Google Pixel Watch
Smartwatch lovers have been waiting for Google to launch its hotly anticipated Pixel Watch, and the wait is now over. I got hands-on with the new Pixel Watch on launch day, and in this review, I’ll tell you what the Watch is like from the design and features perspectives, what it’s good for, and what it’s not if it works with Apple phones (you’ve been asking!) and if overall I think it’s a good choice for a smartwatch.
What is the Google Pixel Watch?
Pixel Watch is Google’s first smart Watch, designed to work with the Google Pixel line of phones and any Android 8.0 and above device. There’s a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth version (CAD 449) or a cellular-connected LTE option that costs a bit more ($529). It has built-in Fitbit technology for health tracking and fitness, plus it will do all the standard smartwatch tasks like sending texts, calls, calendar alerts, and more to your wrist. It also, naturally, has built-in Google Assistant, which, as a rule, works far better than Siri.
Does Pixel Watch work with iPhones?
Speaking of Siri, in what will be a crushing blow for Apple users, the Watch will not work with iOS devices.
In the box, you get your Watch with a magnetic charging pad, and there’s an extra band for adjusting fit, too.
Getting the Watch set up was super fast and easy in my testing: Bring the charged Watch near the Pixel phone and then watch the magic happen. Set up is automatic, requiring just a few confirmation taps from you and the Pixel Watch app download—then you’ll be ready to go. You can also link an existing Fitbit account in the setup to port that data to your Pixel Watch.
The Pixel Watch uses a 1.5-inch circular, almost pebble-shaped design that is soft and comfortable. Unlike other watches or smart watches, I found it didn’t get snagged on my sleeves. It comes with a silicone band that’s both comfortable and secure in my testing experience. You can swap out a different size band (included) for a better fit.
It has a digital crown and a multifunction button (above the crown) on the side, allowing you to access menus and other navigation. One of the early cons I noticed was that the screen doesn’t quite fill the face of the Watch, much in the same way early Apple Watches didn’t either. Given that this is Google’s first Watch, maybe they get some slack here, but then again, if anyone’s comparing this to the newest Apple Watch, it might not show well on this score.
Google Assistant is one of the best regarding digital assistance and getting fast, meaningful help. Compared to Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant is leaps and bounds ahead, making it convenient that the Google Assistant remains built into this Watch. That means you can ask your assistant for help anytime, just by long-pressing the multifunction button.
Smart Home Control
Thanks to that built-in Google Assistant function, Pixel Watch can control your smart home gadgets. You can turn lights on and off, unlock doors, and even open your garage by invoking the assistant on your wrist.
Fitbit Health Metrics
Google purchased health giant and fitness metrics expert Fitbit a few years ago, and integrating Fitbit smarts into this Watch is a huge deal.
I’ve reviewed dozens of Fitbit devices over the last 10 years and can confidently say that Fitbit is one of the best and most accurate fitness and activity tracking platforms. That said, I’m really glad that the new Pixel Watch can link up to my existing Fitbit account so my data can (Of note: you may need to disconnect from your old Fitbit device to move the connection to the Watch. The app on your phone will help you do it.)
With Fitbit power in the Watch, I can track the basics from steps, workouts and activity, sleep, and heart rate, plus an array of more advanced features, like an ECG, which helps detect atrial fibrillation.
- Floors Climbed
- Active Zone minutes tracking
- Activity tracking
- Workout modes
- More accurate heart rate
Your heart rate is the key to many health and fitness data, and Google says the Google Pixel Watch features Fitbit’s most accurate heart rate tracking yet.
“Experts across Fitbit and Google Research and Machine Intelligence worked together to develop an innovative machine learning approach to heart rate tracking.
Which informs key metrics from calories and Active Zone Minutes to Daily Readiness and sleep. The Watch’s dual-processor architecture is optimized for accurate heart rate data while maintaining an all-day battery life.” I’ll take Google’s word for this, as I had no medical-grade equipment to test it against.
When it comes to the sleep features, Fitbit again excels. You can check your Sleep Score each morning and see your sleep stage breakdown for light, REM, and deep sleep. You can also open the Fitbit app (with a Fitbit Premium subscription) to see your longer-term sleep trends.
Water & scratch resistance
The Pixel Watch is waterproof with a water rating of 5ATM, meaning it can withstand activities like swimming. ATM or “atmospheres” is the sum of the pressure a watch can handle. 5ATM will hold up against pressures equal to about 50 meters.
Plus, with custom-molded, scratch-resistant 3D Gorilla® Glass®, Google says it should be able to achieve any hard knocks too.
Battery Life & charging
If anything will bring this Watch down a few notches, it’s the battery life, but let me say it’s still better than an Apple Watch. While Fitbit devices are known for having days and days of juice, the Pixel Watch supplies only “24-hour” battery life.
On my first day of testing, I got over 24 hours, wearing it constantly and even sleeping, albeit getting fewer alerts than usual.
Pixel Watch comes with that click-on magnetic charging puck and takes only about an hour and 20 minutes to regain full charge status. You can also hit it with about 30 minutes of power to get 50% battery and 55 minutes to charge to 80%. It is important to note that reverse wireless charging from Pixel phones and third-party Qi chargers is not supported.
Always On Display
You can leave your Watch’s display on constantly if you don’t mind a bigger drain on your battery. You can easily toggle this on or off in the settings on your Watch itself. Leaving it always on display will dim the face slightly until you raise your wrist. At this point, you’ll get full brightness. I like this experience of being able to glance down and always see the screen, so I toggled it on. Again, with this on, my first day of use still produced over 24 hours of life. Impressive.
Integration into Pixel Universe
The Google Pixel Watch joins Pixel phones and Pixel Buds Pro in the Pixel universe. You can Find My Device, Google Assistant, and the Google Home app for smart home controls, and use your Watch as a remote shutter for your phone’s camera.
I found the Pixel Watch completely comfortable to wear, and it’s a good size; it’s easy enough to see things clearly, and there are a variety of changeable faces. You can regulate the size of some of the display text, but this didn’t seem to work across all faces and apps in my short time with the Watch.
The setup and connection with Pixel phones is easy and seamless. I spent about five days with the Watch, and I enjoyed it. It’s a great watch for Android users, and I think it will be very popular.
Accessories and personalization
The Google Pixel Watch comes in four color options: a Matte Black case with an Obsidian Active band, a Polished Silver case with a Charcoal Active band, a Polished Silver case with a Chalk Active band, and a Champagne Gold case with a Hazel Active band.
Made from recycled stainless steel and scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass, the circular rounded design leans more towards classic watches. You can change your Watch face to a variety of options to match any occasion and adjust your complications to get
Relevant information at a glance.
There are also optional accessory bands in various resources and colors: Woven, Stretch, Active, Two-Tone, and Crafted Leather. Plus, Metal Mesh and Metal Links bands are coming next spring.
Changing and customizing Watch Faces
Your Pixel Watch will allow you to swap watch faces and customize the ones already there. You can adjust the font style on a traditional numeric dial and add different widgets or ‘complications’ onto the face. To play around with this, simply press and hold the face of your Watch until the customization menu pops up.
Overall review: Google Pixel Watch
Overall, this is a beautiful, functional, and helpful watch. It works well, it’s comfortable to wear, and with the integration of Fitbit health metrics, it’s a valuable activity partner, too.
The screen could fill a wee bit more of the face regarding the downsides, but that feels like nitpicking. And the battery life, while it’s better than some smartwatches, isn’t quite up to the usual Fitbit standard, so maybe some improvements could remain made in Gen 2.
Even so, I can recommend the Google Pixel Watch for Android users.
Google Pixel Watch costs $449.99 (Bluetooth®/ Wi-Fi) and $529.99 (4G LTE + Bluetooth®/Wi-Fi). In USA: Price: $349 (LTE), $399 (Cellular)