So there I was on an average Tuesday afternoon, writing an article and jamming out to some great tunes when all of a sudden my wife came downstairs to tell me she had bad news. One of our rabbits got behind the charging bench and severed my Pixel Watch charger in one quick bite, eliminating the only way I could charge my favorite smartwatch.
No big deal, I say, it'll probably charge on one of the many great wireless chargers I have lying around, right? So I tried my Belkin one. Nope. How about the Spigen one? Nadda. Motorola? That didn't work either.
Hey, maybe the Galaxy Watch 5 charger would work? They're both round and magnetically snap onto the back of the watch.
The only remaining option was to drive to Best Buy and pay $30 for a stupid official Google cable or wait a few days until Amazon brings me one of the cheaper off-brand chargers I found after a quick search.
But why in the world is it this difficult to wirelessly charge a watch that came out at the end of 2022? How in the world could Google have thought shipping a watch with a proprietary charger was an OK thing to do in this day in age when e-waste is a massive global issue? And will the Pixel Watch 2 suffer the same fate that G did? That obscure reference, and more, await you in my tale of horror and woe that is to come.
A certain lack of standards
Like most wearable devices, the Google Pixel Watch ships with a charger that's designed to work only with the Pixel Watch. It's custom molded to fit the design of the watch and conveniently attaches to the watch via a set of magnets to ensure that your watch charges quickly and effectively.
But, despite the fact that the Pixel Watch charges wirelessly via this charger, the Pixel Watch doesn't actually support wireless charging standards. More bizarrely, the Pixel Watch doesn't support Google's official Pixel Charging Stand and can't even charge using the reverse wireless charging/power sharing feature on Pixel phones — or any other Android phone, for that matter.
What you see in the photo above won't charge the watch even though it'll charge a pair of wireless earbuds that support wireless charging, and that's really just crazy.
While I'm annoyed with Google here, Google isn't the only one with this problem. Samsung's Galaxy Watch line also doesn't support Qi Wireless Charging which is the wireless charging standard that all of your phones and earbuds support. Oh, they'll charge wirelessly on any supported accessory but, like Google, Samsung uses some silly proprietary standard that it ultimately shouldn't.
As Michael Hicks wrote last year, smartwatch charging is an unsolvable mess. Wireless standards are hard to cram into a small smartwatch package so companies often have to find ways to make their own.
On the flip side, companies like Garmin use the same proprietary plug-in charger for all their products but it doesn't change the fact that I'd still have to buy a special charger if one of those gets messed up or lost.
On the bright side, I only have to spend $14 to get a new charging cable that comes with a handy stand which, in all actuality, improves upon the charger that shipped in the Pixel Watch box.
But it won't save this cable from centuries of wasting away in a landfill because I don't have anything else to do with it. And it ultimately means that I have to buy yet another cable that'll clutter up the charging cabinet and almost certainly get chewed up by a rabbit on a random day of the week.
Allegedly, this cable uses "bulletproof" aramid fiber inside, but are rabbit teeth stronger than bullets?
Maybe I should just make rabbit stew, instead.
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