Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 9: Which should you buy?

The rivalry between Google and Apple — which began nearly a decade and a half ago with the unveiling of the first versions of Android and iOS — continues unabated to this day. While smartphones have always been (and still remain) at the forefront of this battle, they're now simply a part of competing ecosystems that are comprised of a variety of other products, such as smartwatches.

Speaking of smartwatches, let's compare the recently launched Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 9 and find out which one of these wearables deserves to be on your wrist. Much like the newest Pixel 8 and iPhone 15 series, these wearables are direct competitors.

Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 9: Design, display, and hardware

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There's no denying that Pixel Watch 2 and Series 9 are two of the most premium and well-made smartwatches currently available out there. Both have cases made from recycled aluminum (with Apple's offering also having a Stainless-Steel version) and allow you to pick from a wide range of band styles that are compatible with last-gen models.

However, there's one key design difference between the two. While Apple Watch Series 9 sports a rectangular housing, Google's offering comes with a round housing. This difference allows Google Pixel Watch 2 to better imitate the look and feel of a real wristwatch. That said, Apple's offering actually looks like the smart wearable that it is.

Google Pixel Watch 2 hands-on

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Available in only one case size (41mm diameter), Google Pixel Watch 2 has a 1.2-inch AMOLED display that can reach up to 1000 nits of peak brightness. On the other hand, Apple Watch Series 9 comes in two case sizes (41mm x 35mm and 45mm x 38mm) and lets you choose from 1.7-inch and 1.9-inch LTPO OLED displays, with each capable of reaching up to 2000 nits of peak brightness. Although both of these screens are gorgeous to look at, the use of LTPO tech should also help in making Apple's offering a bit more energy efficient.

While the smaller screen does make Pixel Watch 2 easier to wear, the larger screen on Series 9 is capable of showing more information at a time. Apple's offering is also going to be a lot more readable under direct sunlight, as it can get twice as bright as Google's wearable. Both displays are well-protected (Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the Pixel Watch 2 and Sapphire/Ion-X Glass on the Series 9) against everyday scuffs and scratches and are also IP6X-certified with up to 50m of water resistance.

apple watch series 9 lifestyle image 1

(Image credit: Apple)

Both Pixel Watch 2 and Series 9 have a digital crown (complete with haptic feedback) for navigation. In addition, there's a dedicated side button, a microphone, as well as a speaker on both smartwatches.

Google Pixel Watch 2 features Qualcomm's 5100 SoC, which is much better than the Exynos chipset used by the previous-gen model. Combine that with 2GB RAM and 32GB of storage, and this thing will effortlessly handle just about everything thrown at it. You're not likely to run into any performance issues with Apple Watch Series 9 either, since it comes with the company's brand-new S9 SiP that's both faster and more efficient, along with 64GB of storage.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Google Pixel Watch 2Apple Watch Series 9
Dimensions41 x 41 x 12.3 mm41 x 35 x 10.7 mm & 45 x 38 x 10.7 mm
Band OptionsTwo sizes (small & large), with multiple colors and material choicesOne size (for each variant), with multiple colors and material choices
Display1.2-inch circular AMOLED with 1,000 nits peak brightness and Always-On Display. Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection1.7-inch & 1.9-inch square LTPO OLED with 2,000 nits maximum brightness and Always-On Display. Sapphire/Ion-X Glass protection
Durability & Case Material(s)IP6X certification with 50m water resistance. Recycled AluminumIP6X certification with 50m water resistance. Recycled Aluminum or Stainless-Steel
Weight31g31.9 and 32.1g (41mm size, Aluminum), 42.3g (41mm, Stainless-Steel) & 38.7 and 39g (45mm, Aluminum), 51.5g (45mm, Stainless Steel)
Color OptionsPolished Silver, Champagne Gold, and Matte BlackPink, Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and Product (RED) for Aluminum & Gold, Silver, and Graphite for Stainless-Steel
Chipset / ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon Wear 5100 SoCApple S9 SiP
RAM & Storage2GB & 32GBUnknown & 64GB
Navigation & Physical ControlsTouchscreen, Digital Crown with Haptic Feedback, and Side ButtonTouchscreen, Digital Crown with Haptic Feedback, and Side Button
SensorsAccelerometer, Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, Magnetometer, Gyroscope, Ambient Light Sensor, Optical Heart Rate, Skin Conductance, Skin Temperature, and SpO2Accelerometer, Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, Gyroscope, Ambient Light Sensor, Optical Heart Rate, Skin Temperature, SpO2, and VO2Max
Wireless ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC, and 4G LTE (optional)Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 5.3, Ultra-Wideband, GPS, NFC, and 4G LTE (optional)
Safety & Emergency FeaturesFall detection, Safety Check, Emergency International Calling, Emergency SOS, and Safety SignalCrash detection, Fall detection, International Emergency Calling, and Emergency SOS
Hands-Free UsageVoice Control via Google AssistantVoice Control via Siri
OtherBuilt-In Speaker & MicrophoneBuilt-In Speaker & Microphone
Battery & Charging306mAh with up to 24 hours endurance. Fast-charging support via charging puck (with USB-C)282mAh (41mm) and 306mAh (45mm) with up to 18/36 hours (normal/low power mode) endurance. Fast-charging support via magnetic charging puck (with USB-C)
OS / Platform CompatibilityWear OS 4 / Smartphones running Android 9.0 or abovewatchOS 10 / Smartphones running iOS 14.3 or above

Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 9: Health and fitness-tracking features

Google Pixel Watch 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 are two of the best smartwatches for fitness, and for good reason. As the table above shows, both pack an impressive array of powerful sensors that help you monitor, record and analyze a plethora of health and wellness data. This includes your heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, body temperature, sleep quality and duration, stress levels, and a whole lot more. They can also serve notifications about fluctuations in these important parameters.

Google Pixel Watch 2 hands-on

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Both wearables are capable of automatically detecting a number of workouts (e.g., indoor & outdoor running, cycling, elliptical training, rowing, and pool swimming) and logging a broad spectrum of associated information (e.g., calories burned, steps taken), which is then turned into useful, actionable insights. In the case of the Pixel Watch 2, this is made possible by the deep Fitbit integration and Wear OS 4, the operating system that runs Google's smartwatch. Similarly, the Series 9 is driven by watchOS 10, which includes its own set of fitness-focused features that help you get the most out of Apple's smartwatch.

Google Pixel Watch 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 are complemented by their respective subscription-based services (Fitbit Premium and Fitness+) that provide extra benefits (e.g.: guided workouts, personalized training sessions, etc.). But even though you don't need these subscriptions for tracking your health and fitness metrics, Google still paywalls some data (e.g., sleep profiles) behind Fitbit Premium. Conversely, Apple lets you view everything without paying a dime. If you subscribe to Fitness+, you get access to real-time workout stats, expert advice from trainers, and stuff like that.

Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 9: OS, other features, and battery life

Powering the Pixel Watch 2 is Wear OS 4, which debuted on Samsung's Galaxy Watch 6 series (albeit with One UI customizations) earlier this year. The freshest version of Google's smartwatch-oriented OS brings a lot to the table, including some new apps (both from Google and third parties), improved text-to-speech support, and the ability to backup & restore smartwatch data.

apple watch series 9 lifestyle image 2

(Image credit: Apple)

Then there's the Series 9, which is powered by watchOS 10. Apple's latest OS packs features such as redesigned apps, stackable widgets, elevation alerts, offline maps, and some enhancements for enterprise users.

When it comes to personal safety, both Google Pixel Watch 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 have you covered. They can detect falls and notify emergency services as needed. In addition, you get international emergency calling (in supported regions) and the ability to share relevant information (e.g., location) with your designated contacts. To that end, both smartwatches have everything — from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to GPS and LTE (optional) — included in the mix.

The Pixel Watch 2 features a 306mAh battery that Google claims can go up to 24 hours on a single charge. We haven't reviewed the wearable yet, but considering that the first-gen Pixel Watch easily lasted a day with an older SoC, we're quite hopeful Google's newest smartwatch will at least match, if not exceed its predecessor's performance. The bundled charging puck supports fast charging and can take the battery from zero to fifty in just half an hour, slowing down on its way to a full charge.

Google Pixel Watch 2 hands-on

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Apple never discloses the battery capacity of its devices, but that information usually comes out via other sources. That's true for the Series 9 too, which has 282mAh and 308mAh batteries for the 41mm and 45mm sizes, respectively. While these capacities are unchanged from the Series 8 models, Apple's latest wearable should be able to hit its claimed numbers — up to 18 hours (with regular use) and up to 36 hours (with low power mode enabled) — thanks to the use of more efficient hardware. Fast charging is supported in this case as well, using the bundled magnetic charging puck.

Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 9: Which should you buy?

Google Pixel Watch 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 represent the absolute best that the two companies have to (currently) offer in the realm of wearable technology. Both are fully loaded smartwatches having advanced health tracking capabilities, app support, voice calling, the ability to listen to your favorite tunes, and a lot more. At $349 (Pixel Watch 2) and $399 (Series 9), the base models — that lack 4G LTE for untethered messaging and voice calling — are even priced quite close to each other. But the question is, which of these is the right pick for you?

Google Pixel Watch 2 hands-on

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Well, here's the thing! The Pixel Watch 2 and Series 9 aren't individual products that exist in a vacuum. As I mentioned before, they're parts of two rival ecosystems. If you want to use these smartwatches and realize their full potential, you're going to have to pair them with companion devices(s) belonging to the same family. It should come as no surprise that Google Pixel Watch 2 only works with Android smartphones (especially Pixels), while Apple Watch Series 9 only works with iPhones. In fact, you can't even set these up if you don't have the right smartphone.

So, as amazing as both of these wearables are, the ideal choice for you is ultimately going to be the one that plays nice with the ecosystem of your preference. It really is as simple as that. Already have one of the best Android phones and want a smartwatch that'll take your experience to the next level? You'll love the Pixel Watch 2. It features enhanced app support, a truckload of health & fitness features, and superfast platform updates. Have a thing for iPhones and would love a smartwatch that can do it all? The Series 9 will be perfect for you. It comes with powerful yet efficient hardware and makes tracking all of your health & fitness data a walk in the park.

Rajat Sharma

When Rajat got his first PC—a Pentium III machine with 128MB of RAM and a 56kbps dial-up modem—back in 2001, he had little idea it would mark the beginning of a lifelong love affair with gadgets. That fascination, combined with a penchant for writing and editing, ultimately led to him becoming a technology journalist. Some of Rajat's other interests include Photography, Hand Lettering, and Digital Typography. He's also somewhat obsessed with wrist-worn timepieces, and appreciates a Casio just as much as a Jaeger-LeCoultre.