Google Pixel Watch review: each you and Google can do lots higher

Google Pixel Watch

MSRP $350.00

“The Google Pixel Watch is an expensive smartwatch that is only available in a single size, comes without lots of the features offered by its rivals, and is further let down by poor battery life.”


  • Very comfortable to wear
  • Fitbit app is comprehensive


  • Short battery life
  • Just one size
  • Missing health tracking features

Google, a technology giant, has released its long-awaited and much-hyped Pixel Watch smartwatch to accompany its desirable flagship Pixel 7 smartphone series. This sentence gives you get an idea of the importance and level of expectation on Google’s shoulders here, and given how long we’ve been waiting and the sheer ability of all the businesses involved, the Pixel Watch needs to be Google’s Apple Watch moment.

Except it’s not even close. That is what it’s like, and where all of it goes mistaken.

Google Pixel Watch design

The Google Pixel Watch's Pilot Bold watch face.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Pixel Watch is unquestionably a watch. It has a circular case, a crown on the side, and a strap to secure it to your wrist. It’s devoid of design flourish or extraneous visual garnish, and while there’s a button on the side of the case, it’s flush and hidden from view, so that you forget it’s there. It’s all very minimalist, but not in a superb way. By avoiding anything approaching a personality or character, Google has made the Pixel Watch too easy. I don’t feel anything once I have a look at it.

Actually, this isn’t strictly true. I repeatedly have a look at it on my wrist and think it looks quite dainty like I’ve bought the smaller size by mistake. But no, Google has only made one size, and it’s a serious misstep. The Apple Watch Series 8 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 are available two sizes, making them suitable for various wrist sizes and private preferences. You may only get a 41mm Pixel Watch, and it’s small for a smartwatch. Producing a single, big 45mm smartwatch is restrictive, but so is barely making a single, small 41mm smartwatch.

The Google Pixel Watch's side view and crown, worn on a man's wrist.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

On the positive side, the case is smooth, ergonomic, and supremely comfortable. It’s light enough at 64 grams with the strap to be worn 24 hours a day, and I’ve been in a position to sleep happily with the Pixel Watch on my wrist. The Gorilla Glass case back’s rounded shape means it makes good contact along with your skin, and the equally curved screen and the shortage of physical bezel on the case make swiping smooth and simple. The stainless-steel case of my review model is within the Polished Silver color, but you may as well get a Matte Black and Champagne Gold style.

My review Pixel Watch has a skin-friendly, very flexible, and easy-to-wear rubber strap — and there are two sizes included within the box. I’m wearing the shortest of the 2 straps within the photos.

It’s attached using a proprietary system, where you press a tiny button on the case and slide the strap to the side to remove it. It’s a bit awkward to do, and putting it back on requires more precision than you could expect. It does feel very secure, but just like the Apple Watch, it means you may’t use normal watch straps — only those specially made with Google’s system.

The side of the Google Pixel Watch, worn on a man's wrist.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The crown could be twisted to navigate through the menus, where it’s accompanied by some pleasing haptic feedback, or pressed to open the essential menu or return to the essential screen. Unfortunately, the motion is clicky and low cost, while twisting it to navigate is muddier than the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch 5’s super-smooth and precise motion.

The way in which the case has been cut across the crown makes it appear like an afterthought too. The Pixel Watch doesn’t have specific durability features, counting on 5ATM of water resistance relatively than an IP rating for water and mud resistance, and military-standard toughness just like the Galaxy Watch 5.

The Pixel Watch looks and seems like a missed opportunity. There’s nothing about it that makes it a Pixel Watch; it’s only a smartwatch. It’s not ugly, it’s just terribly peculiar. Perhaps I’d like the best way it looked more if it was a bit larger, but I’ll never know because Google has selected one-size-fits-all, and that’s simply not true in any respect.

Google Pixel Watch screen

The Google Pixel Watch's crown and side button.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Above all else, you should know there’s a giant, black bezel across the Pixel Watch’s screen, and that the viewing area is basically small due to it. The 1.2-inch AMOLED screen suits the 41mm case size, however the bezel and overly simplistic design make it appear far smaller than it does on the Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4, for instance. The bezel and the small screen mean it never shows very much information at one time. You may see one notification card or three menu items at one time, so that you are likely to do lots more scrolling than on something just like the Apple Watch.

Efforts to disguise the bezel mean the available watch faces all have black backgrounds. The designs are attractive, though, and I actually just like the Pilot Daring and Pacific versions, together with the very cool animated Concentric face too. Overall it’s a much better, more varied selection than Samsung provides with the Galaxy Watch 5. The always-on screen is deactivated by default, but I’ve had it turned on in the course of my review, and the ambient modes look great.

The back of the Google Pixel Watch.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

There’s an adaptive brightness option, but for probably the most part, I’ve found leaving the screen one notch below maximum brightness is the higher solution, because it’s not the fastest system in the dead of night, and it tends to only sit at maximum brightness when adaptive is on anyway. As we’ll come to shortly, anything that perhaps helps extend the battery life is welcome.

The Pixel Watch’s screen is sharp and colourful, with some very well-designed watch faces. Nonetheless, it’s hurt by the massive bezel and subsequent small viewing area. It makes the Pixel Watch’s interface feel constricted and forces you to swipe or twist the crown more simply to see what’s happening.

Google Pixel Watch health and fitness tracking

Daily steps shown on the Google Pixel Watch.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Pixel Watch has an optical heart rate sensor on the back and may take an electrocardiogram too, and while there’s a blood oxygen sensor available, it has not been activated yet. There’s no temperature sensor as you get on the Apple Watch, and no body composition reading just like the Galaxy Watch 5. It’s a comparatively easy fitness tracker when it comes to sensors. Fitbit’s health monitoring platform is the usual system, and the Watch comes with six months of free access to Fitbit Premium.

In comparison with many other, often cheaper, fitness trackers, the Pixel Watch is feature-light. I can’t specifically track indoor cycling because there’s no dedicated mode for it, but I can track indoor climbing. The Pixel Watch doesn’t routinely switch to Bedtime mode; you could have to try this manually. It doesn’t auto-pause and re-start workouts, it doesn’t have a wise alarm, and there’s no abnormal heart rate detection either. There’s an automatic workout recognition mode, but it surely’s oddly designed and haphazard. As an alternative of jumping in 10 minutes right into a workout just like the Apple Watch, it observes silently after which, if you happen to’re lucky, will retroactively apply your complete session to your each day activity. Nonetheless, it has only worked once for me, and otherwise, I wouldn’t have known it was a feature in any respect. And even when it does work, it doesn’t record vital information like distance, splits, GPS data, etc.

The Pixel Watch doesn’t do anything a less expensive Fitbit can do, and isn’t even near the Galaxy Watch 5 and Apple Watch’s level of health and fitness ability. It’s surprising the Pixel Watch isn’t a correct showcase for Fitbit (a Google company, don’t forget) and its tracking technology. As an alternative, it’s not even a rival to the Fitbit Charge 5, which outdoes it when it comes to functionality and battery life — all for about half the value.

To see all of your data, you employ Fitbit’s app, where a number of features require you to pay a subscription to make use of — and that features in-depth sleep tracking and a each day readiness rating. Yes, you get six months free, but after that, some features will go away until you pay. Google Fit continues to be available to download and use at no cost, but it surely’s not clear how long the platform can be supported, especially given Google’s track record of closing down things it now not has any interest in.

By default, the Pixel Watch uses steps to supply insight into your each day activity, relatively than a simple, more motivational system like Apple’s Rings or Samsung’s heart. You may switch to Every day Lively Minutes for more insight, but it surely’s still not the identical. It delivers occasional reminders to maneuver around, but it surely never feels especially personal, and there’s no fanfare whenever you reach any targets either. Fitbit’s app is superb, with plenty of information, a customizable essential page, clear graphs, motivational features, and a powerful community. It’s also the identical app and platform you get whenever you buy a Fitbit wearable.

The Pixel Watch seems like a basic fitness tracker, despite the presence of Fitbit’s platform.

Accuracy is comparable to what I see from the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Oura Ring for each workouts and sleep. The Oura Ring and the Pixel Watch returned the identical sleep rating, and the GPS routes looked similar between the 2 smartwatches when tracking a workout at the identical time. Nonetheless, the Pixel Watch did think I walked further than the Apple Watch did, and likewise recorded a significantly higher calorie burn. These discrepancies needs to be noted, but it surely’s not clear which version is the more accurate.

The Pixel Watch seems like a basic fitness tracker, despite the presence of Fitbit’s platform. I’ve got more value and pleasure out of wearing the Garmin Vivomove Sport, greater insight from the Oura Ring, and enjoyed a wider set of features on the Apple Watch Series 8. It does the job of tracking your activity and health, but only just, and on the bare minimum.

Google Pixel Watch software and on a regular basis use

Man using the Google Pixel Watch's app menu.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

A notification card on the Google Pixel Watch.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Google Pixel Watch's keyboard.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Using Google Assistant on the Google Pixel Watch.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Pixel Watch has Google’s Wear OS 3.5 software installed. It’s almost similar to the version I used on the Montblanc Summit 3, and free from any additional user interface over it, unlike the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. You swipe through different Tiles to see pertinent information like your heart rate, each day steps, weather, and agenda. Press the crown to enter the essential menu, and swipe up on the watch face to see your notifications. A Samsung Exynos 9110 processor with 2GB of RAM powers the smartwatch.

Wear OS 3.5 has been reliable, but it surely’s not exactly stuffed with features or imagination. The Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch 5 have way more comprehensive feature sets and apps, but if you happen to just want the fundamentals — maps, mobile payments, health tracking, smart home control, and alarms — the Pixel Watch is perfectly acceptable. Just don’t expect anything like an automatic hand washing timer, crash detection, fall detection (this isn’t ready until later this yr), or a Walkie Talkie feature.

The speaker is loud but does are likely to distort, and doesn’t provide the very best quality audio experience. That said, the microphone is superb whether you’re on a call or talking to the Google Assistant. I’ve found the Pixel Watch picks up my voice thoroughly, and dictating messages and replies to be almost faultless. The screen is a bit small to type on, so this feature is crucial, and having it work well is a giant profit.

The Google Pixel Watch's speaker.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Google Pixel Watch's strap.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Google Pixel Watch's crown.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I’ve gotten used to the slight pause between the Watch letting me know there’s a recent message and it actually appearing on the screen once I raise my wrist. It’s not as quick because the Apple Watch and, irritatingly, can add an additional step before you see the ultimate message. For instance, WhatsApp messages show the sender’s name first, then a second view with the actual message appears a second or so later. This extra step is probably going a consequence of the small screen, and it lessens the short, at-a-glance helpfulness of receiving notifications in your wrist.

While the subtle haptics are well-judged, they aren’t very strong, and there’s no solution to adjust the quantity of feedback you get. I notice them more often than not, but they don’t come near the Apple Watch’s superb haptic patterns and obviousness in your wrist.

The Exynos 9110 is old, having previously been utilized in the Galaxy Watch 3, and it’s baffling why the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 platform hasn’t been utilized in this long-awaited, flagship smartwatch from one in all tech’s biggest and richest firms. That said, it’s not a poor performer, however the Pixel Watch isn’t so feature-packed that it’s really putting any strain on it. Actually, for the value, I actually expected something a bit more impressive.

Google Pixel Watch battery and charging

Google Pixel Watch with its charging puck.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Google Pixel Watch on its charging puck.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Google Pixel Watch on charge.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Pixel Watch hasn’t impressed much at this point, and while it will possibly’t be labeled a failure, it needs a giant win somewhere to justify the high price. Unfortunately, battery life doesn’t help its case in any respect. Expect in the future and one night of sleep tracking, with a single 30-minute workout without GPS tracking and the always-on screen energetic, and nothing more. To have a hope of reaching two working days, you’ll must skip each the workout tracking and sleep tracking.

Sleep tracking appears to be particularly power-hungry in comparison with other wearables, with between 15% and 20% disappearing overnight. While some smartwatches sip power once they’re not doing much, the Pixel Watch eagerly gobbles all of the available energy to the purpose where only minutes can pass, and just a few percent disappear from the battery meter. Remember, it’s doing this badly while still only offering a fraction of the features provided by other smartwatches.

For example how poorly it compares to other models, I wore the Pixel Watch alongside the Apple Watch Series 8 for a day starting at about 9 a.m., then tracked a single GPS workout and used them for the remainder of the day connected to a Pixel 7 and iPhone 14 Pro respectively. At 11 p.m., the Apple Watch’s battery was at 55%, while the Pixel Watch sat at 22%. To trace sleep, I’d must charge the Pixel Watch, and even then query whether I’d make it through the subsequent day without visiting the charger again.

A USB Type-C charging puck is included within the box, and Google claims a 50% charge comes up in half-hour, and it’ll be full after 80 minutes. These match the times seen during our test.

Getting a second opinion on the Pixel Watch

Google Pixel Watch on a wrist.Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

While I’ve reviewed the Google Pixel Watch, Digital Trends’ Mobile Editor Joe Maring has also been wearing one. And, unfortunately, his thoughts line up almost identically with mine. Here’s what he needed to say:

“My experience with Google’s first Pixel wearable has been largely similar to Andy’s. For a $350 smartwatch, this thing just doesn’t cut it. The Pixel Watch looks great, and as someone with small wrists, I believe it matches very well, too. However the crown is mushy, the bezels easily distract from what you’re on the screen, and never offering a bigger size for individuals who do want a giant watch is mind-boggling to me. That small size also implies that the battery is pretty consistently terrible. The Pixel Watch is sort of all the time 20% lower than my Apple Watch Series 7, with almost similar usage and just barely scrapes by a full day of normal use.

Google Pixel Watch with two different strap styles.Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

“What’s bothered me more, though, is the Pixel Watch’s approach to health and fitness. I’m not a fitness nut — I am going to the gym just a few times per week and revel in a pair of outside walks in the course of the weekend. But even for me, the Pixel Watch doesn’t offer enough. The dearth of automatic workout detection is an enormous oversight, no irregular heart rhythm notifications makes zero sense, and almost all the really interesting health data logged by the Pixel Watch is locked behind a $10 per thirty days Fitbit Premium subscription. It does lower than the competition while also charging extra money. It’s a lose-lose.

“I didn’t go into using the Pixel Watch hoping to be upset. I wanted the Pixel Watch to be an exciting entry within the Wear OS world and something that might make the wait for Google’s fabled smartwatch price it. But now that it’s here, it’s hard to take a look at the Pixel Watch as anything greater than a half-baked, overpriced smartwatch that’s difficult to recommend to anyone.”

Google Pixel Watch price and availability

The Wi-Fi version of the Pixel Watch costs $350 or 339 British kilos, while the 4G LTE model costs $399 or 379 kilos. To make use of the 4G LTE functionality, and potentially leave your phone at home but remain contactable, your phone carrier will charge an additional amount per thirty days.

It’s an expensive smartwatch, but for no good reason. The 40mm Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 costs $280 before Samsung’s various trade-in deals and is a much better purchase. The 44mm version is $310 if you happen to prefer a bigger watch. Should you only wish to track your health the Oura Ring does so thoroughly, costs in regards to the same, and just like the Pixel Watch, also has an obnoxious subscription package to proceed seeing your data after six months of use.

Should you want Fitbit’s platform, almost any wearable the brand offers is a greater buy than the Pixel Watch. The Charge 5 is much cheaper and does more, or if you happen to want one in all its dubiously styled smartwatches. Even the highest Fitbit Sense 2 costs much less. The software will not be Wear OS, but it surely’s reliable, notifications are good, it tracks all of your health metrics, and comes with six months of a Fitbit Premium membership.

The Pixel Watch disappoints, and that’s frustrating

Google Pixel Watch with grey strap.Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

For a first-try product, the Pixel Watch needs to be given a break, right? In any case, Google hasn’t made a smartwatch before, and first-generation hiccups are to be expected. Nonsense. There’s no excuse for the Pixel Watch’s many downsides. Other than the Pixel Watch gestating for years, Google makes the highest Android-based software for wearables, it has worked with multiple firms on smartwatches — from Samsung and LG to Montblanc, since before smartwatches became popular — and had a powerful hand in one in all the very first desirable smartwatches released, the unique 2014 Moto 360.

It purchased Fitbit and has access to its incredible know-how and established technology, and spent hundreds of thousands on a team of smartwatch engineers and technology from Fossil. Google itself is hardly a startup lacking in resources or brain power, and the smartwatch as a tool is a really established product line. Yes, making recent products is difficult, but it surely’s not breaking any recent ground here. Yet by some means, it still makes a mediocre device with little to recommend over the competition.

Not only has Google didn’t make the Apple Watch of the Android world, but it surely has also didn’t even make one which may very well be considered an akin to the 2019 Apple Watch Series 5. Samsung makes a better-looking, more feature-packed, cheaper smartwatch with a more attractive, more enjoyable-to-use version of Wear OS. When the Galaxy Watch 5 exists, there is no such thing as a reason to purchase the Pixel Watch, and it’s shocking Google thinks its smartwatch is price an additional $70.

The Pixel Watch isn’t a foul product, in that it performs the functions Google says it would and is well made. However it’s removed from good value, lacks a particular design and selection of sizes, and may’t compete with products that cost lots less when it comes to features. The poor battery life makes living with it harder than it needs to be, and I find pushing a subscription-based fitness platform by default quite unpleasant.

I actually think Google could have done higher with the Pixel Watch, and absolutely know which you can do higher along with your next smartwatch purchase.

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