The Review of the Pixel Watch

There was a lot of anticipation on my end, which should have been something I should have learned a lesson about... something I was super excited about...

The big tagline for me with the Pixel Watch is that it does feel like a really high quality knock-off.  Yeah, that's how I feel with it. It's a super high quality device, but just misses the mark of what we've been used to with Wear OS.

Now, I get it's NOT Wear OS, and it is supposed to be that breath of fresh air of style and function - Google's really trying to shed that old image that they were only for the nerdy software engineers.  And this is probably so on target for the demographic they were maybe shooting for, yet for the Android Wear / Wear OS die-hards like me it felt a little too far from expectations - and again, that's just something I imposed on them.

But let's get into it.

So, to start off, let's talk about the price.  The price is $450, so not a teeny amount to shell out when some of the other flagship watches are less.  But it's a Google first...

For that $450 you'll get this (and you'll have seen my unboxing, right?):

  • 1.2" @ 450x450
  • Exynos 9110
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • 294mAh
  • IP68

And actually the model I have is $530 because it has the LTE option (which would cost you an additional cost with your carrier to share the data, which for me on Bell it's $10/month extra).

But let's go around it.  It does look sexy and sleek, like a techy pebble on your wrist.  Now, I'm used to a very chonky watch on my wrist, so it was a drastic change.  It felt small TO ME.  My wife likes the size (and I may get her to give it a try after me).

The band connects to itself to wrap around your wrist in a neat way with the nub and tucking.  It's different and you do have to factor in which hole you'll put the nub into as that means more (or less) end of the strap to tuck in, which could mean it makes it snugger.

The straps come off (I'll have a video for that) for very easy swapping.

A bit of a pain when you look in the box and find that the charger for the watch is a) not a strong a magnet as others out there (angle it more than 45° and it could fall off) and then b) it's not Qi. It's its own type of wireless charging.

So no option to use your own Pixel phone (which, since the 5, can share battery wireless charging) to charge it, or place it on the Qi pad you have at your work to top it up.  That is a major PITA.

Now to interact with the device you have 2 buttons.  One is very obvious the other is a little on the hidden side.

Let's get into the device.

Setting up is not using the Wear OS app, rather there's a dedicated Pixel Watch app.  

Is it Wear OS or is it something different?

Similar to other Wear OS devices in the past there's a homescreen and then you can interact and 'move around'.

You swipe down from the top to get the 'quick settings' panel, which used to be a very simple couple of icons to toggle on or off... now you have to scroll around to see everything.  I wish they were customizable like on the phones, I don't want the 'theatre mode' or 'night mode' or the Google Wallet tap-to-pay option (because I've stupidly opted to stick with TD who does everything in its power to exclude Google).

Swiping up from the bottom brings up your notifications.

Now you could just use the crown button - as it's not just a button, it's a crown that can be rotated, which simulates you using a finger to swipe up and down.  

And it's ADDICTIVE.  

Swiping left or right from the homescreen brings you to the 'tiles' that you can liken to widgets on the Phone.  Have a tile to show you the weather, the fit goals etc...

Back to the crown button if you push it, it'll bring up your app tray to find whatever apps you've installed.  Downside is that in previous Wear OS you could 'star' some apps so they stay at the top.  It's not here.  So, if I want to set my timer for my smartdripper I have to scroll all the way down to the T group.

Google allows for one shortcut, you can use the hidden button.  I say hidden as you really can't see it, it's fitted right against the chassis, above the crown button, so it's a little awkward to get at.

Press it and it'll bring up your recently used apps; double press it to automatically go to the most recent app.  But if it's been a while since I've used the timer app... well back to the app tray I go.

Speaking of the app tray, one that is featured a lot here is Fitbit.  Google bought this activity band company a while back and they're really using this device to start the real 'blending'.  It's everywhere.  

For a Google Fit user like me, I don't want it.  I don't like Fitbit.  It's aggravating that its widget on my phone never updates.  Google Fit works perfectly all the time for me.

But, at the start of using it, you couldn't even install Google Fit on the watch.  WHAT?

Eventually, it was able to ... if that didn't happen, I would have not kept wearing this watch.

As much as they kept pushing Fitbit, I just couldn't keep using it.  The only advantage I did like about Fitbit was it counted the numbers of stairs for me (I've got a #stairsalways policy).  Google even wants to give you a 6 month freebie of the Fitibit service for their smart premium membership to get more insights.

I never did opt for the freebie as I know I'd forget it and it'd start to charge me, and tbh I'm not leaving Google Fit for Fitbit, having both is a pain.

I have liked having it, it works almost as well as the other devices, just smaller.  

Speaking of smaller, the battery is pretty small, almost half of the battery from the TicWatch I was using.  Google does say it should last you 24 hours.

I've found that after a long day (7am - midnight) it would range from 50%-30% left.  So I'm not sure it would have made the 24 hour claim.  Throw in some heavier tracking and I'm sure that it won't make it.  Hence, you'll need the spare charger to keep around at the office (because you can't use your Qi pad).

But it's a good watch.  It's responsive, and it even 'responds' audibly with the speaker (which you could use for a phone call too, I guess); I love driving and asking Google if a coffee shop is open and it'll tell me yes or no out loud, so I don't have to look at the watch for the answer.

Overall, for me, it's expensive, small and just not quite what some of its predecessors were.  I'm hoping the Pixel Watch 2 is more in line with some of the powerhouses we've had in the past.

It does look good tho'.