel Tablet is an easy recommendation.

Should you buy the Google Pixel Tablet?

google pixel tablet in box accessories
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

As tablets have become larger and more powerful, the leading examples have all crept closer and closer toward the realm of laptops in terms of design and functionality. The Google Pixel Tablet bucks that trend entirely.

Let’s start with the Pixel Tablet’s obvious differentiator: the dock. As an avid tablet user, I’m confident in telling you immediately that it’s the only real reason you might want to part with just shy of $500 to buy the Pixel Tablet. That’s not to say the rest of the deal isn’t pretty good, more so that all of its best bits arise from its hybrid nature as both a portable slate and a pseudo-Google Nest smart display.

Undocked, the Pixel Tablet is just that: everything you’d expect from a Pixel phone (mostly), but larger. But when attached to the pill-shaped face of the Charging Speaker Dock, the Pixel Tablet swaps its already decent quad speakers for the dock’s 43.5mm full-range speaker — the same one found in the regular Google Nest Hub. The audio can fully fill a room and offers decent clarity, though it’s noticeably less punchy than the Nest Hub Max with its dual-tweeter setup.

The tablet is held on the dock by fairly strong magnets. It’ll come loose if you shake it — and sometimes when you press the volume keys — but the grip is tight enough that it won’t come loose even if you bump the edge with quite a bit of force. Aligning the magnets isn’t quite as effortless as Google’s demos led me to believe, but with some practice you’ll find the sweet spot. The princely official case ($79 at Google Store) really helps here as the metal stand acts as a makeshift target for the connection when closed, and while it is expensive, it’s hard to deny it’s the best Pixel Tablet case you can buy. Case or no case, I’ve found the easiest way to detach the tablet from the dock safely is to hold both sides between your thumb and index fingers and use your little and ring fingers to push the back outward from the base.

There's a pleasing familiarity of seeing Google's vision of Android come to life on a larger screen.

So far so good for the Nest Hub/tablet idea, but here’s the first issue I and many others have with the setup: when the tablet is separated, the Charging Speaker Dock may have power, but it is a completely dead brick. No Google Assistant, no Bluetooth audio, no Cast. Nothing. Worse still, while you get a dock included with the tablet, putting a second dock on another floor or in another room will set you back a whopping $129. I can’t in all good conscience recommend anyone does this unless Google issues a firmware update to make them do something without a tablet attached, especially when a Nest Hub or Nest Audio can be picked up for less (with change).

google pixel tablet music 2 lyrics
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Not that you’d know the docked Pixel Tablet wasn’t a Nest Hub in the first place at a quick glance. The overall soft-touch aluminum, pastel-shaded aesthetic is distinctly Google, and while the screen is overall roughly the same size as the larger Nest Hub Max, the thinner, black bezels and sharper screen are a vast improvement over Google’s smart displays. Those bezels aren’t exactly small for a tablet, but they ensure you can hold the tablet in portrait or landscape without ghost touches on the actual display, all without sacrificing too much screen real estate.

I traditionally err toward larger-screen tablets (the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is essentially my home’s portable TV), but the Pixel Tablet’s LCD panel is plenty roomy for all intended purposes, though the slender aspect ratio isn’t as suited to reading books or scrolling social media in portrait orientation — this is a media-centric tablet, without a doubt. Any grumbles about the use of LCD over OLED should be discarded due to the potential of burn-in when docked; Google picked the sensible option here, and though I do miss the deep blacks of Samsung’s premium-end tablets, it’s just as good as the regular Tab S8 and the iPad Air, to my eyes. Brightness is also fine unless you plan on using it in direct sunlight, but that’s true of basically all tablets aside from the mini-LED-equipped iPad Pros. In sum, it’s a decent enough screen for a tablet, but a brilliant one for a smart display.

google pixel tablet guest voice shopping list
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The same mantra is true of performance. Benchmarks from the Tensor G2 sit on the higher scale for Pixel devices, suggesting this is the flagship version of Google’s silicon, not the weaker configuration snuck into the Pixel 7a. It has enough power to push everyday tasks with zero hiccups, though whether that’ll be true in three years’ time when software support ends (let alone at the five-year mark when security patches stop) is another matter. Compared to the laptop-grade performance of the similarly priced iPad Air M1, and to a lesser extent the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-equipped Galaxy Tab S8, the Pixel Tablet can’t push as many frames or (ironically) pixels in demanding games or productivity apps, and like so many Tensor-driven devices, excessive heat becomes noticeable when put under even mild stress.

The display quality and performance are reasonable for a sub-premium Android tablet, but exemplary for a smart display.

The real bummer, though, is that the Pixel Tablet’s otherwise reasonable performance often feels sluggish due to the 60Hz-capped screen refresh rate. Animations in menus stutter rather than glide, and wallowing in social media feeds isn’t as satisfying without crisp doomscrolling. Again, this isn’t an issue when docked, as there’s far more power and fluidity here than even the top-end Nest Hub Max. For tablet users, though, particularly those conditioned by modern Android phones, it’s a head-scratching decision to not at least match Google’s own base Pixel 7 and the budget Pixel 7a’s 90Hz refresh rate, let alone the 120Hz of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy Tab S line.

What the Pixel Tablet does uniquely bring to the table is the full Pixel experience on a larger screen — or at least one that doesn’t cost $1,800 like the Pixel Fold. As someone whose home and mobile ecosystem is almost exclusively made up of Pixel and Nest devices, seeing the same array of Google apps, Pixel-only features, and Material You-fied look translated to the Pixel Tablet’s version of Android 13 is comforting in its familiarity and richness. There have also been some clear inroads toward bettering the Android experience on a larger screen, evidenced by Google’s own version of a taskbar and refreshed apps like the endlessly pleasing Weather widget overhaul.

That optimization effort is clearly still in its infancy, however. Some apps, including a number of Google’s own, are blanketed in white space, and the lack of a native method of stretching apps to landscape (Samsung, for example, has its own bespoke solution) means you’ll encounter some apps which will only show in portrait view with big letterbox bars on either side. And while the stock photo and video editing apps are enhanced by Google’s AI tools like Magic Eraser, the absence of an official stylus or keyboard attachment significantly limits the Pixel Tablet’s productivity credentials. It’s technically compatible with any USI 2.0 stylus and will accept Bluetooth keyboards just fine, but with no magnetic charging for a pen or an elegant way of attaching an input device, I’m not sure even the heavily-leaked official accessories due after launch will convince me that the Pixel Tablet is worth it for anything but casual use.

The Pixel Tablet feels ill-equipped for productivity tasks, and its Nest Hub-like features aren't quite fleshed out enough to make up for it.

Of course, the Pixel Tablet isn’t really designed to be a productivity powerhouse. Instead, it wants to separate from the increasingly crowded tablet pack by wowing buyers with its smart home integration. But even here, the Pixel Tablet’s Hub Mode is found a little lacking to fully replace a Nest Hub. The Hub Mode does an admirable job at replacing the Nest Hub functionality, though design-wise, it more closely resembles the redesigned Google Home app. I have three Nest Hubs (two second gen models, one Nest Hub Max) dotted around my house, and the Pixel Tablet carries over a lot of my favorite features, such as the photo gallery, visual timers, and a Nest Doorbell feed for deliveries, visitors, and spotting the many friendly cats that like to cross my driveway. Chromecast support (albeit only when docked) is favorable on Google’s slate due to the prettier display, too.

However, the lack of Continued Conversation support and multiple Voice Match users immediately limits how smart the Pixel Tablet is as a smart display, and the lack of even a basic equalizer means audio customization is far behind the Nest Hubs, let alone my Nest Audio or Google Home Max. Where the Pixel Tablet really shines, though, is in basic tasks that require an interface rather than voice commands. Remember, this is full Android, not Google’s limited version of Fucshia on its Nest Hubs. Instead of hoping my Nest Hub could decipher which niche, documentary-length video about speedrunning I wanted to watch via voice recognition, with the Pixel Tablet I just needed to click the full-fat YouTube app, search for Summoning Salt’s latest opus, hit play, whack the tablet on the dock and I’m done; no disruptions in the video or audio aside from a delicate chime. A dedicated kids mode also makes the Pixel Tablet a good pick for youngsters, so long as you can find a decent rugged case.

Google Pixel Tablet vs Google Nest Hub Front
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Another benefit of the dock-centric setup is that the Pixel Tablet has a habit of always being charged when you need it. I’m awful at leaving my various tablets off charge, and as a result, they’re always down to zero juice when I realize I need them. Yes, it’s only 15W charging, so it takes a few hours to get back to full from empty, but as long as you get into a routine of reattaching the Pixel Tablet (which you will), you’ll never notice. Battery life undocked is also fairly standard. I’ve seen some reports of sub-10-hour endurance, but my unit pushed through just over 10 hours with typical use, such as video streaming and web browsing. Plus, Adaptive Battery and Adaptive Charging should mean the Pixel Tablet’s battery will burn long, even if not all that bright.

And finally, don’t expect the Pixel Tablet to live up to the Pixel legacy in the camera department. The single front and rear shooters are both 8MP cameras that cap out at 1080p/30fps for video recording. Some Pixel DNA carries over with decent color recreation and access to features like Night Sight, but detail is sorely lacking in both pictures and video, no matter the lighting conditions. The selfie camera will serve you fine for casual video chats with friends and family, but the low resolution should rule it out for any serious video conferencing needs. Put simply, if you were expecting anything on par with the Nest Hub Max’s stellar wide-angled camera, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Google Pixel TabletGoogle Pixel Tablet
AA Recommended
Google Pixel Tablet
Unique Nest Hub-like dock • Pixel-exclusive software features • Long-term update policy
MSRP: $499.00
The portability of a tablet and the smarts of a Nest Hub.
The Pixel Tablet is a 10.95-inch slate with Tensor G2-powered features that doubles up as a Nest Hub smart display/speaker when placed in the Charging Speaker Dock.

What are the best Google Pixel Tablet alternatives?

google pixel tablet apple ipad air front 2
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 ($418.56 at Amazon): The best Android alternative to the Pixel Tablet, the 11-inch Galaxy Tab S8 is a much simpler affair with greater performance, a smoother display, and superior video camera quality. You don’t get a bundled dock, of course, but Samsung does provide an S Pen for a greater emphasis on productivity. With that said, you might want to wait to see the Galaxy Tab S9 before putting down your cash.
  • Apple iPad Air (M1) ($559 at Amazon): The ever-appealing iPad Air hit new highs with the M1-powered fifth-generation model. Offering laptop-grade performance along with industry-leading app compatibility, both of which blitz the Pixel Tablet in its current state, the iPad Air is the easiest sub-premium tablet to recommend. It’s not perfect, though. The 64GB storage on the base model is beyond stingy, it equally only has a 60Hz display, and the impressive Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard accessories that unlock its true potential are mega expensive. There’s still no option for multiple users, either, so don’t buy one expecting to share it with a partner or a child unless you’re fine with account sharing.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 ($179.99 at Amazon): For just over $200 for the entry-level model, the Galaxy Tab A8 is an impressively well-rounded cheap Android tablet that anyone can love. Plus, with all that saved cash you can buy a Nest Hub and still save several hundred dollars, or splash out on a Nest Hub Max and still have a little bit of cash left over.
  • OnePlus Pad ($479 at OnePlus): The OnePlus Pad may have a few rough edges in its software, but the smooth display, blisteringly fast charging, and decent performance all make this a great option if you want a fuss-free Android tablet for under $500.

Google Pixel Tablet specs

Google Pixel Tablet
Display
10.95-inch LCD
16:10 aspect ratio
2,560 x 1,600 resolution
60Hz refresh rate
276ppi
500 nits brightness (typical)
Supports USI 2.0 stylus (not included)
Processor
Tensor G2
Titan M2 security coprocessor
RAM
8GB LPDDR5 RAM
Storage
128GB or 256GB UFS 3.1 storage
No expandable storage
Power
7,020mAh battery
15W charging when attached to dock
15W charging when using USB-C cable
Cameras
Rear:
- 8MP wide (ƒ/2.0, 1/4-inch sensor, 1.12μm, 84° FoV, Fixed focus)

Front:
- 8MP wide (ƒ/2.0, 1/4-inch sensor, 1.12μm, 84° FoV, Fixed focus)
Video
Rear:
- 1080p at 30fps

Front:
- 1080p at 30fps

Formats:
- HEVC (H.265) and AVC (H.264)
Audio
3 far-field microphones
4-speaker stereo sound
Durability
No official IP rating
Connectivity
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax)
2x2 MIMO, simultaneous dual-band (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz)
Bluetooth 5.2
Ultra-Wideband chip
Biometrics
Power button fingerprint scanner
Ports and switches
USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
4-pin accessory connector for dock
Software
Pixel UI
Android 13
3 Android updates
5 years of security updates
Dimensions and weight
258 x 169 x 8.1mm
493g
Colors
Hazel, Porcelain, Rose

Some colors unavailable in certain areas
In the box
Pixel Tablet
Charging Speaker Dock
Power adapter
Quick Start Guide
Safety & Warranty booklet

Google Pixel Tablet review: FAQ

Yes, the Pixel Tablet supports USI 2.0 styli.

Yes, the Pixel Tablet has a fingerprint reader baked into the power button.

No, the Pixel Tablet does not have a SIM card slot as Google doesn’t offer a cellular model.

No, the Pixel Tablet doesn’t support wireless charging.

The Pixel Tablet comes with a Charging Speaker Dock and power adapter but not a separate USB-C cable or power brick.

Yes, you can make video and voice calls from the Pixel Tablet via Google Meet and other apps like WhatsApp, Zoom, Telegram, and more.