Pixel C review: the best slate an Android fan can get

Google's combined style and substance creates the best iPad Air 2 rival out.

T3 Platinum Award
Reasons to buy
  • +

    Brilliant display

  • +

    Premium design

  • +

    Plenty of power

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Not optimised for keyboard

  • -

    Battery could be better

  • -


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Google's new Pixel C isn't like any of the search giant's Nexus tablets that have come before it.

This is an out-and-out high-end slate with its sights set firmly on toppling the likes of the iPad Air 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 and Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet.

It's even got an iPad-matching price tag, starting at £399, which shows Google is serious about the first tablet it's designed and built without assistance from another manufacturer.

And if you're feeling particularly flush you can splash out on a £119 keyboard dock as Google looks to make a play in the productivity aspect of tablets as well.


Google's previous tablets, which fell under the Nexus brand, sported plastic bodies which helped keep price and weight down - but with the Pixel C it's moved into premium materials.

The Pixel C is finished in anodised aluminium, giving it a high-end look and feel - not to mention a certain heft. In fact the Pixel C tips the scales 517g, which is pretty weighty. It's not a tablet you'll want to be hold for extended periods.

The iPad Air 2 is thinner, lighter and just that bit better designed - but Google's attempt is still a good one. It's an understated, yet professional finish and the Pixel C feels far more grown up than the Nexus tablets we've seen before it.

On the rear the 8MP camera sensor is joined by Google's lightbar, shining in the four colours of the firm's famed logo. It's basically Google's answer to Apple's illuminated logo on its MacBooks range, and it's a nice addition on the Pixel C.


One of the best features about the Pixel C is its screen - it's simply stunning. Google's packed in a 2560 x 1800 resolution into the 10.2-inch panel, ensuring you get pin sharp clarity.

That's not all though, as it's also used some clever screen tech to enhance the brightness - making it comfortably brighter than its Apple, Samsung and Sony rivals.

It all means that whatever you're doing on the Pixel C, be it playing games, watching movies, writing a novel or browsing the web, it all looks great.

The Pixel C also packs in Android Marshmallow, the freshest version of Google's mobile platform. It brings various enhancements and new features including the power saving Doze function and Now on Tap, which delivers you handy, bite-size cards of information related to your on-screen activity. Tasty!

Then for those who are willing to spend a little more money, the optional Pixel C keyboard is another clever addition. It wirelessly charges itself from the tablet, ensuring it never dies in the middle of typing. Plus it automatically pairs allowing you to get typing right away without having to mess with Bluetooth settings - screw YOU, tapping other buttons.

It also doubles as a multi-angle stand, allowing you to find the perfect viewing pitch, and when you've finished using the Pixel C you can 'stick' the keyboard over the screen to protect it (using magnets).

Trouble is, Android isn't optimised for use with a physical keyboard and it lacks the functions and applications of rivals such as the iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface Pro 4, which somewhat limits its productivity credentials.


Google's popped a Nvidia Tegra X1 processor and 3GB of RAM into the Pixel C, giving it enough power to run the latest gaming titles from the Play Store and deal with a plethora of applications all at the same time.

Loads time are swift, the interface is fluid and we were able to glide through the Pixel C with ease. It's up there with the top tablets on the market is this respect.

The Pixel C also carries the bold claim that it can offer over 10 hours of battery life from a single charge - but that will depend heavily on how you're using it.

Running a 90 minute full HD video at maximum brightness saw the Pixel C lose 27% of its juice - meaning you could get through three feature length films before running to the charger.

Reduce screen brightness to the halfway point though, and it loses 21% on the same test, and thanks to the screen technology Google's used the image still looks pretty bright.

If you're more of a casual user who picks up a tablet for a few hours a day to do some light web browsing, emails and social media you'll likely see Google's 10 hour claim come true.

We left the Pixel C on standby (switched on, but locked with the screen off) between 5pm one evening and 10am the next morning and it had leaked just 3%. So... this isn't a tablet that will need to be plugged in religiously every night then.


Something which makes it a little easier to use the Pixel C is the split navigation keys at the bottom of the screen. Previously the back, home and multi-tasking buttons were centrally located on screen - but that made them difficult to hit when holding the device with both hands.

On the Pixel C the back and home keys are up against the left side of the screen, while the multi-tasking button falls nicely under thumb on the right, making them much easier to reach.

The Pixel C comes with a faster charger plug in the box which pops into the USB-C port on the side of the tablet allowing you to get a quick blast of juice.

That's not all the port can do though. Connect the Pixel C to your phone or Chromebook and it can charge those devices - although you'll have to purchase the cable separately.

Likewise, if you want to transfer content to/from the Pixel C from/to your computer you'll again have to buy a separate cable - it's a little frustrating Google didn't include at least one of these options in the box.

T3 Verdict

It's about time we got an Android tablet that properly challenges the iPad Air 2. The Galaxy Tab S2 and Xperia Z4 Tablet came close, but the Pixel C goes all the way.

From its premium design, to its wonderful display and punchy processor, the Pixel C goes blow for blow with Apple's top tablet.

It's not perfect - with a weighty heft, a battery which isn't as strong as we hoped, and the lack of software to really take advantage of the keyboard dock - but no device is.

The Pixel C is, without doubt, the best Android tablet on the market and if you were considering buying a full size iPad, Google's just thrown a spanner in the works.

John McCann

John has been a technology journalist for more than a decade, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He’s reported on pretty much every area of consumer technology, from laptops, tablets, smartwatches and smartphones to smart speakers, automotive, headphones and more. During his time in journalism, John has written for TechRadar, T3, Shortlist, What Laptop, Windows 8 magazine, Gizmodo UK, Saga Magazine and Saga Exceptional, and he’s appeared in the Evening Standard and Metro newspapers.

Outside of work, John is a passionate Watford FC and Green Bay Packers fan, enjoys a Sunday afternoon watching the F1, and is also a Guinness World Record Holder.