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Google Pixel Watch buyer's guide: Everything you need to know
The very first of its kind, the Google Pixel Watch represented a new player in the smartwatch arena. The device has now been outdone by the Pixel Watch 2, which fixes some of the original’s first-generation quirks. However, with Wear OS and onboard Fitbit integration, the Pixel Watch brings many features to users’ wrists. It it also falls short in some significant ways. Find out everything you need to know about Google’s first smartwatch below.
Google Pixel Watch at a glance
The Google Pixel Watch officially hit shelves on October 13, 2022. The device features a sleek, circular build with a domed, always-on display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. Unlike many competitors, the smartwatch is only available in one 41mm size option, and frankly, it’s quite small. However, Google offers two variants — a Wi-Fi-only version and a 4G LTE model — each available in three colors: Champagne Gold, Matte Black, and Polished Silver.
Under the hood, users will find Google’s powerful Wear OS devoid of overlays. The device can even upgrade to the latest software, Wear OS 4. The crisp, responsive UI is easy to navigate and personalize, and users can tap into all the best of Google’s tool kit, including Google Maps, Google Assistant, and Google Wallet. Users also find direct access to the Google Play Store for rounding out the experience with third-party apps.
One of the device’s biggest selling points, however, is the Pixel Watch’s native integration with Fitbit’s ecosystem. Directly tied to the Fitbit app, the watch records key health and fitness metrics, including daily activity, heart rate, sleep, Active Zone Minutes, and workouts. Each Pixel Watch purchase even comes with six free months of Fitbit Premium access (as well as three free months of YouTube Music Premium access).
Is the Google Pixel Watch worth buying?
Anyone looking for a slim Wear OS watch with a clean user experience will find a lot to like on the Pixel Watch. The device offers Google’s full suite, many of Fitbit’s leading wellness tools, and third-party app support that’s beaten out by the Apple Watch alone. However, now that a Pixel Watch 2 is available, we recommend the newer model. Compared to the Pixel Watch, the Pixel Watch 2 adds sensors, upgraded training tools, and a few key upgrades for a better user experience.
The original Pixel Watch has some major pitfalls. For starters, battery life is quite awful. Given Fitbit’s association with the device, we had hoped to see much better than 24 hours of use. It’s also launched without some of the basic health and fitness tracking tools found on other wearables at this price point, including auto-detection for workouts and SpO2 tracking. Fortunately, SpO2 tracking has since been enabled on the device.
Overall, we consider the Pixel Watch under-baked and overpriced. On the other hand, we consider the device a clear winner when comparing the Pixel Watch vs Fitbit’s Sense 2. Fitbit’s branded smartwatch lines have continually suffered in the shadow of the Pixel Watch line, with key features removed, including third-party app support.
What reviewers are saying about the Google Pixel Watch
If it feels like we have been talking about Google’s Pixel Watch for years, it’s because we have been. With teasers dragging us along since 2019, expectations were sky-high. Now that it’s here, it’s clear the device got some things right, but there are many aspects that could have been done much better.
That’s the basic conclusion we reached in our Pixel Watch review. “Looking at it for what it is, the Pixel Watch is a flawed but promising start,” we wrote. We applauded the device’s clean aesthetic and satisfyingly smooth performance. We also appreciated the uninhibited Wear OS experience and (mostly successful) Fitbit integration.
However, we also emphasized that this is very clearly a first-generation device. Our reviewer’s biggest pain points included inconsistent Fitbit integration and missing health and fitness tracking features. We noted that changing bands is cumbersome and that “in light of the much better battery specs on other Fitbit devices, the Pixel Watch’s battery life is dismal.”
What other reviewers around the web think
- CNET’s Lisa Eadicicco praised the Pixel Watch’s high-end design and health and fitness tracking offerings, commenting that the watch feels “like a hybrid of Fitbit and the Apple Watch.” However, they also note that the watch doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the market.
- Likewise, Victoria Song from The Verge called the watch a “good-but-not-yet-great” option for Android users. They cited the Pixel Watch’s alarmingly quick battery drain and even call into question the device’s durability with images of a cracked screen.
Google Pixel Watch specs
Check out our Google Pixel Watch specs overview below.
|Google Pixel Watch||Specs|
Custom 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 5
320ppi AMOLED display with DCI-P3 color
Brightness boost up to 1,000 nits
Materials and finishes
Case: 80% recycled stainless steel
Active band: Fluoroelastomer with soft-touch coating
Dimensions and weight
36g (without band)
Cortex M33 co-processor
Storage and memory
32GB eMMC flash
Up to 24 hours
USB-C magnetic charging cable
Promised charging speed:
-About 30 minutes to 50%
-About 55 minutes to 80%
-About 80 minutes to 100%
Wear OS 3.5
Blood oxygen sensor
Multipurpose electrical sensor
Optical heart rate sensor
Ambient light sensor
-Fitbit health and fitness
-Messages and notifications
-International emergency calling
-Fall detection (up to 32 g-forces)
5ATM water resistance
4G LTE and UMTS
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz
GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo
Android 8.0 or newer
-Small: 130-175mm around
-Large: 165-210mm around
What’s in the Box
Google Pixel Watch
Active band (small and large wristbands)
USB-C Magnetic Charging Cable
Quick Start Guide
US, CA, JP, TW, UK:
-Matte Black Stainless Steel case / Obsidian Active band
-Polished Silver Stainless Steel case / Charcoal Active band
-Polished Silver Stainless Steel case / Chalk Active band
-Champagne Gold Stainless Steel case / Hazel Active band
Pixel Watch design and hardware
As mentioned, the Pixel Watch features a dome-shaped, AMOLED display with up 1,000 nits of brightness. Its 41mm circular watch case is made of 80% recycled stainless steel and features a touchscreen, a rotating crown, and a curved button. The case boasts a 5ATM water resistance rating, which makes it safe for the shower or pool dips but unsuitable for diving or high-impact water sports.
Underneath the glass, the Pixel Watch houses a dual-processor architecture, including an Exynos 9110 processor and a Cortex M33 co-processor. It also features 2GB of RAM. Sensors on the device include GPS, an optical heart rate sensor, an altimeter, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, an ambient light sensor, and a blood oxygen sensor. Support for NFC payments and a built-in microphone and speaker also help to round out the device’s smartwatch features.
To power day-to-day usage, the Pixel Watch features a 294mAh battery, which is much smaller than those found on other Wear OS devices. The Galaxy Watch 5, for example, offers a 410mAh battery. Even so, Google claims the device will provide 24 hours of use between charges. According to Google, charging the device from 0 to 100 % should take 80 minutes. Charging from 0 to about 50% battery should take about 30 minutes.
Out of the box, the watch comes with a proprietary magnetic charger. It does not work with other wireless chargers and is incompatible with the flagship Pixel phone’s reverse wireless charging. The device is also incompatible with its successor’s fast charging cable.
The Pixel Watch also ships with a fluoroelastomer (rubber) Active band. If you want to mix up your look, Google offers four additional proprietary band types:
- Woven band: Made of recycled yarn
- Stretch band: Made of recycled polyester and spandex yarns
- Crafted Leather band: Made of Italian leather
- Metal link band: Made of stainless steel
Each band comes in a variety of colors. However, these bands are not cheap, and swapping Pixel watch bands isn’t easy.
How are the Google Pixel Watch’s performance and software?
The Pixel Watch line offers the cleanest showcasing of Google’s Wear OS yet. Navigating the Pixel Watch UI revolves around familiar Tiles and a useful app drawer. Users can swipe up for notifications, swipe down for quick settings and controls, and swipe left or right to glance at information or open apps via Wear OS Tiles. The setup is very intuitive, and the performance on the device is notably smooth without any glitching or stalling. Unfortunately, neither the device’s button nor the rotating crown is customizable.
First and foremost a Google product, the Pixel Watch features everything from turn-by-turn Google Maps navigation, to the Google Home app, to Google Wallet for contactless NFC payments. Users can also access their Google Calendar and Gmail notifications and use images from Google Photos as watch faces. This is in addition to the many customizable watch faces available in the Google Pixel Watch app.
If none of the native watch faces suit you, the Pixel Watch also offers direct access to the Google Play Store for more options. This means many third-party Pixel Watch apps, including popular picks like Spotify, Strava, MyFitnessPal, and Calm. Each Pixel Watch purchase comes with three free months of YouTube Music Premium.
Fitbit integration on the Google Pixel Watch
Fitbit’s ecosystem is the heart of the Pixel Watch’s native health and fitness tracking. The device features three unique Fitbit apps plus direct syncing with the Fitbit app on your paired device. Below is a brief overview of the Fitbit integration on the Pixel Watch.
- Fitbit Exercise: Using the Fitbit Exercise app, users can start workouts and view real-time workout data on the Pixel Watch. The app features 40 workout modes, including GPS-routed workouts like running and cycling and indoor and nontraditional options.
- Fitbit Today: The Pixel Watch tracks users’ basic activity stats, including steps, floors, distance, Active Zone Minutes, calories, and heart rate. This data is displayed in Fitbit Today and automatically synced to the Fitbit app on your paired iPhone. The Pixel Watch also taps into Fitbit’s sleep tracking platform and will display a Sleep Score for users each morning. The watch will also track your SpO2 levels overnight.
- Fitbit ECG: The Pixel Watch also features the Fitbit ECG app. This app provides on-demand ECG readings and assesses for signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib). According to both Fitbit and Google, at launch, the watch offered the most accurate, always-on optical heart rate sensor available from either company. As of June 2023, the Pixel Watch also offers high/low heart rate notifications like other devices in the Fitbit stable.
At purchase, Google offers six months of Fitbit Premium membership with each Pixel Watch. After six months, a Fitbit Premium membership is $10 per month. Users can tap into the following features with Premium access:
- Daily Readiness
- Breathing rate
- Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
- Sleep Restoration
- Stress Management Score
- Health Metric
- Detailed Sleep Score breakdown
- Additional workouts from Fitbit trainers and partner brands in the Fitbit app
- Games and challenges in the Fitbit app
- Mindfulness Sessions in the Fitbit app
What are some good Google Pixel Watch alternatives?
The Google Pixel Watch has its flaws. Luckily, there are plenty of other options available.
- Google Pixel Watch 2 ($349.99 at Amazon): For the best of the Pixel Watch, plus key upgrades, the Pixel Watch 2 offers a more refined user experience on a nearly identical design.
- Apple Watch Series 9 ($389.99 at Amazon): Across the board, the Apple Watch outperforms the Pixel Watch in every way. More importantly, the Google device isn’t compatible with iOS anyway.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 ($299.99 at Samsung): Also running the latest version of Wear OS, the Galaxy Watch 6 series offers adequate health and fitness tracking, plus additional features for Samsung Galaxy phone users.
- Garmin Venu 3 ($449.99 at Amazon): For detailed fitness tracking and recovery tools, Garmin’s Venu 3 offers reliable sensors and a data-rich companion app.
Where to buy the Google Pixel Watch
- Google Pixel Watch (Bluetooth + Wi-Fi): $349.99/€379/£349
- Google Pixel Watch (4G LTE): $399.99/€429/£379
The Google Pixel Watch is available from Google or Fitbit and major third-party retailers. The device is available in a Bluetooth/ Wi-Fi model for $349.99 and a 4G LTE version for $399.99. As mentioned, the watch only comes in one case size and one case material. It ships with a proprietary USB-C charging cable and an Active band in two sizes.
If you want to personalize your watch with alternative bands from Google, pricing for replacement bands are as follows:
- Active band: $49.99
- Stretch band: $59.99
- Woven Band: $59.99
- Crafted Leather: $79.99
- Two-toned Leather band: $79.99
- Metal link bands: $199
Unfortunately, the Google Pixel Watch will only be available in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, and Taiwan. If you choose to purchase a 4G LTE version, verify that your cellular carrier is compatible. The Pixel Watch works with Google Fi, but only if you are already a member.
Yes. Along with the Pixel Watch, Google launched the Google Pixel Watch app for pairing and managing your smartwatch. You can use this app to customize watch faces, set up Google Assistant and Google Wallet, manage notifications, and more.
Some features on the Pixel Watch require a Fitbit Premium subscription, but not all. You can use the device without Fitbit Premium if you prefer.
Yes, the Pixel Watch comes with an optional always-on AMOLED display covered in custom Corning Gorilla Glass. Always-on mode can also be disabled to extend battery life.
Yes. A basic Fitbit account is necessary to use your Pixel Watch. The device uses Fitbit’s apps to track workouts, daily activity, heart rate, and more.
Google promises three major Android updates and five years of security updates for the Pixel Watch.
No, the Pixel Watch is not compatible with iOS.
Yes, Google offers a one-year warranty in the US, Canada, Japan, the UK, and Taiwan. Users in the rest of Europe and Australia receive a two-year warranty.
The Pixel Watch comes with a USB-C magnetic charging cable in the box. You will need to purchase an outlet adapter separately.
The Google Pixel Watch offers integration with emergency services as well as Fall Detection.