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3 things the Pixel Watch does better and worse than the Galaxy Watch 5

Which Wear OS device is the best fit for your wrist?
May 11, 2023
A Google Pixel Watch rests alongside a Galaxy Watch 5 pro.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Google Pixel Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 (and 5 Pro) share a lot in common. They’re both Wear OS devices running the newest software available. They both track users’ basic activity including steps, workouts, and sleep, and both offer a variety of smartwatch features and third-party app support. They’re also both round. However, both watches also offer very different experiences and each excels in unique details. We rounded up the top three ways each option excels over the other below. For a more detailed comparison of the devices in terms of specs and feature sets, head to our dedicated Pixel Watch vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 guide.

Pixel Watch vs Galaxy Watch 5: Three things Google does better

A Google Pixel Watch on a user's wrist displays the watch face.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

When it comes to shopping for a Wear OS watch, few wearables pull ahead of the pack. Google’s Pixel Watch gains the most fame for its thoroughly-Google user experience and unique Fitbit integration. The device’s direct access to Fitbit’s ecosystem of tracking tools, especially the robust sleep-tracking platform, is a home run. But beyond these overarching aspects of the device, our Pixel Watch review revealed the device surpasses the latest from Samsung in a few key details.

Lets you build better watch faces

A user edits their watch face in the Pixel Watch app.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Google Pixel watch allows users to add any complication to any watch face. This seems like a no-brainer, but Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 series devices are quite finicky when it comes to customizing native faces. More specifically, the series allows users to add certain complications in some spots but not in others, with no clear rhyme or reason for the limitations. A round complication window in one watch face might allow you to add the weather details, but not allow these options on another. Likewise, a larger horizontal complication might let you add the calendar in one face, but not in another.

Offers smudge-free interactions

Following the lead of Apple’s wearables, the Pixel Watch boasts a rotating digital crown for on-device navigation. Rather than mucking up the screen with greasy (or sweaty) fingerprints, Pixel Watch users can scroll through menus and more with the highly responsive digital crown. Plus, the haptic feedback of rotating the crown is delightful.

Galaxy Watch 5 series users meanwhile are left scrolling and swiping their display without even a physical bezel to rely on like in past generations. Granted, Samsung’s touchscreens are reliably responsive, however, not everyone keeps a microfiber cloth on hand for rubbing off smudges.

Optimizes the always-on display

Though plagued by a markedly smaller display, the Pixel Watch does make the most of its screen during exercise. The Google Pixel Watch uses the always-on display to show users’ stats during exercise, so you can keep an eye on your heart rate zones and more without messing with gestures. Fortunately, Samsung recently announced that heart rate zones will be added to Galaxy Watch lineups compatible with One UI 5 Watch when it arrives later this year. For now though, the Pixel Watch retains this advantage.

Galaxy Watch 5 vs Google Pixel Watch: Three things Samsung does better

A Galaxy Watch 5 Pro on a user's wrist displays the watch face.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

We consider Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 series devices the best picks for Samsung phone users. On top of the line’s Samsung-specific features, multiple size options, and Pro model durability specs, there are many ways the Galaxy Watch 5 series offers a better experience than the Pixel Watch. For starters, the Pixel Watch is still a first-generation device with first-generation kinks. The Galaxy Watch lineup is an established one with years of improvements to show for it. However, below represent just three design and feature details we feel especially elevate the Galaxy Watch 5 series over Google’s offerings.

Auto-detects workouts

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 running exercise list
Andy Walker / Android Authority

We were very surprised to learn the Pixel Watch doesn’t offer auto-detection for workouts. Devices from the Galaxy Watch 5 series, on the other hand, auto-detect popular workouts including running, walking, rowing machine, elliptical, swimming, and dynamic high-intensity movement. After ten minutes, the Galaxy Watch 5 will auto-start these exercises so users never miss credit for spontaneous workouts.

The lack of on-device auto-detection isn’t the Pixel Watch’s only shortcoming when it comes to fitness tracking. After six months, we are still disappointed by the device’s dismal battery life as well. We’re often left struggling to balance a charging schedule with successfully tracking all of our important stats.

Offers more customization options

The Galaxy Watch 5 series allows users to personalize device navigation in two major ways. The first is the ability to customize buttons. Galaxy Watch 5 users can choose which app opens with a double press of their home key. Alternatively, users can set the action to open their most recent app. Likewise, users can modify the result of a long press on the home key or a short press of the back button.

Secondly, Galaxy Watch 5 users can also reorganize quick setting toggles and apps. This means keeping the tools you need most at the forefront. On the Pixel Watch, users are left to scroll. Fortunately for Pixel Watch users, we can also honestly say that scrolling the watch is a joy.

Utilizes advanced health sensors

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 redesigned sensor array
Andy Walker / Android Authority

The Galaxy Watch 5 boasts two extra sensors not found on Google’s Pixel Watch. The first is a bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) system for measuring body composition. The second is the line’s skin temperature sensor which offers deeper sleep insights and tons of potential for women’s health tracking.

The Pixel Watch meanwhile, only offers a heart rate sensor and an SpO2 sensor, the second of which is yet to be enabled. The Pixel watch also doesn’t provide high and low heart rate notifications.

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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Excellent build and comfort
Improved battery life
Solid GPS accuracy
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Google Pixel Watch
Google Pixel Watch
Voice-to-text assistance
Play Store integrated
Wear OS

Pixel Watch vs Galaxy Watch 5: Which is better?

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