Google Pixel Watch — 3 reasons to buy and 3 reasons to skip

Google Pixel Watch
(Image credit: Future)

Now that the Google Pixel Watch is finally here, you might be wondering whether you should buy one for yourself — or if you should skip it.

When it comes to first-generation devices like the Pixel Watch, there’s almost always room for improvement. While there’s a lot that Google got right with its debut smartwatch, there are also some reasons you should sit tight and wait for a follow-up version (or get one of the other best smartwatches on the market.)

The Google Pixel Watch pairs Wear OS with Fitbit’s health platform, making for a well-connected smartwatch experience with thorough fitness tracking. But does it do enough to justify its $349 starting price? Here’s the 3 reasons to buy the Pixel Watch, and 3 reasons you shouldn’t. 

Reasons to buy the Pixel Watch

You’re a Pixel phone user

Until the Google Pixel Watch, those with Pixel smartphones didn’t have a dedicated or in-brand smartwatch to use as an accessory. In comparison Samsung phone users and iPhone users have had the Galaxy Watch and Apple Watch, respectively, for several years. As such, there’s plenty of reason to consider the Pixel Watch one of the best smartwatches for Android if you have a Pixel phone.

We tested out the Pixel Watch with the new Google Pixel 7 and Google Pixel 7 Pro. It certainly felt like the Pixel Watch’s Wear OS software is optimized to complement Android 13 on Pixel handsets. That said, the Pixel Watch works with any Android smartphone as long as it's running Android 8.0 or higher. 

You rely on Google apps

Being a Wear OS smartwatch, the Pixel Watch comes outfitted with several useful Google apps. This includes: Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google Pay, Google Home, YouTube Music and Google Assistant. 

If you use these apps frequently, the Pixel Watch will make a strong companion. Whether you use turn-by-turn directions in Google Maps to get to a destination, control your Philips Hue lights with Google Home or do most of your music streaming with YouTube Music, you’ll benefit from having a full collection of Google apps right on your wrist. 

The Google Pixel Watch is the smartest Fitbit watch yet, even if it’s not technically branded as a Fitbit watch. It might not have as sophisticated health sensors as a device like the Fitbit Sense 2, but Google Pixel Watch fitness tracking is more holistic than anything Google Fit could’ve offered. 

With the Pixel Watch specifically, Fitbit excels in sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring during activities. Tools like Active Zone Minutes and Daily Readiness Score (with Fitbit Premium) elevate the experience, too. The Pixel Watch even has the Sleep Profiles feature now.

Not only that, this year’s Fitbit smartwatches have fewer “smart” features than before. Neither the Sense 2 nor Fitbit Versa 4 have support for third-party apps. You can only use Alexa as your voice assistant with these two watches as well.

Reasons to skip the Pixel Watch

You care about battery life

The Google Pixel Watch promised 24 hours of battery life, and it delivers — but only if you limit your GPS use and activity tracking. Still, 24 hours feels lackluster compared to the battery life we’ve come to expect from Fitbit devices. Apple and Samsung introduced improvements to battery life and battery life management this year as well.

If you don’t want to charge your smartwatch every day, the Pixel Watch probably isn’t a good smartwatch for you. And if battery life is actually one of your biggest priorities, you might want to check out our recommendations of the best Garmin watches. Garmin’s devices have best-in-class battery life. 

You do rugged activities

Garmin watches also often make for some of the best sports watches. The Google Pixel Watch is not going to be considered one of those watches. The curved Corning Gorilla Glass 5 isn’t nearly as durable as the sapphire crystal display on devices like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and Apple Watch Ultra. In fact, The Verge reported that the display of their Pixel Watch review unit inexplicably cracked during testing.

That wasn’t our experience, but we also have no intention of wearing the Pixel Watch for any sort of outdoor sports, rugged terrain or manual labor. The device isn’t dust-resistant, either. If your day-to-day includes dirt, sand or flour, you should definitely skip the Pixel Watch. 

You prefer a large smartwatch

The Pixel Watch only comes in one size — 41mm. We found the size quite comfortable for our own wrist, but it’s still rather small. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Apple Watch Series 8 both come in two sizes, giving you more options as a shopper.

While the Pixel Watch offers customization in terms of colors and watch bands, the singular size could be a deal-breaker. If you usually prefer a larger timepiece, we're guessing the Pixel Watch won't be right for you. You might want to go to a Google Store or electronics retailer and try it on to be sure, though.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.