Review: Google Pixel Watch is sleek but expensive

Is this Google’s answer to the Apple Watch or another Fitbit gadget? That’s the biggest remaining question I have about Google’s new sleek round-faced smartwatch.


Price: €379

Pros: best looking Android smartwatch, good unisex size, 6 months Fitbit Premium included

Disadvantages: expensive last generation chip, a key function does not work in Ireland


Google owns Fitbit. But it does have an impressive range of Pixel hardware in phones and earbuds (with a tablet in the future). Hence the Pixel Watch, which I’ve been wearing for about a week.


pixel clock. Photo: Adrian Weckler

On the bright side, this is definitely the prettiest round-faced smartwatch out there. There’s none of the blockiness so typical of the genre.

It has all the essential fitness, health and smart sensors you reasonably need to feel protected, while also being considerably more discreet than almost any other full-featured touchscreen smartwatch on the market. In all honesty, it looks and feels like Apple would have launched it if they hadn’t opted for the square format of their own watch. It’s undeniably a premium aesthetic.

There’s a price to pay for this elegance: battery life. This equates to about the same battery life as a regular Apple Watch, so not much more than a full day. Almost all non-Apple competitors will clearly beat that.

There’s only one screen size and somewhat surprisingly, Google has opted for a smaller 41mm display.

The upside here is that it makes the Pixel Watch a little less computerized on the wrist than many of its rivals, as it doesn’t stand up like a chunky piece of IT. It will also almost certainly appeal more to those with smaller, slimmer wrists, likely including a female demographic.

The Pixel watch has two buttons, one of which is also a rotating crown. It’s a beautiful, elegant setup that’s visually very satisfying.

The Wear OS operating system is also nice and easy to use, with a combination of swiping, tapping and button presses to access things fairly quickly.

With the Pixel Watch, Google is putting its Fitbit subsidiary in the limelight. It directs users to the Fitbit app (rather than its own Google Fit app) as the watch’s main health and fitness tracking engine, and even gives away a six-month free membership to Fitbit Premium (usually $9 a month) as a bonus for buyer .

In a way, that makes sense. Fitbit is a mature, proven fitness platform that works well and has years of experience behind it.

On the other hand, it will confuse people. Is this the same as a Fitbit watch? (No.) Do you want Fitbit to work better than Google Fit? (It seems so.)

While there’s a lot to like about the Pixel Watch, it’s expensive. Fitbit’s Sense 2, which has all the essential fitness sensors, a color touchscreen, 6 months; Fitbit Premium membership and much better battery life, costs €80 less. So does Apple’s latest Watch SE.

Unfortunately this is an Irish problem. In most countries (like the UK) there are two different variants: “WLAN” (cheaper) and “LTE” (more expensive). In Ireland, however, only the most expensive LTE variant (379 euros) is available. Ironically, Ireland is one of the few adopting countries that doesn’t offer LTE functionality from wireless carriers. It’s a somewhat unfortunate launch strategy that Google has followed, and one that will likely encourage some users to skip the Irish Google Store when making purchases.

A nice feature of the Pixel Watch – and not available on the cheaper Apple Watch SE – is the option for an “always-on” display. While this means a little less battery life, it’s worth it to me as you don’t have to constantly snap your wrist if you just want to check the time.

Designed to work with the Google Assistant, the Pixel Watch has a built-in microphone and speaker (which is a bit weak and tinny). This means you can make and receive calls as long as they’re within range of your phone.

It can also be charged with wireless charging cables other than the one that came with it – I charged it with an Apple Watch charger.

It comes in a few well-coordinated colors. The straps are also handy – they’re easy to remove and replace.

The Pixel Watch has one potential long-term downside: engine performance. While I haven’t noticed any real lag or lag issue, it does use one of the oldest and weakest chips in the premium smartwatch category. Over time, this could limit his ability. Google has always started its hardware with modest specs, preferring instead to lean on the performance of its software before scaling up to high-end hardware. This applies to the first Nexus and Pixel smartphones as well as the Chromebooks. And that seems to be the case with the Pixel Watch as well.

Otherwise, this is a promising – albeit pricey – debut for Google in the smartwatch category. Review: Google Pixel Watch is sleek but expensive

Fry Electronics Team

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