Google Pixel Slate vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
With Google recently releasing its Pixel Slate tablet, there’s plenty to wonder on how it stacks up against the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. From the design, keyboards, or operating systems, there is a lot that is initially similar—but also different— between the two.
In this side by side comparison piece, we stack the two newest tablets against each other helping you decide which one is best for you.
Google’s Pixel Slate is thin and light, crafted with rounded corners and coming in at 1.6 pounds. The Surface Pro 6 keeps a similar simplistic design but is slightly heavier at 1.7 pounds without the keyboard.
Though it feels solid, durable and is easy to grab as a tablet, we weren’t exactly a fan of the overall design of the Google Pixel Slate. Compared to the Surface, it is still a bit too drab and only comes in one Midnight Blue color and aluminum material, not fitting in with Google’s other hardware like the Pixel 3.
Just as with the iPad Pro, the other key differentiating element between the two devices is the kickstand. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 has a fully articulating kickstand with movement up to 165 degrees, but the Google Pixel Slate depends on its keyboard cover to stay propped up. In both cases, the keyboard is separate, $199 for the Pixel Slate, and $159 with the Surface Pro 6. We still found the folio keyboard on the Pixel Slate as innovative, since it emulates the feel of a real kickstand and allowed us to change the angle of the screen with just one hand.
Finally, with the display, both Google and Microsoft are packing in plenty of pixels for an impressive viewing experience. Google promises that you’ll get a resolution of 3,000 x 2,000 with the 12.3-inch display on board the Pixel Slate, adding up to 293 PPI. The same size screen on the Surface Pro 6, though, gets you 2,736 x 1,824 resolution, for 267 PPI.
Both are at a 3:2 aspect ratio, but Google is packing more pixels, a cooler tint, and a sharper image with the Pixel Slate screen. We found it was perfect for watching movies, especially since brightness maxes out beyond 400 nits.
All similarities between the Pixel Slate and the Surface Pro 6 end with the performance, specs, and operating systems. Google’s Pixel Slate is powered by Chrome OS 70 which now looks a lot like Android and makes it feel like an awesome tablet. The Surface Pro 6, on the other hand, is powered by Windows 10 and comes in different processor and RAM configurations for better laptop experience and performance across the OS.
The entry-level $599 Pixel Slate comes with an Intel Celeron Processor, with 4GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. That sounds great, but in the long term, those specs might not hold up and the processor will slow you. On the other side, the entry-level $899 Surface Pro 6 starts with an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage. Picking those same specs on the Pixel State would cost you $999, so it’s obvious that the Surface Pro 6 wins here for the price.
We reviewed the Google Pixel Slate with the dual-core Core i5-8200Y processor and found it was fast enough for most tasks we threw at it, including playing a wide range of Android games. Chrome OS is lighter than Windows, and web browsing with fifteen or twenty tabs open was not an issue. We still think that you’ll eventually hit a multi-tasking wall with the Slate, and for the price, a Surface Pro 6 with a quad-core processor is definitely the better performer.
Pricing aside, Google does look to get a lot done with Chrome OS on the Pixel Slate, mainly since you get two operating systems (a web browser and tablet mode) on one device. With features like the Google Play Store and Split Screen, we found that it has high ambitions to resurrect the Android tablet. Unfortunately, not all Android apps are optimized for the Pixel Slate experience, but it still comes a far way and places it ahead of what Microsoft has done with tablet mode on Windows 10 with the Surface Pro 6.
Elsewhere in performance, both the Surface Pro 6 and the Pixel Slate come with pens that are separate $99 purchases. The Google Pen has an Aluminum rear body, poly-carbonate front body and button, and glass-filled tip. It is the same one that launched with the Pixelbook in 2017, and there was no lag for us when drawing, writing, selecting, all thanks to the 2,000 levels of sensitivity.
That still wasn’t as smooth as the Surface Pen, though, which comes in with 4,096 levels of sensitivity, and better. Palm rejection on the Slate also proved to be problematic for us when inking, and our plans would sometimes accidentally mark the screen when writing.
Coming down to portability, both the Surface Pro 6 and the Google Pixel Slate are equally portable. The Pixel Slate comes in at 11.45 inches x 7.95 inches x .27 inches. The Surface Pro 6, on the other hand, is 11.5 inches x 7.9 inches x 0.33 inches. The slate is somewhat shorter, but the differences are very subtle. We found both devices share the same footprint on the table, but the Slate is more rigid and durable, especially since its large bezels make it easier to hold in tablet mode.
As for battery life, Google is promising that you will get up to 12 hours with mixed usage. Microsoft also sings the same song, saying that you’ll get 13.5 hours of battery. In our testing, the Surface Pro 6 45 watt-hour battery comes home with 9.5 hours of web browsing, and more than 14 hours in video playback. The Google Pixel Slate slightly surpassed that and netted us ten hours and 45 minutes of battery life in web browsing and fourteen hours in video playback. For real-world usage, the 48 watt-hour battery on the Pixel Slate definitely has a better battery that will last longer.
Keyboards are also considered for portability too, and again, both look to be similar across the two devices, down to the way they connect with POGO ports. The Surface Pro keyboard is one of the best, but Google is giving that a challenge with the Pixel State Keyboard. That keyboard comes features circle rounded keys and an extra large trackpad.
In our testing, We didn’t like the circular keys at first, but after a while found it to very snappy despite its limited travel between keystrokes. The glass trackpad on the Slate also proved more useful than one on the Surface Pro 6, since it is larger and made gliding gestures smoother and more precise.
Coming down to connections when on the go, the Surface Pro 6 offers a mini-Display Port and USB 3.0, and the Google Pixel Slate gives you two USB-Cs for charging 4K display output and quicker data transfer. That’s much newer tech than what is on the Surface Pro 6, but it also means you’ll have to embrace dongles in order to connect older accessories.
Asides from that, the Surface Pro 6 has a microSDXC card reader, and a headphone jack, all of which are not there on the Pixel Slate. Though you’ll need the included dongle or Bluetooth to enjoy headphones with the Slate, it does feature dual-firing speakers for better surround sound, which we found as some of the best ever on a tablet.
Finally, with security, you’re getting a fingerprint sensor onboard the power button on the Pixel. On the Surface Pro 6, you’re getting Windows Hello, which uses your face for login. Both are solid options and make your device secure.
The Surface Pro 6 is the more refined device
In some sense, the Pixel Slate is truer 2-in-1 experience than the Surface Pro 6. It has a much more robust mobile app ecosystem, as well as a more touch-friendly tablet mode. Combined with its standard Chrome OS capabilities, the Pixel Slate is as good a laptop as it is a tablet.
However, as a pure laptop replacement, it can’t beat the Surface Pro 6. The quad-core processor provides far better multitasking performance, and the Windows 10 platform is compatible with pretty much any desktop application you can imagine.
If you want to use your 2-in-1 as a tablet as much as a laptop, the Pixel Slate is the better option. The Surface Pro 6, on the other hand, provides a full laptop experience with just a sprinkling of touch capability, which is probably what most people are looking for in their 2-in-1.