The Google Pixel Watch is a missed opportunity, and while there’s nothing wrong with its simple minimalist design and basic features, we think Google could have done much better — especially given its price.
Although a sequel won’t arrive for a while yet, we’ve already got plenty of ideas about what it needs to do to make the Pixel Watch 2 worth buying. It’s a long and lengthy list, but they’re all things Google needs to seriously consider whenever the next Pixel Watch is ready for showtime.
The single-size, 41mm Google Pixel Watch looks great on some wrists, but not all wrists. Google’s decision to only make a modestly sized smartwatch isn’t the problem, it’s the fact that it only made one version. Not all wrists are the same size, and as both Apple and Samsung understand this, it’s a surprise Google did not.
For the Pixel Watch 2, Google needs to make two sizes. The 41mm model is great as the smaller option, but a larger model needs to be offered for those who either have larger wrists or simply like wearing a bigger watch. By doing so, the Pixel Watch 2 will instantly become more attractive to more people.
Making two different sizes is a great start to increasing the appeal of the Pixel Watch’s sequel, but as we’ve seen recently, there is a market for special, more focused smartwatches too. The current trend is for rugged outdoor versions, such as the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and the Apple Watch Ultra, but there’s plenty of space for an alternative.
Huawei has shown how partnering with a respected watch brand, in its case Porsche Design, can produce a high-quality, desirable special-edition smartwatch. Google has already worked closely with Montblanc on integrating Wear OS 3 into the Summit 3. A luxury version of the Pixel Watch 2 would work just as well as a rugged version.
However, what we’d really like is for Google to make the Swatch of smartwatches — with different colors, sizes, and designs. Google didn’t think outside the box for the Pixel Watch, and the result is formulaic and a little dull. The Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro show how it understands colors and eye-catching design, and using this knowledge on a special edition of the Pixel Watch 2 would make it exciting in a way the Pixel Watch just isn’t.
The Pixel Watch lacks fitness features considered standard on many competing smartwatches. It also fails to innovate in the same way Apple has done on the Apple Watch Series 8 with features like crash detection. Google hasn’t just got to catch up with the Pixel Watch 2 — it needs to surpass the competition.
Looked at from an outsider’s point of view, this really shouldn’t be that difficult. Google isn’t short of brains or budget, and it also has the Fitbit team’s extensive knowledge of fitness -racking software and hardware on hand. The days of a smartwatch only tracking heart rate and a few exercise sessions are long gone. Apple is investing in making its smartwatch a complete health-tracking device, and Google should be doing the same.
We don’t care how you do it, Google — just make the bezel far less noticeable on the Pixel Watch 2. Whether this is by using a different screen, changing the design of the smartwatch, or by adding a physical bezel to reduce the visual impact, the bezel shouldn’t be as visually obvious as it is now.
Why does this matter? Watch faces don’t need to all have black backgrounds — it stops us from thinking the usable screen area is much larger than it actually is, and it’ll make the smartwatch look much more modern. Again, most other smartwatches don’t have such an in-your-face bezel, so there’s no good reason for the Pixel Watch to turn back the clock and bring the bezel back.
It’s difficult to extend the battery life on such a small device, but less than a day’s worth of battery power simply isn’t good enough. Are we asking for a week? No, but we do expect a smartwatch to power through a full day and night when using all its features and ability. The future Pixel Watch absolutely needs to deliver the power required to use it on a daily basis.
How should Google approach this? This is a two-part request, as using a modern processor will undoubtedly help extend the Pixel Watch 2’s battery life. Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 and W5+ Gen are just sitting there waiting to be used, and each promises greater efficiency over previous versions. Considering the Pixel Watch’s Exynos processor is several years old now, using the W5 or its successor can only lead to improvements.
A more modern processor, longer battery life, two case sizes, and possibly even a special edition would make the Pixel Watch 2 not only more desirable to more people, but also let it truly compete with the best smartwatches available now. The problem is Google should have done all this with the Pixel Watch today, and not left it to the sequel to get it right. But since that’s the hand we’ve been dealt, here’s to hoping the Pixel Watch 2 is the Google smartwatch that’s actually worth waiting for.
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