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Google Pixel Tablet review: Worry-free but short on wow-factor

The Google Pixel Tablet ends up saddled by the same simplicity that helps it stand out.

Google Pixel Tablet
Google Pixel Tablet
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Display
11-inch LCD, 1440p, 90Hz
Processor
Google Tensor G2
RRP
$899
Fergus Halliday
Oct 31, 2023
bullet6 min read

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Quick verdict: Google Pixel Tablet

Google's first attempt to pull tablets into its Pixel ecosystem has some neat ideas and a clever form factor but rarely manages to be more than the sum of its parts. As far as these things go, the Pixel Tablet is worry-free but rarely wows you.

pro
Pros
pro Cool speaker dock
pro 90Hz display
pro Tensor G2 processor
con
Cons
con No stylus
con No keyboard or desktop mode
con No mobile connectivity

When it comes to tablets that aren't the Apple iPad, Samsung often feels like the only game in town. The asking price might be steep, but the likes of the Galaxy Tab S9 and its brethren feel like they exist in an entirely different weight class to other Android tablets. The cheaper end of the market might have some decent options by the likes of TCL, Oppo and Lenovo but when it comes to the high-end, it's Samsung or bust.

Only a few years ago, it might have been possible to make a similar case when it comes to Android smartphones. The steady rise of Google's Pixel phones changed that. Even if it hasn't exactly put Samsung's sizable slice of the mobile market in peril, the house-brand hardware on offer here is good (and good value) enough that they can't get too complacent.

A little competition never hurt anyone. That same thinking feels like it underlies the pitch for the Google Pixel Tablet, though it doesn't resonate in quite the same way. Google has flirted with premium tablets before, but the fact that it's willing to invoke the Pixel brand suggests it's more serious this time around.

Unfortunately, after a few months of messing around with it, I can't help but come away a little underwhelmed. Google's big-screen brother to the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro is hardly a disaster, but it's a jack of all trades with a steep asking price that rarely delivers anything beyond your barest expectations.

Google Pixel Tablet

How much does the Google Pixel Tablet cost in Australia?

Starts at $899

In Australia, the Google Pixel Tablet starts at an RRP of $899.

That entry-level model comes with a speaker dock and 128GB of onboard storage. Doubling that to 256GB of storage costs just $100 more while additional speaker docks will also be available at $189 apiece.  That price puts it in line with the likes of the most recent iPad Mini and iPad Air, which start at $829 and $999 respectively.

Google Pixel Tablet - Design and Features

Tablet OEMs hate this one trick
Google Pixel Tablet on speaker stand

It's perhaps telling that the most interesting part of the Pixel Tablet's design has nothing to do with the device itself. When it comes to size and shape, this thing is as middle of the road as Android tablets get.

Google's first stab at a first-party premium tablet is built around an 11-inch LCD display with 1440p resolution and a refresh rate that's clocked at 60Hz. In action, this screen is as bright and responsive as you'd expect.

So far as content consumption goes, the hardware here ticks most of the boxes. There are four speakers, three microphones, two 8MP cameras and one fingerprint sensor that's built into the power key. Even if it doesn't reach the dizzying highs of high-end rivals like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. Google's first tablet feels nice enough.

There's room for improvement, but the nano-ceramic coating means that it certainly doesn't feel cheap. While there is no headphone jack to be found here, there is a set of connector pins built into the back of the slate. These can be used to magnetically mount the Pixel Tablet to a dock that acts as both a speaker and charger. In many respects, this add-on turns the tablet into something of a smart display between uses. When mounted, the Pixel Tablet will automatically enter a mode that allows it to act as a digital photo frame and you can even ChromeCast straight to it from any other Android device. 

The idea that the Pixel Tablet can live a second life as a stand-in for the Google Nest Hub Max whenever it isn't in your hands being actively used is a compelling one, even if it does admit the uncomfortable reality that most people who own a premium tablet don't use it as much as they probably expected.

Rather than sell itself as a powerful and versatile content creation station, the Google Pixel Tablet embraces the notion that your go-to tablet should be nice enough that you want to use it while looking nice enough that it doesn't feel neglected whenever you don't. Rather than try to beat the iPad at its own game, the Pixel Tablet is built on the idea that it doesn't matter entirely. It's an interesting angle of attack, however, it brings with it one very unfortunate wrinkle.

While the speaker dock is a big part of what sets the Pixel Tablet apart, it's not that difficult to recreate the end result with a cheaper or existing tablet through third-party accessories. It feels like it's only a matter of time before either Apple or Samsung both end up stealing the one weird trick that sets the Pixel Tablet apart.

If Google's goal here is to foster a more competitive market for Android tablets in the short term, that's probably a good result. When it comes to the long-term viability of the Pixel Tablet, it does leave both Google and the customers it's trying to tap into in something of an odd place.

Google Pixel Tablet - Performance

All Android all the time
Google Pixel Tablet Stand display

Under the hood, the Pixel Tablet comes powered by the same Google Tensor G2 processor found in the Pixel 7a, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro plus 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of onboard storage.

In practice, those specs yield consistently solid results. Apps loaded fast and multitasking did little to see the Pixel Tablet get bogged down. When it came to gaming, Google's tablet performed pretty well. Titles like Diablo Immortal and Honkai Star Rail ran smoothly and without issue. There was a noticeable amount of heat build-up when I ran through the first-time install for games like these but rarely any when it came to regular use.

That said, the size of the screen itself does sometimes get in the way. Even if it's not quite heavy, the form factor of the Google Pixel Tablet is large enough that it does start to wear on your wrists over longer play sessions. It's almost enough to make me wish there was a Google Pixel Tablet Mini, which shaved off a few inches and a chunk of the RRP.

Even if the performance found here can't keep up with the likes of Apple's own silicon, the Pixel Tablet often feels more than fast enough to deliver the experience it is geared around. By the standards of Android tablets, the software side of things feels, clean, smooth and integrated in a way that cheaper options can only imitate.

Like its mobile counterparts, the Pixel Tablet often comes across as a cleaner and simpler version of what you know. While the breadth of Samsung's software ecosystem is part of the draw for devices like the Galaxy Tab S9, I didn't find myself missing it here.

That said, there's also no version of the Pixel Tablet available with mobile connectivity. Along with the lack of first-party keyboard accessories or an Apple Pencil equivalent, may keep the Pixel Tablet from being everything it could be.  Try as you might, it feels like an uphill battle to turn what's here into the kind of desktop replacement that high-end tablets like the iPad Pro can be nowadays.

When it comes to battery life, the Pixel Tablet managed to outperform my expectations. I'd usually manage a handful of days of infrequent use before I needed to charge it back up. Your mileage may vary, but the 7020mAh battery here does the trick for the most part. Burned down from 100% to zero using video streamed over WiFi, the Google Pixel Tablet lasted 18 hours and 43 minutes.

Is the Google Pixel Tablet worth buying?

Simplicity isn't a silver bullet
Google Pixel Tablet

Rather than try and replace your laptop, the first-gen Pixel Tablet hedged in the opposite direction. It's a tablet that's designed to deliver when you need when you need it and look nice whenever you don't. It mostly hits that mark, but if there's a core audience (aside from Android addicts) out there looking for this kind of product I just don't know if it's that large.

Google's Pixel phones have cut through and built momentum off the back of working smarter, not harder and while the Pixel Tablet does a pretty decent job of emulating this dynamic, the realities of the tablet form factor take a heavy toll on its appeal regardless. It's a lot cheaper than its contemporaries, but it still feels pretty expensive for a consumption-centric device that feels squarely aimed away from those who are seeking the high-end performance offered by the likes of the iPad Pro.

If the Pixel phone makes the mundane magic, the Pixel Tablet ultimately ends up on the wrong end of the same trick.

How does the Google Pixel Tablet compare?

The Google Pixel Tablet is far from the only smart slate on offer these days. Check out the table for a rundown on the best alternatives to Google's latest premium tablet.

Product
Our score
Price
RAM
Storage
More info
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
From
$899
8GBStarts at 128GB
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$1799.99
12GBStarts at 128GB
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
From
$1649.99
8GBStarts at 128GB
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$5581.12
16GB1TB
Fergus Halliday
Written by
Fergus Halliday
Fergus Halliday is a journalist and editor for Reviews.org. He’s written about technology, telecommunications, gaming and more for over a decade. He got his start writing in high school and began his full-time career as the Editor of PC World Australia. Fergus has made the MCV 30 Under 30 list, been a finalist for seven categories at the IT Journalism Awards and won Most Controversial Writer at the 2022 Consensus Awards. He has been published in Gizmodo, Kotaku, GamesHub, Press Start, Screen Rant, Superjump, Nestegg and more.

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