Google’s Pixel Watch has been in the works for years, and Google has been delighted to tease us with hints about what it’s been up to. (Admittedly, having an employee leave a prototype in a restaurant will also help take the wind out of any planned surprise.) Today, though, is the first time Google has truly revealed its new flagship wearable, and we’ll see if it can make up for so many false starts in the watch race.
The Pixel Watch is available in a single size, featuring a 41mm case and a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 5 crystal. The watch appears comically overinflated at first glance, but the benefit is that it hides the bezel when viewed from the wrist. Underneath, consumers will see a 320ppi, always-on AMOLED display with a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits. It’s powered by a 294mAh battery that Google claims can last 24 hours on a charge but can be recharged up to 50% in 30 minutes using the magnetic charging plate.
There are two options: WiFi/Bluetooth or one with its own LTE modem for $50 extra. Both have an Exynos 9110 SoC, which was first introduced in 2018 and is present in Samsung’s Galaxy Watch through to the Watch 3, as well as a Cortex M33 coprocessor, 32GB storage, and 2GB RAM. It says a lot that Google chose not to adopt Qualcomm’s own wearable SoC, which is featured in almost every other non-Samsung Wear OS watch these days and is many years old. Wear OS 3.5 is installed in both variants.
Rather than calling it a Google watch, the company has mentioned Fitbit multiple times, and many of its features are Fitbit-branded. This includes activity, heart-rate, and sleep tracking, however Google claims that its own machine-learning expertise has increased accuracy in these areas. One of the more prominent features is the live heart rate, which measures your vital indicators every second. There’s also an ECG packed in, as well as interfaces with Fitbit Premium for more insights and guided exercises.
Potential Pixel Watch buyers will also receive a six-month free trial of Fitbit Premium, as well as three months of YouTube Music Premium. This allows you to save a large number of songs on your wrist in addition to the app connections, which include 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.
— Made By Google (@madebygoogle) October 6, 2022
Aside from the Gorilla Glass crystal, the only other claim of durability is that it will be water-resistant to 5ATM depths. Oh, and Google claims that by 2023, the Watch will be able to detect falls and, if you have the LTE version and are unresponsive, will contact 911 on your behalf.
It’s worth noting that Google, in collaboration with Motorola, Samsung, ASUS, and LG, beat Apple to the wearables market by a full year. However, the fragmented technique utilized, as well as the general lack of luster on those original Android Wear versions, gave Apple a significant advantage. Since then, the Apple Watch has outsold every other major wearables player in virtually every quarter. Only after Samsung reunited with Google to redesign Wear OS did Google’s platform regain double-digit sales percentages.
And, like with Pixel phones, Google is likely to be content with selling a limited number of gadgets to a tiny segment of the market. Especially since it must preserve the sales of both its partner, Samsung, and its own wholly-owned subsidiary, Fitbit. Although, given that Samsung and Fitbit currently cover nearly every segment of the wearables industry, it’s unclear who Google is really targeting here.
According to CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood, “the Pixel Watch offers zero threat to the Apple Watch,” and its purpose is to “increase awareness of smartwatches for Android smartphone consumers and persuade more of these people to consider purchasing a wearable.” However, for that to work, Pixel Watch must become instantaneously attractive, especially considering Google’s short patience with products that don’t immediately click with the public.
The Google Pixel Watch is available in three stainless steel finishes: “Matte Black,” “Polished Silver,” and “Champagne Gold.” They are complemented with a selection of watch bands that attach without lugs but with a camera lens-like internal locking system that should allow for speedier switching. The watches will come with a “Active” fluoroelastomer strap, but Google claims there will be 20 additional options available in the future. Metal bands are set to arrive in Spring 2023, along with contemporary, woven, and leather versions.
It is currently available for pre-order, with the WiFi/Bluetooth model costing $349.99 and the LTE model costing $399.99, with both slated to delivery on October 13th.
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