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Essential upgrades Google’s next Pixel Watch should bring

Google entered the mobile tech arena a bit late, which might seem odd since it’s the one behind Android. Their Google Pixel phones, starting from the sixth generation, have now become serious contenders against Apple and Samsung. Plus, they’re branching out with the Pixel Fold and Pixel Watch. Although these initial products are cool, they still have some catching up to do when stacked against the competition.

But the prime example of this is the Google Pixel Watch, which hit the scene in late 2022 as their debut smartwatch. The move into the smartwatch world was anticipated after their acquisition of Fitbit in 2021. Yet, after rigorous testing, a couple of things are evident: the first-gen Pixel Watch outshines the first-gen Apple Watch, yet it’s still not on par with today’s Apple Watches. This sets the stage for future Pixel Watch generations with loads of promise. However, there are a few kinks Google needs to iron out first.

Pixel Watch 2 could use a better design

The Pixel Watch rocks a minimalist design, so much so that you could easily mistake the stainless steel version for a regular watch. Google shouldn’t stray from this path, as it aligns with the Pixel brand and gives the Pixel Watch its own distinct flair in the crowded smartwatch arena.

For the next generation, Google should aim to enhance the premium feel of the Pixel Watch, and a great way to achieve that might involve revamping the band choices. When paired with an Active Band, the Pixel Watch can end up looking more like a budget fitness tracker than a top-tier smartwatch. Google needs to shift this perception to go toe-to-toe with the flagship offerings from Apple, Samsung, and Garmin.

However, the matte charcoal variant isn’t Google’s strongest effort, and it gives off a more budget-oriented vibe compared to the aluminum watches by Apple or Samsung. It could be a matter of personal taste, but in my experience, the matte charcoal Pixel Watch – essentially matte black – tends to resemble plastic when viewed from a distance.

Also, with all the glass, body, and rear case being black in this model, there’s a lack of stylish contrast. For upcoming versions of the Pixel Watch, a brushed finish or lighter shades for a matte edition could make sense.

Also Read: Is Google’s Enhanced Safe Browsing really safe?

Google needs to boost the watch’s performance

Google has been developing its own in-house processing units for its Pixel smartphones, but prior to that, it relied on high-quality Qualcomm chips for its devices. However, when it comes to the Pixel Watch, it came equipped with the less-than-impressive Samsung Exynos 9110 SoC along with a Cortex M33 coprocessor. In simple terms, the Exynos 9110 is a chip that’s been around for four years and doesn’t deliver much in the way of performance.

While most quick actions on the Pixel Watch are relatively snappy, tasks like rebooting the device or handling more demanding requests can take a considerable amount of time. If you’re using the Pixel Watch as your daily driver, you’ll likely encounter situations where dictation or Google Assistant stumbles, causing you to start over.

The upcoming Pixel Watch needs a more advanced and up-to-date processor, and fortunately, leaks are indicating that it might indeed receive an upgrade with the Snapdragon W5 chip. The rumored SW5100 system-on-a-chip, which is expected to power the Pixel Watch 2, could offer a significant boost in performance. It’s crafted using the newer 4nm manufacturing process, and we’ve already witnessed its capabilities in the latest TicWatch Pro 5.

Additionally, it comes with a dedicated Snapdragon Adreno graphics processor and 2GB of RAM. Perhaps most importantly, Qualcomm claims that these chips are highly efficient when it comes to power consumption, which should bode well for the battery life of the second-generation Pixel Watch.

A bigger display can make a strong case

When Google initially revealed the Pixel Watch, it faced criticism for its noticeable bezels. However, in actual use, the bezels become less prominent due to Google’s smart use of a black user interface that seamlessly integrates with the black bezel. While this approach enhances the aesthetics, it does somewhat constrain the available screen area that Google can utilize for designing the Pixel Watch’s operating system.

The Pixel Watch is on the smaller side, which makes it a bit tricky to navigate. It’s too cramped for typing, and while dictation works decently, the screen needs to be larger to really make the Pixel Watch a top-notch smartwatch. The display size is the main thing Google should focus on improving for the next Pixel Watch, because it’s the primary reason why it’s tough to wholeheartedly recommend this smartwatch. If you find yourself needing your phone for anything beyond checking notifications or tracking fitness, then the smartwatch doesn’t really offer that much utility.

Also read: Don’t hold your breath: Upcoming flagship smartwatches may lack excitement!

Battery that beats the competition

Now let’s talk about another hardware hiccup. The Pixel Watch’s compact size means there’s not much space for a decent internal battery. Unfortunately, the battery life on the Pixel Watch is a bit disappointing, and real users will likely get way less juice than the 24-hour estimate Google gives.

If you switch off the always-on display, you can squeeze a full day’s use, but it’s frustrating that you have to give up that feature to get reasonable battery life. Whether they improve software optimization or revamp the design to accommodate a larger battery, the Pixel Watch definitely needs to step up its battery game to become a dependable daily companion.

Come out of Fitbit’s shadow

The Pixel Watch is currently caught in a bit of a tug-of-war between Google and Fitbit services, leading to a somewhat confusing user experience. Despite running WearOS, it’s evident that elements of Fitbit OS have been incorporated to offer health-related functionalities.

As an example, right from the start, you need to pair the Pixel Watch with both the Pixel Watch app on your Android phone and the Fitbit app separately. This results in settings and features being spread across these two apps, making it feel like you’re juggling two different devices on your wrist. To add to the complexity, you can also opt to use Google Fit, which adds a third option to the mix.

It would be great if Google picks one app and brings all the Pixel Watch features and settings under a single roof. The Fitbit app seems to be the more advanced choice, boasting a plethora of fitness and health data presented in a user-friendly manner. However, it’s worth noting that Fitbit’s app design doesn’t quite match Google’s aesthetics.

In an ideal scenario, Google could adopt the Fitbit app as the go-to fitness hub for the Pixel Watch but give it a complete makeover. Google’s apps usually maintain a consistent design style, even if it’s a bit on the plain side, so it can be quite jarring when an app doesn’t align with that theme.

Vishal Kawadkar
About author

With over 8 years of experience in tech journalism, Vishal is someone with an innate passion for exploring and delivering fresh takes. Embracing curiosity and innovation, he strives to provide an informed and unique outlook on the ever-evolving world of technology.