Google is returning to portable relevance. Today the company unveiled what is officially its first branded smartwatch: the pixel watch. Google has started revamping its wearable platform, Wear OS, in partnership with Samsung. While Wear OS 3, the new version of Google’s wearable platform, technically launched with the Galaxy Watch 4 last year is the first time we will see a skinless version on a real device.
First of all: the prices. Google is asking a lot here, with the $349 Wi-Fi model and the $399 LTE version. The Galaxy Watch 4, which has a better SoC, and the Apple Watch SE, which has a much better SoC, both start at $250. Google is creating an uphill battle for itself with this pricing.
The partnership between Google and Samsung means that the Pixel Watch runs a Samsung Exynos 9110 SoC, with an inexpensive Cortex M33 co-processor for low-power watch face updates and 24/7 stat tracking. . This SoC is a 10nm chip with two Cortex A53 cores and an Arm Mali T720 MP1 GPU. If you can’t tell from these specs, this is a 2018 chip that was first used in the Original Samsung Galaxy Watch. For some reason, Google couldn’t get Samsung’s new chip from the Galaxy Watch 4, an Exynos W920 (a big 5nm upgrade, two Cortex A55s, and a Mali-G68 MP2 GPU). It’s hard to understand why it costs so much.
The screen is a 1.6-inch fully circular OLED with a density of 320 ppi (that should mean around 360 pixels in diameter). The only size available is 41mm, the lid is Gorilla Glass 5, and the body is silver, black, or gold stainless steel. It has 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of eMMC storage, NFC, GPS, only 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4) and a 294 mAh battery. For sensors, you get SPO2 blood oxygen, heart rate and an ECG sensor. It’s water resistant to 5 ATM, which means you’re good for submersion, hand washing, and most normal water exposure. Usually 10 ATM is preferred for serious sports swimming, but the Apple Watch is 5ATM, and Apple is doing all kinds of swimming promotions.
Google’s black UI background hides the exact size of the screen relative to the body well, but a few screenshots reveal just how big the bezels are around this thing. They are tall. Real big. Like, hard to imagine, we’re still doing this in 2022 in a big way.
Proprietary bands and some options not ready for launch
Although the watch does not come in sizes, the watch straps do, with a “large” (for wrists around 162-210mm) and “small” (130-175mm) designation. The watch comes standard with an “Active” rubberized watch strap, and you’ll get both strap sizes in the box.
The Pixel Watch has exclusive watch straps, which isn’t great. Apple gets away with it because it’s Apple, and Apple can build an ecosystem of hardware partners while it sleeps. The Pixel Watch may only have Google’s options available, depending on how sales go. The company did not mention any partners for the launch. Watch straps snap directly into the body, allowing you to have a strap that includes traditional lugs or straps that go all the way to the body.