5 Reasons Why I’m Never Buying a Pixel Watch Again

In Short
  • The Pixel Watch 2 was a good upgrade when it came out last year, but it has big issues.
  • For starters, it lacks essential features, a practical form factor, and lacks several health tracking metrics.
  • Google's ecosystem lock-in is a bit extreme, and competitors are making better Wear OS watches.

The Pixel Watch 2 was an exciting release, thanks to Google bringing a few key improvements that made it a tad bit better than its predecessor. While I’m not too fond of the Pixel Watch’s bezels and the fact that there’s only one size to choose from, I switched to a Pixel Watch 2 from a Galaxy Watch 4 thinking I would like the experience but ended up regretting the purchase. Here are the five reasons I’ll probably never buy a Pixel Watch.

Fitbit App and Its Disappointing Integration

One of the key features that motivated me to assemble this piece of write-up is just how lacking Fitbit’s health monitoring is with the Pixel Watch 2. Beyond the fact that it took me an eternity of struggling to connect my Pixel Watch 2 to Fitbit, the overall health-tracking experience feels disjointed. Having to pay for a Fitbit subscription to unlock essential features doesn’t help the cause, either.

In comparison, the health monitoring features in Samsung Health and Galaxy Watches are just better. They’re extremely personalized, so much so that using Samsung Health felt like an imaginary person was trying to push stats that mattered, to motivate me to get going. Besides, Samsung Health is completely free and will only get better thanks to Samsung making its AI push into the app.

Samsung Health

Many buy Wear OS smartwatches to leverage the connected features and monitor their health. For me, both are equally important. And the Pixel Watch 2 has, so far, been a letdown with its hollow health tracking, making it one of the main reasons I’ll never buy a Pixel Watch again.

Essential Features Are Missing

It’s been six months since I bought the Pixel Watch 2 and two years since Google released the first Pixel Watch. It’s disappointing how they still lack basic features that should’ve been present since day one. For example, there’s no way to rearrange quick-setting tiles like you can do on One UI Watch or even Android.

Similarly, navigating through apps on the watch is a pain since it lacks the option to switch to a grid launcher. The feature has been “in the works” since January and hasn’t made it even after the June feature drop. Other Wear OS devices have had these features for years, making the Pixel Watch experience even more frustrating.

Basic Features Pixel Watch

I love the simplicity of tap-to-pay, but thanks to Google’s decision to rob Google Wallet in India of the ability to store cards, the Wallet app is useless, at least for me. Samsung Wallet is exclusive to Samsung, but Samsung does offer a plug-in to use Samsung Wallet features regardless of the brand of Android phone you’re using.

Besides, the Pixel Watch app feels extremely dated, lacks intuitiveness, and could sometimes be a pain to use.

Not a Practical Form Factor

I loved the Pixel Watch’s design until I started scouring the internet for screen protectors and third-party bands. The lack of sales of Pixel Watch 2 in the subcontinent didn’t help me either. I found a few expensive screen protectors from the likes of Ringke, but the design made it extremely hard to apply, and the protectors would come off every three days. I managed to get a few good protectors and a watch band from AliExpress (it doesn’t ship to India), thanks to one of my friends.

Wear OS 5 What I want to see
Image Courtesy: Google

Phone manufacturers are switching to flat displays to make it easier for users to handle the phone while making your device’s screen less prone to cracking if it falls. Curved screens are expensive to manufacture, and Google doesn’t provide replacement displays for Pixel Watches. If my Pixel Watch 2 screen breaks by accident, that would be the end of it.

Competitors Are Making Better Watches

The OnePlus Watch 2 and the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic are great examples. The OnePlus Watch 2 has an exceptional battery life while the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is a great all-round performer. The Galaxy Watch offers a wider range of sizes and longer software support (4 years vs 3 years on the Pixel Watch 2).

Samsung Starts Testing Wear OS 5 on Galaxy Watch 6
Image Courtesy: Samsung

On the other hand, Samsung’s One UI Watch provides a richer feature set compared to the vanilla Wear OS on the Pixel Watch. Often, these competing options are priced similarly or even lower.

The Ecosystem Lock Is a Bit Extreme

If the slower feature additions were not already bad enough, the extremely tight ecosystem lock-in is the final nail in the coffin for me. Google heavily restricts its Pixel Watch features when it’s paired with non-Pixel phones. Here are the features that only work if you have the Pixel Watch paired with a Pixel phone.

  • Watch Unlock
  • Bedtime Mode sync
  • Clock and Alarm Sync
  • DnD sync

I’m not against the idea of ecosystem lock-ins, but I dislike Google for not letting users access basic features such as Watch unlock and other sync functions. Ecosystem lock is justified when you’re locking in unique features, but the ones mentioned above are as basic as it gets.

Watch Unlock - never buying a pixel watch
Image: Google

I’m aware Samsung does this as well, and they could’ve done the same with Samsung Wallet but didn’t. Similarly, Samsung has alternative ways to let users still use the features, which I’ll get to further below. To give credit where it’s due, the Pixel Watch lets you use ECG with non-Pixels, which the Samsung watches don’t.

Features like Watch Unlock initially promised for all Wear OS devices, haven’t materialized. Even the option to schedule essential functions like Bedtime mode remains unavailable. The lack of transparency regarding upcoming features and updates is concerning, and it’s a huge reason why I’m never buying a Pixel Watch again.

Will Pixel Watch 3 Solve These Problems?

The leaks are already out and Pixel Watch 3 series will probably launch in August this year. I don’t expect Google to ease up to make a few ecosystem features available to all users, but I hope they’ll give us an option to schedule them.

Fitbit’s integration needs work, and so does the form factor of Pixel Watches. Google’s Wear OS still has a long way to go since it has many essential features missing, and until they fix it, sayonara Google. However, I’m still hoping Wear OS 5 solves a few of my pain points when it’s available for everyone later this year.

What are your thoughts on the Pixel Watch and other Wear OS smartwatches? Let us know in the comments.

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