The Google Pixel Watch is now here, and despite its warm reception it appears there are some problems lurking under the surface. While that’s pretty typical of new product launches, including the Pixel 7 and iPhone 14, you may want to take note.
The main thing you should be concerned about is keeping your Pixel Watch safe from damage. Small devices like smartwatches are not necessarily known for being easy to repair, and according to repair specialists at iFixit (opens in new tab) the Pixel Watch is no different.
The other problem is that, despite having years of Fitbit experience to fall back on, the watch appears to be overestimating how many calories users are burning.
Keep your Pixel Watch safe from damage
iFixit hasn’t given the Pixel Watch a reparability score just yet, but the design of the watch has a few good and bad points when repairs are on the table. One major issue is that getting to the key components can be a challenge, with iFixit referring to it as a maze inside Google’s first watch.
Getting to the screen and the battery were difficult, especially since iFixit had no repair manuals to work with. It was also noted that the crown and side button won’t be easily replaceable, on account of them being on the same cable with a test port that appears to be permanently attached to the case.
To make matters worse iFixit said that the crown “is cheap-looking” and that the “screen announces itself with questionable durability." None of which is a particularly good look.
However, it’s pointed out that the original Apple Watch was in similar shape, and things have improved a lot over the past few years. The site described the state of the Apple Watch Ultra by declaring “reparability is just within reach." So the Pixel Watch is an awkward device that is “aww so gen one,” and means there’s plenty of scope for Google to improve in future Pixel Watch generations.
The other reparability win is that the Pixel Watch’s rear glass is held in place by a kind of “liquid gasket” that offers a tight seal and a clean open — with virtually no residue in the process. iFixit doesn’t know what this residue is, but hopes to get its hands on some given the obvious benefits over traditional glue.
Don’t trust the calorie count
If you’re trying to watch what you eat, knowing roughly how many calories you’ve burned can be a big help. But users have been reporting (opens in new tab) (via Android Police (opens in new tab)) that the Pixel Watch’s Fitbit tracking appears to be overstating that figure, sometimes by as much as 50%.
Android Police’s Stephen Scheinck put this to the test, wearing a Pixel Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 on opposing wrist to see just how big a difference there is. Samsung clocked in an hour-long walk as burning 369 calories, while the Pixel Watch recorded it as 585. That is a 58.5% increase.
It’s important to note that fitness trackers and smartwatches aren’t able to measure your energy burn directly. It isn't like counting steps or heart rate. Instead the figure you see is the product of algorithms and math, calculated using a bunch of different data points. That includes heart rate, steps, speed, height, age, sex and so on.
No two platforms will have the same formula, so no two platforms will give you the exact same end-figure. But in this case the discrepancy is pretty severe, and firmly puts this problem in “big” territory.
Android Police notes that the Watch team is aware of the issue, and is likely working on a fix. The team were told to reboot their watches to try and solve the issue, but that didn’t seem to solve the problem. Similarly users in the Fitbit forums were told to do the same (opens in new tab), only to come back and report that nothing had changed.
We don’t know if and when a fix is going to arrive, but hopefully it won’t take too long. At the very least this should be a warning not to take your fitness tracker readings as the gospel truth — especially when it isn’t measured directly. It’s useful to have, and compare to past workouts, but don’t hinge on it being 100% accurate.
With that in mind, if you're after a smartwatch then check out our round up of the best smartwatches you can buy right now.