There are plenty of smartwatches and fitness trackers on the market to choose from. One company that had yet to join the fray was Google, but that changed recently.
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Our Google Pixel Watch review looks at the tech giant’s first foray into the smartwatch hardware market, one that runs off Wear OS and has solid Fitbit integration. Read on for our full review!
Table of contents
The Quick Take
The Google Pixel Watch is the company’s first official smartwatch. Sure, it owns Fitbit, but those designs and models were available far before they were bought by Google. It looks pretty sleek sitting on your wrist, fluid-like due to the rounded dome face. Our review unit came with off-white fluoroelastomer straps which are comfortable. Running Wear OS, the watch pairs and synchronizes nicely with Pixel phones, and presumably other Android smartphones although we did not have any on hand to test with.
There are plenty of apps you can install to the watch, as well as thousands of custom watch faces available on the Play Store to make it distinctly yours. Where it falls short, however, is the fact that there is only one size available, it does not track SpO2 (common on most fitness trackers/smartwatches these days), has a proprietary watch strap connector, and the price puts it more in the middle of the pack. Still, it is a solid first outing by the tech giant and hopefully some of these issues will be addressed should a future version be released.
The Google Pixel Watch we reviewed has the following features and specifications:
|Display||• Custom 3D Corning® Gorilla® Glass|
• 320 ppi AMOLED display with DCI-P3 color
• Brightness boost up to 1000 nits
• Always-on display
|Chipset||Exynos 9110 SoC, Cortex M33 co-processor|
|Storage||32GB eMMC Flash|
|Interaction||Side button, haptic crown, premium haptics|
|Sensors||Compass, Altimeter, Blood oxygen sensor, Multipurpose electrical sensor, Optical heart rate sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Ambient light sensor|
|Audio||Built-in microphone and speaker|
|Durability||Custom 3D Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5|
|Water resistance||5ATM (50 meters)|
|Connectivity||4G LTE and UMTS (LTE model only), Bluetooth® 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz, NFC, FeliCa|
|GPS||GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo|
|Features||• Fitbit health and fitness|
• Always-on display
• Google Maps
• Google Wallet
• Google Assistant
• Messages and notifications
• YouTube Music
• Emergency SOS
• International emergency calling
• Fall detection (up to 32 g-forces) (Coming soon)
• Interchangeable band design
|Compatibility||Most Android 8.0 or newer|
|Band size||• Small fits wrists 130-175 mm around|
• Large fits wrists 165-210 mm around
|OS||Wear OS 3.5|
|Materials and finishes||• Case: 80% recycled stainless steel|
• Active band: Fluoroelastomer with soft-touch coating
|Colours||• Matte Black Stainless Steel case / Obsidian Active band|
• Polished Silver Stainless Steel case / Charcoal Active band
• Polished Silver Stainless Steel case / Chalk Active band
• Champagne Gold Stainless Steel case / Hazel Active band
|Dimensions||41mm x 12.3 mm|
|Weight||36g (without band)|
What’s in the box
- Google Pixel Watch
- Active band (small and large wristbands)
- USB-C magnetic charging cable
- Quick Start Guide
The Google Pixel Watch almost looks like a bubble of sorts with its rounded, domed face. Roughly 1.6” (41mm) in diameter, it does look a bit small on my man-sized arm. I would have liked to see another larger 46mm (about 1.8”) version as well, as is the case with many other smartwatch companies on the market. When looking at the watch from the top, all you see is the black domed face. The bottom half of the watch is manufactured with stainless steel and feels and looks quite nice.
On the right side of the watch is the crown and a button. On the left side is where the speaker and microphone are for use with Google Assistant and taking calls. Finally, the underside of the watch is where you will find your various sensors for fitness tracking.
Included with the Pixel Watch are fluoroelastomer bands, small and large. Oddly enough, the small band has nine adjustment holes while the larger only has eight. The bands fasten together by sliding the band with the holes through the fastening band, snapping the adjustment hole over a metal piece, and then sliding the excess underneath. It is a system I have used before but am not overly a fan of. It does keep any excess band tucked away nicely, however. The bands feature a proprietary connection which takes a bit to get used to. With the press of a small button on the watch itself, the top and bottom sections of the watch band slide off the watch. When attached to the watch, they are held in place solidly.
The included charging cable consists of a USB-C cable connected to a magnetic charging cradle that you simply set the Pixel Watch on top of when you need to charge it.
Setup/Ease of Use
Once you turn on the watch, if you have a compatible smartphone like a Pixel device, you will get a message on your phone stating you need the Google Pixel Watch app to start the setup process. After you have downloaded and installed it, the process is straightforward. The steps are as follows:
- Read and accept the Terms of Service
- Tap the Google Pixel Watch that appears in the list on the next screen
- Wait for the watch to begin pairing then confirm the Bluetooth pairing code on your phone matches that on the Pixel Watch screen
- Sign into your Google account (or choose another account)
- Set your watch orientation (left/right wrist, crown on left/right)
- Learn how to switch bands
- Get the Fitbit mobile app to personalize your fitness goals, track your activity and sleep, and more
- Set up Google Assistant
- Set a PIN or Pattern lock on the watch
- Enable (or skip) Google Wallet tap to pay
- Select and install apps on your Pixel Watch
- Take a tour of how to use the watch
As for using the Pixel Watch, some of the key functions include:
- Pressing the crown to access installed apps
- Pressing the crown to return to the watch face
- Pressing the side button to access recently used apps
- Double pressing the side button to go to your last used app
- Making and taking calls with the onboard speaker and microphone
- Using Google Assistant with the onboard speaker and microphone
- Pressing and holding the crown to turn the watch on and off
- Pressing the crown to wake your watch
- Rapidly pressing the crown 5 or more times to call emergency services or a chosen contact
- Swiping down on the watch face to access quick settings
- Swiping up on the watch face to access notifications
- Swiping left or right on the watch face to access Tiles
Once you get used to it, accessing all the various features by way of swiping or using the crown and button becomes second nature.
While a bit small, as mentioned above, the domed 1.6” AMOLED display on the Google Pixel Watch is nice and bright, as well as crisp with its 320 ppi. I had no issues viewing the screen with its brightness boos of up to 1000 nits, even in direct sunlight. The adaptive brightness worked well, adjusting the brightness based on the current ambient lighting situation.
Google Pixel Watch
The Google Pixel Watch runs Wear OS 3.5, the company’s Android smartwatch operating system. You’ll also need to install the Google Pixel Watch app from the Google Play Store in order to pair it to your Android smartphone. The Pixel Watch app is straightforward. When connected to the watch, you can use it to switch Watch Faces, choose what Tiles are visible on the watch, and tweak other settings. These other settings include notifications, Google account preferences, Fitbit preferences, installing and managing apps, setting Pixel Watch preferences (gestures, display, security), configuring an eSim, setting privacy options, setting accessibility options, checking system information, and getting tips or contacting support.
On the fitness tracking side of things, you will need to install and use the Fitbit app. Once you have installed it on your phone, you will have to allow it to access your Pixel Watch. After you have done that, and allow Fitbit to send notifications, you will be all set.
The main Fitbit screen shows your current Zone Minutes, Steps, Floors, Distance, and Calories for the day. There are also buttons for Stress Management, Sleep, Tracking Mindfulness, Exercise, Health Metrics, Heart Rate, Movement Time, Weight, Water (drinking) Logging, and Food Logging.
Next up is the Discover tab which is where you can access various workouts with the included 6-month Fitbit Premium subscription. The Community tab lets you share, chat, and “celebrate all things health and fitness” with friends and family you have connected with through Fitbit. The last tab is the Fitbit Premium tab and lets you dive deeper into your different stats for better analysis.
With its Exynos 9110 SoC and Cortex M33 co-processor with 2GB of SDRAM running Wear OS 3.5, the Google Pixel Watch runs smoothly, and I had no issues with swiping or launching apps, responding to text messages, or checking notifications. The installed apps worked as I would expect them to, I had no issues with syncing with the Fitbit app. Fitness tracking seemed to be accurate based on my past experiences.
Here is one of the areas where the Pixel Watch lacks a bit. While it does have an onboard speaker, it does sound a bit tinny/muted and could do with a volume bump. I could barely hear the audio coming out of the watch while on a call unless I had the watch up close to my ear.
On the other hand, when on a call, the other party mentioned that I sounded just fine when asked. This was true if the watch was up near my mouth or at chest level. In addition, when using it to activate Google Assistant, the Pixel Watch picked up what I was saying with no issues and there was no need to repeat what I was asking it.
While the Google Pixel Watch lasted me through most of the day, the best course of action for me was to charge it while I was eating dinner so that I could use it for sleep tracking as well. While a day’s use is fine, when you are away for a weekend, it would be nice if the Pixel Watch would last longer without charging. Other smartwatches and fitness trackers can last more than a day, so I am still a bit confused as to why more premium offerings like the Pixel Watch or Apple Watch barely last a day without requiring a recharge.
With an MSRP of USD$349.99/CAD$449.99 for the Wi-Fi model and USD$399.99/CAD$549.99 for the LTE model, the Google Pixel Watch is not the most affordable, but it is also not the most expensive smartwatch on the market. Given other smartwatches I have used in the past, and given the functionality, it is not unfairly priced, but I do feel that it could be priced a bit more affordable.
The Google Pixel Watch is a fairly decent-looking first outing by the company. The touchscreen display is easy to use and bright, while the Fitbit integration offers some solid fitness tracking. It is far from perfect, though, as it only comes in one size, and does not track skin temperature or SpO2 (although the latter is coming soon), but perhaps that will change with the next generation. If you are looking for a Wear OS Android smartwatch, the Pixel Watch complements the rest of the Google Pixel ecosystem.
Google Pixel WatchUSD$349.99+/ CAD$449.99+
Setup/Ease of Use9.5/10
- Solid design with stainless steel case
- Bright, responsive AMOLED display
- Wear OS with solid Android phone integration
- Native Fitbit integration w/ 6 months Fitbit Premium
- Plenty of customization options
- ECG capabilities
- 4G LTE model available
- Easy to setup and use
- Full day battery life
- Large bezels
- Only one watch size
- Mediocre battery life
- Proprietary band connectors
- Only one-day battery life
- Speaker volume is a bit low
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Last Updated on November 27, 2023.