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Google Pixel Watch: After 5 Months, Still the Best-Looking Android Watch

The Pixel Watch's sleek, curved design and variety of Fitbit metrics make it a top choice. But it's not perfect.

Lisa Eadicicco Senior Editor
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide.
Expertise Apple | Samsung | Google | Smartphones | Smartwatches | Wearables | Fitness trackers
Lisa Eadicicco
5 min read
a Google Pixel Watch rests atop a red bandana
Stephen Shankland/CNET

Android fans looking for a smartwatch that's more stylish than a fitness watch but more functional than a hybrid watch don't have many options to choose from. But the Pixel Watch manages to check that box, even if it doesn't get everything else right. 

I've been revisiting the Pixel Watch roughly five months after its launch, and my first impressions largely remain the same. Aside from its sharp looks, Google's first smartwatch excels for its easy-to-use software and wide selection of Fitbit health metrics. The same downsides also hold true: The battery life isn't as long as I would like it to be, and the bezels framing the screen are sometimes too noticeable.

It's still the best-looking Android Watch, with some caveats

The Pixel Watch's attractive design continues to be its best attribute. That's important, because a device that sits on the wrist all day (and night) needs to look and feel like something you actually want to wear. The rounded glass edges, stainless steel materials and soft pebble-like shape give it a more polished look compared to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 or Fitbit Sense 2. As a person with small wrists, the Pixel Watch looks more natural than most smartwatches I've worn.

The Pixel Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Watch

Google's Pixel Watch (left) has a more refined design than the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

But those benefits do come with some compromises. The Pixel Watch is only available in one size, which might not be suitable for those with large wrists or people who prefer bigger screens. Even though I like the Pixel Watch's petite look, I do wish the screen was slightly larger so that it could fit more complications -- what watchmakers call the little secondary dials, but on smartwatches are typically things like temperature and activity tracking. I typically wear a 45-millimeter Apple Watch Series 6 when I'm using an iPhone, and that screen can show six complications at once. On my favorite Pixel Watch face, I can only fit three. 

The more pressing issue, however, is that the Pixel Watch's bezels can sometimes distract from the design, as I wrote in my initial review. Most of the time, the software's dark background blends in well with the watch's bezels. But you can really see the bezels when using a colorful app or the Photos watch face.

Watch this: Pixel Watch Review: Google's Answer to the Apple Watch

Its battery life is about the same as rivals

Before Google announced the Pixel Watch, I hoped it would inherit Fitbit's stellar battery life. Unfortunately, that didn't end up being the case. The Pixel Watch can last for a little more than a day on a single charge in my experience, which roughly matches the battery life on the Apple Watch Series 8 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. After about 27 hours of use, for example, my watch had 12% of its battery left. 

I had the always-on display turned off and mostly tracked indoor workouts that didn't require a GPS connection while using the watch, save for logging a few outdoor walks. Both of those features typically drain the battery faster, meaning you'll get less mileage out of the watch if you use them.

This isn't a major problem if you intend to charge your watch overnight. But since I've been trying to get more sleep lately, I've been putting Fitbit's in-depth sleep tracking to use. This has made it hard to know when I should carve out time to put my Pixel Watch on its charger. I even had to workout without my Pixel Watch while it charged on one occasion, making me feel like I wasn't getting credit for my indoor cycling session. 

Google Pixel Watch with photo watch face

Google's Pixel Watch has noticeable bezels when a photo is on the display.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The Pixel Watch works great with non-Pixel Android phones

Google has been positioning the Pixel Watch as a Pixel phone companion, but it works the same with other Android devices. I used the Pixel Watch with a Pixel 7 during my initial October review, but this time around I paired it with a Galaxy S23 Plus and then a Galaxy Z Fold 4. No matter which phone you're using, you set up and manage the watch through Google's Watch app, while I relied on the Fitbit app for keeping track of my health statistics. 

Getting started with the watch was just as easy on a Samsung phone as it was on the Pixel 7. Since it supports Google's Fast Pair feature, my Samsung devices were able to detect the Pixel Watch as soon as I brought the watch close to my phone, prompting me to install the Watch app immediately.

Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel Watch

The Pixel Watch has been positioned as a Pixel phone companion, but it works great with other Android devices too. 

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

That makes the Pixel Watch appealing to a broader audience of Android users, but also means there isn't necessarily anything about it that hooks users into Google's specific Pixel ecosystem. Samsung, on the other hand, restricts the Galaxy Watch's ECG feature to Galaxy phone users only. 

Unsurprisingly, the Pixel Watch is not compatible with iPhones. But other Wear OS watchmakers like Fossil offer iOS support. 

Google Pixel Watch being worn
Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The same downsides still exist, possibly with some new ones

Aside from the battery life and the bezel, there are two shortcomings that might be important to those who regularly use their watch for health and fitness tracking. 

First, the Pixel Watch can't automatically detect and launch a workout while on your wrist or provide notifications for high and low heart rates. That may be important to consider for those who want to keep a closer eye on their cardiac health. 

These are drawbacks that existed at launch, but some users have reported new issues since then. A few Pixel Watch owners have said that alarms set on the Pixel Watch have gone off minutes after they were supposed to, as 9to5Google has reported. For what it's worth, I use the alarm function on the Pixel Watch often and have not experienced this problem. A Google spokesperson said the company will be updating the Pixel Watch's Clock app through the Play Store in the coming weeks to address these alarm issues. 

Google Pixel Watch
James Martin/CNET

The Pixel Watch will evolve over time

But perhaps the biggest revelation that's become clear over the last few months is that the Pixel Watch will continue to evolve over time, much like Google's Pixel phones. Google has launched a couple of new features, like fall detection and Fitbit's Sleep Profiles, the latter of which is available only for Fitbit Premium members and provides deeper analysis of your sleeping patterns. However, both features really just bring the Pixel Watch up to speed with other watches from Apple and Fitbit rather than introducing something wholly new. 

The bigger takeaway is that companies like Google, Apple and Samsung are all finding new ways to bring compelling features to their respective smartwatches via software updates rather than just hardware. Apple's WatchOS 9 update last fall, for example, brought better sleep tracking and more metrics for runners. Samsung, meanwhile, brought improved camera remote controls to the Galaxy Watch 5 and will soon launch cycle tracking

The Pixel Watch's classy design and Fitbit health tracking still make it a standout choice for Android device owners. It's far from perfect, but I'm looking forward to seeing where Google takes it next.