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Google has been working on its long-rumored smartwatch for a long time, and fans of the brand are finally able to get their hands on (and wrists in) the new wearable device dubbed Pixel Watch. I got my hands on one of the new watches in the polished silver case with the charcoal active band. In this review, we’ll go over exactly what it’s like to use, the design, the features, the functionality, and whether or not you should pick one up for yourself.
Google Pixel Watch: At a Glance
- Nice Design
- Quite comfortable
- Fitbit built in: outstanding health & fitness metrics, accuracy
- Perfect for use with Google Smart Home
- Easy setup
- Screen doesn’t fill face
- Battery life could be better
- No Apple support (really only a con for Apple users!)
- Dimensions: Diameter, 41 mm; Height, 12.3 mm
- Weight: 36 g (without band)
- Main Display: Custom 3D Corning® Gorilla® Glass, 320 ppi AMOLED display with DCI-P3 color, Brightness boost up to 1,000 nits, Always-on display
- Connectivity: 4G LTE and UMTS, Bluetooth® 5.0, Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz, NFC
- GPS: Yes
- Processor: Exynos 9110 SoC, Cortex M33 co-processor
- Sensors: Compass, Altimeter, Blood oxygen sensor, Multipurpose electrical sensor, Optical heart rate sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Ambient light sensor
- Audio: Built-in microphone and speaker
- Battery: 294 mAh, proprietary USB-C fob charger
- Water Resistance Rating: 5ATM
What’s Included With the Google Pixel Watch
- Pixel Watch
- USB charging puck
What is the Google Pixel Watch?
The Pixel Watch is Google’s first smartwatch made to work with the Google Pixel line of phones or any Android 8.0 and above device. You can buy a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth version or a cellular-connected LTE watch that costs a bit more. The Watch has adopted Fitbit technology (Google bought Fitbit a couple of years back) and that means it has trusted health tracking and fitness capabilities, and of course, it will also do all the basic smartwatch functions like sending text messages and phone calls or calendar alerts right to your wrist. Not surprisingly, the Google Assistant is built in so you can invoke your digital butler any time you need it by simply long-pressing the button on the side of the watch.
the Google Pixel Watch can also control your smart home gadgets, thanks to that built-in Google Assistant function, meaning you can manipulate the lights, lock your doors, and even open your garage all on your wrist.
The Pixel Watch uses the ATM water rating system (rated for 5ATM) which means it’s waterproof and can hold up to activities like swimming or surfing. ATM or “atmospheres” is the level of pressure a watch can withstand, and 5ATM will resist pressure equivalent to about 50 meters, or 164 feet under water. With custom-molded, scratch-resistant 3D Gorilla Glass, Google says it should be able to manage any hard knocks too.
Does Pixel Watch Work With iPhones?
While Pixel Watch is designed to have seamless integration with Pixel phones, Google has not made the Watch compatible with Apple iPhones including the new iPhone 14. This means that while iPhone users can (and do) use devices like Pixel Buds Pro with their iPhones, the Watch will not function with an iOS-based device. Sorry to those unhappy with their Apple Watch, you’ll have to continue your hunt for an alternative elsewhere.
Setting up the Google Pixel Watch
Like many of the Google-built smart devices SPY has reviewed, getting the Pixel Watch set up was incredibly fast and easy. You just need to bring the charged watch close to your Pixel phone and it will begin the pairing process on its own. With just a handful of confirmation taps needed from you and after downloading the Pixel Watch app, you’ll be ready to roll. You can also link your existing Fitbit account in the setup phase and bring any existing Fitbit account data over to your Google Pixel Watch.
Google Pixel Watch Design
One might wonder if the Google Pixel Watch was designed to be the anti-Apple Watch since the company’s designers opted to go with a 1.5-inch circular face instead of a square. Our test Pixel Watch came with a silicone band that’s both comfortable and secure and swappable for a different size band (included) if you need a better fit. Pixel Watch uses the now familiar digital crown alongside a rectangular multi-function button (above the crown) to provide access to menus and to other Watch navigation.
One of the early downsides we found was that the digital face doesn’t quite fill the entire screen of the watch. Despite this, it did manage to reach a peak brightness of 1,500 lux, which made it more than visible on the brightest days. Colors are rich and vibrant, with minimal distortion at wide angles — a testament to the advantages of OLED displays.
Fitbit Functions on the Google Pixel Watch
We’ve reviewed dozens of Fitbit devices over the last 10 years and can say with confidence that Fitbit is one of the best, easiest to use, and most accurate fitness and activity tracking systems out there. With Fitbit’s engine powering the activity features in the Watch, it’s very easy to track the basics like steps, distance, and activity, as well as sleep and heart rate. It also features an ECG help to detect atrial fibrillation (you’ll need the separate Fitbit ECG app to do this).
When it comes to sleep features, Fitbit also comes out on top. The Google Pixel Watch will give you a Sleep Score each morning and you can also check your sleep breakdown (for light, REM, and deep sleep). Go deeper by opening the Fitbit app on your phone to see trends over time.
Battery Life & Charging the Google Pixel Watch
Battery longevity on smartwatches is a hot topic. Some watch manufacturers seem to not prioritize consumers’ needs for good batteries and continue to make watches that barely last through the workday.
Others, like Fitbit, have reliably made wearables that can go a week without needing a charge, making it ideal for activity tracking, sleep data and all-around usefulness. Knowing how long the average Fitbit battery lasts gave me hope for the Pixel Watch. However, my excitement was short-lived when I found out the Pixel Watch supplies only “24-hour” battery life.
Admittedly, this is still better than some other devices, and in my first days of testing, it gave over 24 hours of use after constantly wearing the watch and also during sleep. So while this is technically a decent battery life, it is just that — decent. I’d love to see the second generation of this watch stretch that battery life to 48 or even 72 hours. I know Fitbit could pull it off, so I’d like to think that Pixel’s marriage to Fitbit could produce a long-lasting hybrid child someday.
Pixel Watch comes with a click-on magnetic charging fob that needs just an hour and 20 minutes to get fully juiced. Thirty minutes of quick charge can get you to about 50% battery.
You do have the option of enabling Always On Display too if you don’t mind a bigger draw on the battery.
The Verdict: Should You Buy the Google Pixel Watch?
I found the Google Pixel Watch to be a good size and very comfortable to wear. It’s visually very clear and there are a variety of interchangeable faces. You can adjust the size of some of the text, but this didn’t seem to work across all faces and apps in my time using the watch. Those with vision challenges may be left wanting.
Overall, this is a cool, functional, and useful watch. It works well and delivers on all its promises, plus it’s comfortable to wear and with the addition of Fitbit health data it’s a valuable wellness partner too.
When it comes to the downsides, the face could fill a bit bit more of the screen and the battery life, while it’s better than some smartwatches, doesn’t quite meet the standard set by previous Fitbit iterations. It will also only work with some smartphones, but it is hard to dock points too much for that.
It will be hugely disappointing to some Apple users who’ve been looking for a longer-lasting and more attractive alternative that this watch won’t work with their phones. While that leaves a big section of the market out, the watch will still work with many Android devices and the Pixel smartphone lineup.
In short: I can definitely recommend the Google Pixel Watch for Android users. Pricing starts at $349 for the Bluetooth/ Wi-Fi model and $399 if you upgrade to the 4G LTE + Bluetooth/Wi-Fi version.
Google Pixel Watch Alternatives
Apple Watch, Series 7
The granddaddy of the smartwatch game, Apple Watch Series 7 is on its 7th go-round and it’s still struggling with battery life. But its seamless functionality with iPhones can’t be beaten.
Fitbit Sense 2
Fitbit has great health and fitness tracking and accuracy plus the Sense has killer battery life. This watch will also play nicely with many other phones, including iOS devices and it costs a fraction of what an Apple Watch does.
Withings ScanWatch Horizon
Withings ScanWatch hybrid watch is worth the investment for guys who like having a watch wardrobe and value great design. It has basic smartwatch functionality and decent tracking, but where it really stands out is in overall aesthetics and design.