I had a lot of gripes about the first-ever Pixel Watch. It launched with a lot of missing functionality you’d expect for a $350 wearable. Over the past year, Google has kept its promise to improve the product by periodically adding new features to the smartwatch. Now, with the release of the new Pixel Watch 2, I get a watch that actually comes with everything I wish the original did out of the box. Hooray!
The number one thing I did not want to see was a change to the design. In a sea of smartwatches that look, well, kind of boring, the Pixel Watch and its successor are the most elegant smartwatches to date. I love the smooth pebble domed-glass design. There are also finally more strap options to choose from, though they’re all stupid expensive.
It’s super comfy to wear, not that the original Pixel Watch wasn’t as well. However, Google claims the change from last year’s stainless steel case to this year’s recycled aluminum case makes the Pixel Watch 2 around 10 percent lighter and even nicer to wear. I didn’t notice much of a difference; I’d have preferred the durability of stainless steel, to be honest, or at least a price drop. Maybe the addition of sapphire crystal to protect the screen? Or do what Apple does and give people a choice between different materials.
I also wouldn’t mind two or more size options like almost every other smartwatch manufacturer offers. Don’t get me wrong, the Pixel Watch’s 41-mm case is nice, but I’d take a slightly bigger case if it meant an improvement in battery life.
After a year of periodically wearing the OG Pixel Watch, the only damage I see is a few micro scratches on the glass, and I can really only see them if I look very closely. I trust the Pixel Watch 2 will be just as durable. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this smartwatch’s biggest flaw: It’s not repairable. If you have a problem with the hardware, you’ll have to talk to Google support. If they can’t fix it and you’re still within the one-year warranty period, you have to get a replacement.
I am not sure I understand how Google can announce seven years of support—not only for software but hardware too, thanks to some new repairability laws in the US—for its Pixel smartphones, yet leave its smartwatch customers with a measly three years and few repair options. At least the Pixel Watch 2 gets an official IP68 water- and dust-resistance rating along with the 5 ATM rating, meaning it can survive dive depths of up to 50 meters. Just cross your fingers nothing drastic happens to your watch after the one-year mark.
One of my favorite improvements in the latest model is the processor. Google has gone with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 chipset, which is noticeably snappier than the Samsung chip in the older model. I have yet to see any kind of stutter or lag at all on this watch, which is honestly fairly rare for a Wear OS smartwatch. Finally.
The Pixel Watch 2 also ships with Wear 4, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system for wearables which debuted on the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 this past summer. The best addition here is support for backups and the ability to switch phones without resetting the watch—seriously, I switch phones every few weeks and this is a godsend. No need to completely set up the watch every single time! In fact, I switched between the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro as I was testing them and had no issues.