Google launched their 2nd generation Pixel Watch 2 in October. I’ve used one for over a week. It’s a great smartwatch, excellent companion to an Android smartphone, and I can see some people who will love it. However, it isn’t something I’d want for myself.
This post isn’t written to be a review of the Pixel Watch 2 per se. If you’re looking for reviews, I recommend checking out the excellent write ups from The Verge, Digital Trends, Wired, or DC Rainmaker. Instead, I want to share about how the Pixel Watch 2, as well as smartwatches in general, would work for casual users. Or not. People who aren’t so much into the gadgets or the tech, but want something that makes their lives better.
It is a bit ironic, seeing that I’m a techie myself, and I would ordinarily love smartwatches. I have used smartwatches on and off since a long time ago. Smartwatches have been nice gadgets, useful, possibly even count as making my life better. But they also have some downsides, which actually might not be a showstopper for everyone, but it is for me.
Google’s foray into smartwatches begun as Android Wear back in 2014. It was rebranded Wear OS in 2018. They made their first smartwatch, the original Pixel Watch, in 2022. They are relatively new to smartwatch hardware manufacturing, though their acquisition of Fitbit in 2019 would certainly have fast-tracked their hardware experience. The first Pixel Watch was a great watch, which did juts about most things anyone would want in a smartwatch.
The 2nd generation Pixel Watch 2, no doubt, comes with numerous improvements: more powerful processor, larger battery, new EDA sensor, new skin temperature sensor, among other things.
For the most part, the Pixel Watch 2 is great. Its round chassis makes it look more like a traditional watch, a look that some users might prefer over more squarish designs. The included silicon strap is comfortable to wear. The AMOLED display is sharp, and the colours are vibrant. It’s and excellent always-on display. The user interface is smooth and fluid. All these come together to deliver an excellent experience.
The Pixel Watch 2’s health tracking and fitness tracking capabilities are pretty much on-par with other smartwatches. It supports Google Wallet for contactless payment. It has Bluetooth for pairing with headphones. It has Wi-Fi. LTE option is not available in Singapore, though it is offered in other regions.
All these come with a S$525 price tag that is, well, okay-ish.
The showstopper for me is battery life. Don’t get me wrong. The Pixel Watch 2 runs for a whole day, which is already better than some smartwatches. This is with the always-on display, a 45-min run with built-in GPS, fair bit of notifications, and a reasonable amount of interaction with the smartwatch throughout the day.
The issue for me is that I don’t want to have to charge my smartwatch every day. A smartwatch that lasts 24 hours just isn’t good enough. You could charge the watch while you sleep, but that’s not possible if you want sleep tracking. I do want sleep tracking. So, when then, do I get to charge the watch?
This is not a unique problem with the Pixel Watch 2 per se. Smartwatches that run Wear OS just don’t last that long. Apple’s smartwatches aren’t doing great either. The smartness eats up too much battery. I’m not sure if this is a problem that will get solved in the next year or two. Even if you can push 24 hours to 36 hours or even 48 hours, it still doesn’t cut it for me.
My expectations were set from the era of Fitbit fitness trackers. I’m looking at 5 – 7 days of battery life. I will charge the up the gadget at some point during the weekend. That’s it. I also don’t want to have to worry about battery life at all throughout the week. I want the confidence that, no matter what I do, the battery is going to keep going to the next weekend.
However, if 24 hours battery is good enough for you, the Pixel Watch 2 is an all-round excellent Wear OS smartwatch to get.
As aforementioned, the Pixel Watch 2 retails at S$525, available from the Google Store. An extra different-sized strap is included to suit various wrist sizes, and you’ll also find the proprietary charging cable in the box.