Google Pixel Watch review: An obvious first attempt that fails to impress

    Priced at £339 and £379 with 4G LTE, it’s not cheap either

    It’s been a long time coming but Google’s first attempt at a smartwatch has finally materialised in the form of the Google Pixel Watch. 

    The Google Pixel Watch is the company’s first wearable device after it acquired fitness wearable giant, Fitbit, in 2021.

    At first glance, the Pixel Watch looks…just like a watch. Google has gone with a circular shape for its smartwatch ‘inspired by a classic timepiece’.

    The circular 3D domed Gorilla Glass screen and stainless steel body are sleek and sophisticated to look at but is uncomfortable to wearing when asleep.

    Unfortunate, as one of the Pixel Watch’s selling points is its sleep tracking feature with Fitbit.

    As someone used to wearing a smartwatch on the regular, the Google Pixel felt unusually cumbersome on the wrist. This is likely due to the curved shape that makes the watch’s dial sticks out a bit more than you’d like on your wrist and it doesn’t exactly lie flat on your skin.

    The noticeably large bezels make it a task to read on the 3 cm display (Picture: Anugraha Sundaravelu)

    The Pixel Watch comes with a 20mm high-quality rubber band, that fastens to the body with a unique attachment mechanism inspired by how a camera lens attaches to a camera body, according to Google. However, this can be a bit tricky to get on the first go.

    Its always-on display can go up to 1000 nits of brightness but drains the battery pretty quickly. More on that later.

    The 41×12.3 mm watch has 32GB of storage, weighs 36 g without the band and has 50 m water resistance.

    The Google Pixel Watch works with Android 8.0+ phones and is powered with Wear OS. It is available in two connectivity configurations: built-in 4G LTE or Bluetooth/WiFi only.

    Its UI is clean and minimal with the information you need at a glance on its tiles and customisable watch faces. The Pixel Watch earns points for its smooth, responsive interface.

    Having Google Assistant built-in was handy, saying ‘Hey Google!’ to set an alarm or asking for coffee shops nearby. Getting turn-by-turn directions from Google Maps on your wrist is also a plus.

    The watch’s dial sticks out a bit more than you’d like on your wrist and it doesn’t exactly lie flat on your skin (Picture: Anugraha Sundaravelu)

    If you’re into the Google ecosystem, the Pixel Watch gives you the ability to control Google Nest smart home products directly from the watch face. 

    However, I wasn’t a fan of the circular display which shaves off valuable space for notifications and text. The noticeably large bezels make it a task to read on the 3 cm display. Typing a quick response on the tiny keyboard was a whole other chore that I’d rather avoid.

    The display can also be used as a viewfinder for your Pixel phone’s camera; a feature you can easily live without.

    Coming to the Google Pixel Watch’s main selling point: a deep integration with Fitbit. With heart rate tracking, step counting, 40 exercise modes, built-in GPS and Active Zone Minutes, this is a smartwatch for Fitbit fans.

    Existing Fitbit users can pick up where they left off from their current device without losing any stats or personal data.

    Typing a quick response on the tiny keyboard is especially difficult (Picture: Anugraha Sundaravelu)

    On the Health Metrics Dashboard in the Fitbit app, you’ll get your key metrics like breathing rate, heart rate variability etc.

    To unlock its advanced features like Daily Readiness Score and Sleep Score Breakdown you’ll need Fitbit Premium. With the Pixel Watch, you get the first six months for free, after which you’ll need to pay £7.99 a month to get the best experience from the watch.

    The Pixel Watch also has an electrocardiogram (ECG) tool but lacks the skin temperature sensor that its competitors have.

    The watch is equipped with an SOS feature to alert emergency responders or trusted contacts when you’re in an emergency or feeling unsafe. However, fall detection is only coming to the Pixel Watch in 2023.

    Finally, it disappoints with battery life, falling short of its supposed 24 hours. A full day’s use with the heart rate, health and activity tracking, having the always-on display turned on meant I needed to charge it at least once a day.

    You can get turn-by-turn directions from Google Maps on your wrist (Picture: Anugraha Sundaravelu)

    The Google Pixel Watch lets you make contactless payments, receive phone calls and check mobile notifications without looking at your phone. Basically, it does everything a smartwatch is supposed to do but nothing more.

    Bringing together the hardware smarts of Google and the fitness tracking component of Fitbit should potentially make for a top-notch smartwatch but the first-generation product does not blow you away.

    While its competitors have had five to eight iterations to roll out impressive features and work out their kinks, Google has a long way to go to stand out from the smartwatches on the market.

    Priced at £339 and £379 with 4G LTE, it’s not cheap either.

    So, unless you’re a Fitbit enthusiast or deeply integrated into the Google ecosystem, the Google Pixel Watch likely won’t change your life.

    Google Pixel Watch: the details

    Name: Google Pixel Watch

    Price: £339

    What’s good:

    • Google Assistant built in
    • Simple and clean UI
    • Fitbit integration

    What’s bad:

    • Battery life
    • Screen feels too small
    • Uncomfortable to wear at night

    Where can I buy one? The Google Pixel Watch is for sale through Google’s online store right here.

    MORE : Google launches Pixel 7 phones and a new smartwatch to tempt you away from Apple

    MORE : Apple Watch Ultra review: An elite fitness watch and Apple’s best for years

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