ShortList is supported by you, our amazing readers. When you click through the links on our site and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Learn more

Google Pixel Watch review: 5 things to know

The time is now for Google and the Pixel Watch.

Google Pixel Watch review: 5 things to know
13 October 2022

If we were to be so shallow to judge the Pixel Watch on looks alone, then Google's first foray into the world of smartwatches is a winner.

It's one of the nicest smartwatches that has been on our wrist, with a slick curved screen that makes way for a stainless steel rear. But there is more to gadgets than looks- functionality has to be there, too.

It's this functionality that Google has been offering other companies for a good while now. Its Wear OS operating system is on some 20% of smartwatches, this is mainly due to Samsung and its Galaxy Watch. This is impressive but also shows the dominance of Apple in this market.

Now, Google wants some of that hardware market share, with the Pixel Watch marking the first time it has entered the wearable space proper and it's brought back-up in the form of Fitbit, a company it bought for $2.1 billion earlier this year.

It sounds impressive but is it enough to dethrone the likes of Apple Watch? Well, we have been using the Pixel Watch for a few weeks now and here are 5 things to know...

1. Design wise, Google's Pixel Watch is ahead of the curve

Google Pixel Watch review

The Google Pixel Watch is a thing of beauty and perfect for those who feel that most smartwatches are too bulky to wear during work and play. It's certainly not the first round smartwatch - we recently reviewed the well-rounded Galaxy Watch 5 Pro - but it's the best looking.

The size of the screen (made of Gorilla Glass 5) is on the smaller side, at 41mm, which means the real estate on the face is the same as the smallest Apple Watch but the screen shape makes it feel smaller.

Other than the screen, there is a digital crown (we would have likes to have seen a small G imprinted on it but it's clear from branding) and a small return button above this. Couple the screen with stainless steel rear and it makes everything feel glossy, polished and premium.

Strap-wise, we were impressed with how easy it locks into place - the mechanism looks simple but makes for one of the more comfortable straps we've tried.

2. About that screen...

Google Pixel Watch review

The 41mm screen is incredibly bright, thanks to the 450×450 res AMOLED panel which offers peak 1000 nits brightness. There is a bezel, a chunky one at that, but Google does a very good job of covering this up, with the black-background OS.

The curved screen is another design flourish which makes this watch look, well, less chunky than its rivals. When it's on your wrist it sits nicely - we never felt like we were going to bump it into things as its pretty flush to your wrist.

We opted for an always-on screen, which does suck the battery (more on this in a bit) but we were impressed with just how quickly the ambient light worked when we wanted to use the watch at a glance.

On that, the watch only 'wakes' when you lift your wrist and doesn't seem to turn on when walking around which is a nice touch.

3. It's feature rich and VERY Pixel

Google Pixel Watch review

The look of the OS on the Google Pixel Watch matches that of its handset - minimal-looking fonts and completely lacking in fuss.

The Pixel Watch has Wear OS but this it stripped down to exactly how Google wants it. There are a choice of watch faces in the accompanying app and navigating to features throughout is easy. There's a decent tutorial when you first use the device which makes sense of the myriad swiping you can do to.

The digital crown makes things simple too - a rotation up has you looking at recent notification, rotate down and you get to your settings. A single press brings you back to the home screen and a double press brings up Google Wallet.

Link up your social networks and you will get notification, followed by a small vibration. And if you are listening to something on your phone, then you get a nice flowing levels icon appear on the home screen, tap this and you are transported to the media player on the watch, where you can control your music listening.

Front and centre of the home screen is where the Pixel Watch's fitness hub lies, thanks to Fitbit.

4. Fitbit is built in - and that's a good thing for your fitness

Google Pixel Watch review

Google is certainly taking advantage of owning Fitbit in its Pixel Watch. The Fitbit logo is central on the home screen and the phone comes with a six-month trial of Fitbit Premium. You don't have to take this up, though, to take advantage of the features on offer as there's plenty of goodness in the free version.

We prefer Fitbit's software to track our movements, than Google Fit, as it offers a decent amount of the right detail. It's also now hard to see where Google's own fitness functionality ends and Fitbit's starts.

Through the watch, you can track 40 workout disciplines, step counts and heart rate throughout the day. You get prompts but not to stand up or anything like that. They are more enticing, telling you that you only have to do a certain number of steps in any given hour to complete your goal.

You can also track your sleep through the watch and it's very accurate. It will give you a morning report and tell you what you need to do to get a better night's sleep.

Automatic exercise detection is also on board and it never let us down - we are a fan of this as if you are doing the school run or heading to the shops, you don't have to faff about going into the exercise section to track. GPS is also on board but if you want to use this, then you have to manually go into the exercise and track it that way.

The Pixel Watch never left us wanting when it came to fitness features, we just wished it lasted a little bit longer...

5. Battery will last you a day but keep that charger close

Google Pixel Watch review

The Pixel Watch is a smartphone you will be charging, a lot. Thankfully charging is quick and simple, with 30 minutes getting you to 50% - and a little over an hour to get you close to full.

This did mean we had to figure out the best time to charge the thing. We opted for first thing in the morning, while having breakfast, showering etc. This meant that we could wear it for the sleep tracking.

We like having an always-on display and that does sap the battery, so if you want to get more out of the watch then you can certainly stretch the battery that way. There's also a battery saver option, which you are prompted to use when you get to 20%.

It was obvious from the size of the watch that battery wasn't going to be a winner here, but we did expect a little more - given most smartwatches now last way past 24 hours.

Google Pixel Watch: Final Verdict

Google Pixel Watch review

The Google Pixel Watch is the best-looking Android smartwatch available now, packed with slick smarts and fitness-focused features. It takes the strain away from constantly gawping at your phone and looks fantastic on your wrist.

We would have loved a little more staying power and those who haven't opted for a Pixel phone may want to look at other options available. But if you are Pixel all the way, then it's a no-brainer.

The Google Pixel Watch starts at £339 / $350 (Bluetooth/ Wi-Fi) and £379 (4G LTE + Bluetooth/Wi-Fi).