Google Pixel C review: the best Android tablet is a viable iPad competitor 4 / 5 stars

pixel c google tab

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.

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.

The 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 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.

Specifications

  • Screen: 10.2in 2K (2560×1800) 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
  • 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.

    The 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.

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