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Google Pixel Watch 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 9: Which new smartwatch is worth your time?

Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9

June Wan/ZDNET & Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Google just announced the brand new Google Pixel Watch 2 and it’s a fitness lover’s dream. As only the second smartwatch in the Pixel lineup, Google appears to have taken note of users’ biggest qualms with the Pixel Watch and made some changes, and then some. 

Also: Every product unveiled at the Made by Google event today

But we can still hear the ‘oohs and ahs’ from Apple events mere weeks ago, where the tech giant unveiled the brand new Apple Watch Series 9. Both Google and Apple are competing for the wearables audience with striking (although very different) features, and we’ll break down how to choose the best new smartwatch to suit your needs. 

Specifications

Google Pixel Watch 2 Apple Watch Series 9
Price Starting at $349 Starting at $399
Display 41mm 41mm | 45mm
Weight 1.09oz 1.49oz | 1.82oz
Battery 306mAh / 24hrs 308mAh / Up to 24hrs
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 S9 SiP
Software Wear OS 4 WatchOS 10
RAM 2 GB 1 GB
Storage 32 GB 64 GB
IP rating IP68 IP6X


You should buy the Google Pixel Watch 2 if…

Google Pixel Watch 2's new active workout screen

June Wan/ZDNET

1. You are all about fitness and health tracking

Google acquired Fitbit in 2021 and created the Pixel Watch with Fitbit integrations in 2022. The second-generation Pixel Watch features even more Fitbit capabilities than its predecessor, like a new multi-path heart rate sensor that tracks changes in your pulse throughout a workout by leveraging multiple LEDs and photodiodes to measure your heart rate from different angles and positions. This feature in particular makes for more accurate heart rate monitoring, a benefit that gives way to other capabilities, like stress management. 

Also: The best blood pressure watches available

Google is also introducing Stress management in the Pixel Watch 2, which combines data on heart rate variability, changes in skin temperature, and even how much you sweat to detect signs of stress. In an effort to help ground users in times of high stress, the Pixel Watch 2 will give you a notification and prompt you to perform a guided breathing exercise or take a walk. 

2. You have an Android — or better yet, a Pixel phone

The Pixel Watch 2 runs WearOS 4, making it compatible with Android phones running Android 9 or newer. The Apple Watch 9 (or any other Apple Watch, for that matter) only pairs with an iPhone. If you have an Android phone from 2018 or later and are trying to decide which smartwatch to get, you’re better off choosing the Pixel Watch 2 over any Apple Watch. 

As a result, if you have an iPhone and are looking for a smartwatch that works seamlessly with your phone, then the Apple Watch Series 9 is much better suited to your needs than the Pixel Watch 2.

Each Pixel Watch 2 includes a six-month Fitbit Premium subscription and a one-month trial of YouTube Music Premium.

3. You like the look of a round watch face 

As a faithful Apple Watch wearer, I am one of many people who dislike the look of the device — though the benefits of using one help me get over that aversion. The Pixel Watch 2 has a more timeless look than the Apple Watch, with a round watch face instead of rectangular. 

Similar to the Samsung Galaxy Watch, the Pixel Watch looks more classic than the Apple Watch, even capable of passing as an analog watch at a glance. Though I don’t use technology because it looks fashionable but because it is useful, I would buy a round Apple Watch in a heartbeat.

You should buy the Apple Watch Series 9 if…

apple-watch-9-pink

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

1. You want to use the double-tap feature

The double-tap feature is one of the Apple Watch Series 9’s biggest selling points. Coming up in an update in the next few weeks, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra let users control their smartwatch by making a double-pinch gesture with your pointer finger and thumb. 

Also: You can already use the Apple Watch’s double-tap feature. Here’s how

This feature will let users answer calls, snooze alarms, and navigate WatchOS, thanks to an algorithm that puts together information gathered by the Watch’s built-in accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor. 

2. You appreciate safety features

Google is really upselling the Pixel Watch 2’s Safety Check feature to set timers for different situations, such as walking home at night by yourself. Once the timer goes off, the user has to confirm on the Pixel Watch 2 that they are OK or if they need help. If the wearer doesn’t confirm they’re OK, their location is shared with predetermined emergency contacts. 

The Apple Watch 9 also has similar features, thanks to WatchOS 10 and iOS 17 on iPhone. iPhone users can use the ‘Check in’ feature to share their location with their emergency contacts when they fail to arrive to their destination by a predetermined time, for example. And like the Pixel Watch 2, the Apple Watch Series 9 has Fall detection and Emergency calling. Unlike the Pixel Watch, Apple’s device has also included crash detection since the Apple Watch Series 8.

Also: Apple Watch Series 9: Top 4 new features we’re excited about

Google Pixel Watch has all the health-tracking features a fitness nut would love, but the Apple Watch Series 9 has an edge: no need for a Fitbit subscription. 

3. You want a variety of sizes and colors to choose from

The Google Pixel Watch 2 is still only sold in one size: 41mm. For a lot of Apple Watch users, 41mm is just too small of a screen to fully enjoy the benefits of a smartwatch. Apple knows this, so the Apple Watch is typically available in two size options. The Series 9 is available in 41mm and 45mm, so it’s the best choice for someone looking for a smartwatch with a larger screen — provided that you have an iPhone.

Also: Buying an Apple Watch? How to pick the best one for you

The Pixel Watch 2 is available in three case finishes: Champagne Gold, Matte Black, and Polished Silver, while the Apple Watch Series 9 comes in five aluminum case finishes: Midnight, Pink, Starlight, Silver, and Product(RED); and three stainless steel finishes: Gold, Silver, and Graphite.

Alternatives to consider

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic on a drawer.

BEST ANDROID ALTERNATIVE

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is available in 43mm and 47mm, and features a rotating bezel to round out its classic wristwatch look.

apple-watch-ultra-2-2

BEST HIGH-END ALTERNATIVE

Apple Watch Ultra 2

If you need a more rugged Apple Watch than the Series 9 model, the stronger, Titanium-built Apple Watch Ultra 2 is also an option. This device offers improved water resistance and longer battery life of up to 36 hours.


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