Google Pixel Slate vs. Apple iPad Pro

If you’re looking for a super premium tablet this holiday season, the iPad Pro, Google Pixel Slate, and Microsoft Surface Pro 6 are the top three ways to go. All three look pretty similar on the surface, but with the fresh release of the Google Pixel Slate announced, we’re diving a bit deeper to compare it to the Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch.

Read our Pixel Slate hands-on review.

Design

Google Pixel Slate Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The design of premium tablets is common these days, and both the Pixel Slate and the iPad Pro are initially hard to tell apart. The Google Pixel Slate is thin and light, crafted with rounded corners and comes in at 1.6 pounds. Similarly, the iPad Pro 12.9 is equally light at 1.57 pounds.

Both devices lack an integrated kickstand and depend on the use of a separate purchased keyboard cover to stay propped up. Google, though, does make things more advanced. The keyboard cover on the Pixel Slate has different angles of use and full backlighting, and cool rounded keys that should be silent when typing.

The displays on the two devices are also similar, and both Apple and Google want to make sure you have the best Netflix viewing pleasure. Apple’s 12.9-inch has 2,732 x 2,048 resolution, which works out to 264 pixels per inch across a 12.9-inch screen. The Pixel Slate has 3,000 x 2,000 resolution, which is 293 pixels per inch across a 12.3-inch screen. Google’s device will look sharper.

There’s also a difference in aspect ratio. The iPad has a 4:3 aspect ratio, while the Slate has a 3:2 aspect ratio. In practice, that means the iPad is a little closer to a square and feels more like the size of a piece of paper. The Slate’s aspect ratio is a bit wider, so 16:9 videos will have smaller black bars surrounding them.

Performance

Google Pixel Slate Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Under the hood, the Google Slate is powered by a touch-centric new version of Chrome OS, whereas the iPad Pro is powered by iOS 12. Both operating systems are mobile-centric, so your choice of the tablet just depends on which platform you prefer. Though iOS has no mouse support (and Chrome OS does) you’ll find similar apps and multi-tasking features across both platforms.

Greater differences can be found in the hardware. For $800, you’re getting a 12.9 inch iPad Pro with 4GB of RAM, 64GB, of storage, an A10X chip with 64‑bit architecture, and embedded M10 co-processor. The Pixel Slate starts at $599, with some very base specs comparable to the iPad. At the price, you’ll be getting a device with an Intel Celeron Processor, 4GB RAM and 32 GB of Storage. That is a cheaper base price, but with less storage and possibly a less powerful processor.

The Intel Celeron Processor is found in most cheaper Chromebooks and feel slow when multitasking and doing more demanding tasks. There are options for faster 8th gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processors on the Google Pixel Slate, but that kicks the pricing well above the $899 mark.

Keep in mind that both devices can be purchased with an optional pen. Apple’s is $99, and so is the one from Google. Considering the specifications, there are not many differences between them both, and all work fine for inking, drawing, and other tasks.

Portability

Google Pixel Slate Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

When considering the portability of the Google Pixel Slate and the iPad Pro 12.9 inch, you need to account their measurements. The iPad Pro measures 12 x 8.66 x 0.27 inches, and the Pixel Slate comes in at 11.45 inches x 7.95 inches x .27 inches. Both are truly light and portable, but we think that the smaller length on the Google Pixel makes it easier to pack away when traveling. Unfortunately, both do look rather hard to hold in the hands, so there is that to settle on when shopping.

As for battery life, Google promises that you’ll get up to 12 hours with mixed usage on the Pixel Slate. In our testing, we got up to 10 hours on the iPad, which is still good. iOS is also known for excellent standby time — it uses little battery when not actively used. We don’t yet know how the Slate’s standby time will compare, but Chrome OS devices usually don’t handle standby as well as an iPad.

Google Pixel Slate Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Coming down to the connectivity while on the go, the Pixel Slate looks to be the winner. Not counting the headphone hack, Apple includes only one proprietary lighting port. You’ll need to get a dongle to connect up your USB accessories, or compatible printers. Google, though, includes two USB-Cs for charging 4K display output and quicker data transfer. There’s no headphone jack on board the Pixel Slate, but there are killer dual-firing speakers for better surround sound. You’ll need a dongle or Bluetooth headphones with the Slate.

Get the iPad

apple ipad pro 10 5 review screen on angle
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

At the end of the day, it’s better to choose the iPad Pro for now. Google’s Pixel Slate might look fancy and have new OS features, but at $599, the specs seem to be a bit disappointing for those looking for a powerful tablet without breaking the bank. Considering Google hasn’t released a new Android tablet in a long time, it is probably best to invest the extra money in the 12.9 inch iPad and grab something that is bound to last.

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