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The Pixel Watch 2 finally got me to take off my original Fitbit Sense
If you’ve been reading Android Authority over the past few years, you may have seen some articles I’ve written about the original Fitbit Sense. In a word, I love the Sense. I’ve published thousands of words here talking about it since it first launched in 2020. Even with the sequel landing in 2022 and countless other amazing smartwatches launching, the Sense has been on my wrist all day, every day, for three years straight. That is, until now.
I got a Google Pixel Watch 2 for free with my Pixel 8 Pro and decided to give it a shot. Although I’ve had to change some habits, the Pixel Watch 2 is finally an adequate replacement for my years-old Fitbit. It’s nice to have something fresh!
Unfortunately, the Pixel Watch 2 is still deficient in a few areas, most notably battery life. However, if you’re like me and still rocking an original Sense (or another older wearable), let me tell you why the Pixel Watch 2 finally convinced me to upgrade.
Would you buy the Pixel Watch 2?
The Pixel Watch 2 is the first Fitbit-powered wearable with all Sense features
During my review of the Fitbit Sense 2, I lamented the staggering number of important original Sense features the successor abandoned. The biggest, of course, was support for Google Assistant. Given that Google owns Fitbit, this was a genuinely bonkers decision. The Sense 2 also lacked Wi-Fi support, third-party apps, and any music-related controls.
At the time, we assumed these intentional limitations of the Sense 2 were put in place to make the first Pixel Watch seem superior by comparison. However, Google’s smartwatch debut didn’t have feature parity with the Sense 2 — or even the original Sense! The Pixel Watch lacked any stress-tracking or body temperature features, for example. It also had terrible battery life, especially compared to the 5+ days of life you could easily get out of a Sense or Sense 2. In other words, the 2020 Sense was still superior to both the Sense 2 and the Pixel Watch in multiple areas despite being two years older.
For the first time, the Pixel Watch 2 can do anything any other Fitbit can do. Well, almost, anyway.
The Pixel Watch 2, though, mostly fixes these deficiencies. Whether you compare it to a Sense or a Sense 2, it does nearly everything they both do. Its app store is far more robust than the one on the Sense (and the non-existent store for the Sense 2, obviously). It also has the Google Assistant, music controls, and Wi-Fi of the original Sense. And all the fitness modes and sensors of the Sense 2 make their way to the Pixel Watch 2.
With all these features, the Fitbit Sense finally has some proper competition. Up until now, I couldn’t even fathom dropping it because there was nothing that came remotely close and still kept me in the Fitbit ecosystem. It took Google three years, but it did it.
Of course, there’s still one big problem with the Pixel Watch 2, and I’m sure you already know what it is.
Pixel Watch 2 vs Fitbit Sense: Battery life is the big differentiator
With my Fitbit Sense’s settings maxed out — AOD on all the time, brightness all the way up, vibrations set to the highest setting, etc. — I can get a little over three days of use without needing to charge it. This makes it perfect for a camping weekend or a backpacking trip in a foreign country. I’ve grown very accustomed to not needing to be locked to an outlet every 18-24 hours because my smartwatch needs juice — a privilege Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch users may not appreciate.
Admittedly, the Pixel Watch 2 has much, much better battery life than the original, but it still can’t compare to the Sense or even the Sense 2. It’s nice that I can finally get a full day out of it — and when I say “full day,” I mean using it all day and continuing to use it for that night’s sleep, a crucial detail that Google seemed to have forgotten about when it touted “all day” battery life for the original Pixel Watch.
The Pixel Watch 2's battery is superior to the original, but still can't match a Sense.
This isn’t the end of the world, though. It’s forced me to change some habits, but it’s workable. With my Sense, I used to wear it all day except when showering. Before showering, I’d place the Sense on the charger. By the time I got out of the shower, dried off, got my clothes on, and brushed my teeth, it would be fully charged.
The Pixel Watch 2, though, requires a second round to keep it going without any depletion concerns. Now, I charge it while I shower and then also give it an extra charge before I sleep. My normal habit is to get in bed and read a bit or catch up on the news, so these 15 minutes are ideal for a top-up. It helps that Google has significantly increased the charging speed, so you no longer need two hours for a full charge. By charging at these two points during the day, I haven’t had even one time that the Pixel Watch 2 ran out of juice on me or even came close to doing so. To be clear, this is with the same maxed-out settings I used with my Sense, including the AOD turned on at all times.
Still, the Pixel Watch 2, as I use it daily, will not get me through a backpacking or camping trip, that’s for sure. I’ll either need to drop down the settings for that or come up with a backup power solution the next time adventure calls.
Still rocking a Sense? Take the plunge with the Pixel Watch 2.
If you’re still attached to your Fitbit Sense (or other older watch) and hesitant to jump to a Pixel Watch 2 because of the tepid response the first Pixel Watch received, I suggest you not worry about it. I churned through numerous watches to find an adequate upgrade for the original Sense, so I know where you’re coming from. But the Pixel Watch 2 is a fine replacement, assuming you can slightly modify your charging habits to accommodate it.
Besides, the Pixel Watch 2 can do many things the Sense can’t. It’s been great to sync alarms and Do Not Disturb modes across my phone and watch, for example. Controlling my smart home with the Google Home app on my watch has also been incredibly useful. Plus, the Pixel Watch 2 looks a lot more like a regular watch than any Fitbit product does, which is nice when I’m wearing something formal, as I did at my brother-in-law’s wedding recently.
The one thing left on my mind is whether or not the Pixel Watch 2 will last me as long as the Fitbit Sense did. Will I be rocking this into 2026, or will I start upgrading my watch every year just like I do with my phone? Time will tell, there. Let’s see how much Google can improve battery life with the Pixel Watch 3. That will be the true test!