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Google unveils Pixel Watch, starts at $349

Google’s Pixel Watch is officially here, and it’s easily the most beautiful, functional smartwatch to hit the market since Apple (AAPL) debuted the Apple Watch in 2014.

Available Oct. 13 and starting at $349, the Pixel Watch is Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) first in-house smartwatch. For years, the company has powered third-party smartwatches from partners such as Michael Kors or Fossil via its Wear OS software. It even teamed up with Samsung to bring its WearOS software to the tech giant’s own wrist-worn computers.

Now Google is building a watch of its own — and it's armed with a slew of new fitness capabilities including suggested workouts and sleep tracking it gained via its $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit in 2021. This watch makes the rest of the Android-friendly watches out there look bland by comparison. I’ve even got a twinge of buyer’s remorse after dropping $429 on my new Apple Watch Series 8 before checking out the Pixel Watch.

Here are some of its top features:

  • Refined, circular design

  • Fitbit exercise tracking and workouts

  • 24 hours of battery life

  • Compact size

Maybe the best looking smartwatch around

Unlike the Apple Watch, which sports a square design, the Pixel Watch has a classic rounded look. And while there are plenty of round smartwatches, like the Galaxy Watch 5, the Pixel Watch differs by pushing its display all the way out to its edges. The result is what feels like a smooth, domed piece of glass that looks elegant with a leather band and sporty with a woven strap.

Google has finally introduced its long-awaited Pixel Watch. (Image: Google)
Google has finally introduced its long-awaited Pixel Watch. (Image: Google)

Packing a 41mm face, the Pixel Watch isn’t a particularly large smartwatch. In fact, it matches up with the base model of the Apple Watch, which is available with either a 41mm or 45mm face.

I wear a 45mm Apple Watch, and while the Pixel Watch felt smaller, I didn’t feel as though I was missing out on additional data a larger screen might afford. That said, I haven’t used the watch to check texts or emails on my own, so I’ll have to wait until I actually get my hands on the Pixel Watch to see if my initial impressions hold up.

On the left side of the watch you’ll find its haptic crown and a secondary side button. The crown allows you to scroll through apps and messages, while the button lets you pull up app screens.

The Pixel Watch is the best-looking smartwatch since Apple introduced the Apple Watch/ (Image: Google)
The Pixel Watch is the best-looking smartwatch since Apple introduced the Apple Watch. (Image: Google)

The Pixel Watch also comes equipped with a heart rate monitor, blood oxygen sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and altimeter — basically everything you’d expect out of a modern, premium smartwatch. And while it doesn’t have fall detection out of the box, Google says it’s adding the feature later this winter.

Like other smartwatches, you’ll be able to customize the Pixel Watch’s face with different styles and complications including your activity, heart rate, weather, calendar, and more. Since the Pixel Watch runs on Google’s Wear OS, the company touts its ability to take advantage of the Google Assistant to do things like send messages, and connect to Google’s smart home products to control things like the lights in your house.

Google says the Pixel Watch is also water resistant and gets as much as 24 hours of battery life without its always-on display enabled. Turn on the always-on display and that’ll likely drop by about 20%.

Fitbit on board

What sets the Pixel Watch apart from its smartwatch cohort is that it includes Fitbit’s excellent fitness tracking capabilities. Yes, that makes the Pixel Watch a Google/ Fitbit hybrid. From what I saw in my time with the watch, it offers a litany of exercise options for you to track ranging from running to weightlifting to swimming, not to mention sleep tracking.

All of this feeds into Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score, which helps you better understand if you are rested enough to work out, or if you need to take a break for a bit. You’ll also get recommended exercise routines, and deeper insights into your overall fitness.

Of course, some of this will require a subscription to Fitbit Premium, which costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 for a full year. Google, however, is offering Pixel Watch users a 6-month trial of the service to test it out.

Regardless of how attractive and useful the Pixel Watch is, Google has a difficult fight ahead of it if it’s going to make its smartwatch stand out. According to Counterpoint Research, Apple owned 29% of the global smartwatch market in Q2 2022. Samsung? It controlled 9% of the market, with the rest of it made up of firms like Fitbit, Xiaomi, Garmin, and Amazfit.

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