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HomeScience/TechnologyHow the Pixel, Apple, and Galaxy watches compare on paper

How the Pixel, Apple, and Galaxy watches compare on paper

Google has announced the Pixel Watch, its first wearable flagship. Although it has a sleek circular design, the company is now entering an area where competitors such as Apple and Samsung have been successful for years. While detailed impressions of the Pixel Watch’s true performance and battery life will have to wait for a full review, let’s see how it compares on paper.

The design of the Pixel Watch versus the Apple Watch

Aesthetics is of course subjective, but there are some design aspects that we can objectively compare and contrast. One of the most notable is shape and controls; Like the Galaxy Watch 5 series, the Pixel Watch has a circular design, while the Apple Watch’s body is a rounded rectangle. Like Apple’s wearable, Google has adorned its watch with a rotating crown, button and touchscreen for controls, while Samsung uses a two-button plus touch-sensitive bezel and touchscreen interface.

Size is also relatively important when it comes to wearables; large watches can dominate thinner wrists, while small watches can look a bit like toys on larger arms. The Pixel Watch comes in one size, 41mm, which is roughly comparable to the smaller sizes of the Apple Watch Series 8, SE, and Galaxy Watch 5. Both Apple and Samsung offer larger models for a slight price increase, an option Google is currently offering. does not give us.

A look at both the Pixel Watch’s controls and form factor.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

In terms of materials, the Pixel Watch is made of stainless steel and available in gold, matte black and silver. The Apple Watch Series 8 is available in both aluminum and stainless steel (with the latter at a hefty price increase), and the SE is only available in aluminum. Samsung also builds its standard Watch 5 from aluminum, but switches to titanium for the sports-oriented Watch 5 Pro.

How good is the Pixel Watch’s fitness tracking?

Speaking of sports, one of the main selling points of the Pixel Watch (and most smartwatches) is its usefulness as a fitness tracker. Compared to the Apple Watch Series 8 and Galaxy Watch 5, the Pixel Watch has a similar array of sensors; it has an optical sensor for heart rate tracking, can take EKGs and can read your blood oxygen level. All watches also offer sleep tracking. However, Samsung’s sensor has some additional capabilities, such as the ability to estimate stats such as body fat, mass, and water, and Apple has added temperature-based retrospective ovulation estimates to the Series 8.

Image of a running person looking at a Pixel Watch.

The Pixel Watch includes Fitbit’s “Active Zone Minutes” system and can track 40 exercises.
Image: Google

It’s worth noting that the Pixel Watch locks some fitness features behind a $9.99-per-month Fitbit Premium subscription, while it includes six months of service with the watch. After that period, you must pay if you want to continue to receive a readiness score, sleep score breakdown, or well-being reports. The subscription also includes access to guided workouts and mindfulness exercises, akin to Apple’s $9.99-per-month Fitness Plus service — though it’s worth noting that Apple doesn’t leave any data or analytics behind its subscription (not that its watch supports the concept of readiness or rest days). Samsung does not charge extra for providing a sleep score or sleep coaching.

Like the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch, the Pixel Watch does offer some degree of automatic workout tracking for activities like walking and running. It also comes with three free months of YouTube Music.

What kind of features does the Pixel Watch have compared to Apple and Samsung?

The Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch both have the same operating system, WearOS 3, so they should broadly support the same apps and features. All the watches we’re comparing today offer hard fall detection and an emergency SOS feature, although it’s worth noting that Google’s fall detection isn’t coming until later this year. You can also buy a mobile version of each watch; here are the carriers that google supports with its wearable.

Unlike the Apple Watch SE, the Pixel Watch has an always-on display, just like the more expensive Apple Watch and Samsung models.

Google doesn’t currently offer a rugged sports-focused watch like the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro or Apple Watch Ultra (which we didn’t include in this roundup due to the much higher price). The Watch 5 Pro includes features like a sapphire crystal that covers the screen — the Pixel has “custom 3D Corning Gorilla Glass” — and GPS backtracking, which is also available on the Apple Watches.

What phones can I use the Pixel Watch with?

Google is touting the Pixel Watch as a companion to its phones, but the site says the wearable is compatible with any phone running Android 8.0 or newer, the same as the Galaxy Watch 5 (after all, the two watches use the same operating system). Unfortunately, that means it’s not compatible with iPhones — and the Apple Watch won’t work with Android phones.

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