Google Pixel Watch vs Apple Watch

The Apple Watch has held the crown of being the best-selling watch of all time for a while now. That's among all watches, not just smartwatches. As such, it is understandable that we see competition pop up left and right. The new kid on the block is from Google — the Pixel Watch.

Google recently unveiled the Pixel Watch alongside the Pixel 7 series. While we have had Android smartwatches for years, this is the first time we're getting one from Google itself. Needless to say, it competes with the Apple Watch. While Apple Watch is a mature product with multiple models to choose from, the solo Google Pixel Watch is a new alternative aiming to provide a similar experience. Here's our breakdown of the Google Pixel Watch vs. the Apple Watch, and which one you should pick. We're comparing the Pixel Watch to both the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Apple Watch SE (2022), two of the current best Apple Watch models, since they're close to the Pixel Watch in terms of pricing and features.

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch: Specifications

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Apple Watch series 8

(Image credit: Future / iMore)

Smartwatches are more than just the sum of their parts. However, given the scale at which these devices exist — trying to fit in a ton of components into a small casing — it can be handy to compare the hardware specifications before making a choice. Here's how the Google Pixel Watch and the Apple Watch stack up next to each other.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Pixel WatchApple Watch Series 8Apple Watch SE (2022)
Case sizes41mm45mm / 41mm44mm / 40mm
Display1.6-inch AMOLED (450 x 450px, 320ppi)1.69-inch LTPO OLED (430 x 352px, 326 ppi)1.57-inch LTPO OLED (394 x 324px, 326 ppi)
Row 2 - Cell 0 Row 2 - Cell 1 1.9-inch LTPO OLED (484 x 396px, 326 ppi)1.78-inch LTPO OLED (448 x 368px, 326 ppi)
Always-On DisplayYesYesNo
ProcessorExynos 9110Apple S8Apple S8
GPSYes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDSYes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BDSYes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 5.0, NFCWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (dual-band), Bluetooth 5.3, NFCWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC
RAM/Storage2GB/32GB1GB/32GB1GB/32GB
BatteryLi-Ion 294 mAhLi-Ion 282 mAhLi-Ion 245 mAh
ChargingQi wireless chargingWireless fast chargingWireless charging
Protection50m/5ATM water resistant (IP68)50m water resistant (IP6X) 50m water resistant
Size41 x 41 x 12.3mm (1.61 x 1.61 x 0.48 in)41 x 35 x 10.7mm (1.61 x 1.38 x 0.42in)40 x 34 x 10.7mm (1.57 x 1.34 x 0.42in)
Row 12 - Cell 0 Row 12 - Cell 1 45 x 38 x 10.7mm (1.77 x 1.50 x 0.42in)44 x 38 x 10.7mm (1.73 x 1.50 x 0.42in)
Weight36g (1.27oz)42.3g (1.48oz) / 51.5g (1.83oz)27.8g (0.99oz) / 33g (1.16oz)

The Pixel Watch and the Apple Watch, Series 8 and SE (2022), have a lot of similarities. This is mostly because we have come to expect a few features from a smartwatch, which have been pushed by existing smartwatches including the Apple Watch. The Google Pixel Watch does a decent job of landing these expectations more or less. You get a single-size option with a 41mm case, which is close to the 41 and 45mm options on the Apple Watch Series 8, and 40 and 44mm on the 2022 SE model. Let's take a deeper dive into these watches to see which one would be the right one for you.

Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch Design: Round peg in a square hole

Pixel Watch next to Pixel 7 Pro

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

When it comes to design, especially watch design, it's hard to make an objective statement about which one is better than the other. The key difference between these watches is that the Pixel Watch is round, while the Apple Watch maintains the rounded rectangular shape it has had since its launch. 

Both watches are good-looking, but the Apple Watch has gone on to have thinner bezels. On the other hand, the Pixel Watch has unusually thick bezels for a 2022 smartwatch. The watch is 41mm in diameter, and the screen is 1.2 inches, i.e. 31mm in diameter. That makes for a consistent 5mm bezel around it. This is thicker than the bezels on the current Apple Watch models. While this won't be an issue for everyone, it may turn off a few people to the idea of buying the Pixel Watch. 

The build quality is solid on the Pixel Watch as well as the Apple Watch. There's a key difference again, though. The Pixel Watch has a stainless steel body, while the Apple Watch has either stainless steel or aluminum. The steel versions of the Apple Watch (Series 8 now,) come at a premium, while the Pixel Watch manages to keep the steel build despite its low price tag. Apple Watch Series 8 gets both, steel and aluminum options, but the Apple Watch SE gets an aluminum build. 

The Apple Watch has a ton more choices on offer, while the Pixel Watch is just the beginning of a new lineup.

One of the most important aspects of a watch, smartwatches included, is the bands. Apple has been in this space for a while and has managed to follow watchmakers by creating its own ecosystem of watch bands. It has a ton of its own watch bands, including collaborations, and third-party makers have brought some great bands to the market too, in all kinds of materials, ranging from nylon to leather. Moreover, there are tons of adaptors available to let you use regular watch bands with an Apple Watch.

On the other hand, the Pixel Watch is hot off the press and currently doesn't have as many band options. It has a proprietary band connector as well. It will get better over time, we're sure, and the watch does have a way to use regular watch bands with it, although the process is complicated. For now, the Apple Watch is a much better bet if you like to swap out your watch bands often.

Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch: Performance and battery life

Pixel Watch and Apple Watch Series 8 next to each other

(Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore and Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

When it comes to smartwatches, performance is a different metric than when we discuss phones. The watch needs to be good at showing the time, running the apps it needs to, and doing it snappily so you're not wasting any time. In terms of that, you can expect both, the Pixel Watch and the Apple Watch, to deliver. 

Apple will have a bit of an advantage here, though. The Apple Watch Series 8 and SE both use the Apple S8 chip, which is the latest generation of Apple's own lineup of smartwatch chips. This means they're powerful and efficient. On the other hand, Pixel Watch runs on the three-year-old Exynos 9110, which is not a bad chip, but it is of Samsung's design, and not Google's. As such, you cannot expect it to be on the same level as the S8, even though it will get the job done.

Battery life, however, seems to be a hit, at least partially. We had hoped for a better promise, but Google promises 24 hours of battery life, and as Android Central's Pixel Watch review pointed out, it mostly delivers on that promise. However, the Apple Watch doesn't quite get there, as our Apple Watch Series 8 review points out. The Pixel Watch thus has a fair bit of an advantage when it comes to battery life. Both watches get battery saver modes to extend the battery life.

Smartwatch charging is still mostly annoying, but it seems to be the same level of annoying on both the Pixel Watch and the Apple Watch.

Both watches use proprietary chargers. Pixel Watch charges at 5W, while the Apple Watch Series 8 can push between 5W to 20W. Apple Watch SE is slower to charge, taking twice as long to charge as the Series 8. Apple says Series 8 takes 75 minutes for a full charge, while SE takes 150, and the real-world performance more or less lives up to these promises. Google says the Pixel Watch will take about 80 minutes for a full charge, but real-life estimates so far range anywhere between the promised 80 minutes, to 120 minutes.

Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch: Features and Software

Pixel Watch back glass

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

This is where the picture gets a bit clearer. Apple Watch runs on WatchOS 9, which is the latest version of Apple's smartwatch operating system. On the other hand, the Pixel Watch runs Wear OS, which has had a rocky journey so far, to say the least. After multiple redesigns and rebrands, Wear OS is finally usable, but don't expect it to be anywhere as coherent as WatchOS. However, early impressions seem to suggest that it is more polished than expected.

Fitness tracking is an important part of a smartwatch, and the competition is a bit tough on that end. Apple has years of experience with this, although it has its own share of hits and misses with its Fitness suite. On the other hand is Google, which is relying on Fitbit now, which it had previously acquired. Make no mistake, the Pixel Watch isn't quite a Fitbit watch, but it has a lot of the good Fitbit bits baked in. Google is even bundling six months of Fitbit Premium with the watch.

Coming to apps, the Apple Watch again has the advantage, with years of development and optimization leading to a refined software experience. Google's Pixel Watch is a first-generation product, and while it will get the job done with the best apps available for the platform, you can't go in expecting the versatility that comes with an Apple Watch. It's a solid start, though, and the software experience is not too shabby, which means that Google can catch up to the Apple Watch pretty quickly if it keeps up the work.

Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch: Which should you buy?

Apple Watch series 8

(Image credit: Future / iMore)

The decision to pick between the Pixel Watch and the Apple Watch is going to be a tough one for some folks, but an easy one for others. For starters, both the Pixel Watch and the Apple Watch are capable smartwatches, and you can't go wrong picking either. However, each of them has a clear audience that they target. If you have an iPhone, the Apple Watch is a no-brainer choice. If you live on the Android side of things, the Pixel Watch is the way to go, especially since you cannot use the Apple Watch with an Android phone, nor can you use the Pixel Watch with an iPhone.

The Apple Watch is the more refined product, and having had multiple iterations now, is also the more reliable choice. You know what to expect, and it will deliver. However, all the best Apple Watch models come with an iPhone lock-in, which can be a make or break for many people. The Pixel Watch is new and hasn't had the same progression, but it enforces an Android lock-in as well, which is more of a Pixel Watch choice than a Wear OS choice. So unless you're planning on switching phones, your choice here is clear.

If you do plan on switching phones, however, the decision is a much bigger one that opens up several other comparisons. For example, if you're planning to go for the top-of-the-line experience, you'd have to pick sides in the Pixel 7 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro debate first. The decision to pick between the two smartwatches quickly becomes an ecosystem choice thanks to the exclusivity.

There are other variables too, but the most important one is the price. The Google Pixel Watch comes at $349.99, while the latest Apple Watch Series 8 starts at $399 for the aluminum models and $699 for the steel models. The Apple Watch SE starts at $249. If you're thinking in terms of the build materials, the Pixel Watch is the better value here. In terms of overall value, though, the Apple Watch SE (2022) is such a good value-for-money offering that it makes it tough to justify the Pixel Watch at $100 more.

Ultimately, though, it's a choice between platforms. If you don't have a preference, you'll be good to go with either of these two watches. If you do have a preference for one of the platforms, however, you should consider choosing that one.

Like the look of these watches but want to pick one up at a discount? We've rounded up the best Apple Watch Series 8 deals, or you could save even more on an older model via our full Apple Watch deals guide. If you're tempted by the Pixel, head over to our friends at Android Central to see the best Pixel Watch deals.