Google Pixel Watch 2 Review – 6 Months Later

Is the Google Pixel Watch 2 Worth It after 6 months? How’s the Battery Life? Has the Fast Charging speed really improved and what features are behind a paywall?

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Pixel Watch 2 – 6 Months Later

by Josh Teder

It’s been six months since I bought a Google Pixel Watch 2, and while it’s absolutely an improvement over the Pixel Watch 1 in pretty much every way, there are still a lot of frustrating things with this watch that feel unpolished. But first, let’s talk about the good stuff.

The Good: Battery Life, Sleep Tracking, and Design

The first highlight is battery life. I found it excellent; it lasts me all day and, more importantly, charges way faster than the original. I can actually get away with just charging this watch when I’m in the shower in the morning and then again at night when I’m getting ready for bed or showering after another workout. And yes, this is the battery life I’ve experienced with the watch’s always-on display being set to on.

Another highlight has been sleep tracking. Fitbit, which Google acquired a few years back, has had decent sleep tracking in my experience. When you look at your REM, deep, and light sleep, it looks closer to the expected sleep cycles, although sleep trackers generally aren’t 100% accurate, so keep that in mind.

The next standout feature is the Pixel Watch 2’s overall design, which keeps most of what the Pixel Watch 1 delivered. It’s one of the prettiest smartwatch designs out there, and Google really nailed the reflections and pebble-inspired design to make the screen look bezel-less in most scenarios. The sport band is comfortable and easy to put on and take off. It’s easy to do so quickly once you get used to taking the bands on and off.

Downsides: Limited Customization and Paywall for Some Features

One big downside is that some analysis features are hidden behind the Fitbit paywall, like your sleep score details, sleep schedule variability, and your daily readiness level, which takes your sleep quality and fitness activities into account to provide you with a readiness score. I find that one particularly useful for planning how intense my workout should be. It’s just such a bummer some of these features are hidden behind a paywall, and it feels a bit anti-Google, to be honest, especially for the data stuff. But I don’t think Fitbit Premium is generally worth the monthly cost.

I do wish Google made a larger size, though, because this smartwatch is just going to look small on some people’s wrists. Also, Google is pretty limited regarding the materials you can choose from or different display options, like Apple famously has with their watches.

Fitness Tracking, Watch Faces, and Google Assistant

Another thing I really liked about the watch is fitness tracking. Google makes it really easy to swipe over to a tile and start a walk or running workout. Another thing I’ve liked is that Google has watch faces that allow you to add many complications. This makes it easy to get different kinds of information at a glance, like the weather, temperature outside, etc., as well as shortcuts to specific apps.

The last standout feature has been the Google Assistant. It’s pretty helpful in setting things like calendar events and timers and is decently fast. I do wish Google would change how you actually trigger the Google Assistant or at least give you the option to switch it from pressing and holding down the side button to pressing and holding down the digital crown. I find it to be a more natural place to press and hold a watch.

Annoyances: Media Controls and Podcast Experience

Now let’s move on to some annoyances and downsides I found with the Pixel Watch 2. The first is media controls when you’re playing a podcast on your phone. One of the things I’ve primarily used smartwatches for over the years is media controls, and the Pixel Watch 2 is very basic in this category. When you play media off your phone from apps like Spotify, YouTube Music, or Pocket Casts, the now playing icon at the bottom of the watch will appear. When you tap on it, the now-playing controls will pop up. Alternatively, you can enable the media player to auto-launch when you play media from your phone in the watch’s settings. That all sounds good, right? Wrong. This feature really falls down when you play a podcast; the now-playing screen doesn’t automatically switch to showing the skip forward a few seconds and skip back a few seconds buttons like the now-playing widget on my Pixel 8 Pro does, which is kind of infuriating. I’ve also tried this with Spotify, Pocket Casts, and YouTube Music; none of them will switch over the now-playing controls when you play a podcast on them.

Another annoyance I’ve really had that’s related to podcasts is when you want to use a companion app for a media app on your phone on the watch. When you play something from YouTube Music or Pocket Casts on your phone and open up their watch companion apps, they don’t sync with what’s playing on your phone, which is very different from how Pocket Casts implemented their watchOS app, for example. WatchOS feels like a much more mature and better OS for a smartwatch at this point in this specific category, and that’s one of the main reasons I’ve been unable to use the Pixel Watch 2 as my primary wrist for a smartwatch.

Other Annoyances and Design Criticisms

One thing I’d really like to see with the Pixel Watch and other smartwatches is to embrace a more user-serviceable design, at least for things like replacing the battery. Another slight annoyance I’ve run into is that while I like that Google implemented a feature where your watch can unlock your phone, I wish the inverse were also true. Half the time, I’ll strap on the watch, open up my phone, and then forget to unlock it.

Now, the last downside I’ve encountered with the Pixel Watch 2, and I’m just going to say it: round smartwatches for anything other than telling the time via a dial are just worse. The only reason some smartwatches are round is because that’s the shape in which watches have been made for hundreds of years, but I’d argue that smartwatches aren’t even primarily used just to tell the time. You use them to see information and notifications, track fitness, play media, and a lot more, and it’s easier to fit more information into the screen size of these square Fitbit watches and the Apple Watch. The text doesn’t get truncated, you can fit more information on the screen, and buttons can be more prominent.

Final Recommendation

Generally, yes, I do recommend the Pixel Watch 2, but let’s talk a bit more about who I recommend it. Overall, I think the Pixel Watch 2 is a solid improvement over the Gen 1. I haven’t encountered any weird instances of the back cover falling off; the battery life is better, charges faster, and keeps that nice polished aesthetic. But why would you go for it over something like the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic? A few reasons: if you were already a Fitbit user, you like the design and aesthetic better than Samsung’s, you’re OK with a smaller-sized smartwatch, or you just want a Pixel Watch to match your Pixel phone.

Speaking of which, if you want to see my thoughts on the Pixel 8 Pro, check out my review of it:

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