Monday, December 4, 2023

Google just announced the Pixel Watch 2. Is it any good?


All three colors of the Google Pixel Watch 2 lined up together.Google

Google lifted the lid on the Google Pixel Watch 2 at a packed event that also witnessed the introduction of its Google Pixel 8 series phones. Aesthetically, barely anything has changed, which is mostly welcome because the Pixel-branded smartwatch stands out with its sloping glass design. But there are changes under the hood that actually push it ahead of the competition in a few ways.


  • The Pixel Watch 2 looks very familiar
  • There are bigger changes under the hood
  • Google Pixel Watch 2 price and availability

But will all of this come together for a cohesive smartwatch? Here’s everything we know so far.

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The Pixel Watch 2 looks very familiar


Starting with the design, the glass dome at the top is thinner, while the aluminum housing underneath also gets a slight weight reduction. Google has also jazzed up the color selection and is offering the Pixel Watch in Polished Silver/Bay, Polished Silver/Porcelain, Matte Black/Obsidian, and Champagne Gold/Hazel combinations.


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There’s also a rich selection of band styles to choose from. With the exception of Metal Mesh and the Metal Slim band, all the strap styles are compatible with both generations of the Google Pixel Watch. The other options on the table are the soft-touch Active Band, the silicone-derived Active Sport Band, and a woven band made out of recycled yarn.

There’s also an Apple Watch-inspired Stretch band made out of recycled polyester, two band styles made out of Italian leather, and stainless steel straps in link, mesh, and slim formats. There’s a wide selection of colors to pick from, but not all of them offer water resistance owing to material characteristics. If you’re a germophobe, research says you should prefer the metal bands.

There are bigger changes under the hood


The biggest changes happen under the hood. Google has ditched the first-gen Pixel Watch’s Exynos chip in favor of Qualcomm’s SW5100 processor (aka the Snapdragon W5 Gen 1), pairing it with 2GB RAM and 32GB onboard storage — a huge increase from the 8GB of storage offered on the previous model. The battery is also slightly bigger at 306mAh, but it’s the charging speeds that have received a dramatic boost. Google says its latest smartwatch can go from empty to 100% juiced in just 75 minutes, instead of the 2.5 hours it took the original Pixel Watch.

It seems like the real upgrades are hidden under the biosensing shell. Google has equipped the Pixel Watch 2 with a new multi-path heart rate sensor that is capable of more accurate signal measurement. It is accompanied by improvements to the algorithms behind the heart rate measurement systems, pushing them into the same league as Fitbit’s own comprehensive heart health suite.

Another remarkable addition is the arrival of skin temperature and response sensors. Google says readings from these new sensors will be used for stress detection due to variable factors such as illness, high caffeine content in the body stream, or alcohol levels. These new sensors also lend a hand with mood logging, allowing the Pixel Watch 2 to offer timely suggestions such as breathing or walking exercises for calming down.


Workout enthusiasts will be glad to know that the Pixel Watch 2 will offer automatic recognition and tracking for a wide range of fitness activities. It is also getting an Apple-inspired Safety Check feature that seeks to keep tabs on a person’s wellness and also reminds them to check up on friends and family members. It works in tandem with the Emergency Sharing system that alerts emergency aid support and also calls the contacts saved for such scenarios where urgent help is required.

Then there’s the Safety Signal system, which extends phoneless connectivity features without a phone or LTE connectivity plan. Google Assistant is also getting some crucial improvements courtesy of deeper integration with core Google services such as Calendar. Google is also supercharging the At A Glance system with time-sensitive relevant information such as weather and traffic right on the home screen.

Google Pixel Watch 2 price and availability


The Google Pixel Watch 2 starts at $349, the same as its predecessor. But if you’re eyeing the LTE facility, the cellular variant will set you back $399. The latest Google smartwatch is up for preorder from the official Google Store, and regular sales are set to begin on October 12.

It’s encouraging to see that Google’s made so many under-the-hood improvements, though not having any shift in design — especially a larger size — is disappointing. Will the Pixel Watch 2 stand out from other excellent Wear OS watches released this year, such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 and TicWatch Pro 5? Only time will tell, but it certainly seems well-equipped to put up a good fight.

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