The Google Pixel Watch was clearly a laggard when it launched last year. It was easily overlooked beside more tempting options in the Wear OS dominion, and not to forget, grossly overshadowed by the popularity of the Apple Watch. This year, Google wants to switch things up by bringing massive improvements with the Google Pixel Watch 2 that launched alongside the Pixel 8 Series at Google’s Fall 2023 event.
Borrowing from the Fitbit Sense 2, the Pixel Watch 2 has overhauled fitness tracking sensors and algorithms while the internal hardware is significantly better than not only the first Pixel Watch but also the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. It still bears the same uninspiring (or minimal, based on how you perceive it) design but relies on 100% recycled aluminum for the core.
With these improvements and a price unchanged from last year, the Pixel Watch 2 is more worthy of attention than the first generation. But is it good enough if you already own the Pixel Watch from last year? Let’s help you decide!
|Google Pixel Watch 2||Google Pixel Watch|
|Storage & RAM|
|Dimensions and weight||
|Software||Wear OS 4.0||Wear OS 3.5|
|Material and colors||
Aesthetically, there are no new visible changes between the second and the first generation of the Google Pixel Watch. Both smartwatches have identical designs and the same dimensions and button placements, especially when viewed from the top. You get the same colors and finishes from the last generation, so distinguishing the two based on just the looks can be tricky. However, the two watches differ subtly in terms of their design.
The biggest, but rather inconspicuous, change on the Pixel Watch 2 over the first generation is the shell’s construction material. The Pixel Watch 2 uses aluminum for the case, as opposed to stainless steel on the first Pixel Watch. Google goes the same route as Apple, boasting of 100% recycled aluminum used for the shell as opposed to only 80% of the stainless steel recycled last time.
Because the finishes are still the same, you may not feel a difference in materials in real life, although we will reserve that judgment for our review of the Pixel Watch 2. You will, however, most certainly notice a difference in weight from the Pixel Watch, not by a significant margin but undoubtedly observable. Because of its aluminum construction, the Pixel Watch 2 now weighs five grams less than the last time, now measuring only 31 grams (1.09oz) without straps. Which, by the way, remain unchanged.
In addition, Google says the buttons are now more refined than last year, while the crown now offers a smoother navigation experience. Lastly, the Pixel Watch 2 uses the same lug mechanism for the bands as the last one, so you can use any bands you previously bought along with the Pixel Watch.
Another aspect of the Pixel Watch 2 that remains unchanged from the last generation is its display. You still get a circular display with a 1.2-inch diameter and curved periphery. The display’s resolution and pixel density remain unchanged over the last generation. Furthermore, the Pixel Watch 2 still gets 1,000 nits of peak brightness (in bright outdoor settings), even though the indoor brightness will be a lot lesser.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering the display was already crisp and bright enough last time, but the lack of a bigger dial option may still bug those with bigger wrists. On the positive side, the small display will help conserve the battery life but may still feel like a hassle because of the lack of proper space to work through the settings or interact with incoming notifications — typing on the display being another challenge altogether.
Unlike limited changes on the outside, the Pixel Watch 2 gets a significant overhaul in terms of its components inside. First, the Pixel Watch 2 migrates to a much more advanced and efficient Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 chip.
Compared to Samsung’s Exynos 9110 — a dual-core chipset used on the first Pixel Watch — the Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 gets a quad-core CPU with clock speeds up to 1.7GHz. The chipset is made with a more recent 4-nanometer (4nm) process than the archaic 10nm process used on the Samsung-made chip. The smaller manufacturing process translates to more electronic transistors placed on a smaller surface area, allowing for more efficient transfer of electrical signals. This translates to not just speedier execution of tasks but also lower heat generation, resulting in a better battery backup and sustained higher performance overall.
The newer chip also allows for better cellular reception and support for dual-band Wi-Fi, although Google surprisingly skips the 5GHz Wi-Fi band’s support.
Considering how the Pixel Watch 2’s biggest competitor — the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 — still uses a dual-core processor, we might finally witness the Pixel Watch emerge as a more robust and compelling Wear OS smartwatch than Samsung’s, which is something the previous generation failed to do.
There are no changes in the internal storage or RAM, and the Pixel Watch 2 still gets 32GB of internal space with 2GB RAM.
Talking other upgrades, the Pixel Watch 2 also gets an entire ensemble of new and improved sensors for fitness tracking that it adopts from the Fitbit Sense 2. The Pixel Watch gets an upgraded “multi-path” heart rate sensor. In practice, this new sensor measures your heart rate in multiple orientations along your wrists and then cross-checks them against each other to provide the most accurate measurement. These more precise readings make up the foundational data for additional features, such as activity heart rate zone tracking or stress detection.
Along with the more sophisticated heart rate sensor and algorithm, the Pixel Watch 2 gets two new sensors, including a cEDA (continuous electrodermal activity) sensor and a skin temperature sensor. The cEDA sensor determines vital changes by measuring electric conductance through miniature sweat beads and across the skin. Meanwhile, the temperature sensor can identify small changes in your skin’s temperature.
The combined data from these sensors — along with refinements based on AI — can indicate the presence of underlying medical conditions, from stress and anxiety to cardiac ailments. Additionally, you can still take an ECG with the Pixel Watch 2, but it will be available only in regions where medical bodies have approved it, equivalent to the FDA.
Based on changes in readings from these sensors, the Pixel Watch 2 will prompt you to log your conditions throughout the day to give you a comprehensive variance chart through a specific period. For Fitbit Premium members (first six months free with the Pixel Watch 2), the smartwatch will also offer a “Daily Readiness Score” by studying comprehensive health data trends and a weekly summary. In tandem with your health and fitness data, the Pixel Watch 2 will also offer improved insights into the quality of sleep, including a monthly guide focusing on the pain points.
The Pixel Watch 2 will now also be able to record and log common types of workouts automatically — something the first Pixel Watch can’t. These include seven workouts — including walking, cycling, running, etc. The Pixel Watch 2 will also identify heart rate zones for optimal training and reduced muscle burnout and offer voice-based insights to pick up speed or slow down while you are working out.
The Pixel Watch 2 is also the first smartwatch other than the Galaxy Watch 6 to come with Wear OS 4, compared to the Wear OS 3.5 on the first-generating Pixel Watch. Wear OS 4 brings additional support for Google apps, such as Gmail and Google Calendar, as well as quick access tiles from more third-party developers, including WhatsApp and Spotify. Besides new apps, Wear OS also promises better third-party watch faces that can utilize a more comprehensive set of data to show straight from the primary screen while offering improved battery life and power efficiency.
Additionally, with Google Assistant onboard, the Pixel Watch is expected to get on-the-go translation features, especially with the Interpreter mode that is currently available on Android devices and Nest smart speakers and display. The Pixel Watch 2 also receives a new At A Glance watch face, similar to the eponymous widget on Android phones, giving you a concise overview of the most important upcoming events throughout the day, along with travel reminders, traffic alerts, and weather and emergency warnings.
Furthermore, the easy Backup and Restore function allows you to switch to a new smartphone without resetting the Pixel Watch (or any other Wear OS 4 smartwatch, except Galaxy Watch).
Along with generic changes to the operating system, the Pixel Watch 2 also comes with improvements to the Fall Detection feature already present on the first-generation Pixel Watch. The Fall Detection feature will now work in union with your Android phone’s Crash Detection feature, allowing you to take action straight from the Watch. For instance, in the unfortunate event of an accident detected by your phone, you will be able to call emergency services right from the Pixel Watch 2.
The Pixel Watch 2 also gets “Safety Check” from Pixel smartphones. The feature lets you set a timer when you venture out, and it will remind you to check in when the timer completes. If you fail to respond to this prompt, the Pixel Watch 2 will automatically alert your emergency contacts as well as emergency response services, such as 911, sharing your current location.
In case of a medical mishap, your medical information, such as the blood group, existing medication, or allergies, will be accessible to health professionals by long-pressing the crown button. You can get an additional silicon tag to inform paramedics about the button feature.
If you have a Fitbit Premium plan, these emergency calling features will also be available without an active LTE plan (although not without LTE support on the Watch 2).
The first Google Pixel Watch failed to impress us with its battery life despite claims of a 24-hour-long backup. This time, Google makes similar claims with the Pixel Watch 2, but we can expect slightly longer backup — especially because of the more efficient chipset driving the smartwatch.
In addition, the Pixel Watch 2 also earns a meager upgrade in terms of battery capacity from 294mAh on the first generation to 306mAh now — only a 4% upgrade, but it might add a few extra minutes to the battery life. Google also claims faster charging with the magnetic charger shipped along with the Pixel Watch 2, claiming 100% of battery in 75 minutes of charging. This is opposed to 80 minutes from last year — which does not suggest a significant upgrade to charging speeds.
We will wait for the final verdict on the Pixel Watch 2’s battery life until we get our hands on a physical test unit.
The Google Pixel Watch 2 maintains the same pricing as the first-generation Pixel Watch. The Wi-Fi-only variant is priced at $349, whereas the Wi-Fi + LTE variant will be available for $399, a mere dollar less than last year.
The Pixel Watch 2 is available for preorder now and will be available for open sale starting October 12. If you preorder the Google Pixel 8 Pro, you will get the Pixel Watch 2 for free.
Besides the Pixel Watch 2, Google is also selling a bunch of different bands separately. While most of them are the same as last year, you now get newer color options. Because of the unchanged mechanism from the previous year, you can also buy these newer bands for your first-gen Pixel Watch.
Google is also releasing the metal mesh, stainless steel, and Italian leather bands with the Pixel Watch 2 if you want to upgrade from the basic Active band.
Unlike its predecessor, the Google Pixel Watch 2 is a desirable smartwatch with many improvements, especially on the inside. Does that make it a worthy upgrade? We would say yes! If you want the best of Google and Fitbit’s fitness features, improved activity and sleep tracking, and — most importantly — hardware that feels refreshingly fast and smooth while also contributing to better battery life, the Pixel Watch 2 is definitely a viable upgrade. The deal gets even more tempting if you plan to buy the Pixel 8 Pro.
However, if you want a basic companion for your Android phone, have been satisfied with the Pixel Watch, and do not want absolutely cutting-edge activity tracking or fitness features, then those $350 are better spent on something else you cherish instead.