Tech-tober is in full swing as if it weren't already obvious with the onslaught of announcements, device launches, and a random Amazon Prime Day part two thrown in the mix. But above all of the noise, there's something that has left me with a bunch of mixed feelings, and that's the Pixel Watch.
I was lucky enough to receive the Pixel Watch for Android Central's review, as this is (to me, at least) one of the biggest product launches in years. As I noted in the review, Google's wearable platform has been around for years, and we've been "left on read" as the development of the Pixel Watch progressed until now.
We've definitely been spoiled
But if you look around at the different reviews, you could say that the overall feeling is split between being pretty good or not. Pretty much all of those reviews, with the exception of one or two, point to battery life being a "complaint." I would argue that while battery life could definitely be better, it's not as bad as others are making it out to be.
Don't believe me? Take a look at the Apple Watch Series 8. Apple rates its most recent smartwatch to last "just" 18 hours on a single charge. Now, keep in mind, this isn't a first-generation product, as Apple has been in the wearable game since 2015. Would you believe that the Apple Watch Series 0 and Apple Watch Series 8 are rated for the same amount of battery life? 18 hours. And that's with being able to control everything from the silicon to the software, and everything in between.
Google's first attempt comes in with a 24-hour rating, offering six more hours of battery, while also being less expensive. But here's the real problem — we've been spoiled. Samsung's Galaxy Watch 5 is rated for up to fifty hours, which is crazy enough. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro? A staggering EIGHTY hours. Of course, these ratings are in perfect condition, going through a series of tests that are finely tuned in order to provide the best results possible, and aren't exactly achievable.
So when you think about the 24 hours offered by the Pixel Watch, it looks like a joke. In reality, that's not the case and is actually pretty solid. It's not great, hell it's not even good. It's just, solid. The Pixel Watch will be able to make it through the day with ease. You can throw it on the charger in the morning while you're getting ready, and leave with enough juice to make it through the day.
My new go-to Android wearable
There's a reason why I am so high on the Pixel Watch and why, even with the smaller screen and missing sensors, it has become my go-to wearable as I put the Pixel 7 Pro through its paces. Going back to what I said previously, it's very important to remember that this is Google's first attempt at a consumer-ready smartwatch.
I'll probably be laughed out of the room, but the mainstream smartwatch market needed the Pixel Watch to arrive. Ignoring the frustrations and issues with the availability of Wear OS 3 on non-Samsung wearables, the market is just stagnant. It's the same "problem" that we're seeing with the best Android phones, as you can only iterate on a slab of aluminum and glass so many times before it gets old. This is why foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Vivo X Fold, and Surface Duo 2 are so intriguing.
But the difference there is that phone makers have a bit more to work with when it comes to smartphones. Now that the technology is available, OEMs can create devices that are both innovative and can appeal to a mass market. The same can't be said about the best smartwatches, with only a few companies really being able to introduce anything unique, such as the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar's ability to recharge using a solar charging lens.
So where does the Pixel Watch land? Well, it gives the market another option, which is never a bad thing. We're still awaiting the arrival of new smartwatches with Wear OS 3 out of the box, and we should be seeing more of those over the next few months. But Google's smartwatch is out now and it's providing the true Apple Watch competitor for Android that we've wanted since the arrival of the Moto 360 and LG G Watch.
The Pixel Watch, with its stainless steel chassis, not only looks fantastic, but it also performs much better than expected. And that's by using the same processor that was found in the original Galaxy Watch. Granted, Google did the right thing and load up the Pixel Watch with plenty of RAM, storage, and a dedicated co-processor. But I would go so far as to say that the only smartwatch currently capable of rivaling the Apple Watch in terms of fluidity is the Pixel Watch.
Sleek, smooth, and an excellent first-attempt
Both the Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro that I have are fantastic smartwatches in their own right, and a few frustrations are eased by the fact that I also own a Samsung smartphone. But there have been times when the interface would freeze up when trying to view a notification, or wouldn't respond to input when jumping around the interface. Of course, it's entirely possible that the next Pixel Watch update could burn the whole thing down, but so far, it's been an absolute joy to use.
Another aspect that should be appealing is that regardless of whether you own a phone like the OnePlus 10T, Pixel 7, or any of the best cheap Android phones, you're getting the same experience across the board. Obviously, it works with all Android phones, but what I mean is that you won't have to worry about some features not working just because you aren't using a Pixel. I understand that Samsung has a lion's share of the market in the Android space, but to lock health and fitness tracking features based on what phone it's paired to simply continues to boggle my mind.
While there are some things I would like to see from a Pixel Watch 2, I'll save those for another time. Seriously, if you have the budget and are looking for a new smartwatch, take the Pixel Watch for a spin. It's a really enjoyable experience, and you might come away liking it more than you would think. I know I have.
A pleasant companion
It's not the perfect smartwatch, and it doesn't do much better than the competition, but the Pixel Watch is an excellent first-attempt from Google.
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Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.