Google wasn’t kidding when it said last year that the Pixel Tablet was “months away.” In fact, it was a whole year away, but we’re finally getting full details today. The $499 tablet is built around an 11-inch screen, with Google’s Tensor G2 chip inside. The chip and screen aren’t exactly a big surprise, but Google is doing something a little unusual with the Pixel Tablet: it comes with a speaker dock that turns it into a Nest Hub Max with a better screen.
Rather than outfit the Pixel Tablet with accessories like a stylus and keyboard, as others like Samsung, OnePlus and of course Apple have done with their tablets, Google is pitching the Pixel Tablet as a device for entertainment and to control your home.
When the Pixel Tablet is attached to the speaker dock, the software runs in a Hub Mode to make it easy to access controls for all your smart home devices. Naturally, it also serves as a digital photo frame and can play back tunes and videos with audio through the built-in speaker. I haven’t heard that speaker yet, but Google says it’ll deliver “room-filling music.” Given that Google is including it at no extra charge, it doesn’t have to deliver too much to be worth it. The tablet itself also has four built-in speakers.
From a specs perspective, the Pixel Tablet features an 11-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution. There’s no word on the refresh rate, but that’s a nice size and resolution for a tablet in this price range. In addition to the Tensor G2 chip, the Pixel Tablet also has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (you can bump that up to 256GB if you’re so inclined). Credit here to Google for starting things off with 128GB of storage, rather than the stingy 64GB Apple includes on most of its base iPads.
Given that Google is positioning the Pixel Tablet as a hub of sorts, it naturally has a front-facing camera for video calls. Unsurprisingly, it’s nothing too special, an 8-megapixel shooter with an f/2.0 aperture and fixed focus. But it can shoot and transmit video at 1080p at 30 fps, so it should be decent enough for video cals. The back camera has identical specs. As for the battery, Google says it will last for 12 hours of video streaming, but that’s another thing we’ll need to test in person to verify.
In addition to the speaker dock (which Google is selling separately, as well, for people who want to place them around the home), Google is also selling a basic case that comes with a built-in metal ring stand that lets you place the tablet at a variety of angles. You can also dock the tablet without removing the case. And partner Speck is making a handful of other cases as well.
Of course, the real key to making Android work on a tablet is having good apps, and that’s long been a struggle that continues to this day. Google says that there are “more than 50 Google apps” optimized for the Pixel Tablet and that it can run them in split-screen for multitasking.
I just reviewed the OnePlus Pad and can confirm that Google’s own apps work well on tablets at this point, but the problem really is in the third-party ecosystem. Google points out that it is working with developer partners to optimize their apps and cites Spotify, Minecraft and Disney+ as a few cases that take advantage of the large screen.
The Pixel Tablet goes up for pre-order today and starts at $499; it'll start shipping in June. It’s available in three colors: A gray-ish “Hazel” with a black screen bezel, a white-ish “Porcelain” with a white bezel and a pink-ish “Rose” with a white bezel. For more on the device, check out our hands-on with Google’s first tablet in years.
Follow all of the news from Google I/O 2023 right here.