I was completely wrong about the Google Pixel Watch 2

Top view of someone wearing a Google Pixel Watch 2.
Joe Maring/

As a tech reviewer, part of my job is to review/test every new gadget with as objective, unbiased a perspective as possible. But I have a confession: I In fact I didn’t want to use the Google Pixel Watch 2 when I received my review unit.

Why? I didn’t like the first Pixel Watch at all. I hated the large bezels, the display was poor, the battery didn’t last long enough, and it lacked important health/fitness features. When Google announced the Pixel Watch 2, I looked at the watch thinking I’d hate it as much as the first one.

What actually happened was quite the opposite. I’ve been wearing the Pixel Watch 2 for over a month and have had a great time with it. It’s not at all what I expected, and I’m so glad I was wrong about that.

The design of the Pixel Watch is growing on me

Google Pixel Watch 2 rests on a stone fireplace.
Joe Maring/

A lot of things have been surprising about the Pixel Watch 2 – the biggest one being its design. The Pixel Watch 2 looks almost identical to its predecessor, with the same smaller case size and larger display bezels. But whatever the reason, I like it a lot more this year.

Although I’d still like Google to offer more case sizes with the Pixel Watch 3, the current 41mm body is growing on me. Seeing it from the Apple Watch Ultra 2 was a shock at first, but I quite like how the Pixel Watch 2 looks on my wrist. It’s sleek and subtle, and the domed glass around the screen is really gorgeous. Yes, the bezels are still annoying, but even they haven’t been a deal-breaker for the past month.

A close-up of someone wearing a Google Pixel Watch 2, showing the rotating crown.
Joe Maring/

And while the overall design isn’t all that different, Google has made some small (but important) hardware upgrades this year. The rotating crown, which felt cheap and stiff on the first Pixel Watch excess Better on Pixel Watch 2. It rotates smoothly, the haptic feedback is great, and the way menus/lists scroll is also more natural when you use the crown. It’s still not the Apple Watch Digital Crown, but it’s a big improvement year-over-year.

There’s another change I really like, although it’s a change you can’t see. Instead of using stainless steel like last year, the body of the Pixel Watch 2 is made of 100% recycled aluminum. It still has the shiny finish and looks like stainless steel at first glance, but it’s lighter than before and (in my opinion) a little more comfortable to wear.

Bad battery life? How bad is battery life?

The charging puck of the Google Pixel Watch 2.
Andy Boxall/

The first Pixel Watch received fairly divided opinions about its design, but there’s one thing everyone can agree on: it didn’t have particularly good battery life. Google used 2018 processors in last year’s Pixel Watch, and it shows. The Pixel Watch can be used all day, but barely. And if you wanted to wear it to track your sleep, you were often forced to charge it before sleeping. This was not a good experience.

During my testing, the Google Pixel Watch 2 fared much better. When using the Pixel Watch 2 to track workouts and receive dozens of notifications throughout the day, I often don’t have to charge the watch until late morning or afternoon on the second day of wearing it. And this includes always-on display enabled And Using it for sleep tracking. This is really quite impressive.

Someone is wearing a Google Pixel Watch 2 with a yellow/green fabric band.
Joe Maring/

I am also very happy with the new charger. Instead of a wireless charging puck like its predecessor, the Pixel Watch 2 opts for a magnetic four-pin charging cradle. The charger itself feels a little cheap, but it clips securely onto the Pixel Watch 2, so the watch doesn’t get too hot and the battery fills up quickly.

Battery life was one of the main things that kept me away from the original Pixel Watch, but surprisingly, Google completely resolved those complaints with the Pixel Watch 2. Well done, Google. Praise.

Getting the Fitbit Experience There

The back of the Google Pixel Watch 2.
Joe Maring/

I also have to point out how much Google has improved the Fitbit side of the Pixel Watch 2. The first Pixel Watch was fine for basic health/fitness tracking, but it also lacked a number of important features, with automatic workout detection being one of them.

Once again, Google addressed my complaints with the Pixel Watch 2 head-on. Pixel Watch 2 does Support automatic workout tracking, and it works really well – sometimes even better than my Apple Watch. Skin temperature sensors like the CEDA sensor are also a welcome contribution. If I’m feeling stressed, excited, or nervous about something, the Pixel Watch 2 does a good job of detecting those changes in my body and alerting me to them. It’s not always the most useful thing, but it’s a nice addition that I’ll miss when using other wearables.

Home page of the Fitbit app on an Android phone.
Joe Maring/

Likewise, I’m a big fan of the redesigned Fitbit app. It has an interface that now feels right at home with other Google apps, and while the layout/information is largely the same, it feels more organized and less daunting than before.

I’m still not a huge fan of how many features are locked behind the Fitbit Premium, but the overall fitness package is a notable upgrade from last year. Google is on the right track here, and I’m excited to see how it continues to grow in the coming months/years.

I can’t believe how good the Pixel Watch 2 is

A person is sitting wearing a Google Pixel Watch 2.
Joe Maring/

When I wore the original Google Pixel Watch, I immediately felt like I was counting down the days until I would be able to take it off. I tried my best to like it and give it the benefit of the doubt, but it’s not a smartwatch I’ve ever enjoyed. Meanwhile, the Pixel Watch 2 has been extremely smooth.

I use the Pixel Watch 2 to track my sleep and workouts, monitor my notifications, set timers, etc. I’m doing all this without thinking about how bad the Crown is, how terrible the battery life is, or how I’m missing out on fitness features I really want. It’s a surprisingly great user experience, and it’s really surprised me how much I’ve come to love living with a smartwatch.

The Pixel Watch 2 completely changed my opinion about the Pixel Watch.

I think that’s what impresses me most about the Pixel Watch 2. I’m going through every day with it on my wrist without any complaints. This never happened with the Pixel Watch 1, but it’s a frequent experience with its successor. The Google Pixel Watch 2 isn’t a game-changer in the smartwatch landscape, but it’s a surprisingly excellent device.

The Pixel Watch 2 has managed to completely change my opinion about the Pixel Watch, and as we head into 2024, I really can’t wait to see what Google does with the next generation. What does it do. I don’t often like to be proven wrong, but in this case, I’m thrilled I was proven wrong.

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