Ever since Google launched its Pixel-brand phones as a stock showcase for its phone software, Android fans have waited impatiently for a Pixel Watch to jumpstart Google's efforts with Wear OS. Six years later — after years of supposed leaks, delays, and cancellations — Google will finally fulfill that wish this fall.
Unveiled at Google I/O 2022, the Google Pixel Watch is an Android lifestyle watch with an edge-to-edge design, Fitbit integration, a UI that will likely incorporate Material You, and similar hardware to Galaxy Watches of years past.
While the Pixel Watch won't arrive until later this year, we know plenty about it from both Google and leaked information, including possible RAM and battery sizing.
Without any further buildup, let's explore everything we know about the Google Pixel Watch, how it will compare to the best Android smartwatches available now, and what exclusive features it will offer.
Pixel Watch: Release date
Announced at Google I/O 2022, the Google Pixel Watch will ship alongside the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro "this fall."
While Google didn't provide an official release date, both the Pixel 5 and Pixel 6 shipped the last Thursday of October: 10/29 and 10/28, respectively. So it's fair to speculate that the Pixel Watch and Pixel 7 will ship on Thursday, October 27, this year, or another date close to that.
We were originally supposed to see the Pixel Watch last October before Google reportedly delayed the Pixel Watch. It's almost fitting that the watch will arrive exactly one year later.
Pixel Watch: Price and models
Unlike the Pixel Watch release date, we haven't heard anything official from Google about the price, nor has the price leaked. So we can only speculate, as it's likely Google itself hasn't determined a final Pixel Watch price yet.
Google will want it to be competitive against the Galaxy Watch 4 series and Apple Watch Series 7, which would mean a price somewhere in the $250 to $400 range, with Apple's watches on the higher side. It could theoretically go even lower, but Google already has Fitbit to target the $200-and-under crowd. And given Google's commitment to making the Pixel brand affordable, it's not likely to trend any higher.
We do know Google will sell a 4G LTE model, which will likely cost $50 to $100 more based on how other brands price the feature. Otherwise, the Pixel Watch will only come in one case size, unlike the Galaxy Watch 4.
Because the Pixel Watch will support Fitbit integration, you may end up wanting to pay for a Fitbit Premium subscription, which would add an additional $10/month or $80/year on top of the watch's cost. Most Fitbit watches do offer 3-12 months of free premium, so we wonder if Google will bundle that in as well.
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Pixel Watch: Design
The Google Pixel Watch sports a flat, edge-to-edge design that evokes the 2015 Moto 360. It has a rotating crown on the right-center of the case, with buttons on the underside of the casing. This look helps to give the watch an even cleaner look and still maintain functionality.
In terms of color options, we've seen Google show off models with black, gray, and gold casings and black, gray, and lime green bands. We don't yet know if it uses steel or aluminum.
The Pixel Watch uses a proprietary mechanism for attaching bands, which means you can't use your favorite bands from past watches. But a Pixel Watch band leak from 9to5Google indicates you may have seven official band options when it launches.
In the box, you'll have a silicone band and a single rubber band like Apple's Solo Loop; also available on the Google Store will be a stainless steel mesh band, a link bracelet, a fabric band, and two leather bands.
Aside from Google's official renders and press photos, Android Central recently acquired exclusive pictures of the upcoming wearable thanks to an engineering sample being left at a restaurant in the U.S. Based on Google I/O, we now know this sample to be fairly accurate to the final product, and so we've included those photos below, along with other photos he subsequently posted on Reddit.
The person who found the abandoned Pixel Watch explained it will use 20mm bands. He says the protruding crown doesn't hit the back of the wearer's hand when bending their wrist, and that it's more comfortable than the Galaxy Watch 4 despite its rather thick appearance. He did describe the bezels as "pretty substantial," which many will see as a negative.
Pixel Watch: Specs
Google didn't reveal anything official about the Pixel Watch's specs at I/O, but leaks have given us a decent level of info about the upcoming device. Some of it promising... and some of it underwhelming.
In terms of the Pixel Watch's processor, a May leak revealed it will likely use the 2018 Exynos 9110 chipset that first appeared in the original Galaxy Watch. Samsung now uses the Exynos W920 in the Galaxy Watch 4, but Google began designing the watch when the 9110 was the latest hardware, and reportedly didn't redesign the Pixel Watch to incorporate the newer model.
While Samsung's hardware has traditionally beaten Snapdragon Wear chips for consistent performance, we're concerned and disappointed that Google's 2022 watch will rely on somewhat outdated hardware. An analyst we spoke to suggested Samsung may be hoarding its new Exynos W920 chip for Galaxy Watch 4 and 5 models, due to the recent silicon shortage, leaving Google with limited options.
Another subsequent Pixel Watch hardware leak eased the sting of this news a bit. Google may pair the Exynos 9110 with a coprocessor that shares the load for lighter tasks. It allegedly plans to add more RAM than the 1.5GB found in the Galaxy Watch 4: We don't have an exact number, but 2GB seems to be the implication. It could pack a hefty 32GB of storage as well.
In terms of battery life, an insider source told 9to5Google that the Pixel Watch has a battery "just under 300mAh," expected to last a day with regular use. Though, they couldn't share whether that included optional settings like always-on display or sleep tracking. For context, the Galaxy Watch 5 is expected to have a 276mAh battery for the 40mm model, but 391mAh for the 44mm model.
That same source also suggested the watch would take 110 minutes to charge to 100%. That's another knock against the watch, as it means users will have to keep their watch charging for nearly two hours per day with regular use.
Pixel Watch: Software
Google gave us very little official info on Pixel Watch software, but leakers have filled in the gaps and given us a pretty clear picture of it. First, we'll dive into what we do know officially about its software.
It'll require an Android phone running Android 8 or better. We're not surprised that Google won't make the Pixel Watch available for iOS users, even if a few Wear OS watches like the Fossil Gen 6 do connect to iPhones. Google wants to integrate its watch with Android hardware seamlessly, and not enough Apple Watch users would switch to Pixel Watch to make it worth the software effort.
We know it'll use Wear OS 3, though it'll have a different UI spin than the Wear OS 3 found on the Galaxy Watch 4. Specifically, Google says it'll have "refreshed UI and rich notifications." But in many ways, the Pixel Watch will have familiar features to anyone who uses a Wear OS watch or Fitbit tracker.
On the Wear OS side, Google mentions the Pixel Watch will support Google Assistant, Google Maps, and contactless payments through Google Wallet. Aside from the Galaxy Watch 4, most of the best Wear OS watches support Assistant as well as other core Google apps.
As for Fitbit integration, Google says the Pixel Watch will give you continuous heart rate and sleep tracking, Active Zone Minutes, and stat-tracking towards your "personal fitness goals." It also warns that "some features may require Fitbit account and mobile app," which references the fact that it will require a Fitbit Premium subscription to access them.
It'll be interesting to see how the Pixel Watch experience compares to "stock" Fitbit watches like the Fitbit Sense 2 — especially whether the Pixel Watch will offer other sensors besides the HRM, such as SpO2, ECG, or EDA. Without them, the Fitbit health data will be limited compared to much cheaper watches.
Google also mentioned that Pixel Watch "is a natural extension of Google’s helpful Pixel portfolio, joining Pixel phones and Pixel Buds." Similar to how the Apple Watch pairs with your iPhone and AirPods, Google wants to create similar synchronicity with its own devices so you're tempted to buy them.
Google didn't share more details at the time, but a recent APK deep-dive revealed that the Pixel Watch will support a "Smart Unlock" tool where your Android phone remains unlocked if it detects your watch nearby.
Interestingly, the leak referenced a Pixel Watch app, which indicates Google will have you set up your watch with a unique app instead of the current Wear OS app. That could help Google enable some unique Material You features for the Pixel Watch.
Google released a Wear OS 3 emulator last year that revealed rounded, pill-shaped menus that look fairly similar to the UI on the Galaxy Watch 4, and match what Google briefly revealed at Google I/O.
Further emulator digging unveiled a Material You-esque design, with varying color options and watch faces that change color from day to night. One of the changes that came with Wear OS 3 is the option for OEMs to put their own spin on how the UI looks with a "skin." So, it would make sense for Google to give the software on a Pixel Watch a custom look like it did with the release of the Pixel 6.
However unlikely, Google may even support Pixel Watch "skin gestures" based on a 2020 patent. In theory, the watch would use accelerometers to detect finger swipes on the skin around your watch with a “mechanical wave that propagates through the portion of a body of the user between an input region and the wearable device.” Google last tried gimmicky gesture controls with the Soli sensor found on the Pixel 4, so it's not impossible Google would try this.
More to uncover
Google finally acknowledged that the Pixel Watch exists, but didn't tell us much more about it. That makes sense, given the device won't actually ship for months yet. But that also means there's much more to discover about the device in the coming months. We'll keep this hub updated with any more rumors, leaks, or official Pixel Watch info emerges between now and late October.
Stylish, lightweight, and affordable
The Galaxy Watch 4 is one of the best smartwatches money can buy, thanks to its fast Exynos chip, excellent OLED display, and great battery life. Plus, it will seamlessly connect to your Galaxy phone and has the added benefit of optional LTE. If you don't want to wait until fall for the Pixel Watch, this is your best Wear OS alternative.
Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.
- Chris Wedel Senior Editor - Smart Home
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