Google Pixel Watch 2 review

Google Pixel Watch 2 review: better the second time around


With more grunt, better battery life and tighter Fitbit integration, the Google Pixel Watch 2 is a big step up from Google’s first effort.

Smart watches from the likes of Apple and Samsung have matured to the point where each new model tends to introduce minor improvements rather than major upgrades. Meanwhile, Google arrived late on the scene. It only released the first Pixel Watch in 2022, having previously left the smartwatch space to its hardware partners building on Wear OS.

Revealed alongside this year’s Pixel 8 phones, the Google Pixel Watch 2 comes as the tech giant continues to digest fitness giant Fitbit. The result is a smartwatch that improves the fundamentals while also letting users make the most of the Fitbit ecosystem.

Google Pixel Watch 2 review

First impressions

At first glance, the Google Pixel Watch 2 seems identical to its predecessor. Its housing is made from recycled aluminium, which makes it 10 per cent lighter than the original stainless steel Pixel Watch. Not that you’re likely to notice the difference once it’s on your wrist.

It’s a solid foundation to build upon, retaining the round 41mm body that features a 31mm AMOLED touchscreen watch face. That bright screen makes it easy to view the display outdoors, which is important when you tend to interact with your smartwatch regularly during the day.

When it comes to controls, the watch retains the crown along with the flush secondary button. While a round body ensures an elegant look, it does come at the expense of the screen real estate that you get on some larger fitness watches. It’s a shame the watch hasn’t clawed back more screen real estate by reducing the thickness of the bezel.

The watch body is available in three colours with matching bands. Unfortunately, the included ‘fluoroelastomer’ rubber watch band doesn’t really match the elegance of the body. There’s no option to select a more premium band when you buy the watch, you can instead add one as an optional extra. Thankfully, the Pixel Watch 2 is compatible with bands from the original Pixel Watch.

Its setup is very straightforward, once you download the Pixel Watch app to your smartphone running Android 9.0 or above (sorry iPhone owners, this one’s not for you). If you’ve opted for the $649 4G LTE mode it features eSIM for easy setup, but it’s only supported for Telstra customers in Australia, unfortunately.

You can select from a range of watch faces, although most are gimmicky – a common issue with smartwatches. It’s a shame there isn’t a better spread of more practical, conservative options for those of us who just want it to look like a traditional watch.

During set up you can enable features such as Google Assistant running on the watch and Google Wallet for contactless payments. You can also link the watch to your existing Fitbit account, if you’re ready to bite the bullet and come to terms with the fact that Fitbit is now part of the Googleverse. Google is pushing for users to migrate their Fitbit data to their Google account by 2025.

If you’re new to fitness, you can use the Google Fit app instead, but it’s more cumbersome, limited and difficult to set up. The watch is very keen to encourage you to use the newly redesigned Fitbit app. It’s the only way to access some advanced features. For an extra shove, the watch comes with six months of Fitbit Premium membership – which is required to take advantage of some of those advanced features.

Google Pixel Watch 2 specifications

Display size1.2 inch (30.5mm)
Display resolution450×450 pixel, 320 ppi density
Display technologyAMOLED, 1000 nits peak brightness
BandsOptional 4G LTE
ChipsetQualcomm 5100
Onboard storage32 GB
ChargingWired pin charging (USB-C magnetic charge dock included), 80% in 45 min
BatteryLi-Ion 306 mAh
Wi-FiWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth5.0, A2DP, LE
Operating systemWear OS 4
SensorsAccelerometer, gyro, heart rate, altimeter, compass, SpO2, thermometer (skin temperature), skin conductance, 
ConnectivityGPS/GLONASS/Galileo/BeiDo, Ultra Wideband
Ruggedness50m/5ATM water resistant (IP68)
Dimensions41 x 41 x 12.3 mm
Weight31 gm
ColoursPolished Silver, Matte Black or Champagne Gold
Pricefrom $549 RRP
Warranty1 year
Official websiteGoogle Australia


The Google Pixel Watch 2 might look very similar to its predecessor, but it offers a range of improvements thanks to an upgraded chipset, extra sensors and the move to Wear OS 4.

The new quad-core CPU improves performance and, testing it alongside the original Pixel Watch, you can see that apps load more quickly and the watch is generally more responsive.

Meanwhile, the low-power co-processor now offers 24 hours of battery life even with always-on display active. Realistically though, you still need to charge it every day or else it will run flat the next day – so you’ll always need to throw the charger in your overnight bag on short trips.

One change from the original Watch is that the Watch 2 does away with wireless charging in favour of pinned charging via the supplied USB-C magnetic dock. That’s frustrating considering the original Watch’s wireless charging worked with third-party Qi accessories, even though it didn’t officially support them.

Needing to charge every day becomes a challenge if you intend to wear the watch all night for sleep tracking, but the switch from wireless to wired charging has reduced the time taken for a full charge from 110 minutes to 75 minutes. At this point, it’s practical to put the watch on the charger when you wake up, get ready for your day and then grab the fully-charged watch as you leave the house.

As a general smartwatch, Google has made some welcome improvements such as the ability to sync with your phone’s Do Not Disturb settings. You’ve also got new native Wear OS apps like Gmail and Google Calendar, which are welcome if you want your smartwatch to be a more useful extension of your smartphone.

Compared to the Apple Watch, it’s also nice to see more granular control as to whether notifications appear on your watch, phone or both.

Health and fitness

From a fitness perspective, the Google Pixel Watch 2 can track around 40 different workouts, with a new workout tracking screen making it easier to see the essentials at a glance.

One major welcome improvement is the ability to automatically detect common workouts including walking, running, cycling and rowing – a great feature that is also coming to the original Pixel Watch.

Most supported activities are recognised within five minutes, although it’s around 15 minutes for walking. Five minutes after you stop an activity, the watch will ask if you’re done.

Those timeframes match with my experience. Taking my dogs for a walk, it took almost 20 minutes for the watch to pipe up and ask if I wanted to record a walk (admittedly, we dawdled for the first few minutes). Thankfully, it’s smart enough to retrospectively add that time to the walk, rather than only pick up at that point. The combination of smart algorithms and GPS ensures it counts steps constantly, even if your watch hand is holding the leash rather than swinging back and forth.

When I jumped on the rowing machine, it was much faster to react, only taking 5 minutes and 10 seconds to detect the workout and ask if I wanted to record it.

Taking a seemingly long time to detect your exercise might seem like a hassle but it’s actually quite practical in some scenarios. If you’re on your feet at work or school, for example, you wouldn’t want to be hassled by your watch when you’re just walking between buildings.

Likewise with the other exercises. When I do circuit training at the gym, jumping between cardio and weights every few minutes, I don’t want the watch to constantly hassle me about a ‘new’ exercise. That said, there’s a specific ‘circuit training’ option to allow for this.

When it comes to tracking your activity, a new heart rate sensor offers more accurate readings. It also improves the accuracy of metrics like calories burned and Fitbit’s Active Zone Minutes – how many minutes spent burning calories in a particular cardio zone. With the Watch 2, you also gain access to new Heart Zone Training and Pace Training features, which help you maintain your heart rate and pace during certain workouts. 

Keep in mind, the Pixel Watch 2 is still a “smart” watch first and a “fitness” watch second, so it lacks some of the advanced analytics you’ll find on high-end watches aimed at athletes.

From a health perspective, the original Pixel Watch already supported ECG readings via the Fitbit ECG app, with the Pixel Watch 2 adding irregular heart rhythm detection. The original Watch included safety features like fall detection and Emergency SOS, while the Watch 2 adds Medical ID, Emergency Sharing and Safety Check. The latter lets you specify an activity and destination, notifying your emergency contacts if you don’t check-in.

When it comes to mental health, Google has brought across Fitbit’s Body Response, assisted by the new continuous electrodermal activity (cEDA) sensor. Body Response basically examines your heart rate, heart rate variability, skin temperature and electrodermal activity in order to identify physical signs of stress.

Body Response is part of a general push amongst wearables to place more focus on mental health, including breathing and mindfulness features. Partly it’s because we’ve all been through a few stressful years, and partly because wearables are looking for ways to differentiate beyond tracking exercise. 

Body Response is accessible via the Fitbit app and It’s not turned on by default. This is probably for the best if, like me, being told to calm down because you’re currently worked up is likely to make things worse rather than better.

Who is the Google Pixel Watch 2 for?

If you’re an Android user who held off on the Pixel Watch due to its various shortcomings, the Google Pixel Watch 2 could be just what you’ve been waiting for. It’s an improvement on the original in many ways.

Of course, if you’re a Fitbit user you might have mixed feelings. It’s an attractive option if you’re keen on some of the Watch 2’s smart features and tight Android integration, but it’s also forcing you to move your fitness data into the Google ecosystem – something that’s coming in the next few years whether you like it or not.

Google Pixel Watch 2
A big improvement on the original, the Google Pixel Watch 2 is the smartwatch for Android fans to watch.
Value for money
Ease of use
More powerful
Longer battery life
Better Fitbit integration
Only a choice of one body/screen size
Can't configure bands when purchasing
Proprietary charger