Google last week unveiled the Pixel Watch, a Wear OS-based smartwatch with a circular display and a range of health-tracking features. We picked up a Pixel Watch and thought we’d compare it to Apple’s latest wrist-worn flagship, the Apple Watch Series 8.
Since the introduction of the Apple Watch in 2015, Apple hasn’t strayed from a rectangular watch face, while other Android makers have played with rounded designs that more closely resemble traditional watch faces. Google went for a round design, and the end result is one of the better round smartwatches we’ve seen.
Unfortunately, the Google Watch has some thick bezels due to the round face, but Google has introduced a dark UI that goes a long way in reducing its obviousness. Apple has reduced bezel sizes over the years, giving you more display real estate on the Series 8. The round form factor works well most of the time, but it’s not great when notifications come in, since the notification area is rectangular, trying to fit into a circular display.
In terms of size, the Pixel Watch is petite. It’s 41mm in diameter, so it feels smaller than the 44mm Apple Watch Series 8. It’s more like the 41mm Apple Watch, eclipsed by the larger and more feature-rich Apple Watch Ultra.
On the Pixel Watch, there’s a side button and crown for control, and the buttons are reminiscent of the Apple Watch. The bands are too, with Google releasing some sport band-like straps among other things. The bands snap into place like the Apple Watch, with a push-and-twist motion.
The Apple Watch Series 8 and Pixel Watch are direct competitors and offer many of the same features. Google integrated features from Fitbit, and the Pixel Watch basically does the same thing as the Apple Watch.
It has heart rate tracking, EKG capabilities and detailed workout tracking with heart rate zones and support for around 40 types of workouts. Emergency SOS is built in, sleep tracking is included and fall detection will follow later in the year. There’s no temperature sensor, a new feature on the Series 8, and while a blood oxygen sensor is included, it’s not enabled.
Some of the health tracking features require a Fitbit Premium subscription, priced at $10 per month. You’ll have to pay that fee if you want options like the traditional Fitbit Readiness Score. Google does offer six months free, but at some point some features will be blocked.
Battery life varies quite a bit on the Pixel Watch. It drains quickly with the always-on display, and there’s a feature that constantly monitors heart rate that can bring it down. With those options disabled it can take up to 24 hours and will outperform the Series 8.
All in all, the Pixel Watch is a decent smartwatch that might one day inspire Apple to offer a different display design. Obviously, if you have an iPhone you won’t want to pick one up, but Android users now have an Apple Watch-like device to choose from.
What do you think of the Pixel Watch? Let us know in the comments.