Last year, Google first released a smartwatch in a number of countries. Now it is time for the Google Pixel Watch 2, which unlike its predecessor is available in the Netherlands. WANT editor Jeroen Kraak was allowed to test it extensively.
It may sound a little sad, but I couldn’t live my life without a smartwatch. It is the ideal gadget for me to live a healthier life. It motivates me to exercise enough and I easily keep track of my workouts. Therefore, the Google Pixel Watch 2 comes at just the right time.
This is the Google Pixel Watch 2
Google, like Apple and Samsung, wants to move toward its own ecosystem. As a phone you use the Google Pixel 8 or 8 Pro, as earbuds you have the Pixel Buds, and of course there is already a Pixel Tablet. So a smartwatch cannot be missing.
I myself have been using the Apple Watch for several years, and since there is about 50 euros difference between the two gadgets, I want to compare it mainly to that. Of course, you have to keep in mind clearly that that Apple Watch only really works at its best with an iPhone. The same goes for the Pixel Watch 2, of course; it also works best with a Google phone. Indeed, on an iPhone it is useless, since there is no app for the smartwatch.
(Image: Mark Hofman/WANT)
In terms of design, I love the Google Pixel Watch 2. It looks sleek because of the round screen with curved screen bezels. Like the Apple Watch, there are also different types of straps available, so there really is plenty of choice for how you want to wear it.
On the outside are two buttons that work pretty much the same as on the Apple Watch. The crown opens all apps, and the button above it shows you the most recently opened app. Pressing the crown twice opens the Google Wallet. Scrolling from top to bottom brings up the settings. By the way, the crown itself rotates very smoothly and also provides haptic feedback.
Fast Google Pixel Watch 2
Scrolling through the phone works very smoothly. Opening a new app is also lightning fast due to the 2 GB RAM and Qualcomm W5 chip with M33 co-processor.
During testing, I didn’t have a single instance of an app crashing. However, the screen is not always fast due to the refresh rate of 30 Hz. Especially if you want to take a picture using your smartwatch, you can sometimes see how jerky the image can be.
(Image: Mark Hofman/WANT)
What is Google doing with the screen?
What’s immediately noticeable when you scroll through the watch faces is that they’re all black, and there’s a reason for that. The Google Pixel Watch 2 has really huge screen bezels, and the company obviously wants to hide that. Still, you can choose your own photo as a background, and then it really stands out tremendously. Apparently Google can’t really get it thinner yet.
While on the Apple Watch all the apps you have on the smartphone are automatically installed, that is not the case with Google. You have to get them all from the Play Store yourself. What is noticeable in this regard is that the Pixel Watch 2 has considerably fewer apps available compared to Apple’s watch. Then again, it does have a WhatsApp app, something lacking on the Apple Watch.
The Google Watch’s main asset is its connection to Fitbit. Google acquired the smartwatch manufacturer in 2021 for a sloppy $2.1 billion, and that formed the basis for creating the Pixel Watch. Because of Fitbit’s knowledge, it has a good look at your personal health.
You only really get the most out of your Google Pixel Watch 2 with Fitbit Premium because it also gives you more comprehensive analytics. There’s a downside to that, though: the price. Although you get the service free for the first six months with the purchase of your Pixel Watch 2, after that you will really have to pay a fee of 8.99 euros per month.
What is Fitbit?
Fitbit is a well-established company that specializes in wearable fitness trackers and smartwatches. Those products track activities, such as steps, heart rate and sleep. Fitbit syncs this data with smartphones, giving users insight into their health to help them adjust their lifestyle.
When it comes to sports, the smartwatch does excel. For example, if you’re running a lap, the smartwatch is very accurate in determining location and, of course, tracks distances and speed well. Sometimes even more accurate than the Apple Watch. You get to see what zone your heart rate is in and what effects this has on your body, such as the amount of time fat burning takes place.
Stress and sleep
Other facets are nicely covered as well. For example, you measure sleep just fine and it also recognizes if your temperature changes in different days, something that could mean a change in your health, for example.
But mental health is also important. On the Watch, you can also do various breathing exercises. In addition, it can even measure stress, only this feature doesn’t work very well for me. It indicates when you have been stressed. However, when I wasn’t stressed, I did get a notification, and when I did feel stressed, I didn’t get anything at all from the Google Pixel Watch 2.
For the really cool feature, unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a while. Google is working with Fitbit on a feature where the Pixel Watch 2 is going to give you feedback on the workout you did through AI. So you can read what could be improved. But unfortunately, this feature is not here yet, so I have not been able to test it either. It should appear this year.
(Image: Mark Hofman/WANT)
Battery of the Google Pixel Watch 2
The Google Watch’s battery easily lasts a day. What’s nice is that the smartwatch charges lightning fast. It takes just over an hour to charge for 100 percent.
Charging, however, creates another oddity compared to the Apple Watch. It charges sort of semi-wirelessly. There are four dots on the charger that have to sit just right on the watch to charge. So it does not support Qi, which is actually disappointing.
Buy it or leave it?
The Google Pixel Watch 2 is the ideal assistant if you have a Pixel smartwatch. You see your notifications, control your Spotify and do additionally everything works fast, except for the screen perhaps.
However, if I look at the Google Pixel Watch 2 separately from the phone and purely compare the price-quality with, for example, the Apple Watch, which is only 50 euros more expensive, I find it too high. From a 399 euro smartwatch, it’s best to expect that you can just charge it wirelessly and have less large screen bezels. Also, Fitbit Premium really has a value, it’s just a shame that you have to pay extra for it.
Fortunately, for now, you get the Pixel Watch 2 for free if you buy a Pixel Watch 8 Pro. Be sure to check if that store supports the promotion, though. If you are nevertheless late, or you still want to buy the Pixel Watch 2 later, I would honestly wait until it is on sale and at least 50 euros off.