The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro shouldn’t have a hard time flying off shelves. From riding on the coattails of the successful revamp of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro to throwing open the doors on what we can expect from the next Android flagship phones, Google is making a convincing case for iPhone (and Android) owners to make the switch to Pixel — now more than ever.
If it isn’t obvious already, yes, I’ve caught the hype for the Pixel 7. A second-generation Google Tensor G2 processor sounds promising, its more affordable mid-range $599 entry price (as rumored) is a win, and a new-found push for a revolutionized Pixel ecosystem is enticing. I’m convinced now is the right time to ditch Apple (for now) and jump onboard the train to Android, but there’s one little thing holding me back. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with how impressive — or lackluster — the Pixel 7 may turn out to be.
It all has to do with the Pixel Watch. As someone who still believes the Apple Watch SE is one of the best smartwatches to grab and who makes the most of its impressive health and fitness tracking capabilities, Google will need to pull out all the stops to make its first attempt at its own wearable shine. While its known features and design are tempting, there are a few questionable specs that make me hesitate.
Google’s next Android flagship may look appealing, and the Pixel 7 already made me think twice about upgrading to the iPhone 14. But it’s all for naught if the Pixel Watch can’t keep up with the leading smartwatches on the market. Will the revolutionized Pixel ecosystem be enough to motivate a switch? Here are some points to ponder.
The Pixel Watch needs a win
Woefully, Google has an array of scrapped products. This week saw the tech giant announce the shut down of Google Stadia, and Google Glass failed to bring the innovations it strived to achieve. In fact, there’s a website dedicated to everything killed by Google.
Not exactly something you want to hear when thinking about grabbing Google’s next big product. But the Pixel lineup is a little different. Pixel phones have, more or less, consistently been a hit, with the Pixel 4a achieving top marks even before the big, amped-up redesign of the Pixel 6.
It isn’t just Google’s smartphones that made a strong presence in the hardware market, either. With each iteration, the Pixel Buds reach new heights — from the Pixel Buds (2020) and Pixel Buds A-Series to the latest and greatest Pixel Buds Pro. The Pixel side of Google has made a great name for itself; ergo, anything labelled a “Pixel” should be a hot commodity, right?
Well, the Pixel Watch is the company’s very first smartwatch, and any first-generation product will have some growing pains. Knowing how some of Google’s first-time products end up, it’s clear that the tech giant needs its new wearable to strike it big, especially if it’s being shipped as a paired device with the Pixel 7.
The good news is the Pixel smartwatch already has a lot going for it. With the “reimagined” Wear OS experience it will come with, it’s clear Google will be pushing its own Apple-like ecosystem, with the Pixel Watch seamlessly connecting to earbuds like the Pixel Buds Pro and Pixel Buds A-Series, along with “all Pixel and Android phones.” It will also have health and fitness tracking capabilities thanks to Fitbit, along with integrated Google apps like Maps, Assistant, and Wallet.
What’s more, It will also boast features like “Fast Pair”, which seamlessly connects the earbuds, watch, and phones with ease; the ability to control what you’re watching and listening to by playing, pausing, rewinding and adjusting the volume from the watch; “Find My Device” to help locate your Pixel devices; and it will give you access to your smart home devices from anywhere.
Would you look at that? It sounds like all the things I adore about the Apple Watch. Making the most out of a Pixel 7 with the Pixel Watch’s capabilities is exactly what makes the iPhone paired with an Apple Watch flourish. What’s more, we already know the high standard of fitness and health tracking Fitbit offers thanks to the excellent Fitbit Sense, and pairing it with other Android phones is the icing on the cake.
Switching from an iPhone SE (2020) to a Pixel 7 will no doubt be a tremendous upgrade, but the Pixel Watch will need to do more for many like myself to leave behind the Apple Watch.
The (potential) downside
We know a lot about the Pixel Watch, from the circular, domed watch face with a rotating crown to the colors it will come in (Black and Gold, so far). On the other hand, a few details are still up in the air, but rumors and leaks can fill in the gaps. Nothing is certain of course, but the Pixel Watch may not prove to be the stand-out wearable Google needs it to be.
First, we have an inkling about its price. Rumor has it the Pixel Watch will come in two models: Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and LTE. The former is tipped to set you back $349.99, while the latter is expected to be $399.99. Now those are pricey wearables.
This may be cheaper than the Apple Watch lineup (except for the $249 Apple Watch SE), but it’s still considerably expensive, and it doesn’t exactly fall in line with the Pixel brand’s affordable mid-range image. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 starts at $279, and even the LTE model is more affordable at $329. Google’s own Fitbit Sense is just $299.
Second, what’s expected to be under the hood isn’t looking very modern. Rumors suggest it’s the Exynos 9110 CPU, a four-year-old chip used in the first Samsung Galaxy Watch in 2018. Needless to say, it can’t match the processing power in today’s smartwatches. That chip is based on a 10-nanometer processor. To put that into perspective, the Apple Watch Series 8’s S8 chip uses a 7nm processor, while the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5’s Exynos W920 is 5nm. Yikes.
Third, battery life may be a concern. A source speaking with 9to5Google claims that it will have a capacity of just under 300mAh. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but the source points out that it will only last a day on a single charge. That’s looking like Apple Watch territory, and the chip it’s expected to boast doesn’t make this rumor sound more convincing.
What’s worse, the Pixel Watch isn’t expected to have fast charging. Despite it’s rumored magnetic USB-C cable, the wearable is tipped to take 110 minutes to charge from 0% to 100%. That’s a long time to charge a smartwatch, especially considering the Apple Watch Series 7 takes 45 minutes to charge from 0% to 80%.
If all of this proves true, Google’s wearable will have a hard time giving me a reason to give up an Apple Watch. The Cupertino-based tech giant has had years of honing its smartwatch, right down to the activity ring animations that give users a sense of accomplishment. If the Pixel Watch lags behind in the battery and processor department, it says a lot about how it will function.
Will the switch be worth it?
Obviously, it’s hard to say if the Pixel Watch will knock it out of the park or be a swing and a miss. We have yet to get our hands on it (stay tuned for the review), and there’s still plenty we need to learn about it. To me, there’s a lot riding on Google’s first wearable, as it could be the deciding factor in making potential buyers want to switch to the Google ecosystem — regardless of the Pixel 7’s appeal.
It’s not like switching from iOS and Android is as big of a headache anymore, thanks to Google’s ongoing tactics to bring people to the Android side, like the quietly launched “Switch to Android” iOS app and the number of ways to move data from iPhone to Android.
Perhaps my hype for the Pixel 7 is driven by other switches I’ve recently made, like where I do my grocery shopping (yes, really, and it was a great decision). But I’ve enjoyed using Android phones in the past, and with the iPhone 14 not being the upgrade I was hoping for, I’m looking for a reason to change things up. If you’re not a fan of smartwatches, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro could be a great option once they launch. If you’re like me, however, the Pixel Watch’s success will be the one condition that decides whether it’s worth making the switch.