Google has unveiled the expected Pixel Watch 2, iterating on last year’s inaugural smartwatch with small yet meaningful upgrades. The second-gen wearable doesn’t radically redefine Google’s wrist-worn vision, but does move it forward in key areas like health tracking sensors, safety features, battery life, processor power, and materials.
Let’s examine what’s new with the flagship Pixel Watch 2 as Google aims to better compete in the fiercely contested smartwatch arena against the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch series, and other rivals.
Pixel Watch 2 Release Date, Pricing and Pre-Order Details
The Pixel Watch 2 was announced on October 4, 2023 at Google’s Made by Google event alongside the new Pixel 8 phones. Pre-orders are now open ahead of an October 12 release date.
Pricing sees a slight $10-20 bump over the original Pixel Watch, at $349 for Wi-Fi and $399 for the LTE version. However, pre-ordering the new Pixel 8 Pro nets buyers a free Pixel Watch 2. Given its hefty $999 starting price, the bundle provides nice added value.
Design Stays Nearly Identical, But Materials Get Greener
Externally, the Pixel Watch 2 remains nearly indistinguishable from its predecessor thanks to retaining the signature curved domed design. The only giveaway of generation is new color options like Charcoal, Hazel, and Snow for the bands.
While aesthetics stay constant, Google did refine the materials for comfort and sustainability. The Watch 2 utilizes 100% recycled aluminum for the housing, reducing the environmental impact through greener sourcing. Glass is now a slimmer custom 3D Gorilla Glass that shaves off weight while preserving durability.
There are some new straps, though, including Bay and Porcelain colours for the silicone band as well as Metal Slim and Active Sport options (below).
New Sensors Expand Health and Fitness Tracking Abilities
Flipping the Pixel Watch 2 over reveals a suite of new and enhanced sensors to provide deeper insights into metrics like heart health, stress levels, and skin temperature.
A multi-path heart rate sensor offers stronger cardiac monitoring than the single LED on the original Pixel Watch. Body response and cEDA skin sensors combine to detect electrodermal activity indicating stress or excitement.
“In workouts, this means multiple LEDs and photodiodes are used to measure the pulse signal from different angles and positions to provide multiple independent estimates of your pulse.” says Google.
Fitbit is onboard now as well, bringing advanced sleep and activity tracking. These hardware improvements expand the Watch 2’s capabilities as a powerful personalized health companion.
Safety Gets a Boost with New Emergency Features
On the software side, Google added a few potentially lifesaving safety and emergency response tools. Safety Check allows you to notify emergency contacts if you’re unable to check in at a scheduled time.
Emergency Sharing temporarily provides selected contacts access to your real-time location. Medical Info enables first responders to quickly view your vitals, allergies, medications and more.
Faster Charging, But Still 1-Day Battery Life
Despite the enhancements, battery longevity remains at the 24 hour mark, according to Google. However, charging speeds see a welcome improvement.
Google claims a 75 minute charge can now deliver a full day of operation with the always-on display active. That’s nearly 25% faster than the original Watch. You can also get 50% power in just 30 minutes on the Pixel Watch 2.
More Powerful Processor, Additional Health Tracking Features
With a move to a quad-core chip (Qualcomm’s SW5100), the Pixel Watch 2 should deliver snappier performance across Google’s Wear OS. Health tracking also expands through additions like new workout profiles and the ability to ask the Google Assistant about last night’s sleep.
Software tweaks include six new watch face families, improved integration for Calendar and Gmail, Google One data backup, new auto workout options and new health and fitness queries for Google Assistant such as “how was my sleep last night?”.
The Pixel Watch 2 also comes with a 6-month trial of Fitbit Premium and 1-month of YouTube Music Premium. You’ll need the former for things like tutored workouts, mindfulness sessions and deeper analysis of your data.
While not radically different from its predecessor, the Pixel Watch 2 brings iterative improvements across sensors, safety, charging, sustainability, and processing power.
Google aims to retain the debut model’s premium positioning while moving the needle to better compete with the world’s most popular smartwatches.
For existing Pixel Watch owners, the upgrades likely aren’t substantial enough to warrant upgrading after just one year. But for those seeking a flagship-level Wear OS model bundled with Fitbit health tracking, the Pixel Watch 2 makes that combination more compelling than ever.