Update: July 12, 2022 (7:10 AM ET): We’ve updated our Google Pixel Watch hub with new details about possible iPhone support, hinted at by Montblanc’s latest Wear OS 3 smartwatch.
Original article: The Google Pixel Watch is the wearable industry’s version of Bigfoot. For the better part of a decade, rumors that the smartwatch is in fact real have come and gone. Here’s what we know about Google’s smartwatch endeavors and what we want to see from its first device in the category.
See also: The best smartwatches you can buy
Will there be a Google Pixel Watch?
When Google launched the first Pixel smartphone six years ago, two smartwatches were reportedly in the works. These two devices eventually landed as LG wearables, so the tale goes.
Rumors of an upcoming Pixel Watch kicked off again in 2018 after Google rebranded and refreshed Android Wear to Wear OS before the Pixel 3 series launch. However, Google quickly rubbished the claims. Google then purchased Fitbit and launched its Wear OS 3 rework on the Galaxy Watch 4 series.
The company finally confirmed the existence of the Pixel Watch at I/O 2022. Google has also filed a trademark for “Pixel Watch.”
When will the Google Pixel Watch release date be?
As for a specific release date, well, you can imagine this is a pretty complicated matter. Google has said that the watch will debut this fall and didn’t get more explicit. Google had the perfect opportunity of launching the Pixel Watch alongside the Pixel 6a at I/O 2022, but that clearly did not happen.
Judging from Google’s history, it tends to launch new Pixel phones in early October. Our guess would be that we could see the Pixel Watch launch then alongside the already-confirmed Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
What features and specs will the Pixel Watch have?
We have some official details about the Google Pixel Watch and some leaks and rumors that give us a fair idea of what to expect from the wearable.
The design of the Pixel Watch is in line with previous leaks and rumors. It will have a circular face, going against Apple’s rectangular philosophy. We can see at least two buttons on the right side of the device. The central crown appears to be rotatable for navigation and could also work as a dedicated voice assistant button, although the flat button may have that functionality instead.
Google also confirmed on stage that the watch will have proprietary bands. This means you won’t be able to buy standard watch bands from third parties nor use bands you already own, which is slightly disappointing. Google did confirm there will be a few colors to choose from, though. A new leak also suggests that up to seven straps will be available for Pixel Watch buyers at launch. Per 9to5Google, this could include a steel mesh band, two leather options, a link band, and fabric and silicone options as well.
Before Google actually revealed the Pixel Watch, the biggest design leak came in the form of an alleged prototype that was found left behind in a Chicago restaurant. The leaked device looks a lot like the official render Google showed us. The anonymous source who found the watch said that the wearable came with a box that stated that the device was for “internal testing and development only.” The leaker then posted images of the alleged Pixel Watch prototype alongside an Apple Watch and a Galaxy Watch.
The leaker also said that the prototype has a 40mm diameter, 14mm thickness, and weighs 36g. The bezels on it are quite thick, with the visible screen measuring 30mm.
Specs and features
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
What could the Google Pixel Watch bring to the table in terms of specs? Google gave us a sneak peek at I/O 2022.
For starters, the watch will support Google Assistant as well as the Google Home app and the newly announced Google Wallet. This feature allows users to tap to pay, and also stores cards and documents like a student ID, boarding passes, vaccine cards, and more. Since there will be an LTE model of the Pixel Watch available, users will be able to use these features without a phone nearby.
Google also said that the Pixel Watch will have a “deep integration with Fitbit,” so the usual SpO2 sensor and heart rate monitor would likely feature. Should Google appeal to more avid fitness fanatics, it could rope in an EDA sensor or an ECG for stress and heart health monitoring. However, a recent rumor from Business Insider suggests the watch will only offer basic fitness tracking features.
In terms of processing power, rumors claim the Pixel Watch might forego the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 series in favor of a Samsung Exynos chipset. A source confirmed to 9to5Google that the Google smartwatch will use the Exynos 9110, an SoC Samsung released in 2018. It was previously believed that the device would leverage the Exynos W920 that features on the Galaxy Watch 4. That would theoretically give the Pixel Watch access to a low-power Arm Cortex-M55 core for low-power operations, LTE support, and GNSS support for more accurate outdoor activity tracking. Instead, the Exynos 9110 is a 10nm processor featuring two Cortex-A53 cores, similar to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus.
Other leaked specs point to 32GB of internal storage and RAM in abundance. Allegedly, the Pixel Watch will feature the most RAM of any Wear OS watch in existence, so considering the Galaxy Watch 4 currently packs 1.5GB, the Pixel Watch may carry as much as 2GB. This would be a great addition for keen multitaskers.
Interestingly, Google’s also taking a keen interest in developing a “next-generation Assistant,” according to evidence uncovered by 9to5Google. This revamp would include onboard computational smarts akin to Google’s Pixel smartphones. This suggests that Google may need to focus on the Pixel Watch’s number-crunching abilities while also keeping power consumption in check.
Of course, the demand for processing power could come at the cost of battery life. Per Business Insider sources, the Pixel Watch in its current guise requires daily charging. Charging speeds are also reportedly far too slow. Notably, battery endurance is a significant weakness of the Galaxy Watch 4. Daily charging would be pretty annoying for those who currently own a Garmin or Fitbit, but it wouldn’t be a major issue for Apple Watch floor-crossers. A newer charging leak suggests that the Pixel Watch may rely on USB-C charging that may top up a 300mAh battery pack.
Meanwhile, fresh evidence found by 9to5Google suggests the Pixel Watch will get a dedicated app called the “Google Pixel Watch” app.
There’s also a possibility that the Pixel Watch could play nice with iPhones. The Montblanc Summit 3, the latest Wear OS 3 watch, will launch with iPhone support. This suggests that Google’s OS could natively support Apple devices. It’s unclear if Google would adopt Montblanc’s agnostic stance, though.
The Pixel Watch may also be among the first to benefit from Nearby Unlock, a Wear OS 3 feature that would unlock the Pixel Watch when in close proximity to its host smartphone. Users may also lock their phones through their watch.
What will the Google Pixel Watch price be?
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Finally, how much will the Google Pixel Watch cost, and when can you buy one?
According to The Verge‘s sources, the Pixel Watch will “cost more than a Fitbit,” but that itself is a pretty vague statement.
Meanwhile, citing a “relatively new source,” frequent tipster Yogesh Brar revealed that the smartwatch might be priced in the range of $300 — $400. That’ll put it in direct competition with the Apple Watch Series 7, Garmin Venu 2, and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.
Brar also noted in his tweet that the smartwatch could see a limited release, suggesting that it may only launch in a few markets, just like the Pixel phones.
We might be looking at three variants of the Pixel Watch. A Google wearable recently got listed on the Bluetooth SIG website with three different model numbers.
Google Pixel Watch: What we want to see
A quintessential Google experience on the wrist
Andy Walker / Android Authority
The Google Pixel Watch will be a smartwatch first and foremost, and to compete with the likes of the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, it’ll need to offer something completely unique in the world of wearables. Google’s Rick Osterloh mentioned at I/O 2022 that the Pixel Watch will use the best of “Google’s ecosystem,” hinting that popular properties like Maps, Google Wallet, and Assistant will all feature in some capacity. However, there’s surely more that Google can offer in this regard?
The company has a wealth of information about its users at its fingertips that could revolutionize how information is displayed on its wearable. Imagine a smartwatch that uses such contextual information to streamline your life. For instance, say the Pixel Watch could automatically adjust a Nest thermostat‘s temperature based on skin temperature readings or more accurately adjust travel times based on current walking speed and body exertion metrics. That would be a completely unique feature set in the smartwatch arena.
See also: The Pixel Watch can’t succeed if Google reuses the same 8-year-old formula
The best of Fitbit’s health tracking
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Sure, the Pixel Watch is a smartwatch at its core, but even smartwatches pack a host of health and fitness-tracking hardware. Google has revealed that the Pixel Watch will feature “deep” integration with Fitbit, but it failed to explain how.
Considering Google now owns Fitbit, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine it adopting the company’s hardware. Images of the Pixel Watch’s rear have revealed a sensor array akin to the Fitbit Charge 5. This would effectively give it a skin temperature monitor, an EDA sensor to monitor stress, and an ECG to survey heart health. With this trio, alongside the commonplace heart rate sensor and SpO2 monitor, you have a watch with a solid fitness tracking base. This cocktail’s key in keeping the Pixel Watch relevant alongside Garmin and Samsung’s competition.
But what hardware is nothing without software, so what do we expect here? Ideally, we’d like to see Google use Fitbit’s app for core fitness tracking. Better yet, the premium Pixel Watch should come with Fitbit Premium. The Inspire 2 already comes with a year-long trial of the product, we’d expect the same from what would ostensibly be the priciest Fitbit product.
See also: Pixel Watch? Nope, I am way more excited for the Fitbit Sense 2.
A concrete update commitment with perks
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
Google has left Wear OS frail and underdeveloped in the past. Just because the company now has a flagship for the OS doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t repeat its mistakes.
Several smartwatches from Fossil and Mobvoi are set to gain Wear OS 3 in an update later this year, but Google has yet to set a concrete date for its release. If anything, we’ve had to rely on Samsung to announce its own update program for its Wear OS 3 watch. If its treatment of Wear OS 2 is any indication, the Pixel Watch could be in for an uncertain support period with updates sprinkled here and there.
In keeping with its commitments to other properties and devices, Google needs to outline a concrete software support strategy for the Pixel Watch. Considering that Pixel title, we’d also expect the watch to act as the staging ground for Wear OS innovation, much like Pixel smartphones are for Android.
Battery life that inspires confidence
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
A smartwatch can pack the industry’s best hardware, materials, style, and software, but this is of no use if its battery only lasts a few hours.
We’re worried about rumors of all-day battery life. That just isn’t enough in 2022. For the device to handle the rigors of Assistant queries, fitness tracking, Maps usage, on-device calling, and sleep tracking in the evening, it’ll need to last more than just 24 hours per charge. This is much easier said than done, though. Wear OS devices traditionally have terrible endurance. The Galaxy Watch 4 doesn’t inspire much confidence for Wear OS 3 products, either.
Per rumors, Google may integrate a more efficient core to offload some of the menial tasks from the hungrier CPU, but it’s unclear how this may translate into real-world benefits.
Google could also offset lackluster battery life with rapid charging, but users without charger anxiety are more likely to use all the features of the Pixel Watch, instead of switching off features to eke out a work day.
A sensible price based on value, not exclusivity
We know the Pixel Watch is going to be a premium product, but what does that ultimately mean for its pricing? Well, rumors hint at a price no more than $400, and arguably, that seems fair compared to its likely competition. But considering the Pixel Watch is an unproven quantity, Google might want to consider the big Wear OS elephant in the room.
The Galaxy Watch 4 starts at just $249. It’s the gold standard for Wear OS smartwatches, balancing design seamlessly with health tracking tech and smart functionality. With the recent addition of Google Assistant, it’s going to be the device to beat for the Pixel Watch.
We understand that Google won’t be offering the Pixel Watch in all global markets. Much like the rest of its hardware portfolio, the device will be limited to a few markets. This exclusivity may bump up the price, but it’s important that Google understands value trumps branding in the smartwatch space.