The new Google Pixel 8 phones may grab all the attention. But Google also released the Pixel Watch 2 this month. The original Pixel Watch wasn't launched in Singapore. So the Pixel Watch 2 is my first experience with Google's smartwatch, though I have tried devices running the same Google Wear OS. It's also not my first rodeo with Fitbit Premium, the paid fitness subscription and app powering the smartwatch's health and fitness tracking.
- Recycled aluminium housing with fluoroelastomer watch band
- 41mm, 1.2-inch AMOLED screen (450 x 450 pixels)
- Bluetooth/Wi-Fi only version in Singapore
- Up to 24 hours with Always-on display
The Google Pixel Watch 2 has a similar design as its predecessor. It's like a nice shiny pebble made from glass and 100% recycled aluminium. There's no bezel, so I'm a bit leery of banging the rounded glass edges, even with the Gorilla Glass 5 protection. Compared with other Android smartwatches, it's a tad small at 41mm (one size only), though chunky at the same time (12.3mm thick). But at least the compact size suits my thin wrists. There's a rotating crown that feels smooth, and offers a nice dose of haptic feedback. The 1.2-inch AMOLED display is bright enough for outdoor use — Google rates it at up to 1,000 nits. You can reuse watch straps from the first Pixel Watch on the Watch 2. I got this woven bay band that complements the Bay Pixel 8 Pro perfectly.
Google says the Pixel Watch 2 comes with three new sensors (new heart rate sensor, skin temperature sensor, and continuous electrodermal activity sensor) to improve the health monitoring capabilities, and bring it parity with other Fitbit wearables. You can take an ECG with the watch, and it will also alert you if it detects irregular heart rhythm. Battery life is improved, with up to 24 hours of uptime with the Always-on display. Charging speed, too, is faster, though it uses a different pin charger from the previous wireless version. I typically get around 1.5 days of use with the Always-on display — it's shorter if I wear the watch to sleep. Compared with the larger smartwatches I have tested, the Pixel Watch 2 is definitely more comfortable to wear to bed.
Hvaing tried the latest Samsung Galaxy Watch, the Pixel Watch 2 feels similar, but with Google apps as the default options for the latter. So Google Pay instead of Samsung Pay, and the Google Assistant instead of Bixby — you get the idea. There are also new Wear OS apps like Gmail and Google Calendar, and third-party ones like WhatsApp. Typing on its tiny screen is just about doable, though you can also rely on canned replies, and voice dictation. While I didn't have the first Pixel Watch for comparison, the new one feels responsive to my taps and swipes. I do like how the Pixel Watch 2 puts the media controls front and centre when I'm listening to music on my phone. Or how it syncs the Bedtime mode and Do Not Disturb (DND) status from my phone. But you must first enable these options in the settings.
For fitness tracking, the Pixel Watch 2 features a revamped Fitbit app that looks clean. You get six months of Fitbit Premium, which includes extras like a daily readiness score, online workouts, and more detailed insights. Google has also added much-needed features like automatic workout detection. The GPS lock seems to take slightly longer than other smartwatches. But in terms of features and performance, the Pixel Watch 2 feels on a par with other Android smartwatches. However, the Bluetooth/Wi-Fi model available in Singapore (no LTE version) is more expensive (S$525) than Samsung's cheapest Galaxy Watch 6 (S$448 for 40mm). Fitbit Premium also adds to the cost equation. Surprisingly, the Singapore Google Store doesn't carry the Pixel Watch 2. Instead, you'll find it from the likes of Challenger, Singtel, as well as Shopee and Amazon SG.
Note: Review unit provided by Google.
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