Google Pixel Watch v Apple Watch Series 8 - all the key differences

Discover how these two flagship smartwatches compare
Series 8 v Pixel Watch
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The long-awaited release of the Google Pixel Watch brings a major smartwatch player to the table, and yet another device looking to knock the Apple Watch Series 8 off its perch.

With plenty of new features, integrations, and a different range of specs, however, the differences may not be immediately clear if you're trying to pick between them.

That's why we've created this quick comparison - finding the six biggest points of difference. Below, we'll distill all the key information from the long-winded product pages and provide some actual context to the specs and claims.

> Google Pixel Watch full review

> Apple Watch Series 8 review

With the Pixel Watch not getting a release until 13 October, just note we haven't yet been able to strap it on our wrists and test it out.

We'll update this guide once we post our full verdict, but, for now, we'll be looking at the smartwatch's on-paper claims against the Series 8.

Top picks: Our top rated smartwatch tested

1. Smartphone compatibility

Series 8 temperature

You're going nowhere fast unless you pick a smartwatch that's actually able to work with your smartphone, and this pairing is quite walled-off, unfortunately.

The Apple Watch Series 8, continuing the tradition, will not work with Android phones. You'll need at least an iPhone 8 running iOS 16 to set it up and use it.

That includes the cellular model of the Series 8. You can't simply take out a separate plan and run it untethered from your smartphone. You also can't set it up with an iPad.

Clapping back at Apple's approach, the Pixel Watch is also Android-only, despite previous versions of Wear OS working with iPhone devices. You'll need Android 8.0 or newer downloaded.

2. Price and cellular

For the Pixel Watch, you're paying $349.99 / £339 for the non-cellular version, while Apple demands at least $399 / £419 for the base edition of the Series 8.

Given the Apple Watch is available in two case sizes, however, and more on that just below, also note the price starts at $429 / £449 for the larger version.

If you want the cellular editions, you'll naturally have to shell out a bit more again. With the Apple Watch, the price stretches to a whopping $499 / £529 to include this feature in the smaller case size (and $529 / £549 for the larger), while the Pixel Watch simply sits at $399 / £379.

The Pixel Watch is considerably cheaper, then, but we should also mention potential subscriptions. To get the most out of tracking insights, like Daily Readiness and in-depth sleep metrics, you'll have to pay for a $9.99-per-month Fitbit Premium subscription.

The Apple Watch has no features locked behind a paywall - unless you include access to Apple Fitness+.

3. Case sizes and materials

We've touched on choosing a case size in the section above when it comes to pricing, but this is also super important from a functionality perspective.

And with the Pixel Watch, you don't actually get a choice. This is a one-size-fits-all smartwatch, and the round case measures in at 41mm. This is kind of surprising, given that 41mm is on the small end of smartwatch case sizes, but it does fit in with the neat and minimalist style of the device, at least.

We'll provide some proper impressions and a variety of on-wrist pictures once we've been able to actually wear the Pixel Watch - but, for now, we'd advise anyone with larger wrists to be cautious.

You do get some choice with the Series 8, on the other hand. Continuing the size dimensions introduced through the Series 7, Apple lets you pick between a 41mm and 45mm case with this generation - and this naturally ensures more people will be able to find the right fit for them.

Just keep in mind that screen size obviously comes down when you choose a smaller case size, and that can quite dramatically affect the on-wrist experience.

4. Wear OS vs. watchOS

Another big consideration is the operating systems that both of these smartwatches run on.

As with the hardware, Apple's watchOS is the long-established benchmark for smartwatch software. It's clean and intuitive, providing an excellent backdrop for things like notifications, fitness tracking, untethered calls, contactless payments and turn-by-turn navigation.

It also boasts an incredible array of customizable watch faces and third-party apps, such as Spotify and Strava.

The Pixel Watch, on the other hand, runs on Google's own Wear OS. It's had a bit of a rocky life, but is now on the up again - and the Pixel Watch appears to be getting one of the first versions that can really match up to Apple.

Time will tell - and, again, we look forward to providing some proper impressions on this - but integration with its own services, such as Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google Wallet and Google Home, appears very promising.

An area Wear OS has historically struggled with - fitness and workout tracking through Google Fit - is also changing, with Fitbit powering all the tracking and health insights for the first time.

Wear OS has plenty of ground to make up, but the early signs are good for the Pixel Watch.

5. Battery life claims

This is naturally a bit of a hard area to compare - especially given the fact we aren't yet able to share full impressions of the Pixel Watch in the real world - but it's important, at least, to know the quoted battery life.

For the Pixel Watch, Google indicates you'll get up to 24 hours, which is up considerably from Apple's claim of 18-hour battery life.

However, that doesn't tell the full story. With the Series 8, you'll almost always be able to stretch that out to around 36 hours, depending on what you're actually doing with the device.

It's rare, in fact, if ever, you'll ever have to put it on charge on consecutive nights.

It remains to be seen if Google's battery life projections for the Pixel Watch are similarly underestimated in actual use.

6. Health tracking sensors

The Apple Watch, like with other areas, has led the way when it comes to providing a broad collection of health features from the wrist.

And the Series 8 delivers the most complete gamut yet, including a new temperature sensor alongside the electrical heart sensor (for ECG readings), blood oxygen sensor and the typical optical heart monitor.

By measuring a user's temperature, the Series 8 is able to retrospectively inform ovulation estimates - and this is the big differentiator between the two smartwatches.

The Pixel Watch, then, includes most of the same sensors - an optical sensor for logging heart rate (once per second, Google says), and can also take ECGs and deliver blood oxygen estimates.

The big thing to note with the Pixel Watch's tracking experience is that some insights will only be available if you're a Fitbit Premium user, as we mentioned earlier. It's not yet clear the extent of this, but we do know that some sleep insights and the Daily Readiness score will be locked behind the paywall.


Conor Allison

By

After starting life in tech journalism as an eager news reporter at Digital Spy, Conor’s enthusiasm was quickly dampened by the never-ending cycle of stories relating to exploding Galaxy Note 7 devices and Donald Trump’s early Twitter antics.

He moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers and VR.

Conor made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

He's gone on to become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to based guides. 

Conor is also a committed cyclist and gym-goer, which enables him to pass judgment on the latest and greatest sports wearables.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large.

With awkward dating and risky commuting in the past, he now spends his days writing, editing, and thinking up new ways to style out testing multiple wearables at once.

Conor has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 


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