Pixel Watch Review: First Gen Fumbles!

– [Voiceover] 24/7.

(upbeat techno beat music)


– Let’s talk about this
Google Pixel Watch.

So, the first generation
of any new piece of tech

is always interesting.


This is Google’s first Pixel smart watch.

We have the Google Pixel phones

and the Pixels buds and a
Pixel tablet coming later.

That could be fun too.

But yeah, this is their first
crack at a Pixel smart watch.

So I know I’m not the only one

who was very curious just
waiting for this thing

to see what it would look like,

what features they would include,

how well it would work together,
what the design would be.

And I also know that I’m not the only one

who’s disappointed in a lot of this stuff.

Let’s talk about it.

So when you first buy
a Pixel Watch for $350,

you get a small 41 millimeter
circular smart watch.

It comes in this one size,

but there’s three colors,
black, silver or gold,

the black being the best in my opinion,

because it is matte black

while the other two are very much glossy.

And the front glass curves way over

into a dome shape made of Gorilla Glass 5.

It’s like a sleek little pebble.

Well, not a Pebble smart
watch, but a literal pebble,

a very lightweight pebble.

And there’s only two buttons,

the crown that rotates and pushes in,

and then a button right above it.

The crown, I think, is really
good. It sticks out enough.

It’s usable everywhere.

It has haptics when you scroll
with it, nice and clicky.

The button above it, not so much.

It’s pretty small,
doesn’t have much travel.

It’s still clicky, but
because of the domed glass,

it’s pushed fairly far
back, close to your wrist.

Luckily, you don’t
really use it that much.

And then connecting the watch bands

at the top and bottom happens

through this clever little
push and slide system.

It’s clever I say, because
it can connect bands

in this really seamless looking way

without any lugs or bulky connections.

And the first party watch
bands do a really good job

of looking like they just jut
out of the side of the watch,

which is pretty cool.

You might not care about this at all

if you never change watch bands,

but as somebody who changes watch bands

every single day to sleep
in a different band,

I just get used to this motion a lot.

And so I find it good when it’s good.

And this is also something very important

to get right in the first generation,

because you don’t really
wanna have to change it

three years in, because that
makes everyone’s watch bands

that they just bought for the
past three years incompatible.

So they’re trying to keep
this for a long time.

So hardware wise,

I think this thing is
actually pretty beautiful.

I love the simple circle.

You can easily dress it
down and keep it subtle,

or you can just go sports
band or fabric band.

It seems to fit right into
a lot of different places.

It’s stainless steel.

It’s water-resistant up to 50 meters.

And the back happens to
be pretty simple too.

It’s just the heart rate sensor,

blood oxygen sensor, and an ECG.

And upfront, this is
1,000 nit OLED display

with a mostly black background
through most of the software,

so it just feels like a black
disc floating on your wrist.

It’s nice.

The only thing I wish
is that it was bigger

or if there was a larger version.

So I don’t even have that big of a wrist,

but this thing, it’s pretty small,

which some people will like,

but I just wish I had a larger screen.

This watch is a 41 millimeter watch,

but that measurement is just of the actual

outside of the casing.

When you actually get
a look at this thing,

the bezels are pretty substantial,

and so the screen is down to
about 29 millimeters across.

Now, I don’t actually hate these bezels.

I think it’s like the notch on a phone.

A lot of people who don’t actually use it

can make a big deal about it,

’cause if you just look
at ’em, they look silly,

but the mostly black background

throughout the UI does a
good job of hiding ’em,

and you really only see them

when you’re looking for them,

or if you set a photo as a watch face.

But I really think a bigger watch

would feel even more modern

for the computer on the
wrist nerds like me,

and it would also solve
the number one problem

of this hardware, which is battery life,

because the battery life is trash.

It’s bad.

It’s just not good at all.

So on stage, Google said…

What did they say?

Up to 24 hours was their claim,

which probably should have
been the first red flag,

’cause if you think about it,

24 hours is like 8:00 a.m. one day

to 8:00 a.m. the next day.

So one day and one night,
but that’s the maximum.

It’s up to 24 hours.

So the always on display is
off by default out of the box.

I turned that on,

and it’s literally
measuring your heart rate

every single second all day,
every day, every single second.

That’s a lot of heart rate measurements.

So just for context, the
Apple Watch, for example,

is checking periodically through the day

and every five seconds
while you’re sleeping.

So now here, I’m getting
more like 18 hours tops,

which is not quite enough to go all day

and then do a full
night of sleep tracking.

So if you wanna do sleep tracking like me,

basically you have to charge
it twice a day every day,

sometime in the morning when you wake up

and then again sometime in the afternoon

before you go to sleep, or
it’s just gonna die. (chuckles)

The thing drains about 20 to 25% battery

just during one night of sleep tracking.

Now, measuring your heart
rate every single second

to the second is actually sick.

Like it’s pretty cool.

There is a complication,
they showed it on stage too,

of just the watch
telling you every second,

updating what your heart rate is.

I’ve never seen anything like it.

It’s the most accurate heart rate tracking

I’ve ever tried in a wearable.

It’s great for tracking
workouts, heart rate recovery.

This is the Fitbit prowess
going to work, no doubt,

but the other smart watches
that are now years in,

the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

and the Apple Watch Series
8, they’ve all realized

by this point that the
way you save battery

is by pinging all these
sensors less often.

Like the Battery Saver
mode on the new Apple Watch

literally is just pinging
heart rate and GPS less

and turning off things
like the always on display

and the blood oxygen readings

that are going on all the
time in the background.

That’s how you save battery.

So the fact that this
watch does it all the time

can be cool, but also can nuke
your battery all the time.

When I go to Bedtime mode,

and just turn on like the Sleep mode,

it doesn’t say it’s stopping
those heart rate measurements.

It continues to measure
my heart rate constantly.

I will say, though, the saving
grace that makes it usable

is that it does charge up very fast.

It does come with this plastic
puck charger in the box

with a pretty weak magnet

that feels like it could easily fall off,

also very first gen feeling,

but it could go from like 10
to 40% in like 15 minutes,

which is amazing, and it
can go from zero to 100

in about an hour.

But okay, all that being
said, the most clumsy thing

about the Pixel Watch for sure

is the fact that it’s also a Fitbit,

or let me rephrase that.

Fitbit isn’t built into the watch so much

as it’s like bolted onto the side.

So where a Wear OS 3.5 here, it’s fine.

It’s pretty familiar.

It’s still intuitive.

You’ve got your watch
face with a swipe down

to get to all your
customizable quick settings.

That’s nice.

And then you swipe up to
get to your notifications.

Your list of apps is one
click of the crown away,

but your recent apps is
behind that secondary button

that I find I almost never use.

Then you can swipe sideways

between a predetermined set
of tiles that you can organize

in the phone app,

and these are like these
big quick shortcuts

to screens that you might use a lot.

Ongoing background things
will show up at the bottom.

So if you have a notification,

there’s a little dot for
your notification dot.

If there’s music playing,

it’ll show a little animation for that.

And if you’re in the middle of something

like a workout and a new
notification comes in,

it’ll show the logo
down there for that too.

So to control any of
the normal watch faces

and complications, which I
really like a lot of ’em,

you go through the Watch app.

Makes perfect sense, but
then for the fitness stuff,

that’s where Fitbit, which
Google acquired in 2019,

comes into play.

So when you set up the watch,

you actually make a Fitbit
account and it starts you off

with six months free of Fitbit Premium,

which is a subscription service.

So as a smart watch, I’ve
mostly enjoyed using it.

It’s been fine.

Like it’s smooth.

It has a good performance

but it does feel disjointed sometimes

in ways where like you’d
expect it to sync more things

with the phone, but it doesn’t.

Like for example, when
I put my Pixel phone

my Pixel phone, in Do Not Disturb mode,

the watch does not go
to Do Not Disturb mode.

It keeps buzzing.

It has its own separate Do
Not Disturb mode, basic stuff.

It feels like it should work together more

than just being a Bluetooth accessory

connected to your phone,

but then you do a bunch of fitness stuff,

a bunch of workouts or
whatever, sleep tracking,

and then the watch dumps
all of that fitness data

into the Fitbit app.

Now, there is still a
Google Fit app, by the way.

The watch doesn’t really
talk to it at all.

So, what does that mean

for the future of the Google Fit app?

I don’t know, your phone
can still talk to it

and dump step counting in there,

but then you’re using two
different apps to track fitness.

So, I don’t know. (chuckles)

And then even throughout the watch UI,

all the Fitbit stuff, it’s in there,

but it also just feels
like they just dropped it

in there on top.

Like instead of ECG, it’s Fitbit ECG,

and instead of exercise,
it’s Fitbit Exercise.

And then you start using these features,

and the free six month trial.

Before you realize, a ton
of the stuff it’s collecting

and that you’re using
like the breathing rate,

heart rate variation sleep stage
tracking, and sleep scores,

all of that goes behind

a Fitbit $10 a month subscription paywall

when the free trial is over.

It feels like you can see
the arc of the thinking

where Google wanted people
to use a Google Watch,

so they bought Fitbit.

And then as they integrated
it they realized,

oh, people love the Fitbit name,

and they still want a Fitbit,

so you can’t remove that
name or that branding.

So people now get the Google Watch

that has Fitbit in it, and
they use the Fitbit app,

but then there’s also
Google Fit in the background

that they hopefully also
choose to use sometimes,

and they all don’t really
talk to each other.

Now all this stuff, it doesn’t
make the rest of the parts

of the watch worst to use.

It all still works.

It adds to this first gen
feeling here where you can tell

that there is a lot that can get better.

And this is the funny thing
about reviewing products

that you’re hoping to be good.

You end up sounding really harsh

like a disappointed parent or something.

Basically, I think this
whole Pixel Watch thing

has a lot of potential, and I
really do enjoy parts of it.

Having Google Assistant on my
wrist everywhere is awesome.

Downloading music to stream offline,

the turn by turn navigation with Maps,

the Voice to Text to
respond to notifications,

all that is great,

but they clearly still have
some first gen learnings to do

like the the charger,
the heart rate monitoring

that is constant that doesn’t seem

to have any adjusting ability,

the Fitbit integration, even
the connectivity problems.

I’ve had a little bit
of connectivity issues

with mine here and there,
but some of my friends

who are also reviewing
this watch right now

have had a nightmare of a
time just keeping it connected

to their phone.

So I’ll let them talk about
that in their reviews.

So I was hoping this would
be some amazing watch

straight from the start,
which I should know better.

Like first gen stuff is never
amazing right from the go.

But it’s starting from zero here.

There’s not a lot of bands.

There’s not a lot of accessories for this.

It’s $350, and for that money,

you could get a more mature
version of a smart watch

that has more features, that
has better battery life,

that has things that aren’t
behind a subscription paywall,

and that ultimately will
probably be a better experience.

But for now, it’s fine
for their first foray

into forearm fitness and fashion,

but functionally, it’s
still far from finished.

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thanks for watching.

See you later.


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