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The Pixel Watch 2 is worth upgrading to for this reason alone
For 12 months, I was the guinea pig of the Android Authority team and wore a first-gen Pixel Watch as my only smartwatch. It’s not that I drew the short straw, it’s that I didn’t have any other viable option. I’ve been in the Fitbit tracker ecosystem for over a decade and I want a smartwatch to quickly access WhatsApp notifications and Maps directions, so this was literally the only choice for me. Meanwhile, several of my colleagues who also had Pixel Watches just gave up and went back to their Fitbit Senses and Apple or Galaxy Watches after a couple of weeks.
I’m glad that those days are over, though, because the Pixel Watch 2 that I’ve been rocking since October is better in every sense. But more so in one very particular aspect: Faster charging.
I didn’t know how much of a difference this would make before getting the Pixel Watch 2. Now, I’m convinced it’s the single biggest upgrade Google has brought to its wearable.
Faster charging is awesome for everyday use
With the original Pixel Watch, a full charge used to take about 80-90 minutes at first, but Google rolled out an update to reduce overheating while charging, which ended up slowing down charging speeds. Now it takes 110-120 minutes to fully top up a first-gen Pixel Watch. In other words, forever.
The Pixel Watch 2 uses a completely different charging mechanism with four pins instead of a wireless connection. This delivers faster speeds while generating less heat. A full charge takes 70 minutes on the Pixel Watch 2, and since I almost never completely run the battery down in a day, it’s more like 50-60 minutes to top up my watch when it’s at 20-30%.
The difference between one and two hours may not seem like much, but it starts to add up every single day. And if you do the math, you’re losing tracking stats each time you remove your watch to charge it. I’d rather lose 1/24 hours (4%) than 2/24 hours (8%).
Less friction, fewer lost stats, more convenience: The Pixel Watch 2 changed the way I think about charging my smartwatch.
Worse yet, because the first Pixel Watch took forever and a day to charge, I often forgot to wear it back when it was done. I’d plop it on the charger, check it a bit later, realize it still needs time, and end up leaving it there for five or six hours. This rarely happens with the Watch 2 because when I look at it, it’s invariably up to 70-80%, which I figure is enough to get me through the day, so I just wear it.
And on the days when charging the first Watch slipped my mind (which is quite often), I’d find myself about to head to bed with a dead or near-dead battery. I used to sigh at the prospect of losing one more night of sleep tracking. With the Watch 2 now, I just know that a quick 10-minute top-up before I go to sleep is enough to last through the night. And the automatic Bedtime mode syncing with my phone definitely helps it not run dry overnight.
It’s even better on busier, more active days
My biggest issue with the original Pixel Watch was the unreliable battery life on busy days. This was a smartwatch that did worse on days when I needed it most. I often hike, travel, spend days running around Paris, or visit my parents in Lebanon (where electricity was scarce for a couple of years), and every time I had a couple of busy days in a row, I knew the Pixel Watch would be an inconvenience to keep charged. It got so bad that I sometimes carried the charger with me in the car or in my backpack. And I lost the data of more than a few afternoon hikes or late-night walks because of it.
I don't have to carve out a specific chunk of a busy day to charge the Pixel Watch 2. A quick morning and evening top-up is good enough.
The Pixel Watch 2 is much, much more practical to manage when I hit several busy days in a row. I don’t have to carve out a specific chunk of my day to top it up; I can just plug it in for 20-30 minutes while I get ready in the morning, and then again in the evening. Done and done.
And when I’m traveling, if I stop by my hotel room for 15 minutes in between activities, that’s enough to add 25-30% battery and get me through the rest of the day. Granted, I still have to actively think about charging the Pixel Watch 2, but it’s much less of a hindrance.
And it’s backwards-compatible with other Fitbit chargers
One interesting side effect of the Pixel Watch 2’s switch to the four-pin charging cable is that this is the same tried-and-true mechanism that Fitbit has used for the Versa and Sense lines. And it’s backwards compatible with it too.
My husband owns a Sense 2, so we both find ourselves with two chargers instead of one. This makes charging more convenient both at home and when we travel. It’s also made it easier to find more charging accessories for the Pixel Watch 2, because they already exist for those Fitbits. With the original Pixel Watch, I had to wait for months before third-party chargers and stands became available.
Ideally, I’d still love to see Google bring true two-day battery life for the Pixel Watch line-up. That’d allow me to empty the slot in my brain that has to actively think about charging my watch every day. And maybe skip packing a charger on quick weekend trips.
Ultimately, the Pixel Watch 2 has brought a lot of other improvements, but none as critical as faster charging for my personal use. When the choice is between a Pixel Watch that I often leave on the charger and a Pixel Watch 2 that is often on my wrist, the answer is pretty clear.