There’s a new smartwatch on the scene, and it comes to you courtesy of Google, the company that brings you the flagship Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro smartphones. Designed as a direct competitor to the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch, the Google Pixel Watch, a new member of the Pixel family, includes numerous health and safety features running on the Wear OS 3.2 platform.
The round-faced Google Pixel is constructed from recycled stainless steel and Corning Gorilla Glass. Its traditional design is reminiscent of classic watches and includes a tactile crown. The device is designed to record information about your health via heart rate tracking, sleep tracking, and assorted workout modes, while an ECG app lets you assess your heart rhythm for AFib. It employs Fitbit’s activity tracking to record stats and monitor your progress.
With your new smartwatch, you may want to explore routines like running, water sports, or gymnastics that work up a sweat. Or maybe you just want a watch you don’t have to worry about while in the shower. Is the Google Pixel Watch up to the tasks you require?
Google says the Pixel Watch complies with a water protection rating of 5 atm under ISO standard 22810:2010. That is the same as the Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Watch. In other words: the Google Pixel Watch is water resistant, but it is not fully waterproof. Moreover, despite the fact that Google says you don’t have to worry about splashes, the company warns that even this water resistance is not permanent and will drop over time with normal wear, not to mention damage. For example, accidentally dropping your watch may degrade its water resistance. While the Google Pixel Watch is designed to be used in shallow water, it should not be used for high-velocity or high-temperature aquatic activities.
ATM stands for standard atmospheres, which for smartwatches refers to the water pressure — not depth — that a device can withstand as measured in meters. Technically, a 5 atm watch can tolerate being submerged in water up to 164 feet or 50 meters. That’s calculated by multiplying the atm rating by 10 to equal 50 meters.
Why all the hocus pocus around measuring atmospheres? Would it not be simpler to multiply the rated number by 10 and be done with it? No, it’s more complicated than that because the starting point for atmospheric pressure is sea level, which is defined as 10 meters or 33 feet. Every 10 feet you descend below sea level adds one bar (33 feet or 10 meters) of water pressure to the atmospheric pressure. The measurement does not signify depth but rather static pressure at that depth.
To state that the Pixel Watch can withstand water pressure up to 50 meters just means Google has tested the watch at a force equal to 50 meters of pressure.
While Google has been less than explicit so far about exactly how much water the Pixel Watch can survive, based on real-world experience with similarly rated watches, you can likely get away with exercise and exposure to sweat, getting caught in the rain, accidental submersion, showering, and washing your hands. Your watch may also withstand shallow-water swimming or snorkeling in a pool or ocean — but not diving, water skiing, deeper submersions, or high-velocity water.
Because the ATM rating refers to static pressure — like testing in a quiet lab or test center under controlled conditions — any dynamic pressure caused by an unpredictable real-world environment may increase the pressure of water exposure that could cause your watch to malfunction.
The Google Pixel Watch comes in an assortment of color/strap combos: Matte Black case with an Obsidian Active band; Polished Silver case with a Charcoal Active band; Polished Silver case with a Chalk Active band; and Champagne Gold case with a Hazel Active band. There are plenty of additional accessory watch bands of varying materials and colors, from woven, stretch, and two-tone leather to crafted leather. Metal mesh and metal link bands are expected next year. Not all of these bands will stand up well to immersion or even light splashing. Google recommends drying the watch and band after any exposure to liquid to protect your watch, band, and skin.
The Google Pixel Watch price starts at $350 for the Bluetooth/Wi-Fi model and $400 for the 4G LTE + Bluetooth/Wi-Fi edition.
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