Google’s Pixel Watch 2 offers solid upgrades
Once again, it takes a minute to learn how to get the band on and off. In fact, the Watch app includes instructions up front — Google no doubt got a lot of feedback. What the design does afford, however, is an extremely secure connection between the watch and the band. The charging puck also keeps the watch more secure than before, owing to a quartet of pins on the back. The new connectors also afford the device a big upgrade in charging times. The one downside, really, is that the Watch isn’t compatible with last year’s charger — though, again, this won’t be an issue for the vast majority of folks.
The battery itself has been upgraded a smidge, as well, from 295mAh to 306mAh. That’s very clearly not a big jump. The truth is that the chipset also plays an important role here. You’ll be able to make it through a 24-hour period without fuss. That means not having to choose between fitness and sleep tracking — certainly not something every single smartwatch maker can say at this point.
The arrival of skin temperature and stress sensors opened the device to do more of what Fitbit was already doing. Either Google didn’t quite crack the code on including the sensors last time around or it made a very intentional decision to save some new stuff for Gen 2. Either way, the original Pixel Watch had to do some catching up with Fitbit, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Google.[Fitbit Charge]
Health tracking and software were what Google wanted when it bought Fitbit, and the Pixel Watch 2 continues to deliver on those promises. Fitbit was, after all, at the vanguard of wearable health tracking. There’s been some debate over what the brand’s ultimate fate will be under its new parent, though it’s clear that much of the company’s work will continue to live on as the Fitbit app serves as the health tracking destination on Pixel Watches. It’s also worth noting that the Fitbit to Pixel Watch pipeline isn’t fully one-sided, as evidenced by the new Charge 6.
The arrival of Fitbit-first features like stress response is also an indication that these devices have room to go beyond the standard health/fitness tracking. Pairing that data with things like heart rate points toward devices that can do a better job with things like mental health tracking.[Fitbit Charge]
At $350, the Watch 2 starts at $50 less than the Apple Watch Series 9 and $50 more than Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 6, its top competitor in the Wear OS space. You should probably also factor in the $10 a month Fitbit Premium subscription if you want the full effect — though companies like Oura have seemingly prepared users for that sort of secondary sticker shock.[Fitbit]
When it arrived, the first Pixel Watch shot to the top of the list of Wear OS devices (it still has plenty of competition from Samsung). And while the Watch 2 doesn’t present a huge update, Google did a fine job fixing many of the device’s shortcomings, maintaining a position as one of the best smartwatches around.
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