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 grossly overshadowed by the popularity of the Apple Watch. This year, Google looks to switch things up by bringing massive improvements with the Google Pixel Watch 2 that launched alongside the Pixel 8 Series of phones at Google’s Fall 2023 event.
- Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Google Pixel Watch: specs
- Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Google Pixel Watch: design
- Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Google Pixel Watch: screen
- Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Google Pixel Watch: health and fitness
- Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Google Pixel Watch: other software features
- Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Google Pixel Watch: battery life
- Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Google Pixel Watch: price and availability
- Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Google Pixel Watch: verdict
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. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on what you thought of the original, but if you were hoping Google would change things up this year, that hasn’t happened.
Both smartwatches have identical designs that remain more utilitarian than elegant, with the same dimensions and button placements, especially when viewed from the top. Even the colors and finishes are unchanged from the last generation, so distinguishing the two based on appearance will be tricky. However, there are some subtle differences in 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 has gone the same route as the Apple Watch Series 9, 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 since aluminum is noticeably lighter than stainless steel, it’s much more comfortable to wear — to the point where you can almost forget it’s on your wrist when combined with the right band. By the numbers, the Pixel Watch 2 now weighs 5 grams less than its predecessor, coming in at 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 are also the same as 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 less.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering the display was already crisp and bright enough last time, but the lack of a bigger size option may still bug those with larger 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.
Despite the limited changes on the outside, the inside of the Pixel Watch 2 gets a significant overhaul. 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 better battery health 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, the new chip helps the new Pixel Watch leap ahead in performance, surpassing Samsung’s entry in ways the previous generation failed. This time around, the user interface is smoother and less jittery, making for a much more pleasant experience than the Pixel Watch, with no pauses or stutters. Even Google Maps comes up in a flash.
However, despite the new chip, there are no changes in the internal storage or RAM; the Pixel Watch 2 still gets 32GB of internal space with 2GB RAM.
In 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, including 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 and 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 also now 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-generation 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 2 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 some new watch faces, giving you more ways to customize the wearable to your liking.
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 is complete. 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 runtime. Google makes similar claims with the Pixel Watch 2, but this time, it actually exceeds them.
In our testing, the Pixel Watch 2 easily lasts for at least 24 hours on a single charge, even with the always-on display active. In some cases, it ran for as long as 36 hours before it needed to hit the charger again — even with a 30-minute GPS-tracked workout and overnight sleep tracking. Since the battery capacity hasn’t increased much — the Pixel Watch 2 cell grows to 306mAh from 294mAh on the first-generation model — most of this is likely the result of the much more power-efficient Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 chip inside.
Likewise, while Google suggests that the Pixel Watch 2 can now charge a bit faster, reaching 100% in 75 minutes, the magnetic charger shipped with the Pixel Watch 2 actually gets it to 70% in 30 minutes and reaches the top after only 55 minutes. The original Pixel Watch still runs closer to the 80-minute charge time that Google promised for it last year.
The Google Pixel Watch 2 maintains the same pricing as the first-generation Pixel Watch. The Wi-Fi-only variant is priced at $350, whereas the Wi-Fi + LTE variant runs for $400.
The Pixel Watch 2 is available directly from Google and the usual assortment of other retailers in polished silver, matte black, and champagne gold, with the standard configurations featuring Google’s Active band in bay, obsidian, hazel, and porcelain colors that complement each case finish.
Google is also selling a bunch of different bands separately, including new metal mesh, stainless steel, and Italian leather bands. While most of the others 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.
The Google Pixel Watch 2 is a great example of why it’s always a good idea to wait for the second iteration of a new product. It’s leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor, with significantly better battery life and a powerful new chip to deliver performance that runs circles around the first model. It’s also noticeably lighter and more comfortable to wear and smooth enough to make interacting with it feel like a joy rather than a burden.
If your interest was piqued by the original Pixel Watch, but you were on the fence, the Pixel Watch 2 is a great time to jump in. However, even for those wearing the original Pixel Watch, the second-gen model brings enough to the table that it feels like much more than a one-year upgrade. However, the original Pixel Watch still gets the job done as a basic companion for your Pixel phone and will continue to be supported by Google for a least a couple more years; it’s already getting Wear OS 4 and will still get two more years of software updates after this one.
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