The Pixel Watch 2 has a practically unchanged design, but it is technically much better than its predecessor. New sensors and functions plus significantly increased endurance make it a very good training and daily companion.
ntv.de liked the first Pixel Watch a lot, but it wasn’t entirely convincing due to some weaknesses. Now comes the second generation, which is supposed to make many things better. ntv.de has tried it and now considers the watch to be quite comprehensive, even if it’s still not perfect.
This is mainly due to the almost unchanged design. In principle, this is very successful and the Pixel Watch is probably the most beautiful smartwatch you can currently buy. However, Google still offers it in only one size (41mm), and the 1.2-inch screen remains almost small compared to other smartwatch slabs. The wide black bezel is still there too, but you don’t usually see it because Google cleverly hides that with its dials.
On the contrary, the AMOLED screen is amazing. It can shine extremely brightly (1,000 nits), delivers great contrasts and colors, and has a resolution of 320 pixels per inch (ppi), which is just as sharp as the Apple Watch 9’s display (326 ppi).
Aluminum instead of steel
However, the design of the new Pixel Watch is not completely identical to its predecessor. The body is no longer made of stainless steel, but rather recycled aluminium. At 31 grams, the watch is 5 grams lighter than the first Pixel Watch. The change has little impact on its durability, as before, the watch is dustproof and waterproof according to the IP68 standard and can withstand pressure up to 5 atmospheres (ATM).
A clear change can be seen on the underside. Not only has Google rearranged the sensors, but you can now also see four pins through which the watch charges on its dock. This seems a bit old-fashioned compared to the inductive charging of the previous watch, but the watch can now be refueled more quickly. An empty battery fills in about 75 minutes, and is half full after 30 minutes.
In addition, there is much greater stamina. The first generation can barely survive a day if you don’t put a lot of pressure on them. In testing, the Pixel Watch 2 lasted at least 24 hours with always-on display during the day, and noticeably longer with moderate use. And if you deactivate the always-on function, which is usually not necessary, you can hope for more than 36 hours.
Charge quickly on your smartphone
You can now easily use the watch to monitor sleep. Sometimes short bursts, for example in the bathroom in the morning, are enough to turn her into long-term hostility. You can also quickly refuel it on the go, as you can also plug the mini charging dock into your Android smartphone’s USB-C port to save power. In testing, the watch charged at the same speed as it did with the power source.
Although the battery has a slightly higher capacity of 306 mAh (6 mAh), the Pixel Watch 2’s greater endurance is primarily due to the new chip, which is not only more powerful but also more efficient. Top performance was less pronounced, with weaker predecessors often also performing well. Overall, the Pixel Watch 2 feels a bit smoother to operate, though the newer Wear OS 4.0 could play its part too.
New is a multi-purpose sensor designed to measure pulse more accurately as well as sensors to measure skin conductivity (cEDA) and skin temperature. The Pixel Watch 2 offers additional fitness and health functionality that can be used with the Google Fitbit app. Fortunately, the range of the standard version has also increased, but for some functions a paid premium account with Fitbit is required.
Warnings and motivation
Thanks to the more accurate pulse measurement, the watch is now able, among other things, to warn of irregular heartbeats. It may also have been a prerequisite to record the load in four zones instead of three zones during training (light, medium, intense, maximum performance). Also good: If you want to be notified if your pulse is too high or too low, you can now adapt the frequencies to your physical conditions.
During exercise, it is now possible to set more precise goals or set the statistics displayed. You can also be motivated by notifications, for example, whether you’re running over or under a set time to cover a specific distance. It is also possible to target the amount of calories burned or areas of tension.
Training is recorded automatically
If you don’t want to worry too much about settings, you can be happy that the Pixel Watch 2 can automatically recognize and record popular sports like walking, running, cycling, or rowing. In testing, this worked great on a rowing machine, among other things. After about four minutes, the watch asks if you want to start recording.
Since you don’t warm up until about a kilometer into paddling, it’s hard to take a break to confirm with a flip. No problem, the recording still runs in the background and you can retrieve the values later. The times recorded by the rowing machine and the Pixel Watch 2 were almost identical. The predecessor will likely also receive these options via the update.
Are you nervous?
Skin sensors are mainly used for stress detection and sleep analysis. Both functions have been expanded. Among other things, you will receive notifications with some delay if symptoms of stress are detected. You can then enter your “stress diary” about how you felt at that time. Or you can turn on the Relax app for breathing exercises or take a walk — accompanied by a Fitbit — to relax.
Pressure detection wasn’t always correct in testing, but it generally works. The Stress Management Index is determined throughout the day, but a detailed assessment can only be done using a Fitbit Premium account.
Automatic fall detection hasn’t arrived yet, but the Pixel Watch 2 offers a safety check. You can use this to set a timer, for example, if you set off on a dangerous road. Once the time is up, you have to confirm that you are okay. Otherwise, emergency contacts will be notified and the location shared with them.
Last but not least, it’s worth noting that the Pixel Watch 2 also works perfectly with Google Assistant. You can give it voice commands with the push of a button or create a widget with quick actions. You can select or dictate commands from the list. With the matching watch face, you can see current contextual tips on the watch.
The second generation Pixel Watch offers almost everything you want from a smartwatch. It’s not quite as good as the Apple Watch yet, but it’s close, and the watch could be improved further with updates. However, Google should definitely install a larger screen next year. It’s not necessary to increase the size of the watch for this purpose, the fat border around the screen still leaves enough wiggle room. A second, larger version for stronger wrists will still be a welcome alternative.
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