Google Pixel Slate vs iPad Pro: which tablet 2-in-1 wins out?

Should you go Google or Apple for your next tablet?

Google Pixel Slate vs iPad Pro 2018

We reckon the Google Pixel Slate and the 2018 incarnation of the Apple iPad Pro are two of the best gadgets to launch this year – and that makes choosing between them tricky. However, we're going to do the best we can to lay out their similarities and differences.

Both devices are sleek-looking tablets that you can do most computing and mobile tasks on, both convert into makeshift laptops with the addition of a clip-on keyboard, and both are available with a custom stylus. Here's how the two tablets stack up against each other.

Google Pixel Slate vs 2018 iPad Pro: design

Google Pixel Slate

Google Pixel Slate

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course, and you may well have your own thoughts about the respective designs of the Google Pixel Slate and the Apple iPad Pro. Speaking for ourselves we think the iPad Pro is the more aesthetically appealing of the two, with smaller bezels and a more polished look overall.

That's not to say the Pixel Slate is in any way ugly though – Google's team has done a good job on its first Chrome OS tablet, and everything from the 12.3-inch display to the optional Pixel Slate keyboard looks impressive. It's 7 mm (0.28 inches) thick, so just a little thicker than the iPad Pro, and comes in one colour that Google is calling "Midnight Blue".

As for the iPad Pro, you've got a choice of 11-inch and 12.9-inch display sizes (though the bezels are smaller than they are on Google's tablet). Both models measure just 5.9 mm (0.23 inches) thick, and you've got a choice of two colours – silver or space grey. The old iPad design has been left behind with the introduction of Face ID, and we think the iPad Pro looks better for it.

Google Pixel Slate vs 2018 iPad Pro: features

iPad Pro 2018

iPad Pro 2018

One of your key considerations here is Chrome OS (with added Android apps) versus iOS. Right now iOS is the more advanced and the more tablet-friendly of the two – Apple has put a lot of work into iPad-specific features for iOS, like the app dock – but Chrome OS does offer a full desktop web experience. That means you can use websites and web apps as you would on a normal laptop without getting shunted to the mobile versions.

Android apps are, generally speaking, not as well optimised for tablet use as their iOS counterparts, so it really is that web experience that should inform your decision one way or the other. Of course you should also consider the other devices you have already: iPads work fine with other Apple hardware, but aren't quite so friendly when it comes to Windows and Android.

Aside from the software, both tablets feature cameras front and rear, as well as styluses and keyboards as optional accessories. The Google Pixel Slate has two USB-C ports for your charging and accessory needs, while the Apple iPad Pro sticks with just one – so you can't, for example, power up a 4K screen and charge the tablet at the same time.

Google Pixel Slate vs 2018 iPad Pro: specs

Google Pixel Slate

Google Pixel Slate

Both these tablets are available in a choice of configurations. The Google Pixel Slate is powered by a Intel Celeron, m3, i5 or i7 processor, with 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and 32GB, 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of internal storage. That means you can go all the way from a very basic, low-powered slate to a top-end, high-powered slate.

The Apple iPad Pro, meanwhile, sticks to the premium end of the scale. There's a super-fast A12 Bionic chip inside, paired with 4GB or 6GB of RAM, and 64GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of storage. Go right to the top of that configuration list and you're going to be handing over a substantial amount of money for the biggest and best iPad Pro of 2018.

Overall, the iPad Pro is the faster, more powerful device, but the Pixel Slate gives you more configuration options to pick from, so is slightly easier to tailor to your needs. In fact, the iPad Pro is probably too powerful for most users – don't forget you can pick up the standard 9.7-inch iPad for a lot less money and get almost all the same apps and functions (including support for the Apple Pencil).

Google Pixel Slate vs 2018 iPad Pro: verdict

iPad Pro 2018

iPad Pro 2018

In plenty of areas, the iPad Pro is the better device here: it looks fantastic, it offers a polished and comprehensive software experience, and is powerful enough to last you for years and years. For a lot of users, it might be able to replace a laptop, though there are some disadvantages when it comes to comparing it with a proper computer.

One of those disadvantages is the lack of a full desktop web experience, something the Pixel Slate from Google does offer. It's also worth considering if you're heavily invested in the Google ecosystem already, and want to use your new tablet with WIndows and Android devices rather than hardware made by Apple.

Finally there's price – check the widgets on this page for the latest deals. In general, you can get a Pixel Slate for less than an iPad Pro, but only at the lowest, less powerful configurations. At the higher end you could argue that both the Pixel Slate and the iPad Pro are overpriced for what they are, so make sure you check out some of the cheaper alternatives before spending your money.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.