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Google Pixel C review: the best Android tablet is a viable iPad  September 12, 2017 – 06:03 pm

Google Pixel C reviewGoogle’s Pixel C Android tablet is the company’s first own-brand slate, designed in its Mountain View HQ. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Android-maker’s first own-brand tablet is a sleek, powerful, aluminium-clad slate with only a few shortcomings, but could it really be a workhorse?

The Pixel C is Google’s first own-brand tablet, designed and made via China by Google and is the best Android tablet available at the moment.

The Pixel C joins the Chromebook Pixel - the first piece of hardware designed solely by Google - but instead of running Chrome OS the Pixel C runs the latest version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, making it the first tablet to do so.

The Pixel line is different to the various Nexus devices which are made in partnership with third-party manufacturers such as HTC, LG or Huawei. There, the manufacturer designs and builds the device, while Google sets some of the requirements and provides the software.

Monolithic aluminium

The aluminium shell is smooth, matt and monolithic in look, with a small hint of colour from the light strip at the top. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Google uses the Pixel brand to denote its own-brand machines. They all have a couple of things in common: a plain grey aluminium body, black frame around the glass touchscreen and a colour light strip in the rear of the lid that indicates when the device is on and the battery level. The Pixel C is the best made Android tablet to date. It feels solid and reassuring, with the same quality build of the Chromebook Pixel.

It isn’t the most ergonomic of tablets to hold with relatively hard edges, but it doesn’t feel chunky despite being 7mm thick and weighing 517g. It is both thicker and heavier than rivals such as Apple’s 6.1mm, 437g iPad Air 2 and Sony’s 6.1mm, 389g Xperia Z4 Tablet, but it wasn’t too heavy to hold and I didn’t notice it in a bag.

Google Pixel C reviewThe 10.2in quad HD screen is one of the best I have seen on a tablet with a pixel density of 308 pixels per inch, which is visibly sharper than Apple’s iPad Air 2 with 264ppi, but very similar to Sony’s 299ppi Z4 Tablet. It also one of the brightest, which makes viewing it outdoors easier.

The Pixel C has a screen with a 1:√2, the same ratio as A4 and other common international paper sizes. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The Pixel C has an unusual screen ratio. Most tablets use 16:10 or 4:3 like Apple’s iPad, but the C has a ratio of 1:√2, which is the same as that used by the ISO 216 standard for paper such as the common A4 and A3 sizes. It is a nice halfway-house between widescreen video (16:9) and the more workable squarer screens (4:3), something I think other tablets should adopt, particularly if they are to be used with keyboards.

Stereo speakers are mounted either side of the screen and are decent for a tablet, but not quite as loud or direct as those mounted in the front of the tablet of rivals.


  • Screen: 10.2in 2K (2560x1800) LCD (308ppi)
  • Processor: quad-core NVIDIA Tegra X1 1.9GHz
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32 or 64GB
  • Operating system: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • Camera: 8MP rear, 2MP front-facing
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB type-C
  • Dimensions: 242 x 179 x 7mm
  • Weight: 517g

Lasts a full day of work

The Pixel C has a USB type-C port for rapid charging and adding accessories or connecting to a computer. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The Pixel C has Nvidia’s Tegra X1 1.9GHz quad-core processor, which is meant to be one of the most powerful available at the moment, and has 3GB of RAM with a choice of 32 or 64GB of storage space.

The Pixel C performed well with no noticeable lag, handling everything I tried to do with it without breaking a sweat. It powered through graphically intensive games, videos, photo editing and large spreadsheets. Browsing was particularly responsive.

Google Pixel C reviewThe tablet lasted a full work day as a primary machine with enough power to read some comics on the hour-long commute home. If used as a typical tablet it will likely last days, if not a whole week, between charges.

Android 6 Marshmallow’s Doze feature, which puts the tablet into a lower power state when it is not being used and is not moving, means that standby time is excellent, matching Apple’s iPad. You can be assured that if you pick it up having left it on the coffee table for a week it will still have some charge, which cannot be said for most other Android tablets.

There’s no cellular option for 4G networking or room for expanding the storage, which means you’re stuck with what you buy.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Google’s Now on Tap is one of the new features available in Android Marshmallow, which scans the screen of the tablet and performs automatic information searches based on what is displayed. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The Pixel C is the first tablet to ship with the latest version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which behaves essentially the same as it does on the Google Nexus 6P or 5X smartphones.

Google has made only a few small modifications to suit a tablet, the most obvious being the positioning of the back, home and recently used apps buttons, which are no longer placed centrally at the bottom of the screen.

The back and home buttons are placed in the left-hand corner, the recently used apps button in the right-hand corner. It makes using the buttons a lot easier when holding the tablet in two hands either side of the screen. There’s also a good collection of keyboard shortcuts available for common actions, such as copy and paste, when connected to an external keyboard, plus the notification shade now slides down from wherever it was activated from.

Marshmallow is fast, attractive and responsive on the Pixel C and while it lacks a few of the tailored features for the larger, tablet-sized screen that some others have, the way Android apps are designed means most apps scale relatively easily.


The high resolution 10.2in screen with 1:√2 ratio makes word processing and other typical office duties relatively easy on the Pixel C, particularly with a keyboard attached. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The main place Android tablets lag behind iOS and Windows is within productivity features. Most Android tablets are about consuming media, not producing work – with Sony’s Xperia Z4 Tablet the odd exception.

That means no native split-screen support (something Windows 8 launched with in 2012), not many desktop-class apps for producing audio, video or editing photos and few productivity apps tailored for a larger screen.

Most people will be able to get about 95% of their work done using the Pixel C, particularly if they buy the optional keyboard. There are decent apps available for word processing for instance, including Google Docs and Microsoft’s Word. Chrome on the Pixel C also behaves very similarly to its desktop counterpart, handling most things that you can do in a browser on a computer bar mouse interactions such as drag and drop.

I wrote this and quite a few other articles, including formatting and additional background work required, on the Pixel C without issue. It wasn’t always as fast or as easy as using a laptop, but it was all possible.


The Pixel C’s optional keyboard is one of the best tablet keyboard accessories currently available. It securely attaches to the keyboard with magnets that are strong enough to hold the tablet to the keyboard even when shaken. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The Pixel C’s optional £119 magnetic keyboard is one of the best keyboard accessories I’ve had the pleasure to use. It’s a full keyboard layout, with decent sized keys and excellent travel. It’s reminiscent of a MacBook Air’s keyboard, which is one of the best.

Google Pixel C review Google Pixel C review Google Pixel C review Google Pixel C review


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