Hands on: The Google Pixel Tablet is what the Android ecosystem needs

Over the last year, Google has been expanding its Pixel lineup in some big ways. After six generations of just making smartphones, it introduced the Pixel Watch and teased the Pixel Tablet last fall. At Google I/O, the Pixel Tablet officially launched, along with the Pixel Fold.

The Pixel Tablet is, well, just a tablet. It's an Android tablet at that, a fact that instantly makes it lesser than an iPad, no matter how good the hardware is. Indeed, after 15 years of Android devices, Google still hasn't been able to figure out tablets. Apple makes the best tablets, and it's been that way for a while.

The OS has seen some big improvements, and so have Google's own apps. The problem is that third-party apps are often just plain bad on large screens, and to be fair to those developers, you can look at publicly available Android usage numbers to see that a tiny fraction of users have bigger devices.

A Pixel Tablet is Google's best shot at legitimizing Android tablets, and I am here for it. In fact, I said the same about the Pixel Watch. Indeed, it's pretty much universally agreed upon that iPads are better than Android tablets, and Apple Watch is better than Wear OS, so Google pushing those devices under its own brand is the way to move forward.

The Pixel Tablet is just a good tablet

This isn't the first tablet with a Google experience. I couldn't write this without mentioning the Pixel Tablet's spiritual predecessors: The Asus Nexus 7 (2012), Asus Nexus 7 (2013), Google Nexus 10, and HTC Nexus 9 all bore Google branding, but as we all know, Pixel is actually made by Google. I still have one of those old Nexus 7 devices in my closet somewhere, and I'll probably never get rid of it.

Google Pixel Tablet (13)

The Pixel Tablet looks just like you'd expect it to, made out of aluminum with a nano-ceramic coating. It feels very much like a Pixel phone from the Pixel 5 era; obviously, the Pixel phone style has changed quite a bit over the last couple of years. It comes in Hazel, Rose, and Porcelain.

The first thing I noticed when I picked it up was that it feels really light. I was a little surprised to see it weighs 493g, which is actually 32g heavier than an iPad Air.

Google Pixel Tablet (4)-2

With that being said, it feels really heavy with the case on it, another thing that just feels wrong because the case itself doesn't feel heavy.

The kickstand is certainly an interesting design. I don't like it, but I do understand why Google used the ring shape that it did. With that design, the kickstand doesn't get in the way of connecting it to the speaker.

Google Pixel Tablet (9)

The case even has pogo pins in the back, just like the back of the tablet.

Google Pixel Tablet (3)-2

Unfortunately, the screen has a 16:10 aspect ratio. That means that the screen is wider than an iPad or a Surface when in landscape orientation. Unfortunately, that means that when it's in portrait orientation, it feels unnaturally narrow.

I think it's pretty much universally agreed upon that Apple got it right with the 4:3 aspect ratio that it's been using since 2010, and it really boggles my mind that so few tablets have imitated that. While there have been lots of Android tablets that have been 4:3 or 3:2, the majority of the ones I've seen over the years have been 16:10.

It has some cool features

The Pixel Tablet comes with a speaker that it can attach to using pogo pins. It basically turns it into a Nest Hub.

Google Pixel Tablet (18)

This isn't an original idea; Lenovo has done it with its tablets in the past. Still, it's a great idea, for several reasons.

First of all, it turns your tablet into something useful when you're not using it. Also, if you want, you can have it display your Google Photos albums. Indeed, if you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend using a Google smart display as a digital photo frame. Google Photos is so good at automatically organizing your photos that it makes choosing the ones you want to display a breeze.

The other big benefit to this is it keeps your tablet charged. Let's face it. Our tablets sit on a table in our living rooms, sometimes going days without use, and often, when we finally go to use them, the battery is dead. When you have the tablet attached to a speaker, not only is it useful, but it's ready to be used at any time. All you have to do is pull it off of its dock.

Another thing Google was demoing was more of a Meet feature, but it showed off 360-degree virtual backgrounds. Now that you might be using a tablet instead of a more stationary device like a PC, your virtual background can move with you. You can move the device around, and the background automatically adjusts.

It's a pretty cool feature, but it's also one that I'd never use. Virtual backgrounds aren't on the verge of being mistaken for being real, so adding real movement just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.


Samsung has been making good Android tablets for a while, and the OnePlus Pad is the latest entry into the space. However, even when the hardware is as good as it can be, the response is always the same: But it's an Android tablet.

I'm really excited about this one. I want Google to be successful here, because we need Android to be more competitive in the tablet space. Also, despite 15 years of failure, I don't think it's impossible. The missteps that were taken to get here are fairly well documented. For one thing, the Android tablet push of the 2010s was all about cheap mini tablets, rather than full-size tablets like we see today. The mini tablet market is all but dead these days.

Seeing devices like the Pixel Tablet and the OnePlus Pad makes me optimistic for the future of tablets.

Docked Pixel Tablet in Hazel colorway on transparent background.
Google Pixel Tablet

Google has re-entered the tablet space after a while, and its all-new Pixel Tablet marks a great start. It features a large 10.95-inch display, the flagship Tensor G2 SoC, two 8MP cameras, and impressive battery life. But the best part is that it comes bundled with a Charging Speaker Dock that converts it into a handy smart display.