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It has been a month since we posted our Pixel Watch review and this little dude has remained on my wrist since, although I had to switch wrists (more on that in a minute). I’m over 30 days of life with Google’s first smartwatch, so I figured it was time for an update on how things are going.
For those who missed the review (you can read it here), the short version is that I was a big fan of the design, size, display, and performance. The Fitbit integration was also solid and battery life wasn’t bad, considering Google only rated it at a day and was easily getting me through one with semi-heavy usage. My only gripes were with a software experience lacking in features that are common on other watches, a one-size-only approach, and a slightly high price.
Have any opinions changed, you may be wondering? For the most part, no, I still feel about the same about almost all of the things I said. If there are areas where my mind has changed some, it’s in the watch band situation, but that’s really it. I actually like the Pixel Watch a lot and haven’t had the slightest urge to take it off and switch back to my Garmin (yet).
So let’s start with the watch band situation for the Pixel Watch, since that’s my area of concern at the moment.
In my review, I mentioned that the included Active Band was very comfortable and I saw no reason to change from it as an active person. Unfortunately, for the first time with any smartwatch on the wrist, I had a reaction to the band about a week ago. I woke up the other morning with a burning sensation where the band tucked under itself and onto my wrist. When I took the watch off, I had a red mark with a blister running through the middle of it. It has been 5 days and we’re almost healed.
I’m not alone in this happening. Here are just a few threads with others complaining. I don’t want to call it widespread, but there are certainly more than a handful of reports from others.
For the past week, I’ve had to switch my Pixel Watch over to my right wrist and also wear other bands. This is where my complaint actually lies – the band connector and lack of third party options for bands are a problem.
I have now ordered all of Google’s Pixel Watch bands because there are so few options on Amazon or from any other retailer. Since Google went with this obnoxious Fitbit connector for bands, we don’t have very many options to choose from that aren’t made by Google. So I have the Stretch Band and Woven Band, neither of which are great. The Stretch Band is super comfy, but it’s not a tight enough weave for someone who is active. The Woven band just feels cheap as hell and isn’t comfortable.
This week, I grabbed the $80 Crafted Leather Band (using store credits) with no intention of ever wearing it. I bought it because it has 20mm watch band connectors. In other words, you can remove the leather band from Google and use the watch band connectors to then supply your own band. You can see them in use here with my own active band that hasn’t given me an awful wrist rash.
I did order this band from Amazon and it’s fine as a nylon fabric band. It’s certainly a band with $14 quality, though. The rest of the situation for 3rd party options isn’t great, which is why I used credit for Google’s $80 leather band.
That’s a lot to take in and was mostly a story time, but understand that until someone just straight up sells us a band connector for the Pixel Watch, the band choices will be limited or bad or both. And hopefully your wrist likes Google’s Active Band better than mine did.
Apologies for starting off on a negative, but the rest of the story here is a good one. As many of you know, when I finish reviewing a product, I tend to grab something else immediately to take a break after being in Testing Mode. When finishing up a review of a phone, I’ll grab another Android phone or even an iPhone, just to change it up and give my brain a break. With the Pixel Watch, I switched to an Apple Watch for a day and then came right back. The Pixel Watch has been on my wrist exclusively since.
I’ve kept in on because I’m giving Fitbit a first real try for the first time. So you know, I kind of obsess over health data and this is giving me almost all of the stuff I need in an easily digestible fashion. It’s not doing SpO2 by itself yet, which is odd, but it is doing heart-rate variability (HRV) and thorough breakdowns of my sleep, stress, and readiness. These are all items I care far too much about and love that Fitbit gives them to me. I know I could get them from my Garmin, but I’m liking Fitbit for now and am enjoying the switch to something new.
I’ve also kept it on the wrist because the size is absolutely perfect. Coming from a Garmin, Apple Watch Ultra, and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro before it, the Pixel Watch felt borderline small at first. I even saw a bunch of dudes complaining about the size when it first launched and that it was too small for their manly wrists, so they planned to return it. After hanging with it for this past month, I’m not sure I can go back to my mega-watches. This slim profile and case size stays out of your way when active and still looks beautiful as an accessory. I’m going to struggle to go back to a bigger watch after this.
The display still looks great in all conditions, performance is always smooth, and battery life has remained at about 1.5 days. I’m still taking my watch off the charger at 10AM, wearing it all day and night, sometimes with a workout in there, and slapping it back on the charger the next morning with 20-30%. On one day I forgot to put it on the charger in the morning, kept wearing it all day, and so it was begging for juice at like 11PM before I went to bed. So no, it’s still not going to get you 2 days, but it will get you at least a full day with pretty heavy use.
And speaking of days, my day with the Pixel Watch involves managing notifications all-day, tracking hour long workouts, running timers when I cook, controlling music both by voice and through touch, sleep tracking every night, and having the current weather handy. I use this watch for quite a bit of stuff. I’m probably not the heaviest user around, since I don’t take calls or run loads of 3rd party apps, but I do use it a lot. Getting rid of the Pixel Watch at this point would most definitely force me to change-up the way my day works.
There are two other notes from me on potential areas of concern. The first is the physical rotating crown that Google included. I mentioned in my review that the crown looked cheap and I’m now worried that it will stop functioning properly at some point. My crown already struggles at times to spin and rotate the UI of the screen and the clicky-ness of it as a button has also been inconsistent. I’m not sure if that’s from all of the sweat it has absorbed, but I’m watching it closely after only a month into its life.
The other thing is the never-ending stress over the display and its durability. This isn’t sapphire – it’s domed glass, and yeah, I’m worried every time I bump the Pixel Watch that the glass may have a scratch or crack. We’ve already seen what happens when you drop the watch from waist high. I can tell you that I’ve also dropped it from that height and was surprised to see it unaffected.
Telling you to run out and buy a smartwatch is always going to be tough. I happen to love smartwatches and all of the fitness tracking they provide, plus I don’t mind getting limited notifications on my wrist and using the device as a tool. But not everyone needs this much connectivity at all times.
That said, if a smartwatch is a thing you might want to try or know that you already enjoy, I think the Pixel Watch is a solid choice. The price is kind of high at $350, but the holiday season should give you regular $50 discounts (like now) that’ll make the purchase less painful.
Overall, I’m pretty much hooked to the Pixel Watch, flaws and all. Now that I’ve tossed on my own band and am used to the daily charging, I like a lot of what this is offering. Looking forward to checking back in and sharing more after a few months.