Google Announced the Pixel Watch, which will Cost at Least $350
Google has been working on the Google Pixel Watch for years, and the company has been happy to give hints about what it has been doing. (Although having an employee leave a prototype in a restaurant will also take some of the wind out of any surprise you may have planned.) Today, though, is the first time Google has really shown off its new top-of-the-line wearable, and the first time we can see if it can make up for all its missed opportunities in the watch race.
The Pixel Watch only comes in one size, with a domed, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 5 crystal in a 41mm case. At first glance, the watch looks funny because it is too big, but this is done so that the bezel is hidden when you look at it from your wrist. Underneath this, users will see a 320ppi, always-on AMOLED display that can get as bright as 1,000 nits. It’s powered by a 294mAh battery that Google says will last for 24 hours. After 30 minutes on its magnetic charging plate, the battery can be charged back up to 50%.
There are two versions: one with WiFi and Bluetooth and one with its own LTE modem, which costs just $50 more. Both have an Exynos 9110 SoC, which came out in 2018 and can be found in Samsung’s Galaxy Watch up to and including the Watch 3, along with a Cortex M33 co-processor, 32GB of storage, and 2GB of RAM. It says a lot that Google didn’t use Qualcomm’s own wearable SoC, which is used in almost every other Wear OS watch that isn’t made by Samsung and is now several years old. Wear OS 3.5 is used by both.
It doesn’t call this a Google watch. Instead, it mentions Fitbit several times, and many of its features are made by Fitbit. This includes tracking your activity, heart rate, and sleep. However, Google has said that its own machine-learning technology has made this more accurate. One of the more interesting features is life heart rate, which measures your vital signs every second. There’s also an ECG built-in, and you can connect it to Fitbit Premium for more information and guided workouts.
Buyers of the Pixel Watch will also get a free three-month trial of YouTube Music Premium and the usual six-month trial of Fitbit Premium. This means you can store a lot of music on your wrist to go with the apps that work with it, such as Adidas Running, MyFitnessPal, Strava, Spotify, and Calm.
#GooglePixelWatch’s band system attaches internally like a camera lens to a camera body, instead of the prominent external lugs of other watches.
Just twist and click to swap between a variety of available bands and transform your look seamlessly ✨#MadeByGoogle pic.twitter.com/3HtDuxZqE9
— Made By Google (@madebygoogle) October 6, 2022
Besides the Gorilla Glass crystal, the only other promise of durability is that it will be water-resistant up to (or down to) 5ATM. Oh, and Google says that by 2023, the Watch will be able to sense when you’ve fallen and, if you have the LTE version and aren’t responding, it will call the police for you.
It’s important to remember that Google, in partnership with Motorola, Samsung, ASUS, and LG, was in the wearables market a full year before Apple. But Apple was able to gain a lot of momentum because Android Wear was made in many different versions with different features. Since then, the Apple Watch has sold more than any other major wearable device in almost every single quarter. Only after Google and Samsung worked together again to fix Wear OS did Google’s platform once again have sales in the double digits.
And, just like with Google Pixel phones, Google will probably be happy to sell a small number of devices to a small part of the market. Even more so because it has to protect the sales of both Samsung, its partner, and Fitbit, a new company that it owns 100 percent of. Since Samsung and Fitbit already cover almost every part of the wearables market between them, it’s not clear who Google is trying to reach with this.
Analyst Ben Wood at CCS Insight agrees, saying that “the Pixel Watch poses no threat to the Apple Watch” and that its main purpose is to “make Android smartphone owners more aware of smartwatches and get more of them to think about buying a wearable.” But for that to work, Pixel Watch needs to be instantly popular, especially since Google isn’t very patient with products that don’t catch on right away.
The Google Pixel Watch is made of stainless steel that can be “Matte Black,” “Polished Silver,” or “Champagne Gold.” They come with a variety of watch bands that don’t use lugs but instead have an internal locking system that looks like a camera lens and should make changing bands faster. The watches will come with a fluoroelastomer band called “Active,” but Google says there will be 20 options in the future. There are modern, woven, and leather styles, and metal bands are expected to arrive in Spring 2023.
It can be pre-ordered right now. The WiFi/Bluetooth model costs $349.99, while the LTE model costs $399.99. Both models should start shipping on October 13th.
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