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We're all familiar with Google's rocky relationship with tablets: after early success with the affordable Nexus 7, the company struggled to maintain momentum. Following poor commercial and critical reception of 2018's ChromeOS-based Pixel Slate, Google gave up on tablet hardware altogether for quite some time.

Five years later, Google's back at it with the Pixel Tablet, a $500 Android tab that comes bundled with a magnetic charging dock to enable some smart display-like functionality. It's a really clever idea, and overall, I like the Pixel Tablet quite a bit. But it's also a classic first-generation gadget, with some annoying drawbacks and limitations that might make you want to wait for the sequel.

Google Pixel Tablet
Source: Google
Google Pixel Tablet
7.5 / 10

The Pixel Tablet is Google's first tablet in years. With a magnetic dock that charges the device and turns it into a smart display, the Pixel Tablet's got a lot of neat ideas — but it doesn't quite nail the execution.

128 / 256GB UFS 3.1 storage
Google Tensor G2
Operating System
Android 13
27Wh, Up to 12 hours
Camera (Rear, Front)
8MP, 8MP
Display (Size, Resolution)
10.95 inches, 2560 x 1600 pixels
From $500
Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, UWB
258 x 169 x 8.1 mm, 493g
Headphone jack
Porcelain, Hazel, Rose
  • Good performance
  • Nice-looking display
  • Charging Speaker Dock is a very neat idea
  • You should be able to buy the tablet without a dock
  • Dock's audio is mediocre
  • Hub Mode should do more

Price and availability

The Google Pixel Tablet bundled with the Charging Speaker Dock is available now, starting at $499. You can opt to double the tablet’s storage space from 128 to 256GB for a $100 upcharge. It’s available in Porcelain (white), Rose (pink), and Hazel (a sort of greenish gray). You can pick one up directly from Google, or at the usual retail outlets like Amazon, Best Buy, or Walmart.

Additional Charging Speaker Docks are available for $129 apiece in matching colorways, from all the same retailers. The Pixel Tablet is not sold without its dock.

Design and hardware

On its own, without the bundled dock, the Pixel Tablet looks like a pretty standard tablet. The front is a 10.95-inch LCD display with regular tablet-size bezels, which are white on the Porcelain and Rose models and black on the Hazel.

The back of the tablet is made of aluminum, finished in what Google calls “nano-ceramic coating,” which gives it a subtly textured feeling. There are four pogo connectors near the bottom for attaching the tablet to its dock, with a reflective Google G inlaid just above them. Its look and feel overall reminds me a lot of 2020’s Pixel 5, especially the Hazel model I’ve been using.

When holding the tablet in landscape, there’s a combination power button/fingerprint sensor and a volume rocker on the tablet’s top edge. The USB-C connector for conventional charging is on the left, and there are two silicone bumpers on the bottom to help protect the tablet from scratches and dings when you’re pulling it off its dock. There are two speakers on each the left and right edges of the tablet, making for stereo sound in either landscape or portrait orientation.

The bundled Charging Speaker Dock looks like the bottom half of a Nest Hub smart display, sharing the same wedge-like shape and fabric-wrapped look. With the tablet attached, the whole thing looks like a regular smart display. I initially scoffed at the white bezels on the Porcelain and Rose models, but once I swapped my Nest Hub Max out for the Hazel Pixel Tablet, I noticed the tablet’s black bezels look conspicuously techy against the lighter-colored details in my kitchen.


The Pixel Tablet’s screen is an LCD panel with a resolution of 1,600 x 2,560 and a 60Hz refresh rate. Compared to other Android tablets sporting OLED panels and refresh rates up to 144Hz, the Pixel Tablet’s display doesn’t sound impressive. But given that the screen is meant to more or less never turn off, OLED would be a no-go — the deeper blacks would be nice, sure, but burn-in would be a serious problem.


I’m a little more disappointed at the 60Hz refresh rate; swiping around the tablet’s UI doesn’t look or feel as smooth as it does on many other devices I use. But typical tablet tasks like reading and watching videos aren’t really enhanced by high refresh rates. Very little video is shot at the high frame rates 90 or 120Hz panels are capable of displaying.

Viewing angles are good and colors are plenty punchy — I actually opted to change the color setting from its default Vibrant to the more subdued Natural option. It also gets bright enough to see outdoors. Direct sunlight can be tricky, but Google’s pitched the tablet as explicitly meant to stay in your home, where that shouldn’t often be an issue. Overall, it’s a nice screen. It’s not the best, not even in this price segment, but in day-to-day use, I’ve got nothing to complain about here.

Charging Speaker Dock and Hub Mode

The Pixel Tablet’s most unique feature is the Charging Speaker Dock it’s bundled with. When you’re not using the tablet, you slap it on the dock, which both charges the slate and turns it into a sort-of smart display.


Docking and undocking the tablet isn’t an especially elegant maneuver; the magnets that hold the two parts together are strong enough that lifting the tablet straight up also lifts the dock, so pulling the tablet off requires a sort of twisting motion. But at the same time, the magnets are too weak to hold the tablet in place when you press any of the hardware buttons on the top edge. Unless you grip the tablet with your free fingers as you press the button, it falls off the dock. Thank goodness for those silicone bumpers on the bottom edge.

When the tablet is attached to the dock, it enters Hub Mode, displaying a Nest Hub-like screensaver and a button for quick access to Google Home device controls. It also functions as a Chromecast target, allowing you to cast media to the tablet.


Audio playing on the Pixel Tablet while it’s docked is routed through the dock’s speaker. The Charging Speaker Dock is fitted with a 43.5mm driver, the same size as the one in the smaller Nest Hub smart display. Before getting my hands on the tablet, I was worried that its relatively small driver would make for unsatisfying audio — and, unfortunately, it does.

The Charging Speaker Dock does make for better audio than the tablet’s built-in speakers, and in a tight space at low to medium volume, it’s completely fine for background music or podcasts. But even in my small kitchen, it’s a notable downgrade from the Nest Hub Max I was using before. The thing doesn't get very loud, bass is overrepresented and often unpleasantly bouncy, and sound gets muddled at higher volumes. It definitely sounds better than a Nest Mini or a standard Nest Hub display, but it doesn't sound as good as affordable smart speakers like the Nest Audio or Amazon's full-size Echo — both of which do more and cost less.


Even as a bundled accessory, it’s frustrating the Charging Speaker Dock can’t do more. When the tablet isn’t docked, the dock doesn’t do anything at all: you can’t cast audio directly to the dock, or use it to interact with the Google Assistant. That might fly for a freebie add-on, but I can’t imagine buying additional docks for $129 when it’s not unusual to see two-for-one sales on the $99 Nest Audio. If you want to charge the Pixel Tablet in more than one location, you don’t need additional docks — you can just plug it in.

You can cast audio to the tablet while it's docked, and add it to groups of Chromecast speakers in Google Home for multi-room audio through the Choose devices option within a speaker group's settings (though, strangely, not from the dock's own settings). You don’t have the option to set a different Chromecast-enabled speaker to play audio you call up on the Pixel Tablet, the way you can with Nest displays and speakers. There also isn't an equalizer to customize the dock's sound.


You can talk to the Google Assistant through the Pixel Tablet with Hey Google commands, but it doesn’t support the Continued Conversation feature that, on Nest devices, lets you ask follow-up questions or give additional commands without saying the hotword again. When you do call up the Assistant, the animation that plays on the Pixel Tablet to show it’s listening for commands is harder to see from a distance than the one on Nest Hubs. These may seem like small complaints, but Hub Mode just doesn’t work quite the way anyone who’s interacted with a Nest Hub would expect, and little frustrations add up.

And it might be tempting to brush this criticism off entirely; Google’s positioned the Pixel Tablet as a tablet first and foremost with “some of the best features of a smart display” added on top, and the dock is ostensibly included at no extra charge. But the whole package costs $500, and there’s no way to get the tablet without the dock for less. Additional docks are also ludicrously expensive at $129 apiece. I just don’t believe bundling this extra hardware with the tablet doesn’t add to the price tag, and I'm not sure it's worth it.


And regardless of what Google says about the device (in marketing materials most people will never read), it’s explicitly meant to be used as a smart display when you’re not using it like a regular tablet, and compared to the other smart displays Google sells, the Pixel Tablet falls short in a lot of ways. It’d be easy for a less savvy shopper to think the Pixel Tablet is a good upgrade from a smart display they’re already using — at a glance, it sure seems like it would be. But if I’d bought this thing specifically to replace a Nest Hub, I would’ve returned it already.

Software and performance

I've been wanting a tablet running Google's modern, colorful, squiggly version of Android for years, and in the Pixel Tablet, I’ve finally got it. I’m not sure it completely lives up to my hopes, though. Google's Material You styling, with its big, rounded touch targets and playful details, doesn't look quite as good to me here as it does on a smaller screen. Maybe it’s the extra negative space, but Material You feels more toy-like on a tablet than a phone, and not in a way I appreciate.

Google also doesn't take advantage of the larger form factor as well as Samsung does. On the Pixel Tablet, you can easily multitask with two side-by-side apps, and, assuming the apps you're using support the feature well, it works just fine. But Samsung's modern Galaxy Tabs can run three apps at a time and put apps in floating windows, both useful options on a screen this size. The Pixel Tablet can't do either of those things. It’s possible, and maybe even likely, that Google’s tablet multitasking experience will improve over time, but that’s not much help today.


And of course, the Android tablet apps situation looms over every new release. Google talked a big game about working with developers to ensure a good tablet experience for apps on the Pixel Tablet, but it's still not ideal. Apps are all functional, and some are indeed well suited to the larger form factor. But many apps still don't have proper tablet interfaces at all, and even more make poor use of the screen space on offer, including some of Google's own.

For example, Google Tasks — the new official home for Assistant reminders — is just a blown-up phone interface. Even some third-party apps Google specifically mentioned in the runup to the Pixel Tablet's release still aren't great. Spotify's evidently been optimized, but the layout looks awkward, with big empty areas in the interface that don’t serve any purpose.

Performance is really solid, though. The Pixel Tablet is powered by the same Tensor G2 chipset as the Pixel 7 series paired with eight gigs of RAM. It's not directly competitive with the highest-end mobile chipsets out there, but it's really snappy for a midrange tablet. In more demanding uses like multitasking and gaming — even multitasking while gaming — the Pixel Tablet doesn’t flinch, consistently delivering good performance.


This is tablet optimized?

Games perform well, with titles like Genshin Impact, Mario Kart Tour, and Marvel Snap all running smoothly. Genshin is rendered at a lower resolution than it seems like it ought to be, with plenty of visible pixels, but performance is reliably smooth.

The Tensor G2 is known to get a little toasty under heavy loads, and that still happens here; an hour or two of gaming sees the top of the tablet warm up significantly. But it’s never felt hot in my time with it, and considering it’s meant to be an at-home, indoor device, I can’t see heat ever being a real problem for most users.


We’re used to tablets having crummy cameras; nobody buys a device like this to take amazing photos. Still, if you were hoping some of Google’s camera prowess would make its way to its new tablet, well… it didn’t. The Pixel Tablet’s two cameras, both fixed-focus 8MP shooters at f/2.0, are bad. Even with good light, photos and videos out of these cameras are a smeary mess.

I genuinely don’t care one lick, though; I can count the number of times I’ve wanted to use a tablet’s cameras on one hand. But if you like to snap quick photos of your kids or pets with your tablet, or you make a lot of video calls and need a sharp front-facing camera, the Pixel Tablet might let you down there.

Battery and charging

The Pixel Tablet’s got a 27 watt-hour battery that Google quotes as good for 12 hours of video streaming. In my experience, that does seem accurate, but it's a little hard to test using the tablet the way you're meant to — by placing it on its dock when you're not interacting with it.

But that very specific intended use case also means you're not likely to ever bump up against battery life limitations. You're not supposed to take the thing anywhere, and when you set it down, it's charging. Unless you tend to play games on tablets for hours and hours on end, battery life shouldn’t ever be an issue.


The Charging Speaker Dock charges the tablet at up to 15 watts, and a software feature meant to protect long-term battery health stops charging the tablet when it reaches 90 percent (you can disable that feature, but I haven’t seen any reason to). If you’re thinking 15 watts must take a long time to charge such a large battery cell, you’re not wrong. Regular wired charging isn't much better, hovering around 18 watts in my testing. If you place the tablet back on its dock when you’re not using it, it should always have enough juice — just try not to forget.


The Pixel Slate goes for $500, which puts it against pretty stiff competition. In the Android world, there’s the $479 OnePlus Pad, which offers a display with a 144Hz refresh rate and superfast 67-watt wired charging. OnePlus’s tablet runs the company’s OxygenOS over Android, though, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It also doesn’t have a fingerprint sensor.

And of course, there are iPads to contend with; however you might feel about Apple’s tablets, they’re factually the most popular in the world. The entry-level 10th-gen iPad starts at $449 and offers a better selection of well optimized large-screen apps, all of Apple’s fancy hardware and software ecosystem integration, and a selection of killer (if expensive) accessories.

But neither of those options offer quite what Google has made with the Pixel Tablet — the bundled dock is a big part of the value proposition here. If you don’t care about that, though, you might want to give them both a close look.

Should you buy it?

Taking the Pixel Tablet for what it is — a midrange Android tablet that includes a charging dock to enable some additional functionality — it’s really pretty good. Performance is strong for this price range, and the tablet’s display, while not technically impressive, looks quite nice. Google’s logic behind the dock, that tablets often go unused for days at a time and are dead when we do reach for them, also really speaks to me: I’ve got a dead Galaxy Tab S8 and a dead iPad Mini in the room with me right now.


The Pixel Tablet next to the Nest Hub Max.

But only selling the tablet with the dock seems like a serious misstep. Google has been careful not to frame the Pixel Tablet as a Nest Hub upgrade, but it certainly looks like one, and in some ways, it acts like one. Given that, it’s not unreasonable to think a lot of people will be buying this device thinking they’re getting a high-end smart display they can pop the screen off of when they want to move around the house.

Those people will be disappointed: the Pixel Tablet is not a replacement for a dedicated smart display, which puts it in kind of an awkward spot. It does some of the same stuff, and it looks like a smart display, but if you want the full Nest Hub experience, you still have to get a Nest Hub.

Audio out of the Pixel Tablet perched on its Charging Speaker Dock is also nowhere near the quality I’d expect out of a smart home device that costs half a grand, and it’s frustrating that the dock itself doesn’t have any smarts built in. Nothing is really free, either, and bundling a dock with every tablet absolutely makes it a more expensive product. If the speaker dock is a mandatory part of the purchase, it should either sound better or do more — ideally both.


Google's hit on a compelling idea with the Pixel Tablet, but it stumbles on execution. I wish you could buy the tablet on its own with no dock; sure, plenty of people will want it, but there’s really no reason everyone should have to have it. If you’re looking to spend about $500 on an Android tablet and you know what you’re getting into, the Pixel Tablet is a fine option. It’s just easy to see ways the whole package could — and should — be better.

Google Pixel Tablet
Source: Google
Google Pixel Tablet
7.5 / 10

The Pixel Tablet is Google's first tablet in years. With a magnetic dock that charges the device and turns it into a smart display, the Pixel Tablet's got a lot of neat ideas — but it doesn't quite nail the execution.