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Google Pixel Watch 2 review: Better but rarely bolder

The Pixel Watch strikes back.

Google Pixel Watch 2
Pixel Watch 2
4 out of 5 stars
4
Material
100% recycled aluminium housing
Durability
IP68, 5ATM water resistance
Size
41mm
Fergus Halliday
Oct 23, 2023
Icon Time To Read6 min read
Quick verdict: Pixel Watch 2

While the second-generation Google Pixel Watch 2 manages to smart enough to avoid all the familiar pitfalls it's sorely lacking in innovation and rarely feels as essential as its iOS counterpart.

pro
Pros
pro Sleek design
pro Clean software experience
pro Superior battery life
con
Cons
con Could be cheaper
con Could be smarter

Google had a lot to prove with its first-generation Pixel Watch. It got most of the way there. Now, it has to go a little bit further. A year later, the stakes aren’t as high but the challenge of working out how to build an even better wearable looms larger than ever.

That part is nothing new. Even Apple sometimes struggles against the weight of diminishing returns. In any case, the Pixel Watch 2 is good a companion piece to the new Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro as you'll find, but it's not quite the must-have in the way that its iOS counterpart is.

Google's flagship wearable has its heart in the right place but its eyes seem pointed in the wrong direction. It's a better version of last year's watch, but one sorely lacking in ambition and new ideas. Even at its best, it's hard to escape the sense that the Pixel Watch 2 is something of a safe refresh. 

Pixel Watch 2 header

How much does the Pixel Watch 2 cost in Australia?

Starts at $549.

In Australia, the Google Pixel Watch will cost you $549 outright. There's also a second more expensive model that comes with both WiFi and LTE connectivity. Both breeds of the wearable are available in three colors – matte black, champagne gold and polished silver.

Regardless of color and connectivity, every Pixel Watch 2 comes arrives with a free six months of Fitbit Premium.

As for where you'll be able to find it, the Pixel Watch 2 is available through Telstra, Optus, Officeworks, Harvey JB Hi-Fi and the Google Store. Here's a quick round-up of how each retailer rates when it comes to buying the Pixel Watch 2 in Australia.

Store
Price
More info

Pixel Watch 2 - Design and features

Why be bold when you could be better?
Pixel Watch 2 header

It's telling that the second-generation Pixel Watch looks almost identical to the one that came before it. Google took its time coming up with a shape and size of last year's smartwatch and it's not looking to abandon that blueprint anytime soon.

The 1.2-inch AMOLED screen here is just as circular as the one seen in the original Pixel Watch, but the digital crown-like dial on the side of the wearable has been ever so slightly tucked in. Other than that, you could easily mix the two up at a glance.

Under the hood, the Pixel Watch 2 is powered by a Qualcomm W5 processor and the latest version of WearOS 4. The former is a quad-core affair versus the dual-core one seen in last year's Pixel Watch, with a new low-power helping allow for 24 hours of battery life even with the always-on display enabled. The latter picks up where WearOS 3 left off and features redesigned health and fitness coaching, and better integration with Google apps like Gmail, Google Assistant and Google Calendar.

Even if it's hardly intended to act as an upgrade for those who picked up last year's Pixel Watch, Google has put in the effort to keep things consistent regarding watch bands. The new Pixel Watch 2  has the same hook-like mechanism as its predecessor, which means that it'll be backwards compatible with older accessories.

Google's latest glitzy gadget also ships with four new watch faces, bringing the total to 24. These differing layouts can all be tweaked in various ways using the Google Pixel Watch app, giving you room to make them your own. More options when it comes to making any smartwatch your own is always typically a good thing and that's the case here.

Alongside with those similarities, the new Pixel Watch 2 touts a trio of new health-tracking sensors. There's a skin temperature, multi-path heart rate tracker and new cEDA electrodes. The individual and collective impact of these sensors is hard to gauge, but there's an implicit promise made here that they will improve the accuracy of health data that the Pixel Watch 2 collects.

The devil is in the details here, but what the design of the Pixel Watch 2 might lack in originality it does make up for in consistency. It's not on par with the aesthetics of Apple Watch Ultra, but it's certainly a luxury-grade piece of tech.

While it's nice to see Google hasn't tried to fix what isn't broken here, it's disappointing to see that it hasn't tried to address one of the original Pixel Watch's biggest shortcomings either.

Google's first-generation wearable was particularly bad when it came to durability. If something happened to the screen on the first-gen Pixel Watch, there was literally no process to get damage repaired. Annoyingly, that's still the case.

Speaking to Reviews.org, a Google representative confirmed that the new Pixel Watch 2 would be subject to this same shortcoming. According to them, "We don’t have any repair option for the Google Pixel Watch. If your watch is damaged, you can contact the Google Pixel Watch Customer Support Team to check your replacement options."

Pixel Watch 2 - Performance and battery life

A compliment that stops short of feeling compulsory
Pixel Watch 2 header

At 31g, the Pixel Watch 2 was almost light enough that I could forget I had it on my arm. The AMOLED screen on the wearable is bright enough to see in most situations, though it lacks the visual punch of the LTPO screens on the more recent Apple Watch models.

Still, as far as smartwatch-y things go, the Pixel Watch 2 ticks most of the boxes. The sleek recycled aluminium chassis here contains an accelerometer, a gyro, heart rate, altimeter, compass and SPo2 sensor.

Together, these work to track both your moment-to-moment heart rate and decided activity tracking. When it comes to the latter, there's a solid amount of options in the mix - covering basics like running and swimming to more niche activities like paddle-boarding and rollerblading. If you're looking to track an activity here, you'll probably find it on the list.

If you set up and use the Pixel Watch by itself, you'll be limited to more basic functionality. If you want to go beyond that, you'll have to install additional WearOS apps or connect the Pixel Watch 2 to a Fitbit account. I like that this baseline experience is streamlined and not as overwhelming as some other smartwatches, but I don't really love that you have to go through the rigamarole of setting up a separate set of accounts and apps in order to use the hardware here to its fullest extent.

In the years since Google introduced its Pixel phones, it has done a stellar job in making an Android phone that filters out the friction that typically drives consumers in the opposite direction and gets smarter over time. What's here has the makings of a solid smartwatch experience but it rarely felt that much smarter or more Google-y than the Galaxy Watch in the way that the Pixel feels relative to other Android devices.

There were instances where I felt like I found myself using the apps on the Pixel Watch 2 instead of opening their smartphone counterparts, but those moments sometimes felt few and far between. It's fascinating to think about how the impending integration of Google's Bard AI with its Assistant could change that.

I'm the kind of smartwatch user who sticks with wearables like the Pixel Watch 2 for as long as it takes me to forget to charge it. Once I've broken the habit, it's so hard to get back into the groove with a device like this one. There's nothing wrong with the Pixel Watch 2, but there's nothing that feels particularly essential about it either.

On that note, the new Pixel Watch 2 will boast up to 24 hours of battery life on a single charge. This is poised to be an improvement on the 24 hours with a big asterisk seen in the first Pixel Watch. The wearable also features fast charging that should see it top itself back up to 50% in about thirty minutes.

In practice, I found that these claims mostly managed to reflect reality. I was rarely running on fumes by the end of a single day with the Pixel Watch. However, I'd usually have to squeeze in a quick top-up somewhere as a second was well and truly off the table.

Google Pixel Watch vs Pixel Watch 2

Icon Quote  Dark
How does this year's Pixel Watch compare to the last one?
The Pixel Watch Series 1 was my daily wearable for the last year, so I was eager to see how the Series 2 would stack up.

As Google’s first attempt at a smartwatch, I thought the Pixel Watch 1 ticked most of the boxes. My general take was that, at a much cheaper price point than a comparable Apple Watch, it was a good smartwatch for the money. With Series 2, I’d venture to say Google has made the best smartwatch for the money.

Aesthetically, not much has changed, which is a positive in my opinion. I already thought the Series 1 was the best looking smartwatch on the market, so I’m pleased that this year’s model offers subtle refinements rather than any major departures. Internally, though, the Series 2 is head and shoulders above Google’s first gen model. First, getting 24 hours of battery life in always-on mode is a huge quality of life improvement. My Series 1 watch struggled to make it through an entire day, and charging it became such a hassle that I often went days at a time without wearing it.

Google has also packed more health features into the Series 2, bringing it on par with the Fitbit Sense 2. There’s a new skin temperature sensor, and much more accurate heart rate monitoring (which is a big tick, as my Series 1 often gave heart rate readings that defied common sense).

Most of all, though, the Series 2 feels indispensable in a way the first gen Pixel Watch didn’t. While I was perfectly happy to go several days without wearing my Series 1, I haven’t been without my Series 2 since it came out of the box. Battery and sensor improvements might not seem overly flashy, but they add up to an experience that makes the watch integrate better into my daily life.

Adam Smith | Reviews.org Australia
Senior managing editor

Is the Pixel Watch 2 worth buying?

Samsung better watch its back
Pixel Watch 2 header

Google's second-generation Pixel Watch manages to tweak the formula in smart ways but it lacks the freshness of its predecessor. If you're in the market for an Apple Watch alternative to use with an Android phone, it's an obvious choice.

All the same, I found myself constantly wishing that Google's flagship wearable had a little bit more ambition to it. $549 is a lot of money to throw at a companion to your smartwatch and while the Google Pixel Watch 2 manages to sidestep all the familiar pitfalls it's sorely lacking in innovation and rarely feels as essential as its iOS counterpart.

Google has convinced me that it can make a decent smartwatch, but for this price and with the Pixel name in the picture, I can't help but wish it could sell me a smarter one.

How does the Pixel Watch 2 compare?

Device
Price
Availability
Battery
Water-resistance
Star rating
Fitbit Charge 6 Product comparisonFitbit Charge 6
From
$249
Up to 7 days battery lifeUp to 50m water resistance
Apple Watch Ultra 2 product comparisonApple Watch Ultra 2
From
$1399
Up to 36 hours battery lifeUp to 100m water resistance
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic product comparisonSamsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic
From
$699
Up to 40 hours battery lifeUp to 50m water resistance
From
$549
24 hour battery lifeUp to 50m water resistance
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$649
18 hour battery lifeUp to 50m water resistance
4 out of 5 stars
4
Fergus Halliday
Written by
Fergus Halliday
Fergus Halliday is a journalist and editor for Reviews.org. He’s written about technology, telecommunications, gaming and more for over a decade. He got his start writing in high school and began his full-time career as the Editor of PC World Australia. Fergus has made the MCV 30 Under 30 list, been a finalist for seven categories at the IT Journalism Awards and won Most Controversial Writer at the 2022 Consensus Awards. He has been published in Gizmodo, Kotaku, GamesHub, Press Start, Screen Rant, Superjump, Nestegg and more.

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