Pixel Tablet vs iPad 10.9 (2022): which affordable tablet is a better value

Pixel Tablet vs iPad 10.9 (2022)
(Image credit: Future)

So here we are: a year after Google announced the Pixel Tablet and we're finally seeing the fruits of its labor. While we have yet to properly test it in the real world. However, going by what we already know about its features and doing a quick Pixel Tablet hands-on at the Google I/O (2023) event, it sounds like it’s going to give the iPad 10.9 (2022) from the tablet line that started it all a good, sweaty, and exhausting run for its money.

The iPad 10.9 (2022) has become the best tablet for the Everyman, the best affordable all-around for those who do not need a lot of power and are on a tight budget. It’s still an impressive kit, capable of video editing workloads and touting high-end features like fingerprint login. But taking stock of everything it has on offer, you also start to realize that you might be paying too much for what you’re getting.

That’s even more glaring now with the release of the similarly-priced Pixel Tablet, which is really several different devices at one accessible price. It’s not just a tablet; it’s also a smart home display, a digital photo frame, an entertainment unit, and a video conferencing tool – thanks in large part to its Charging Speaker Dock that comes included in the box. And besides blazing a new trail in the tablet scene, it’s also proving to the world that you don’t need to spend a lot to get more when it comes to tech.

Of course, the iPad 10.9 (2022) does have its small share of advantages over the Pixel Tablet - namely, it has a cellular model on offer, higher resolution cameras, and its own keyboard cover, the Magic Keyboard Folio, which is one of the most impressive keyboards we’ve ever used on a tablet. 

But are those features and options enough to recommend it over the shiny, new, and feature-rich Pixel Tablet? Let’s find out.

Pixel Tablet vs iPad 10.9 (2022): price

Affordable yet capable tablets are somewhat of a rarity these days, unless you manage to find an older model that has dropped in price. And that’s honestly part of the reason why the original iPad line has been such a success. Though it has increased in price over the years, it starts at under $400 / £500 – accessible enough for most people.

The iPad 10.9 (2022), in fact, starts at $449 / £499 / AU$749, which is very similar to the Pixel Tablet’s $499 base price in the US, although bizarrely enough, the latter is slightly more expensive in the UK and Australia at £599 and AU$899 respectively.

But here’s the thing: it’s also in many ways the most basic tablet you can get without going the cheap and practically unusable route. You’re only getting 64GB of storage with that base configuration, and every accessory that expands its functionality, like the aforementioned Magic Keyboard Folio ($249 / £279 / AU$399), will not only cost you money but a lot of it. Upgrade to a cellular or a higher storage capacity version, and you’re paying even more.

The Pixel Tablet, on the other hand, keeps things simple. It only has two configurations, a 128GB and a 256GB, with the latter setting you back $599 / £699 / AU$999. Both configurations already have a Charging Speaker Dock included in the price. At the time of writing, it doesn’t have cellular models available. 

Any additional accessories you want, like an extra Charging Speaker Dock or the tablet case, both of which will be available later in the year, you’ll have to purchase separately, but they’re relatively affordable compared to Apple’s prices.

Google Pixel Tablet at Google I/O

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Pixel Tablet vs iPad 10.9 (2022): design

The Pixel Tablet is a slightly bigger and heavier slate than the iPad 10.9 (2022) at 10.2 x 6.7 x 0.3 in (258 x 169 x 8.1 mm) and 17.39 oz (493g) next to the Apple tablet’s 9.79 x 7.07 in, and 0.28 in (248.9 x 179.5 x 7 mm) and 16.8oz (477g). And honestly, we would have preferred a lighter device, but it also doesn’t feel like a heavy burden. It is more of a home device anyway, especially considering the way its ecosystem has been designed and the fact that Google hasn’t even mentioned the possibility of a keyboard folio for travel.

Both tablets are made of aluminum as well as recycled and renewable materials, with the Pixel Tablet featuring a nano-ceramic coating that according to Google was “inspired by the feel of porcelain” and the iPad 10.9 (2022) sporting that same matte satin finish as the iPad Air.

The biggest thing that separated the Pixel Tablet from the rest is that it was designed to seamlessly snap onto its dock and switch to what Google calls its Hub Mode (more on that later). So it does have a magnetic ring in its rear for both docking and charging. Sadly, the iPad 10.9 (2022) doesn’t even have wireless charging.

iPad 10.9 (2022) screen at angle

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

While we didn’t get a chance to compare the displays prior to writing, you’ll find that both displays are similar in that they’re both just under 11 inches, offer 500 nits of brightness, and have roughly the same resolution of 2560 x 1600 (Pixel Tablet) and 2360 x 1640 (iPad 10.9). The former does have a bit more pixels per inch density of 276 PPI over the latter’s 264 PPI, but we’ll wait and see if that difference is negligible in practice. Also, glare seems to be a common issue with both screens.

That said, Apple’s Liquid Retina IPS display is highly-praised and better than most LCD panels.

It also seems like the iPad 10.9 (2022) has the advantage in terms of its cameras. While the Pixel Tablet is keeping things modest with two 8MP cameras, both of which have a 1/4-inch sensor, f/2.0 aperture, and 1080p video at 30fps, Apple’s device has two 12MP cameras, with the rear offering a bigger f/1.8 aperture and 4K at 60fps video recording, and the front having an f/2.4 aperture and 1080p at 60fps recording capabilities. That’s not to mention features like time-lapse video recording with stabilization, slow-motion support, and cinematic video stabilization.

Both do have a fingerprint sensor on the power button for logging in. This feature works beautifully and quickly on both. Another thing they have in common is the meager port selection of exactly one USB-C port.

Pixel Tablet vs iPad 10.9 (2022): features

It’s in their features where the Pixel Tablet truly leaves the iPad 10.9 in the dust. Apple’s device is fantastic for doing all the tablet stuff like streaming, reading, light editing, even gaming. But any additional functionalities it offers, you still have to pay extra money for. Want to turn it into a laptop? Get a keyboard folio. Want to draw and create digital artwork on it? Invest in an Apple Pencil.

Meanwhile, the Pixel Tablet, as we mentioned earlier, was designed to function as several devices in one out of the box. Quite literally too since a Charging Speaker Dock is included in the box, and that’s the key to this tablet’s expanded functionality.

Google Pixel Tablet at Google I/O

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Among the long list of features the Pixel Tablet has in Hub Mode (when it’s docked) are its digital photo frame functionality and adaptive ambient lighting, as well as Chromecast built-in and enabled when docked so that you can easily cast whatever you’re watching on your phone to the tablet after all the blood has drained out of your hand from holding that phone up for too long. It also works seamlessly with the dock so that if, for example, you’re watching a movie or listening to music on the tablet and you dock it, audio switches from the tablet’s speakers to the Charging Speaker Dock. 

It also comes with the Google TV app – but then again, the iPad 10.9 also comes with the Apple TV app. Both tablets have voice assistants, with Siri on the iPad and Google Assistant on the Pixel Tablet.

Pixel Tablet vs iPad 10.9 (2022): Performance

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Pixel TabletiPad 10.9 (2022)
Weight 1.08lbs (493g)1.05lbs (477g)
Dimensions 258 x 169 x 8.1mm (10.2 x 6.7 x 0.3 inches)248.6 x 179.5 x 7mm (9.79 x 7.07 x 0.28 inches)
Operating systemAndroid 13iPadOS 16
Display10.95-inch LCD display 16:10 500-nits 2560 x 1600, 276 PPI 10.9-inch Liquid Retina IPS display 500-nits 2360 x 1640 pixels
CPU Google Tensor G2Apple A14
Storage 128GB / 256GB64GB / 256GB
Battery Up to 12 hoursUp to 10 hours
Cameras8MP / 8MP12MP / 12MP
Ports1x USB-C1x USB-C
Color coverageFull 24-bit depth for 16 million color101.2% sRGB, 71.7% DCI-P3

Putting the Pixel Tablet through its paces is the only surefire way to see how it measures up to the iPad 10.9 (2022), so we’ll have to wait until we secure our test unit. But as a tablet, it does have pretty big shoes to fill.

Armed with Apple’s A14 Bionic, the iPad 10.9 is a capable and snappy slate, handling multiple apps at the same time as well as video editing and mobile gaming without breaking a sweat. That’s despite its modest 4GB LPDDR4X RAM. And we’re not just saying that because Apple said so; we tested and reviewed it ourselves. Meanwhile, that iPadOS 16 platform is simply built for productivity, which allows it to be a better multitasking machine and a decent laptop alternative. 

On the battery side, the iPad 10.9 might be able to squeeze up to 22 hours of battery life with minimal use – though it is worth noting that in real-world scenarios where users are constantly streaming, surfing, and gaming, it’s closer to eight to 10 hours on average.

Tensor G2 at Google I/O 2023

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

While it’s too early to tell if the Pixel Tablet is able to keep up, it is fitted with Google’s Tensor G2 which focuses on delivering machine learning-based features that fit perfectly with Google products’ new trajectory. It doesn’t look like Google is hyper-focused on rolling out the most powerful devices; it’s prioritizing how its products can utilize the power of AI to make our lives easier. On the RAM side, the Pixel Tablet does have 8GB LPDDR5, which is faster than what the iPad 10.9 has. That should make a difference in performance.

As for its battery, Google is promising up to 12 hours of battery life when undocked. When docked, naturally, it’ll last for as long as its Charging Speaker Dock is sending it power.

Which tablet is right for you?

If you're only here for just the tablets and any additional functionality their accessories offer are just icing on the cake, choosing between the Pixel Tablet and the iPad 10.9 (2022) might be more of a personal preference at this point. Their features and capabilities are close enough that your choice will probably boil down to which one you like best - though it's worth noting that the iPad 10.9 is focused more on power while the Pixel Tablet is looking towards AI and smart home integration.

However, factor in the Charging Speaker Dock that comes included with every Pixel Tablet, and there's a clear winner here in terms of versatility, functionality, and value. This new tablet from Google gives you several devices in one, which makes it a better value especially if you're just starting your smart home journey and need to start with a smart home controller. And in this economy, it seems like the perfect device to invest in.

We'll update this page, of course, as soon as we finish our testing and review of the Pixel Tablet, but for now, we think that the Pixel Tablet is poised to dethrone the tablet that started it all.

Michelle Rae Uy

Michelle Rae Uy is the former Computing Reviews and Buying Guides Editor at TechRadar. She's a Los Angeles-based tech, travel and lifestyle writer covering a wide range of topics, from computing to the latest in green commutes to the best hiking trails. She's an ambivert who enjoys communing with nature and traveling for months at a time just as much as watching movies and playing sim games at home. That also means that she has a lot more avenues to explore in terms of understanding how tech can improve the different aspects of our lives.