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Google rumored to launch a Pixel Tablet to compete with iPad

Published Sep 27th, 2021 8:36PM EDT
Google Pixel Tablet
Image: Google

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Google stopped trying to compete with Apple’s iPad years ago. It’s not that it hasn’t made new Pixel-branded tablets, but that it hasn’t optimized Android for bigger screens as Apple did with iOS. Apple forked iOS into iPadOS, as the tablet experience is a lot different than that of the iPhone. The iPad mini 6 is the best proof of that from Apple that we have seen to date. It’s not just a compact device; it also rocks the same powerful specs as the iPhone 13 Pro.

Google will soon have to catch up quickly, even if it doesn’t plan to make a new Pixel Tablet. That’s because foldable smartphones are becoming increasingly popular — Google is actually supposedly making one now. And some of these foldable Androids are closer to tablets than smartphones. But a recent discovery indicates that Google’s Android tablet ambitions seem to be renewed, and a beautiful Pixel Tablet design might be waiting in the wings.

The current Android tablet landscape

The Pixel maker doesn’t need to manufacture its own mobile hardware. But it’s forced to do it, at least when it comes to smartphones. It’s the only way of showing the world what Android should look and feel. Remember that Pixel phones are the first to run the newest Android release. Without them, Android users would be waiting for a much longer time to experience the latest Android updates.

Google doesn’t have to make Pixel tablets, however. There are plenty of players that do a great job. Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets are affordable mid-rangers that everyone can use. Samsung has both mid-range devices and high-end tablets aiming to compete against the iPad Pro. Then there’s Lenovo, Xiaomi, and Huawei, which keep launching new Android tablets of their own.

Google Pixel Tablet
Google Pixel Tablet patent illustrations. Image source: Google via LetsGoDigital

But Android still lags behind iPadOS when it comes to optimization, and Google might want to get more involved. That’s especially true if Google makes a Pixel Fold handset that will look like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 foldable. This type of foldable handset is essentially a tablet, which needs to run an Android OS version optimized to take advantage of the bigger screen.

Google’s beautiful Pixel Tablet

Dutch-language blog LetsGoDigital found a Google patent in Japan that shows the design for a Pixel Tablet device. The patent dates back to March 2019, but the Japan Patent Office (JPO) approved it only this summer.

Google Pixel Tablet
Google Pixel Tablet: All-screen display design and rear panel. Image source: LetsGoDigital and Giuseppe Spinelli

The patent covers the Pixel Tablet design without revealing any other specifics. We’re calling it Pixel Tablet at this time because that’s a name that makes sense right now. The Pixel 6 series reveal in early August proved that Google is getting serious about the Pixel hardware. It’s all part of a more extensive, bolder strategy around hardware that includes physical retail stores, custom processors for devices, and more ambitious marketing plans. With that in mind, the Pixel Tablet would complement the rest of the Pixel series perfectly.

While we lack specifics, LetsGoDigital partnered with graphic designer Giuseppe Spinelli to create Pixel Tablet renders based on the Google patent.

Google Pixel Tablet
Google Pixel Tablet: All-screen design and USB-C connector. Image source: LetsGoDigital and Giuseppe Spinelli

Spinelli imagined an Android tablet unlike anything on the market. The device features thin bezels similar to what’s available on Android phones. A hole-punch camera pierces through the display just like on an Android phone. Strangely, there’s no rear-facing camera here.

The device also features a quad-speaker sound system and USB-C connectivity. There’s no fingerprint sensor in sight. The sensor could sit under the screen. Or it could be part of a side button like the iPad mini 6 and iPad Air 4.

However, all of this is just speculation based on design renders that might not show everything. They might not even be relevant for Google’s current plans. That said, Google’s patent shows that Google is interested in this particular form factor.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.