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Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Pixel Watch: Is it time to upgrade?

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Google Pixel Watch 2 watch face

June Wan/ZDNET

Google launched the first Pixel Watch in 2022 as it provided its own approach to wearables while competing with Samsung, Mobvoi, and others for the wrist of Android users. The updated Pixel Watch 2 provides some internal upgrades with continued software updates in response to consumer feedback and the evolution of the platform.

Also: Every product unveiled at the Made by Google event today

When you look at the Pixel Watch 2 next to the original Pixel Watch, it may be hard to differentiate the two wearables. Google did not make any significant external hardware changes or radically alter the base design, but there are a few aspects that were clearly improved. I’ve highlighted the key differences below.

Specifications

Pixel Watch Pixel Watch 2
Display 320 ppi AMOLED 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 5 with up to 1000 nits brightness 320 ppi AMOLED 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 5 with up to 1000 nits brightness
Materials 80% recycled stainless steel 100% recycled aluminum
Processor Samsung Exynos 9110 SoC Qualcomm SW5100
Connectivity LTE (optional), WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC LTE (optional), WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
Sensors Compass, altimeter, optical heart rate, gyroscope, accelerometer Compass, altimeter, multi-path optical heart rate, gyroscope, electrical sensor for EDA, skin temperature, barometer, magnetometer, accelerometer
Battery 294mAh, up to 24 hours (with AOD inactive) 306mAh, up to 24 hours with AOD
Dimensions 41 mm diameter and 36 grams (without band) 41 mm diameter and 31 grams (without band)
Durability 5 ATM 5 ATM and IP68


You should buy the Google Pixel Watch 2 if…

Google Pixel Watch 2 sensors on the back

June Wan/ZDNET

1. You want longer battery life

When Google released the original Pixel Watch, it listed a 24-hour battery life on the spec sheet. However, that 24 hours came with a few caveats, including the always-on display being turned off and just five minutes of calling, among other factors. That’s decent at best, but with the Fitbit integration, the intention was that you could wear the watch 24/7 in order to capture your sleep and waking hours. It was contradicting.

Also: Google Pixel Watch review: Not the Apple Watch of Android (yet)

At times, I was able to achieve, and even exceed, 24 hours of battery life with the Pixel Watch. Even so, Google focused heavily on the battery life of the Pixel Watch 2, and users should see an increased battery life as Google now advertises 24-hour battery life with AOD enabled.

Google also offers fast charging of the Pixel Watch 2 with 30 minutes of charging providing 50% battery and 75 minutes to reach 100% capacity.

2. You want Qualcomm’s newest processor

Google used a Samung Exynos processor on its first Pixel Watch, but this year, it switches to the latest and greatest wearable platform from Qualcomm. The Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Plus processor may be a key contributor to the battery improvements and overall efficiency, the latter of which is something you’ll notice throughout your day-to-day experience.

Also: Buying an Apple Watch? Here’s how to pick the best one for you

The original Pixel Watch exhibited snappy responses when using apps and navigating, so we will need to conduct more testing to see if the Pixel Watch 2 is just as, if not more, fast.

3. You want the best Fitbit experience

Google acquired Fitbit in 2021 and has been merging Google and Fitbit features into one platform powered by Google. The Pixel Watch 2’s key health and wellness improvements include the new multi-path heart rate sensor, alongside electrodermal activity (EDA) and skin temperature tracking. The sensors, powered by Google AI, provide the richest Fitbit experience available, with stress management, Active Zone Minutes, Sleep Stages, Daily Readiness Score, Heart Zone Training, Pace Training, and Safety Check.

You should keep your Google Pixel Watch if…

google-pixel-watch-matt-miller

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

1. You’re perfectly fine with the original Pixel Watch

The Pixel Watch 2 is priced at the same $349 as the Pixel Watch, so the new model won’t cost you any more than last year’s model. If you’re an existing Pixel Watch user, you might be able to sell your Pixel Watch for $175 (lowest Swappa price is $150 in good condition) and end up paying just $200 net for a new Watch 2. If the above health and fitness features resonate with you, then the upgrade should be worth it.

That said, if you’ve never owned a Google Pixel Watch and are interested in checking one out, buying a 1st-gen model that’s used or discounted may be a money-saving way to experience what the company has to offer.

2. You don’t care about the enhanced Fitbit experience

Some people like having a smartwatch just to serve as a smartphone notifications deliverer and to tell the time. If you don’t sleep with your Pixel Watch, are not stressed about how stressed you are, and/or have experienced reliable heart rate tracking with the original Pixel Watch, then you don’t need to upgrade to the new model.

3. You prefer a weighted watch

The domed glass is a bit controversial since it stands out proudly from the bezel on the Pixel Watch. That remains the same on the Pixel Watch 2, but the back material moves from stainless steel to aluminum. The 100% recycled aluminum is five grams lighter, so some users may like having a slightly lighter watch on their wrist. Others enjoy having a bit of weight on the wrist, whether it’s for reassurance that the wearable is being worn or for more accurate heart-rate measuring.

Alternatives to consider

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

BEST ALTERNATIVE

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

Samsung’s 2022 Watch 5 Pro remains in the lineup and is the best Galaxy Watch available with a sapphire display and titanium body to handle any adventure.

View at Amazon

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 dual layer display

BEST ALTERNATIVE

TicWatch Pro 5

Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 5 builds on the successes of an already fantastic Wear OS watch, with updated software and a new look.

View at Amazon

Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch

BEST ALTERNATIVE

Fossil Gen 6

Fossil was one of the first to launch Google Wear OS smartwatches and the Fossil Gen 6 offers an alternative to the Google Pixel Watch 2. It has Amazon Alexa support, nostalgic looks, and the latest Qualcomm processor.

View at Amazon

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