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  • Google Pixel Tablet docked with hub
    Source: Google
    Google Pixel Tablet

    Google's Pixel Tablet offers a comfortable design intended to blend into your hand and your home, with an included Charging and Speaker Dock that lets it become a centerpiece of your living space. Powered by Google's Tensor G2, it offers plenty of power for gaming and streaming, plus a unique Hub Mode that turns it into a smart display when docked.  

    Pros
    • Packs in Google's powerful Tensor G2
    • Includes Charging Speaker Dock
    • Offers built-in Hub Mode for use as a smart display.
    Cons
    • Average LCD display.
    • No stylus included.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
    Source: Amazon
    Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
    $630 $700 Save $70

    The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 features a premium design, a 120Hz display, an S Pen stylus, a powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, and enough RAM to handle any task you're likely to need from a tablet. If you're happy with the 11-inch display, this is one of the best Android tablets you can buy.

    Pros
    • Small enough to easily hold in your hands.
    • S Pen included in the box.
    • Excellent performance and battery life.
    Cons
    • Smaller screen hampers productivity tools.
    • The S Pen can feel like it's dragging across the glass.
    • Lacks an AMOLED panel.

Summary

  • Google has released the Pixel Tablet, marking the company's return to Android tablets after the discontinuation of the Pixel C in 2015.
  • The Pixel Tablet's design features rounded corners and a nano-ceramic coating, setting it apart from the squared-off design of Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8.
  • Both the Pixel Tablet and Galaxy Tab S8 offer similar display technology, with LCD screens and a 16:10 aspect ratio, although the Tab S8 has a faster refresh rate.

Google recently released its much-anticipated Pixel Tablet, the first Android-powered tablet to come out of Mountain View since the 2015 Pixel C was discontinued nearly six years ago. Although Google made an interim attempt at rolling out a tablet in 2018 with the Chrome OS-powered Pixel Slate, the new 2023 entry marks a triumphant return to Google's Android roots, beginning with the early Nexus devices. The Pixel Tablet isn't perfect, but it's still one of our favorite Android tablets right now.

Of course, those early Nexus tablets may have been sponsored by Google, but they were built by Asus, Samsung, and HTC. Those companies went their own way after Google shelved its branded tablets to focus on Chromebooks. Not surprisingly, the most successful of the bunch is Samsung, which has been consistently putting out its own Galaxy Tab S series handhelds for nearly a decade, culminating in the 2022 Galaxy Tab S8 and ultimately leading to this year's even newer Galaxy Tab S9 series.

Samsung's tablets continued to define what an Android tablet can and should be, which should make things very interesting now that Google has thrown its hat back into the ring. How does Google's reentry into the world of modern Android tablets shape up against Samsung's iconic Galaxy Tab S8 series? Let's find out.

Price, availability, and specs

Google's Pixel Tablet is available from the Google Store and other retailers, starting at $499 for the base 128GB model with 8GB RAM. It's available in Porcelain, Hazel, and Rose finishes and includes a color-matched Charging and Speaker Dock in the box. A 256GB version is also available for anyone requiring a beefier storage function.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8 launched last year at a starting price of $700 for the similarly-equipped 128GB model. It's available at Samsung and most other major retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. It can often be found on sale for considerably less than its regular asking price, especially now that the S9 range has hit the market. Your color choices for the Tab S8 are Graphite, Silver, and Pink Gold.


  • Google Pixel TabletSamsung Galaxy Tab S8
    Storage128GB, 256GB, UFS 3.1 storage128 GB, 256 GB (expandable by MicroSD)
    CPUGoogle Tensor G2Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
    Memory8GB LPDDR5 RAM8 GB, 12 GB
    Operating SystemAndroid 14Android 12 (upgradeable to Android 13 with One UI 5.1.1)
    Battery27Wh, Up to 12 hours8,000 mAh
    Camera (Rear, Front)8MP, 8MPRear: 13MP f/2.0, 6MP f/2.2 / Front: 12MP f/2.4
    PriceFrom $500

Google Pixel Tablet vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8: Design

The back of a Google Pixel Tablet

The Google Pixel Tablet features a contoured design that will feel familiar to anybody who has ever held an older model of the iPad. It's comfortable in the hand and easy to get working on as a result. Rather than going with the more squared-off corners that seem to be all the rage these days, the Pixel Tablet goes with rounded corners, a bold choice to break away from the typical design language, but one that certainly pays off. It takes it a step farther, however, surpassing Apple's similarly rounded designs by featuring a nano-ceramic coating and a soft matte look that's easier on both the eyes and the hands than the more spartan metallic backing of an iPad. This gives it a textured, porcelain-like feel, which undoubtedly inspired Google's choice to use "Porcelain" as the name for its standard color, although the Pixel Tablet is also available in Hazel and Rose.

While Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8 measures roughly the same size as the Pixel Tablet, it's an entirely different species when considering the design of these two competitors. As we noted in our review, the squared-off edges make it feel like a clone of Apple's iPad Pro; if it weren't for the difference in aspect ratios, it would be hard to tell the two devices apart. While that's clearly a popular design (since Apple has stuck with it for years), it's not going to fit with everyone's style preferences.

samsung-galaxy-tab-s8-review 9

If a dedicated stylus user while working on your tablet, the Galaxy Tab S8 handily takes the edge here. It not only includes Samsung's S Pen in the box, but it also carves out a space on the back of the tablet to magnetically dock it, adding charging to this cutout, as well. It's not the most convenient location, but at least it's there. Although the Pixel Tablet is compatible with USI 2.0 styluses, it doesn't come with one included, nor does it offer any special docking or charging capabilities. You'll have to add a case if you want to travel with a stylus, which is a shame for those who like the natural aesthetic since the Pixel Tablet looks so good without one.

google-pixel-tablet-screensaver

While you won't get a stylus, Pixel Tablet buyers open up the box to find something else, perhaps even better. The Pixel Tablet comes with a Charging Speaker Dock that not only provides a dedicated place to drop your tablet when you want to give it a charge, but also lets you prop it up as a smart display. The integrated speakers are perfect for use as a video calling platform or music hub while you're working in the kitchen or getting ready for the day. The first one is included, but you can purchase additional speaker docks in order to place a few strategically around your home. This will allow you to connect your Pixel Tablet in any room that may want to use the device as a media and home hub. It also includes a built-in, polished metal ring stand, so you can prop it up at nearly any angle without the need to add additional accessories.

Google Pixel Tablet vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8: Display

google-pixel-tablet-lockscreen

If there was a single disappointment with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8, it was the lack of an AMOLED screen. In what was undoubtedly an effort to keep its entry-level tablet as affordable as possible, Samsung went with an 11-inch LPTS LCD, setting the S8 apart from the premium versions that feature in the lineup.

Considering the Tab S8 launched with a $700 price tag and the Pixel Tablet starts at $500, it's probably no surprise that Google cut the same corner in display technology. The Pixel Tablet also features a 10.95-inch LCD. While it's undoubtedly a display that provides a good quality picture, the screen is nothing to write home about. The Galaxy Tab S8 and Pixel Tablet are roughly on par when it comes to display technology; both use the same 16:10 laptop-style aspect ratio, 2560 x 1600 resolution, and around 500 nits of brightness, although the Tab S8 enjoys a slight edge for its faster 120Hz refresh rate.

Google is positioning the Pixel Tablet as a device targeted primarily for media consumption. It's a workhorse when it comes to activities like streaming movies, running games, and showing off your photos. That's where we felt the Galaxy Tab S8 landed as well, despite Samsung's efforts to promote it as a more well-rounded device.

Google Pixel Tablet vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8: Software

A tablet with a tropical bird wallpaper.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8 launched with the Android 12 system under its hood. This was the current version at the time, but it was already ahead of the curve thanks to Samsung's tablet-friendly One UI Android skin. Until the introduction of Android 12L last year, the Android system was a clunky, awkward experience on most other tablets. Therefore, Samsung came up with its own solution.

That's less of an issue now since these capabilities have been folded into Android 13, the system that Google's Pixel Tablet ships with. The Galaxy Tab S8 can also be updated to Android 13, although the changes are less jarring for existing users making the update thanks to the Samsung One UI 5 skin. Samsung promises four years of updates for the Galaxy Tab S8, meaning it should someday support updates all the way through to Android 16.

However, since the Pixel Tablet begins its life with Android 13, Google is promising a similar update cycle that will take it one version beyond that, into Android 17. Google also promises at least five years of security updates, providing a lengthy coverage of security updates for your device and its stored data. Whether you'll still be hanging on to your Pixel Tablet in five years is another question, but it's nice to know you have the option.

samsung-galaxy-tab-s8-review 8

In terms of software features, both tablets offer a slate of features that stand in line with typical expectations from each company. Samsung layers its One UI on top of the Android 13 system, while the Pixel Tablet provides the usual "pure Google" experience. Naturally, it also integrates seamlessly with the rest of your Pixel devices.

Google has another trick up its sleeve for the Pixel Tablet, though. In addition to everything you'd expect from a Pixel-optimized version of Android, the Pixel Tablet is also designed to double as a home hub and smart display. When utilizing the included Charging Speaker Dock, the tablet automatically switches its function to introduce its Hub Mode. This lets you use the device as a digital photo frame, and you can control your Google Home accessories, view cameras, and call up Google Assistant from anywhere in the room via this augmented Pixel Tablet mode.

Google Pixel Tablet vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8: Performance

A Galaxy Tab S8 tablet slotted into a keyboard dock laid on puzzle pieces.

The Galaxy Tab S8 and Pixel Tablet both pack in the same processors as their contemporary smartphone cousins. However, since the Galaxy Tab S8 is a year old, it utilizes the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the platform featuring in Samsung's Galaxy S22 lineup. This is an impressive chip for an Android tablet and it enables the device runs circles around most of the competition.

However, the Pixel Tablet delivers an upgraded chipset as a result of its more recent release date: The same custom Tensor G2 that debuted in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. On paper, you might think that gives the Pixel Tablet an edge in performance, but in reality, both tablets will likely remain pretty evenly matched — especially if you intend to use the device for light streaming, music, and other typical tablet demands.

In raw performance, Google's Tensor G2 doesn't beat out the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in most benchmarks. Most of its advantages come from the machine learning capabilities that Google has baked into it, most of which power Google's advanced computational photography features on its Pixel phones. There's less demand for that capability on a tablet, and while we'll have to wait for some real-world tests the Galaxy Tab S8 and Pixel Tablet likely offer similar gaming and streaming performance. This makes them fairly evenly matched in the processing department.

Google Pixel Tablet vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8: Battery life

The Google Pixel Tablet sitting on a stand showing the back view.

As with performance, we'll have to wait for real-world testing to fully understand how the Pixel Tablet will hold up over time. But Google promises up to 12 hours of 1080p streaming for YouTube video on a single charge. This suggests that most typical users may only need to plug the device in every two or three days. That's likely to come out to a similar timeline alongside the Galaxy Tab S8, which we noted in our review offered "excellent battery life with mixed usage."

Of course, your experience will undoubtedly vary depending on how you use either tablet. Hardcore gamers or those who treat it as their primary viewing device for streaming movies and TV shows will almost assuredly need to plug the tablet in every night, regardless of the selection. However, the Pixel Tablet has a notable advantage here thanks to its included Charging and Speaker Dock. Not only does the included dock make it easier to charge, but you're more likely to insert the Pixel Tablet into the dock to turn it into a home hub when you're not otherwise using it. This gives you at the ready hub functionality and a passive charging effort that doesn't require you to remember to plug it in. However, the Pixel Tablet can also be charged using a standard USB-C adapter, although you'll have to buy that separately.

Google Pixel Tablet vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8: Camera

samsung-galaxy-tab-s8-review 10

Rear-facing cameras on tablets often feel like something manufacturers include simply because they feel they have to in keeping with typical design trends. While you'll always see a handful of folks holding up their tablets to take pictures at concerts and other events, it's a rarity that doesn't often factor into the buying calculus for these larger-screened devices.

Samsung and Google both seem to understand this, and the rear cameras on the Galaxy Tab S8 and Pixel Tablet are competent for things like scanning documents but don't otherwise stand out in any meaningful way. The Galaxy Tab S8 offers a dual-rear camera array that combines a 13-megapixel (MP) standard lens with a 6MP ultra-wide offering. That's actually pretty impressive for a tablet, but it still pales in comparison to what's found on even Samsung's entry-level Galaxy A03. On the other hand, Google isn't even putting the Pixel Tablet in the race; its rear camera is built with a pedestrian, single 8MP fixed focus lens.

Around the front, the Galaxy Tab S8 offers a 12MP ultra-wide camera that's at least on par with, if not better, than what you'll find on many laptops. Unfortunately, the Pixel Tablet's front camera is the same as its rear one, with only an 8MP resolution and a fixed focus. However, both tablets offer auto-framing technology that's similar to the Center Stage feature found on Apple's iPads without the pithy name and the awkward short-edge camera placement. The Galaxy Tab S8 and Pixel Tablet put the camera on the longer side, which makes a lot more sense for video calls. The Galaxy Tab S8 takes pole position here, but your interest in the camera's technology and specs will depend heavily in whether you intend to actually use the feature--some people won't at all.

Google Pixel Tablet vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8: Which is right for you?

google-pixel-tablet-timer

As the newest kid on the block, Google's Pixel Tablet offers some impressive specs and some innovative features that set it apart from the competition. While it doesn't necessarily offer more raw power, Google's Tensor G2 is a newer chip that opens the door to more possibilities thanks to its focus on AI and machine learning capabilities, and all that power combined with four years of software updates and five years of security patches mean you could still be enjoying this tablet in 2028.

The Pixel Tablet it's also much more clearly designed with specific applications and functionality in mind. This allows for a razor-sharp focus on doing those things exceedingly well. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, this is a tablet that knows its purpose in life and doesn't try to be something it isn't, creating a lesser user experience in the process. The Pixel Tablet is a content consumer, allowing for a rich enjoyment of media and gaming content while also anchoring your smart home. There's no stylus included, further driving home the point that this is an entertainment tool rather than one focused on productivity. Instead, Google has packed a dock in the box that turns the Pixel Tablet into a central hub for your home, with the ability to show off your favorite memories, play music through its built-in speaker, quickly control accessories and see what's going on outside, as well as the integrated ability to call up Google Assistant from anywhere in the room.

On top of all that, Google is offering the Pixel Tablet at a starting price of $500 with the Charging Speaker Dock included. That's a considerable bargain especially when noting that it offers most of the same capabilities as Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8, which is typically priced at $100 more even when it's on sale.

Google Pixel Tablet docked with hub
Source: Google
Google Pixel Tablet
Best overall

Google's Pixel Tablet offers a comfortable design intended to blend into your hand and your home, with an included Charging and Speaker Dock that lets it become a centerpiece of your living space. Powered by Google's Tensor G2, it offers plenty of power for gaming and streaming, plus a unique Hub Mode that turns it into a smart display when docked.

Of course, the opinionated design of the Pixel Tablet isn't for everyone, and if you're looking for an option that offers just a few more productivity-focused features then Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8 is still a solid pick. This is especially true if you can find it on sale (something that will become more readily available as more S9 models flood the marketplace). For one, you'll get the S Pen in the box, plus a place to dock it and charge it when you're not actively using the accessory. Plus, if you're already invested in the Samsung ecosystem, the Galaxy Tab S8 may be a more natural fit alongside your Galaxy S series smartphone and Galaxy Buds Pro.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
Source: Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
Good alternative

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 features a premium design, a 120Hz display, an S Pen stylus, a powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, and enough RAM to handle any task you're likely to need from a tablet. If you're happy with the 11-inch display, this is one of the best Android tablets you can buy.