Google Pixel Tablet Hands-On: Good Hardware Can't Hide An Uphill Challenge

The Google Pixel Tablet doesn't seem all that different from what we'd imagine Google would produce if it planned a new Google Home Hub. That device was like a tablet that was stuck to a base, and seemed determined to avoid being used like one would use any other Android tablet. The Google Pixel Tablet seems to want to fulfill the wishes of the folks who tried the Google Home Hub and loved it but wished they could also just... take it with them.

The value proposal Google seems to be making with the Google Pixel Tablet is that you're allowed to use it as a tablet, sure, but just as well as a sort of Nest Hub smart display. The device is definitely meant to be a package deal with its Charging Speaker Dock — the dock you see above and the dock you'll see in most/all of Google's advertisements for the tablet. And it is — each Google Pixel Tablet comes with one Charging Speaker Dock, and you can purchase additional Charging Speaker Docks separately so you can dock your Pixel Tablet all around your home.

This might just work

Google seems to be making the right moves with the inclusion of the Charging Speaker Dock with the purchase of the Google Pixel Tablet. If the company wants to hit the ground running — up against the Apple iPad's many iterations at prices across the spectrum — its overall value is tied to the dock. Google's otherwise-most-recent attempt at a Google-branded tablet was the ill-fated Pixel Slate, a device that fell well short courtesy of its high price and not-Android operating system. 

Where the Pixel Slate felt like it was meant to promote Chrome OS' ability to run Android apps, the Google Pixel Tablet seemingly wants to promote Google's many different services all at once. Once we get the device in for review we'll be able to discuss how that'll work, exactly, but it's promising that this device has "Chromecast built-in" and can run basically whatever Android apps you'd like.

The hardware is solid

The hardware looks good — not like it's going to shock anyone with its ingenuity or futuristic industrial design or anything, but it's solid, sturdy, and feels suitably premium. Google's design doesn't intentionally ape that of the iPad, but the metal construction means the Pixel Tablet shares the reassuring heft that Apple's hardware is so often blessed with. Google's connects magnetically to its dock, of course, and the too dock feels stable and user-friendly. Assuming the tablet ends up working as well as what we've experienced this week, it could really, truly contend with the likes of Apple and Samsung. 

Here's hoping that, as well as investing in its tablet hardware, this is also a sign that Google is ready to recommit to tablet-sized Android software. The company has suggested as much, though we've been burned here before. Android's renewed ambitions go beyond the Pixel Tablet, spanning into hybrid phone-tablet devices as well at this point, with the Pixel Fold. Now it'll be on Google to stick to its claims and keep its eye on multiple fronts: smartphones, tablets, wearables, and everything in-between.


The Google Pixel Tablet feels like what the Google Nexus 10 should have been back in 2012. With this newest Android tablet, Google has another opportunity to succeed as it did with the original Nexus 7. High value, low price, and simplicity without neglecting the important details. Google is in a good position to make this recipe work now, given all the interesting (for better or worse) AI projects it has in the works. 

The biggest factor deciding whether or not Google has a hit on its hands is a familiar one: follow-through. It remains to be seen if the company can prevent its software ambitions from outrunning its ability to create a solid piece of hardware that's made available to consumers for a reasonable price. 

The Google Pixel Tablet can be pre-ordered from Google now for $499 (128 GB) or $599 (256 GB) in color options called Porcelain, Hazel, and Rose. With the purchase of a Pixel Tablet, at least for the moment, Google will include a Charging Speaker Dock for free. Orders are expected to ship from June 20, 2023.