Everything should be better in the second generation of the Pixel Watch, right? Google has improved the battery technology, the SoC, and the charging technology. Old strengths such as the design and the seamless connection to the Android operating system have been retained. So are Google fans finally able to enjoy an equivalent Apple Watch alternative? We find out in this nextpit review!
- Very attractive design with good workmanship
- Chic display with minimal bezels
- Smoother performance than before
- Battery life is suitable for everyday use
- Full range of functions available only via subscription
- Quick charging is still very poor
- No wireless charging support
- Not compatible with iOS
Google Pixel Watch 2: All deals
In a nutshell
Despite a few teething problems and stutters, the second-generation Pixel Watch showcased many strengths in our review. With seamless connectivity to the Android operating system, modern tracking functions, and a battery life suitable for everyday use, it stands as one of the best Apple Watch alternatives for non-iPhone users.
It was particularly exciting to see Google implementing a wide range of improvements. We certainly look forward to the third-generation model with bated breath!
The Pixel Watch 2 is only available in one case size with a 41 mm diameter. However, you can choose between four color variants and with or without LTE. The Wi-Fi only version costs $299.99 while the LTE version is more expensive at $349.99.
Design and display
Google has largely retained the design of the first Pixel Watch. This translates to a round smartwatch with a fairly small 44 mm case and a curved display glass. This makes the Pixel Watch 2 an eye-catching and discreet device, making it suitable for more serious occasions or professional settings. The workmanship remains at an excellent level, while the 5 ATM water resistance further underlines this.
- Simple design with excellent workmanship.
- The display appears larger than it is thanks to OLED technology.
- Operation via the rotating crown is really fun.
- Only available in one size.
- The strap selection is quite limited.
- The bezels are rather thick in reality.
In 2023, smartwatches are no longer a rarity on wrists, both at home and at work. While an Apple Watch is sure to look good when donned with any suit or evening dress, models such as the Garmin Forerunner or the Apple Watch Ultra (for review) with their rugged look are probably less “prom-ready”. In my opinion, the Pixel Watch 2 suits every occasion with its design, which Stefan aptly described in the hands-on as a “rounded pebble”.
From a functional point of view, the design of the Pixel Watch 2 also impressed. It is particularly pleasant to note the rounded smartwatch slips on effortlessly when wearing a jacket or sweater sleeves and is therefore a little more protected.
Sleeves tend to get caught on more angular watches, which “I make $10,000 a week” network marketing influencers on Instagram certainly prefer. However, I like it to be discreet and therefore praise another feature of the Pixel Watch 2.
The display, with its extremely high contrast range thanks to OLED technology, is also very discreet in design. Thanks to the dark operating system design, the bezels tend to ‘disappear’ into the casing, making it look as if the content simply appears in the middle of the watch glass.
However, if an app lights up the entire display, the thick bezels are noticeable. Unfortunately, other smartwatch manufacturers are way ahead of Google’s timepiece in this aspect.
What Google does well, however, is the operation of the smartwatch. There is a rotating crown on the right-hand side, which can also be pressed. Above it is a button whose function you can change in the settings.
The rest of the operation works via swipe gestures, and you can quickly find routines that will take you to the desired function. These are also customizable thanks to freely configurable “tiles” that you can swipe to the left and right.
In the end, there is not much to criticize. However, it is a shame that Google only offers the smartwatch in a 44 mm diameter case. The Pixel Watch 2 quickly looks a little silly when worn on large wrists.
Compared to the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch, the choice of straps is also quite limited. There are alternatives made of fabric, metal, and other plastics, but premium options such as the Apple Watch bands from Hermès are still lacking.
The Pixel Watch is Google’s interpretation of what a smartwatch should be. The company has the advantage of developing both WearOS 4 and Android, which means connection to the smartphone should be particularly seamless. It also has an extensive app store, is compatible with the Google Assistant, and features additional smart benefits.
- Many smart features overall.
- Google Assistant can be fully utilized.
- Almost all functions can also be used on third-party devices.
- Not compatible with Apple iOS.
- App selection could be more.
With the first Pixel Watch, Google wanted to deliver an Apple Watch alternative for the Android operating system. The seamless integration within the Apple ecosystem is the biggest advantage of the Apple smartwatch, which is very difficult to replicate with Android. Unlike Apple, there are many devices from different manufacturers with which the Pixel Watch must play nice with.
For this review, I used the Pixel Watch with a OnePlus device. If you own a Pixel smartphone, you can still enjoy some advantages such as remote camera control with live preview.
However, essential functions are also available on third-party smartphones, which I find quite commendable. I think it’s a shame that the Pixel Watch isn’t compatible with iOS. On the other hand, the reverse is also true with the Apple Watch. Smartwatch, stick to your guns!
What makes the Pixel Watch interesting, however, are the two functions. First, you can use Google Assistant completely independently of your smartphone, provided you have the LTE model. If you wish, you can even activate it by saying “OK, Google”, which means you simply raise your wrist and start asking away.
Despite some launch problems (more on this later when we talk about the built-in hardware), the Assistant experience is great. During the review, I found myself controlling timers or functions via my wrist from time to time, simply because it worked so seamlessly.
The second important function of a smartwatch is the availability of its own app store. Thanks to WearOS, you can access a number of applications in the Google Play Store. You can also install all available apps from your Android phone when setting it up. While important apps such as Spotify, Adidas Running, Nike, and WhatsApp are available, the available selection does not come close to what the Apple Watch offers.
Our Nuki office door lock cannot be unlocked via the Pixel Watch. You also can’t use the smartwatch as a digital car key for Tesla or to unlock VanMoof bicycles. I really hope that Google will work harder to expand the compatibility range further.
Of course, the Pixel Watch also offers basic smart features. For instance, you can view notifications and reply to them directly from the watch. Thanks to voice recognition and a fully-fledged keyboard with a swipe function, this worked really well.
When listening to music, Google always advises you to connect Bluetooth headphones or speakers to the watch, even if there is an integrated speaker. The 32 GB internal memory also allows you to listen to music and podcasts offline.
A flashlight app, control options for the Google Home ecosystem, and a host of watch faces can also be installed and personalized round off the range of functions. Overall, the Pixel Watch finally comes close to the range of functions of the Apple Watch, even if it cannot fully match them yet.
Sensors and fitness
Google has equipped the Pixel Watch 2 with a new processor. The aim is to avoid the lag of the previous generation. An improved sensor for vital data should also enable more precise heart rate measurements. The smartwatch also measures small changes in skin perspiration to detect stress. However good it sounds, it wasn’t
all sunshine in the Pixel Watch 2 review!
- Smooth performance 80% of the time.
- Extensive functions for fitness tracking.
- Precise GPS navigation.
- There were occasional freezes, lag, and crashes during the review.
- Full range of functions are available only via Fitbit Premium.
- Division of the apps takes a little getting used to.
Google neatly separated the smartwatch functions of the Pixel Watch 2 from the fitness features, and so I’ll do the same. Google claims to have improved the performance of the Pixel Watch 2 compared to its predecessor. As a result, you should be able to fly through the watch’s menus smoothly and loading times should be equally short. However, I could not confirm this based on my initial impressions.
To observe the performance of the smartwatch for a little longer, I requested an extension for this review. The reason behind this is I repeatedly encountered severe lag or issues with the Pixel Watch. For instance, the Google Assistant did not respond after the initial setup.
A restart solved the problem. At another time, my heart rate no longer showed up. A restart solved the problem. Launching the Google Play Store once caused the smartwatch to start lagging terribly. A restart solved the problem.
The bottom line is, you can always get the Pixel Watch 2 to run smoothly and satisfactorily with a restart after running into issues. Nevertheless, I found it very annoying that you have to struggle with such problems over and over in such an expensive smartwatch. By extending the review duration, I wanted to see if these were “teething problems” that occur after setup. However, I kept encountering problems and I guess that you still have to live with them at the moment.
In addition to the Watch app, you will also need the Fitbit app for the Pixel Watch 2 to gain access to all of its fitness functions. These include tracking functions for various sports, ECG tracking, extensive sleep tracking, stress monitoring, and much more. If you want to use the full range of smartwatch functions and take advantage of the clever daily fitness index or instructions for workouts, you will have to subscribe to Fitbit Premium.
I found this paywall to be a turnoff, as the Pixel Watch 2 is not cheap at all. However, Google and Fitbit’s consistency in selling the Premium subscription is an indication that other users are happy to pay for the subscription. What do you think?
The Pixel Watch 2 uses various sensors to track vital data. Google wants to be able to better measure the heart rate thanks to a larger sensor surface, especially during movements. Google also relies on your skin temperature and small changes in sweat to obtain information about your stress level and your daily fitness index.
In addition, the watch measures the oxygen content in your blood and can therefore enable tracking functions for your cycle and sleep. Overall, the range of functions here is satisfactory, even though other smartwatches can now measure blood pressure and other data.
GPS is of course also on board, and in the review, it proved to be on par with the GPS on my iPhone 13 mini. An altimeter, a barometer, a magnetometer, and a digital compass can also be found in the watch. However, Google usually processes this information in the background, so you don’t need to worry about it.
Google Pixel Watch 2 battery
Thanks to a more efficient processor, the battery of the Pixel Watch 2 should last longer. With an always-on display, run times of up to 24 hours should be a realistic target. Google is also changing the watch’s charging system and settled on a better magnet. Quick Charging is on board, but somehow unsatisfactory. You will have to make do without wireless charging.
- Realistic battery life of up to 24 hours.
- Improved charging puck.
- Quick charging is still too slow.
- No wireless charging.
The Pixel Watch is a fairly powerful and discreet smartwatch. We therefore have to compare its battery life with the Apple Watch Series 9 or the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 (review), where achieving an entire day of use on a single charge is praiseworthy.
Despite enabling the always-on display, all tracking features, and workouts, seamless recording of vital data can be achieved. Do make sure you can make time for an extensive charging break throughout the day
Despite having “fast charging” as claimed by Google, a full charge takes a whopping 75 minutes. In half an hour, you can recharge the smartwatch battery by 50% and perhaps still make it through a planned workout.
Together with the one-day battery life, this is by no means a carefree experience like that of Garmin smartwatches or the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 (review). Once again, we need to iterate that a comparison is not entirely fair due to the significantly smaller chassis. Nevertheless, there were situations where the Pixel Watch 2’s battery ran out.
With other smartwatches, it is quite possible to obtain a full battery charge during a long shower or while washing dishes in the evening, in addition to other relevant activities you can think of. Basically, the Pixel smartwatch’s quick charging is disappointing.
What Google has been able to improve is the charging puck, which now sticks much stronger and charges the watch via four contacts. While this means you always have to position the charging puck in the right direction, but you will get used to it in no time at all.
You can forget about charging the smartwatch wirelessly. This is annoying, as reverse wireless charging has become established in the Android world, and it would be very practical to charge the watch on the back of your phone from time to time.
It is astonishing how many little things Google was able to fix in the Pixel Watch 2. The smartwatch is an example of how it is advisable to skip the first generation of any new technology. It was similar with the Google Pixel 6 (review), whose successor seemed much more mature.
With the Pixel Watch 2, Android fans finally get to enjoy what has long been available for iPhones. A powerful, attractive, well-made, and seamlessly connected smartwatch.
Even though there are already a number of good Android smartwatches, the Pixel Watch 2 feels different. The design is beautiful and discreet, allowing the smartwatch to disappear safely under sleeves.
Integration with the Google operating system is successful even on non-Google phones, and there are several functions in the Play Store with a range of pre-installed apps. The tracking functions are also good, even if the Fitbit Premium subscription continues to be a nuisance in 2023.
However, Google still cannot completely avoid lag and crashes in the operating system. These tarnish the user experience a little and would be something that would douse my desire for the Pixel Watch 2 a little if I had to spend $300 or more for it.
Despite these shortcomings, I see the Pixel Watch 2 as an important smartwatch for Android that is worth buying. It is ideal for those with smaller wrists who like the design. If Google offers a larger model in the next generation, integrates faster quick charging, and delivers a few more apps for the watch, the Pixel smartwatch will be in no way inferior to the Apple Watch. But it will still be a while before then.
Google Pixel Watch 2
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