Google formally revealed the Pixel Tablet at I/O this week, its reentry into the tablet market, and it’s looking to pit it squarely against the Apple iPad.
Both tablets are similarly priced and sized, and target the same lifestyle consumers who want a better-than-budget experience without paying top dollar. We’ll be putting the Pixel Tablet through its paces in the lab to fully compare the two in the future, but for now, we can look at the official specs and features of both. Let’s see how they stack up.
Pricing is always the most obvious aspect to compare directly, and it’s where Google might hit a big stumbling block. The iPad (10th Gen) starts at $449, a significant $50 less than the Pixel Tablet. To be fair, at $499 the Pixel Tablet has double the iPad’s storage (128GB vs. 64GB), but they both even out to 256GB with their $599 models. The Pixel Tablet’s saving grace here is the included Charging Speaker dock, which Google values at $129. Either way, $499 is a fairly big ask for an Android tablet when the category has long trailed behind Apple.
The Apple iPad’s slim, metal-rimmed design. (Credit: Eric Zeman)
Apple and Google’s tablets are within a hair’s breadth of each other in size and weight. The Pixel Tablet is 0.3 inches thick while the iPad is 0.28 inches thick, a difference of just half a millimeter, and could possibly be a rounding error on Google’s part in the Pixel Tablet’s specs. The iPad is slightly wider and shorter at 9.8 by 7.1 inches compared with 10.2 by 6.7 inches, but again those measurements are close enough to be negligible. They’re nearly identical in weight, too, with the 17.4-ounce Pixel Tablet coming in as the average of the Wi-Fi and 5G iPad models’ weights.
Apple and Google each use their own chips to drive their respective tablets, with an A14 Bionic in the iPad and a Tensor G2 in the Pixel Tablet, though the Pixel Tablet packs double the RAM at 8GB to 4GB. We’ll need to test the Pixel Tablet to accurately compare how it performs against the iPad, but we’ve already seen the A14 Bionic in action on the iPad and iPhone 12, and the Tensor G2 in the most recent Pixel phones. We would note that Apple has moved on from the A14 Bionic with its phones, though; the iPhone 14 Pro uses the A16 Bionic.
(Credit: Eric Zeman)
Comparing the G2-powered Pixel 7 with the iPad, it looks like Apple has a significant edge; in Geekbench 5 the iPad scores far higher (1,573 single core, 4,097 multi-core) than the Tensor G2 in the Pixel (1,032/2,749), and 3DMark’s GFXBench Aztec Ruins test shows the A14 Bionic can push more 3D graphics as well (36 frames per second to the Pixel 7’s 25fps).
The entry-level iPad is a relative powerhouse, and unless Google is to pull some new tricks out of the Tensor G2 the Pixel Tablet will probably lag behind in benchmarks. This doesn’t mean Google’s tablet will be slower than the iPad when it comes to everyday activities. In actual use, the Pixel 7 felt quick and responsive, and the Pixel Tablet packing twice the RAM as the iPad could mean it will handle using multiple apps at a time much better.
Pixel Tablet screen (Credit: Eric Zeman)
The tablets use LCD screens that measure 10.9 (iPad) to 10.95 (Pixel Tablet) inches. They’re both rated for 500 nits brightness and have similar resolutions, though the 2,560-by-1,600 Pixel Tablet has a slight edge with 276 pixels per inch to the 2,360-by-1,640 iPad’s 264ppi. Perhaps the biggest difference is that the Pixel Tablet has an aspect ratio of 16:10 while the iPad has an aspect ratio of 4:3. This means the Pixel is wider when used in landscape orientation, better for media, while the iPad is taller, which is better for productivity.
If you just want to use your tablet with Wi-Fi, the Pixel Tablet and the iPad are effectively identical with Wi-Fi 6 with 2×2 MIMO and Bluetooth 5.2. It would have been nice to see Google’s new tablet have the newer standards of Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3, but the vast majority of users won’t miss them and likely don’t have any devices that work with them.
If you want to access the internet anywhere, though, you’ll have to reach for an iPad. Only Apple offers its tablet with 5G connectivity, at a $150 premium over the price of the Wi-Fi model. The Pixel Tablet is Wi-Fi-only.
The iPad cameras have a slight edge. (Credit: Eric Zeman)
Cameras on tablets always feel like an afterthought compared with cameras on phones, and both the Pixel Tablet and iPad lag behind the Pixel 7 and iPhone 14 in the photos and videos they can take. The Pixel Tablet has a modest 8MP f/2.0 rear camera and an identical front-facing camera. The iPad is a bit more ambitious with a 12MP f/1.8 rear camera and a 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide front camera. Neither will compare with a modern midrange or high-end phone, but the iPad is probably better if you want to shoot anything with a tablet or get multiple people on a video call.
We prefer to run our own battery tests rather than accept manufacturers’ stated specs, and we’ll have to see how long the Pixel Tablet lasts when streaming video over Wi-Fi at maximum screen brightness. However, based on Google’s claims, the Pixel Tablet has an edge with up to 12 hours of video-streaming time compared with the iPad’s stated 10. The iPad doesn’t come close to that number, however, lasting just six hours when we tested it. We’ll see how the Pixel Tablet stacks up in the lab.
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Dock and Accessories
The Pixel Tablet’s Charging Speaker stand. (Credit: Eric Zeman)
The entry-level Pixel Tablet might cost $50 more than the entry-level iPad, but that premium might be justified by it including the $129 Charging Speaker dock in the box. The magnetic dock has a built-in speaker so you can use the tablet like a smart display when it’s charging instead of just laying it flat. It effectively turns the Pixel Tablet into a big-screen Google Nest Hub (the Nest Hub Max has a big screen, but an audio edge with a more powerful three-driver stereo speaker system). That’s a lot of convenient functionality without needing to buy anything else. Meanwhile, Apple doesn’t offer a first-party iPad dock at all, so there isn’t an easy, official way to use your iPad as a Siri-powered smart display without a wire dangling from it.
On the other hand, while the iPad doesn’t have an official dock, the Pixel Tablet doesn’t have an official stylus or keyboard case (though it does support USI 2.0 digital pens). Considering how many people use the iPad with an Apple Pencil or Magic Keyboard Folio for work, that’s a huge omission from Google. Apple devices also consistently have access to far more third-party accessories like cases than Android phones and tablets, so you’ll have fewer options for protecting and customizing the look of your Pixel Tablet than your iPad.
Which Tablet Is Better?
For a final verdict, you’ll have to wait for our full review of the Pixel Tablet, in which we will pass it through a battery of tests to generate solid data points for comparison. Based on what we know now, however, the iPad looks like a slightly more powerful tablet with better cameras, while the Pixel Tablet comes with a speaker-equipped charging dock and more base storage. In almost every other measure, the two are similar.
(Credit: Eric Zeman)
Which choice is best for you might, as with smartphones, depend on whether you prefer iPadOS or Android and what their ecosystems offer. For now, it looks like the Pixel Tablet and the iPad are nearly neck-and-neck.
If you don’t want to spend $500 on a tablet, our list of the best cheap tablets has more options. And if you’re committed to Apple and want a bit more power, our list of the best iPads goes over the full line of Apple tablets.
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