Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Which is the better smartwatch?

Google Pixel Watch
(Image credit: Future)

The Google Pixel Watch is finally here, so you might be wondering: How do the Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 8 compare?

Though you probably won't find yourself shopping between the two watches — the Pixel Watch only works with Android phones, and the Apple Watch only works with iPhones — it's interesting to see how they stack up. After all, one might have features we wish the other had, or vice versa. 

As seen in our Apple Watch Series 8 review, it's the the best smartwatch overall, so the Pixel Watch will be held to high standards. The Pixel Watch still has room for improvement, being a first generation device, but here's what you need to know about the Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 8. 

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Apple Watch Series 8Google Pixel Watch
Starting price$399$349
Sizes41mm, 45mm41mm
ColorsMidnight, Starlight, Silver, Product RedMatte Black, Silver, Gold
Water resistance5 ATM5 ATM
Battery life (rated)18 hours (36 with low power mode)24 hours
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, LTE (optional)Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, LTE (optional)
CompatibilityiPhone 8 or later, iOS 16 or laterAndroid 8.0 or later
SoftwarewatchOSWear OS
Health sensorsSkin temperature, heart rate, ECG, SpO2Heart rate, ECG, SpO2

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Price and availability

The Pixel Watch costs $349 (£339 / AU$549) for a GPS + Bluetooth-only configuration, while the LTE-compatible version costs $399 (£379 / AU$649). The Pixel Watch release date is October 13, with preorders available now. Here's our guide to Google Pixel Watch preorders, in case you're interested.

The Apple Watch Series 8 starts at $399 (£369 / AU$629), or $50 more than the Pixel Watch. It goes up in price based on size, material and cellular connectivity. You can potentially find discounts with the best Apple Watch deals, as the Apple Watch Series 8 has been out since September 16.

This face-off compares the Pixel Watch to the 8th-gen Apple Watch, though there two other Apple Watch models available now: The Apple Watch SE (2022) and Apple Watch Ultra. The new SE starts at $249 while the Ultra costs $799.

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Design

The Google Pixel Watch and Apple Watch Series 8 each sport distinct designs. The Pixel Watch is round and rather minimalistic, coming in just one size: 41mm. It  features a rounded design with a 3D glass dome that creates a raised effect, though you'll still notice the display has a rather thick bezel.

On the other hand, the Apple Watch Series 8 has incredibly thin bezels, with a display that goes right goes right up to the squircle's edges. It comes in 41mm and 45mm, offering some versatility. The lack of a larger option might emerge as a Pixel Watch complaint from those with larger wrists.

Google Pixel Watch

(Image credit: Future)

It seems the Pixel Watch borrowed the Apple Watch's digital crown and singular side button, with both even having the same navigational functions. Perhaps the only difference is the button placement above the digital crown on the Pixel Watch, whereas the button beneath the crown on the Apple Watch.

Otherwise, the Apple Watch Series 8 and Pixel Watch are both customizable with a variety of watch straps. There are more of the best Apple Watch bands, due to the watch being around for many years, but Google launched a respectable 7 band styles with the Pixel Watch.

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Features

At the core, both smartwatches seem very "smart" with access to third-party app downloads, music streaming, notifications, messaging, calling, mobile payments and more. The biggest difference is watchOS 9 powers these experiences on the Apple Watch Series 8, while Wear OS 3.5 is the Pixel Watch's software.

Unlike some other Wear OS watches that are the best smartwatches for Android, the Pixel Watch only works with a paired Android smartphone. The Apple Watch has only ever worked with iPhone, though you could set up and manage an Apple Watch for someone without an iPhone with Family Setup.

Google Pixel Watch

(Image credit: Future)

Both watches also have a full suite of fitness tracking features for things like logging workouts, counting steps and analyzing sleep. Apple uses its native fitness and health apps, while Google leveraged Fitbit's platform for the Pixel Watch. Apple Fitness Plus and Fitbit Premium are the paid tiers of each brand's fitness services, unlocking more advanced programming and data.

In terms of health sensors, the Pixel Watch can record ECGs and take blood oxygen (SpO2) measurements from the wrist. It also packs a continuous heart rate sensor. The Apple Watch Series 8 has all these sensors plus a skin temperature sensor that's used to inform cycle and sleep tracking.

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Battery life

The Google Pixel Watch battery life is rated for 24 hours of battery life, though GPS will cut into that estimate. It is similar to our experience with the Apple Watch Series 8. It's rated for 18 hours but we found it can usually last up to 24 hours.

Apple Watch Series 8 shown on wrist

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This year Apple introduced low power mode for Apple Watch, so the Series 8 can actually last up to 36 hours with this battery-saving feature enabled. The Pixel Watch also has.a battery saver mode, but there's no official estimate of how much this extend's the battery life.

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Which wins?

Given both the Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch 8 only work with their compatible software ecosystems, there's not a big question about which you'll want to buy. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 or Fitbit Sense 2 might be better match for the new Pixel Watch is that sense.

We can't ignore that Apple has the advantage in terms of experience and share in the wearable market. Still, the Pixel Watch delivers on its promises, emerging as a true competitor to the Apple Watch as a version 1.0 device. That's pretty impressive, if you ask us. 

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.