Is the Pixel Watch worth it? After our test, we used it for almost a year, here is a complete opinion as well as feedback on this first Google watch.
” We expected to be disappointed with the Pixel Watch, we were ultimately pleasantly surprised», this is how Geoffroy concluded his test of the Pixel Watch, almost a year ago. It must be said that Google’s connected watch has had a particularly long gestation and this is felt in different ways. We can notably cite the screen borders or the SoC used which show their respective age. Despite this, it remains a good first draft and we are therefore impatiently awaiting the Pixel Watch 2 which will correct these youthful mistakes.
Does that make the Pixel Watch a bad watch? Can we have any fears about the Pixel Watch 2? Let’s take stock after a year of use.
My expectation of connected watches
Not everyone has the same expectations from a connected watch, so it seems important to start this article not by talking about the Pixel Watch, but rather by me. And one point in particular: I don’t do sports. At least, no sport with a performance aim requiring effective monitoring. Interval training is not for me, and if my watch displays a heart rate of 165 BPM instead of 170, it’s not going to ruin a workout for me.
The use I make of my smartwatch is above all practical. It mainly serves me to keep my phone on silent while filtering the notifications that are important to me, to keep control of my smartphone without taking it out of my pocket (decline a call, manage my music, etc.), and to have relative monitoring of my daily health.
The first contact with the Pixel Watch
Let’s now close this digression to focus on the Pixel Watch itself. When I adopted her, needless to say, I had the same reservations as Geoffroy. The first point that shocked me was its very thick borders, a rather annoying detail on this rounded and cute model.
A little round pebble, the Pixel Watch deserved to have a screen that lived up to its ambitions. In terms of its qualities, there is nothing to reproach it with: its resolution is sufficient, its brightness allows it to be read in all circumstances, even in direct sunlight and the contrast of the Oled panel allows the edges to be hidden when the background is black. The problem is that the background is not ALWAYS black and certain dials particularly make these borders stand out. You get used to it with time, but it’s really a shame.
Conversely, the bracelet was very disturbing at first, but was able to be forgotten. In my opinion, it presents two major problems: it does not attach with a standard pin, which requires an official bracelet if you wish to change, and its attachment loop is… impractical, shall we say for stay polite. The first few days, it’s difficult to get the hang of it… but it comes eventually. Today, I no longer have the slightest problem putting it on my wrist.
His main concern: autonomy
In addition to its screen borders, the main fear that one could have when looking at the technical sheet of the Pixel Watch concerned its SoC. This Exynos 9110 chip is showing its age, since it is found on the first Galaxy Watch, released in 2018. Is it sufficient to run the system smoothly? Does it allow the watch to properly manage its autonomy? In order: yes and no.
Surprisingly, fluidity is not a daily concern on the Pixel Watch. If it happens that an application launch experiences a slight slowdown, the animations generally follow one another without the slightest jerk. We even find ourselves turning the wheel to admire the scrolling speed and benefit from the discreet haptic feedback that is housed there. On this point, we are on the finishing level of the Apple Watch.
Recharging… daily (or almost)
The biggest weak point of this connected watch was and still remains today its autonomy. On its site, Google announces “up to 24 hours» autonomy for the Pixel Watch. That’s not much… especially for a watch supposed to track sleep and recharge in 80 minutes. The first few days, it was even really depressing to have to recharge the watch daily, and therefore to lose part of its interest so regularly.
One of the many dials of the Pixel Watch // Source: Chloé Pertuis – Frandroid
Pixel Watch quick settings // Source: Chloé Pertuis – Frandroid
Over time, however, I learned to deal with it and to be cunning. My first instinct was obviously to turn off the Always-On, before realizing only very recently that it was not the main drain on the battery. The huge loss of battery that took place during the night (around 40%) was resolved on my side by switching the watch to airplane mode every evening. So, I now only lose between 7 and 10% of battery when I sleep.
But the main change did not come from a technical option, but from a habit. Every day when I get ready, I place the Pixel Watch on its stand. So, it spends 15 to 30 minutes charging every day, which allows me, with the other little tips, to last almost two days before having to do a full charge again. It’s still far too little, but it’s already more livable… Hopefully the Pixel Watch 2 will correct this problem.
A messy, but effective ecosystem
Google is a company whose business model is largely based on profiling and the sale of personal data. Also, when buying Fitbit, Google wanted to show its credentials by partitioning the health data thus recovered. This initiative is rather reassuring, but has the disadvantage of recalling the darkest hours of the group’s instant messaging, since we find ourselves with two health applications: Fitbit on one side and Google Fit on the other.
Google Fit has the advantage of condensing data from multiple apps. So, if you have a connected scale for example, you will easily find your weight on it, which is not the case on the Fitbit application if your scale is from another brand. On the other hand, the Fitbit application is very complete.
Google Fit app overview
Sleep tracking on Fitbit
Heart rate tracking on Fitbit
Basic, you will find the monitoring of sleep, your heart rate, your exercise, your menstrual health, your blood sugar and of course the classic number of steps, calories burned and floors climbed. The premium subscription (80 euros per year or 9 euros per month) also promises you more in-depth information and analysis, as well as exercise programs. We would have liked to have the analyzes for free, while the programs (mostly in English) are less complete than what you can find on connected watches dedicated to sport.
In itself, the Pixel Watch is not a watch for athletes, but it allows you to keep an eye on your health indicators and can even send you a notification in the event of an irregular rhythm.
A blind that expands
Beyond the ecosystem “sport and health», the Pixel Watch has the advantage of running Wear OS 3.5. The number of applications present on the Google Play Store is already significant, and the interest shown by Google and Samsung in the system encourages developers to look into the issue. In addition to very traditional applications (running apps for example), Wear OS has the particularity of being compatible with the entire Google ecosystem (Google Home, YouTube Music, etc.), as well as less common applications, such as Bring, to manage my shopping list, Todoist or even Cowboy to lock my electric bike without taking out my phone.
Obviously, I’m impatiently waiting for Wear OS 4 to find out how the developers will adopt the new features.
An astonishing first Pixel Watch
Ultimately, the Pixel Watch is a connected watch full of flaws, some of which are prohibitive for a large number of users. Also, she is very difficult to advise. However, it is also the connected watch that I have kept on my wrist the longest, because it has this little “I don’t know what» which means that it responds well to my uses and is particularly pleasant.
Considering how chaotic its development has been, it’s actually a miracle that it’s so enjoyable. Still, it serves as a draft and we will have to wait for the Pixel Watch 2 to have a truly complete model… or even a next generation, but we will be able to tell you that in a few weeks, when we have tested the second iterationMade by Google.