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Google’s Pixel Watch 2 refines last year’s template

It adds some much-needed polish.


Google’s Pixel Watch had years of development time but it still managed to stumble rather than sprint out of the gate. A year later, and the company is hoping it’s a good time to make a better first impression with the Pixel Watch 2. Announced at the company's Made by Google event on Wednesday, the Pixel Watch 2 promises better health and fitness tracking; significantly longer battery life; and better integration with Google's various services. Additionally, the case is made out of 100 percent recycled aluminum, to help bolster its green bona fides.

The Pixel Watch 2 boasts a far deeper bench of fitness and health-tracking utilities, including improved sensors for heart-rate and blood oxygenation monitoring. There’s also a new cEDA (Continuous ElectroDermal Activity) and a skin temperature sensor, both of which were cribbed from Fitbit watches like the Sense 2. These will be used to measure your stress levels and, if it detects a change, will ask you to log your feelings or do some guided breathing exercises. You’ll also get automatic workout tracking and heart zone training to help you meet specific goals.

There are plenty of similarities with the first model, but the company has made the crown larger and more flush with the rest of the case. And a set of redesigned watch bands are pledged to be lighter and more comfortable than last year's, although they use the same swapping mechanism for backward compatibility.

This wouldn’t be a Google launch of anything in 2023 without at least one mention of AI thrown in, either. The company says its machine-learning know-how is capable of offering better insight about the state of your body, and your routine. This generative AI will be made available as a Fitbit Labs program in the near future, to help mine further insight out of your health data.

On the software side, this flavor of Wear OS 4 gets new features like Safety Check (from the Pixel itself), which lets you share your location with family and friends. Should you get into some trouble, you can also set up Emergency Sharing, which will broadcast your location in real-time to trusted contacts. And, as promised a fair while ago now, you’ll finally be able to engage with Gmail and Google Calendar from your wrist. Plus, as pledged back in May, you’ll get tight smart home integrations with Google’s suite of compatible products and the use of tools like WhatsApp.

Promotional image of an athlete wearing a dark blue t-shirt wearing a matching Pixel Watch 2 coral band and buds.

Last year, Google highlighted the sorry state of silicon development in the wearables world by opting for a years-old system-on-chip. The first Pixel Watch was built on Samsung’s Exynos 9110 from 2018, a fairly sharp indictment of everything else on the market. This year, it’s gone in favor of Qualcomm’s new quad-core Snapdragon Wear 5100 paired with a Cortex M33 co-processor, 32GB eMMC flash and 2GB RAM. The promise of the 5110, of course, is that while it’s not that speedy, it’s tremendously power efficient, which is just what Pixel Watch owners need.

Speaking of, the battery is a little bit bigger at 306 mAh, and takes five fewer minutes to charge to full than last year’s model. (You'll also get 50 percent charge with just 30 minutes on the charger.) Google is making it clear, too, that we should be taking its promise of 24 hours on a single charge with the always-on display running pretty seriously. Given the first model couldn’t manage half of that in our testing, it’s vital that the promise of all day life really does stand up.

For all of the much-ballyhooed new features, much hasn’t changed from one generation to the next. The case (41mm) and height (12.3mm) are visually unchanged, but it is five grams lighter than its predecessor. There’s a redesigned, albeit similar, Gorilla Glass 5 crystal which you’ll stare through to reach the same 320ppi AMOLED display with DCI-P3 color and 1,000 nits peak brightness. The connectivity is unchanged, too, with the same 4G, UMTS, Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi 4 as on the prior model.

The Pixel Watch 2 is available to pre-order now starting at $349 for the WiFi-only model, though you can also order it with LTE. The watch will ship next week and, as with the last-gen model, buyers will get six months of Fitbit Premium thrown in.

Follow all of the news live from Google’s 2023 Pixel event right here.