If you’re looking at Wear OS smartwatches, the Pixel Watch 2 should be high on your list.
With Fitbit driving the health and activity experience, it makes for a really powerful smartwatch. And new health features and heart rate algos make it even stronger than before.
If you’re looking to bag a bargain, the Pixel Watch 1 may seem like a good option. But there are reasons why that’s not a good idea.
Read on for our testing and thoughts below.
Pixel Watch 2
The Pixel Watch 1 features a 41mm case size, which while refreshingly unisex, for some users, may feel too small. It may not suit those with larger wrists.
It's a slim and sleek watch with a crown that doesn't appear overly techy.
The stainless steel case, along with a fluoroelastomer strap, feels really premium. But it can be a tad heavy for working out.
The Pixel Watch 2 retains the domed case shape but swaps from stainless steel to recycled aluminum, making it more suitable for exercise and it's better for the planet.
It still only offers one 41mm case size, which again feels a tad small on larger male wrists.
Despite this, it maintains a sleek appearance, and its updated design is better suited for fitness activities.
The AMOLED display is the same 450x450 resolution, which looks fantastic, even if the display area is a tad small at 1.2 inches.
Overall, there’s nothing really to pick between these two visually. The aluminum case does feel better for working out and is a big improvement in terms of sustainability, so the Pixel 2 edges things here.
Wear OS and core features
Pixel Watch 1
Google has announced that the first Pixel Watch will get an upgrade to Wear OS 4 – so it will essentially have the same base features as the Pixel Watch 2.
That means that all the same apps, tiles, the new sleep-tracking features, and heart rate zone metrics will be shared across both.
Wear OS has dramatically improved in the last couple of years, and is no longer a poor cousin of watchOS from Apple.
The Google Play Store now has plentiful good quality apps, and it takes advantage of things like Google Assistant and Google Wallet, with Google Pay.
Google has doubled down on glanceability, so swiping from the watch face will show customizable Tiles, which show off snippets of key information from your apps.
So there’s nothing to pick between these two in terms of their basic features.
However, the Pixel Watch 2 does add a handful of health features as we'll discuss below.
Pixel Watch 1
The first Pixel Watch is no slouch when it comes to health features and brings across most elements of Fitbit’s health platform.
It tracks activity, sleep, and Active Zone Minutes – and has ECG on board too, so it can be used to spot-check for heart rate.
Fitbit’s sleep tracking and activity monitoring are some of the best in the business, and the Pixel Watch uses that to its advantage to be one of the top health smartwatches going.
However, some of the more advanced features, including sleep analysis and long-term trend data, require a Fitbit Premium subscription.
It’s all pretty much the same story for the Pixel Watch 2, but with the addition of the cEDA and skin temperature sensor from the Sense 2.
These sensors provide insights into stress levels, HRV, and more, making it a more advanced health monitoring device.
Like the Sense 2, the Pixel Watch 2 will ask for feedback on how you feel, when stress triggers are identified. While it wasn't something that we connected with during our review, this is likely to become more useful when Fitbit assimilates some of the AI features unveiled at the Pixel Watch 2 launch.
That means it could use AI to learn what stresses you out and connect it with things kike activity and exercise.
Pixel Watch 2
The Pixel Watch 1 utilized Fitbit's fitness tracking capabilities, but it had issues with accurately tracking heart rate during strenuous workouts.
The Pixel Watch 2 features a revamped multi-path optical heart rate sensor with new machine learning-based algorithms developed by Google.
These are designed to improve the accuracy during workouts, particularly during peak zones.
In our testing, we found excellent accuracy across a range of workout types and intensities, and a much-improved experience over the first Pixel Watch.
Elsewhere, GPS accuracy was much the same across the two devices.
In short, the new heart rate algorithms make the Pixel Watch 2 much the better option here, if you like to workout with your smartwatch.
And the benefits of the Wear OS app ecosystem mean you'll find plenty of great quality third party fitness apps to choose from, including Strava.
Pixel Watch 1
We slammed the Pixel Watch 1 for its limited battery life, which often wouldn’t make it through a single day.
The use of an older Exynos processor was a serious issue, and marred an otherwise excellent debut as a smartwatch. In 2022, after a decade of smartwatch innovation, that really shouldn’t have been allowed to happen.
The Pixel Watch 2 offers improved battery life, providing a full day of usage. In our testing, we routinely got the quotedn24 hours, even with a workout in the day.
However, for many people, 24 hours is simply not enough. And just because the Pixel Watch 2 will usually last a day, that doesn’t end battery life anxiety. Thinking about charging still takes up a significant amount of headspace, when it should take up none.
The Pixel Watch 2 is a significant step forward compared to the Pixel Watch 1. It provides a more robust and user-friendly experience with improved design and advanced health and fitness features.
While both watches face challenges with battery life, the Pixel Watch 2 offers better value for the price and is the preferred choice for those seeking an Android-compatible smartwatch.
We'd avoid the original Pixel Watch and thoroughly recommend the Pixel Watch 2. But if battery life is still on your mind, then try the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 instead.
How we test