Google Pixel Watch — what I want to see from the next-gen version

Google Pixel Watch
(Image credit: Future)

The Google Pixel Watch has been on my wrist for almost two weeks now, and I have mixed feelings about Google's first attempt to make its own Wear OS device. Literally, on one hand, the Pixel Watch has a lot to offer as a first-generation device. On the other hand, I’m caught up on what’s missing from it, or what I’d like to see from the Pixel Watch 2. 

Google made what I might call a good first attempt. The Pixel Watch gets a lot of things right, from a minimalistic design and helpful Google apps built-in to reliable fitness tracking with Fitbit. But that pretty much covers what I would consider the key reasons to buy the Pixel Watch.

Otherwise, the Pixel Watch leaves me wanting more, especially in terms of what you get for a $349 ($399 with LTE) smartwatch. There are a few upgrades that I think would take the Pixel Watch from being a good first attempt to the best smartwatch for Android if not one of the best smartwatches ever. 

Here’s what I’d want to see from the Google Pixel Watch 2, or second-generation Pixel Watch — if Google happens to have a follow-up in the works, that is.

More size options

There’s only one size option for the Pixel Watch, 41mm, and I think that’s a major disadvantage compared to Apple Watch Series 8 and Galaxy Watch 5. For many smartwatches, 41mm (or a close equivalent) is the smaller of two size options. This provides choice and flexibility, and is one of the reasons the Apple Watch is still the better choice between the Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 8.

For me, the 41mm Google Pixel Watch looks great and fits well on my wrist, though I personally prefer a larger size smartwatch to be able to see the screen more clearly while working out.

We’re also seeing a trend towards bigger smartwatches with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and the Apple Watch Ultra. For larger wrists, there needs to be a bigger size option on the next Pixel Watch, no doubt about it.

Added health sensors

I’d like to see the next Pixel Watch include more health sensors. The Pixel Watch only has a heart rate monitor and SpO2 sensor for reading your blood oxygen, though SpO2 readings aren’t available yet. Right now, the Pixel Watch can take ECGs and detect possible signs of atrial fibrillation, which is considered a premium feature, but that capability is also become more commonly included on smartwatches.

Other smartwatches and fitness trackers from the past year are just more ambitious, with skin temperature sensing on the newest Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch lineups or electrodermal activity readings on the Fitbit Sense 2. One of the biggest differences between the Google Pixel Watch vs. Fitbit Sense 2 is that the Fitbit smartwatch can help you understand how you’re feeling with notifications indicating when you might be stressed.  

Longer battery life 

Something that could make the next-generation Pixel Watch both a better fitness smartwatch and overall wearable accessory is a longer battery life. In my testing, the Pixel Watch lost 20% per hour with GPS-based activity tracking. I haven’t had a lot of 24-hour battery life days with it, and what’s worse, I've had the battery die overnight and sabotage my sleep-tracking data.

Ideally, I’d like to see the Pixel Watch 2's battery life last closer to 2 to 3 days, varying with GPS use and features like the always-on display or LTE connectivity. Both Samsung and Apple upgraded their smartwatch battery life estimates this year, so Google should look to do the same next time around.

And who knows? Instead of the Pixel Watch 2, Google could be working on a Pixel Watch Pro, kind of keeping in line with the branding of its phones and earbuds. That’s just a bit of my own speculation; either way, I hope it features these important upgrades.

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.