The $349.99 Pixel Watch 2 may not look much different from the outside, but under the hood, it’s another story. The second-generation smartwatch features a number of updates, including a new processor, a revamped sensor array, additional safety features, heart rate zone training, and Wear OS 4. Oh, and 24 hours of battery life, this time. with the screen always on.
Thanks to an endless barrage of leaks, we knew what the Pixel Watch would look like in today’s Made by Google announcement. At first glance, the main difference is that the screen is flush with the digital crown, where the original had a slight cutout. Another change imperceptible to the naked eye: the body is now made of 100 percent recycled aluminum instead of stainless steel. The result is a slightly lighter watch, but not by much. The Pixel Watch weighed 36 grams, while the Pixel Watch 2 weighs 31g. That’s a bit disappointing, considering the price of the Watch 2 remains the same as last year.
We’re looking at the same 41mm case size and OLED display on top. But flip the watch over and you’ll find a completely different set of sensors. Instead of a single line of LEDs, there are now multiple LEDs and photodiodes for measurements from various angles and positions. This then feeds an algorithm that Fitbit CEO James Park says is 40 percent more accurate for vigorous activities.
“The goal of Pixel Watch 2 was really to bring the best of Fitbit’s health and fitness experiences to the Pixel Watch,” Park says. The edge. “The second was, in the areas that were important to users, like heart rate, accuracy and battery life, to make meaningful and meaningful improvements on that front.”
This year, Google also added a skin temperature and continuous electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor. Both help enable proactive stress tracking, which Fitbit introduced with its Sense 2. The EDA sensor detects minuscule amounts of sweat, which can help determine body stress when combined with metrics such as heart rate variability, heart rate and skin temperature. As with the Sense 2, you’re supposed to receive a slightly delayed notification when a stressful event is detected. You are then encouraged to record how that event made you feel.
Battery life was a major issue when the Pixel Watch was first released. Park acknowledges that you couldn’t use the always-on display on the first-generation watch if you wanted that 24-hour battery life. This time around, he says the team has worked hard to make sure the Pixel Watch 2’s 306mAh battery can last 24 hours. with always-on display enabled. Users should also be able to get a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes and a full day’s charge in 75 minutes. Helping that should be Wear OS 4, which Google says should extend battery life, and the new, more energy-efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 processor. (Speaking of Wear OS 4, Google says it will be exclusive to the Pixel Watch 2 at first.)
Another complaint: The original Pixel Watch wasn’t good at automatically logging workouts. The second-generation watch will be able to automatically record training starts and stops for seven activities, including outdoor running and cycling. The training screen is also being revamped, making it more readable and showing more information. Users will also be able to perform heart rate zone training that includes haptic and voice feedback. There will be four custom heart rate zones, although Fitbit told me you should be able to edit your maximum heart rate. Another new feature of the Pixel Watch 2 is a new Pace Training mode.
As for smart features, Google is doing something a little interesting with a new security verification feature. Let’s say you get into an Uber: you can set a timer to know when you expect to get home. Once that time has passed, Pixel Watch 2 will ask you to confirm if you’re okay. If you don’t respond, your real-time location will be shared with your emergency contacts. The good thing is that you don’t need to have an LTE version of the watch, thanks to something Google calls Safety Signal. Each Pixel Watch 2 will have a separate eSIM so you can get phone-free security features, which will now be included in a Fitbit Premium subscription.
Otherwise, the Pixel Watch 2 will include Google services like Gmail, Google Wallet, and Calendar. Google Assistant will also receive new health and fitness queries so you can access your stats by voice. Each watch also comes with one month of YouTube Premium and six months of Fitbit Premium. Google is also introducing a handful of new watch faces that are based on the Material You design language, along with a new “At a Glance” complication that provides contextual information about your day.
In addition to the Fitbit Charge 6, which was announced last month, there’s a clearer distinction between Google’s wearable products this year. That’s encouraging. Since Google officially acquired Fitbit in 2021, it has been trying to integrate it within its ecosystem. It hasn’t always been successful. Last year’s line of wearables was a confusing mix of three smartwatches: Fitbit’s Versa 4 and Sense 2, which had their smart capabilities weakened, and the Pixel Watch, which was missing some common fitness and health features. And while there’s a bit of feature overlap this year as well, it’s clear that the Pixel Watch 2 is a smartwatch, while the Charge 6 is a fitness band.
“A big problem at the launch of the first Pixel Watch was that the experiences didn’t feel very integrated. It’s literally like two companies coming together and trying to create an experience,” Park admits. He went on to note that while Fitbit was always strong on health features, previous Fitbit smartwatches had a “big gap” in terms of overall utility and productivity features. Park also acknowledged that progress may not be linear, but the hope is that the two companies will complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses in future products.
Still, there have been quite a few obstacles along the way. Earlier this year, Google removed some popular legacy Fitbit features. Buying a new Pixel Watch 2 and Fitbit Charge 6 will also require existing Fitbit users to migrate their data to a Google account. This was always the plan, but Google had said it wouldn’t be mandatory until 2025. This is still true, but not if you want a new device. this year.
“Our goal is that, over time, there will be a great home for Google users and also for current Fitbit users. We do not intend to leave anyone out of history. Our goal is to be inclusive, but it will take time to make the product experience fully available to everyone,” says Park.
On paper, it seems like Google has at least acknowledged many of the Pixel Watch’s initial flaws. It’s too early to say if it will be enough to make Samsung nervous, but we’ll put the Pixel Watch 2 to the test to find out.
You can pre-order the Pixel Watch 2 starting today and shipping is expected to begin on October 12. It costs $349.99 for the GPS version and $399.99 for the LTE version. The watches come in silver and blue, silver and white, an all-black version, and gold and hazelnut.