Google reveals how to get 24 hours from a Pixel Watch — but there’s a catch

Google Pixel Watch
(Image credit: Future)

When Google launched the Pixel Watch it claimed that you’d get all-day battery life. Our testing has produced similar results, but only when not working out or activity tracking.

But now Google is telling us exactly how it got to its battery life numbers. According to 9to5Google (opens in new tab), the tech giant has quietly updated its Pixel Watch battery life article (opens in new tab) with a recipe for 24-hour battery life — and it's very specific. 

Google event

(Image credit: Google Via YouTube)

First, you need to have your Always-on Display off. This is a bummer given that the Always-on Display is one of the features many users want (opens in new tab) from a smartwatch. Once that’s off, make sure to not mess with any other settings; Google’s battery life cocktail requires the Pixel Watch’s default settings.

Once those settings are in place, you can do the following actions and potentially get all-day battery life: 240 notifications, 280 time checks, a 5-minute LTE phone call, 45 minutes of LTE and GPS workout with downloaded YouTube music playback and 50 minutes of Google Maps navigation while connected to your phone via Bluetooth.

The good news for those interested in the Pixel Watch, or that already bought one, is that it does let you get some pretty good use out of the watch. The bad news is that these are still just estimates, so users may still find themselves falling short of 24-hour battery life even with these guidelines from Google. Our own testing showed that an hour of GPS could burn 20% of the Pixel Watch’s battery.

Google Pixel Watch vs Apple Watch battery life: Close, but not quite 

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 8

(Image credit: Future)

In terms of the best smartwatches, Apple still holds the crown. Luckily, Apple (opens in new tab) provides similar information to Google regarding what actions it takes to test its battery life. The Apple Watch Ultra can theoretically hit up to 36 hours with its all-day battery life when using the watch under similar conditions to what Google puts the Pixel Watch through, but with its $799 price, it’s tough to call it a competitor to Google’s $349 smartwatch.

Instead, let’s compare it to the Apple Watch Series 8, which is currently our top smartwatch. Apple says the Series 8 hits up to 18 hours of battery life, though with a much lower 90 time checks and 90 notifications compared to the Pixel Watch’s over 200 for each. 

It’s important to note though, that Apple’s battery life numbers don’t require that you abandon the Always-on Display. Low Power Mode does turn off this feature, but it then pushes the watch well beyond 24 hours battery life under similar conditions to the Pixel Watch battery life testing done by Google. In our review, we found that even just a few hours of Low Power Mode could push your battery life beyond the 24-hour mark. So, Apple seems to have an advantage over Pixel when it comes to all-day battery life. 

Google Pixel Watch vs Samsung Galaxy Watch: Who is the Android battery life king? 

Google Pixel Watch vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

(Image credit: Google/Tom's Guide)

Unfortunately, you need an iPhone to use the Apple Watch and most people looking at the Pixel Watch probably have an Android phone. That means the most important question is which of the best Android smartwatches has the best all-day battery life: The Pixel Watch, or Samsung’s Galaxy Watch lineup?

Bad news for Google here: Samsung definitely wins. Our Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review found that Samsung’s smartwatch can get close to 30 hours with regular use — including keeping the Always-on Display on. With some features disabled, it can even crack two days of use before needing a charge.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro takes things even further. Samsung claims that the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro can hit up to 80 hours of battery life on a single charge. Our testing found that if you turn the Always-on Display off, you may hit that mark, but not with it on. Luckily, with regular use, you can still get over three days of usage without needing to charge the watch.

While it's nice to know exactly what Google does to get 24 hours from the Pixel Watch, ultimately the battery life just doesn’t stand up to Apple and Samsung. So, if battery life is what’s most important to you, you’ll need to move past the Pixel Watch and look to the competition instead.

Malcolm McMillan
News Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a News Writer for Tom's Guide. Before writing for Tom's Guide, he worked many retail jobs and many Black Fridays, including a stint for Microsoft. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. In his spare time, Malcolm is a fantasy football analyst. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.