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The most innovative tablets of 2023

This was a big year for the entire mobile tech space, but it proved to be especially interesting for tablets. Yes, tablets! Although they aren’t as flashy and exciting as they were 10 years ago, numerous companies proved this year that tablets can, in fact, still be innovative.

There were three tablets, in particular, that stood out to us as being something special. The tablets on this list aren’t perfect, but they all pushed the market forward in new and exciting ways. Without further ado, here are our selections for the most innovative tablets of 2023.

Want to see the rest? Check out our full list of the most innovative tech products of 2023!

Winner: Google Pixel Tablet

The Google Pixel Tablet was the most innovative tablet of 2023.
Digital Trends

There’s one tablet from 2023 that stands out above the rest, and that’s the Google Pixel Tablet. While it doesn’t have the best specs, and it’s not impervious to software bugs, it’s also unlike every other tablet you can buy. Why? The Pixel Tablet isn’t just a tablet — it’s a tablet and a smart display melded into one sleek package.

You can use the Pixel Tablet like a regular Android tablet, and it does everything you’d expect it to do. You can browse the web, watch YouTube videos, play games, etc. The 11-inch display looks good, the Tensor G2 processor is suitable for casual use, and Google’s simple Android 14 interface is easy to navigate. But when you aren’t using the Pixel Tablet, it doesn’t have to sit in a drawer or on your desk, left unused and collecting dust. Instead, you can attach it to the speaker dock that comes with it — effectively turning the Pixel Tablet into a Nest Hub.

When the Pixel Tablet is attached to its dock, it works like any other smart display. You can control smart home devices, ask about the weather, see upcoming calendar appointments, and more. The dock also charges the Pixel Tablet, plus it enhances the audio experience thanks to its powerful (and loud) speakers.

This is what makes the Google Pixel Tablet so magical. It’s not just another Android tablet — it’s a tablet and a smart display in one. It’s an ingenious idea and one that no other tablet this year offers, and it makes the Pixel Tablet an easy choice for the most innovative tablet of 2023.

Runner-up: Amazon Fire Max 11

A person holding the Amazon Kindle Fire Max 11
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

When you think of Amazon’s Fire tablets, you likely think of cheap, plastic tablets that are perfect for giving to your kid. That’s the kind of tablet Amazon has traditionally focused on with its Fire tablets, but the Amazon Fire Max 11 is a fascinating departure from this trend.

Everything about the Fire Max 11 is bigger and better than previous Fire tablets that have come before it. It has an 11-inch screen, a much faster octa-core processor, and a sleek aluminum design. It feels grown-up and mature in a way that other Fire tablets never have. It’s not going to dethrone Apple’s iPad any time soon, but for a tablet that retails for $230, it’s a pretty fantastic package.

Amazon did something else impressive with the Fire Max 11, and that’s the tablet’s accessory ecosystem. You can get a “productivity bundle” version of the Amazon Fire Max 11, which includes the tablet, a keyboard case, and a stylus — all for a grand total of $370. This bundle effectively turns the Fire Max 11 into a laptop replacement, and the quality of the keyboard and stylus are shockingly good for the price. The Fire Max 11 is a bold new direction for Amazon, and it’s one of the most innovative tablets we’ve seen from the company in years.

Honorable mention: Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

Lock screen on Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

There are ample Android tablets and e-readers available to buy in 2023. But what about a tablet that combines Android software with a color e-ink screen? That’s precisely the pitch behind the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C, and it’s a truly unique machine.

You read that correctly above. This isn’t just a black-and-white e-ink screen — it’s a color one. The 10.3-inch display can produce more than 4,000 colors, all with the same easy-on-the-eyes benefits you expect from e-ink. If you’re an avid comic book reader, you couldn’t ask for a better screen to read them on.

Comics, books, and other reading material shine on the Boox Tab Ultra C, and the Android software it runs cranks the experience up to 11. Like any other Android tablet, you can use the Ultra C to scroll through Instagram, browse your favorite websites on Google Chrome, and even play games you download from the Google Play Store. The e-ink screen will make some of your apps look funky – and it’s not particularly well-suited for watching videos — but you have the freedom to do virtually anything you want. And as if that wasn’t enough, Onyx further enhances the experience with high-quality keyboard and stylus accessories for writing long emails, handwriting notes, etc.

The Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C is a decidedly niche tablet, and it’s not the first time we’ve seen Onyx throw Android on an e-ink panel. But it is one of the most well-refined tablets of its kind, and it’s absolutely more innovative than most other tablets released this year.