Google Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9: What are the differences?

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Google Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9: What are the differences?

Intro


Are you curious to know which is the more advanced smartwatch: Google's upcoming Pixel Watch 2 or the soon-to-be-announced Apple Watch Series 9?

That's what this comparison explores in detail, but first let's make it clear that the Pixel Watch 2 will only work with Android phones, while the Apple Watch only works with iPhones, so if you prefer one watch over the other, you need to also be invested in the ecosystem that goes with it.

With this in mind, the Google Pixel Watch 2 aims to fix the shortcomings of the first-gen with improved battery life, a new and faster processor, new watchfaces, a new stress measuring sensor and a more affordable price. The Apple Watch Series 9, on the other hand, just builds upon the foundation of previous Apple Watches with minor changes only.

The Apple Watch S9 is coming in late September, while the new Pixel Watch 2 is expected to arrive in mid October, but even now we already know a lot about these two thanks to leaks and rumors, so let's get on to exploring, shall we?


Google Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9: differences
  • One is round, other is rectangular
  • Pixel Watch only comes in one smallish size
  • Wear OS 4 vs Apple WatchOS 10
  • One-day battery on both
  • Apple Watch is slightly more expensive
  • Different strap systems

Table of Contents:

Design & Sizes

A circle or a rectangle?

The Pixel Watch 2 is expected to look much like the first-gen Pixel Watch, with a round body and the same, smallish 41mm size. The Apple Watch Series 9 is also not much different from its predecessor with a rectangular shape and two size options at 41mm and 45mm.

Having just one smaller size for the Pixel Watch 2 is definitely holding it back.

Both watches have a digital crown and a secondary button. You also have a speaker and a microphone on both, and on the bottom of the watches you can find an optical heart rate sensor.

When it comes to materials, the Pixel Watch 2 uses aluminum for the body of the watch and hardened glass, while the Apple Watch comes in different versions. The cheaper one also uses aluminum, but you are also expected to have an $800 stainless steel version with sapphire glass.

Bands

Different systems

The second gen Pixel Watch adopts the same band system as the original, which felt a bit fiddly, but at least looked stylish.

The Apple Watch also uses its own proprietary band swap system, which is a bit easier to get used to and most people probably already know it well.

Both watches offer a good variety of first party straps, and while Google is slightly behind Apple here, it is expected to unveil a couple new strap options with the new watch to close the gap.

Software & Features

WearOS or WatchOS?

The Pixel Watch 2 runs on WearOS 4 and we know have a few watches on this platform, which has helped bring back developers and add some new apps to it.

It's still not quite as big as Apple's WatchOS, but better than before.

Both platforms however are not exactly the definition of a huge success as there are only a few actually useful apps.

Google relies heavily on an integration with Fitbit for health and fitness tracking, which is mostly a good thing, but do keep in mind that some advanced metrics are hidden behind a monthly subscription, while on the Apple Watch there is no such thing.

One new feature coming to the Pixel Watch 2 is coaching, which will help you hit your workout goals, but we are yet to see how that works.

Then, the Pixel Watch 2 is also expected to get a cEDA (continuous electrodermal activity) sensor for stress tracking. This should examine sweat levels, heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), skin temperature and sleep data and all that data should be able to tell if you are stressed and suggest you take action such as breathe or take a walk.

One feature we were hoping to see, but will ultimately not make it to the Pixel Watch 2 is a UWB (ultra wide band) chip. This is used for precision finding devices and is already included in Apple Watch.

Battery and Charging

Snapdragon W5 vs Apple's own chip

Qualcomm and Apple are rivals in the smartphone chip space, and the rivalry continues in smartwatches too.

The Pixel Watch 2 is expected to have the new Snapdragon W5 chip made on a 5nm process, and a big improvement over the Samsung Exynos chip that Google used in the first-gen watch. But then Apple is also rumored to use a new chip in the Series 9.

It's not just about speed though, but mostly in the efficiency and how these chips contribute to battery life.

Here are the battery sizes on these two watches:

  • Pixel Watch 2 41mm battery size: 306 mAh (+4%)
  • Pixel Watch 1 41mm battery size: 294 mAh
  • Apple Watch Series 9 41mm battery size: 282 mAh *expectations
  • Apple Watch Series 8 41mm battery size: 282 mAh

The first-gen Pixel Watch was rated for 24 hours in smartwatch mode and 12 hours in GPS mode, but in real life use it barely lasted a full day when you work out, so this should change. 

However, don't expect miracles and both watches would probably last no more than about 24 hours on a single charge.

The Pixel Watch 2 should use the same magnetic charging as the first one, and that one was a bit of a paint with a very weak connection. The Apple Watch magnetic puck is a bit easier to use.

Models and Prices


Google is expected to stick with the same price for the Pixel Watch 2: $350 for the Wi-Fi version and $400 for the cellular model. The company gave away a lot of watches with new Pixels last year, and we would not be surprised to see similar give-aways this year.

At this price, the Pixel Watch costs only slightly less than the Apple Watch Series 9, which starts at $400. It's clear that Google has to catch up to Apple, so right now it seems like there should be a bigger price gap between these two. We recommend buying the Pixel Watch 2 at a discount, and those should be more common than for the Apple Watch.

Voice Calls and Haptics


Both the Pixel Watch 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 can make and take calls, which is a nice convenience.

Haptics, however, just feel a bit more refined on the Apple Watch.

Specs


Here is an overview of the Google Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9 specs:
 
 

Summary


At the end of the day, the Pixel Watch 2 definitely steps up its game, but the lack of a larger size remains a big hold-up.

The Apple Watch Series 9, despite the minor changes, looks like the more mature option with more variety in watch faces, straps and overall refinement.

Of course, we will know more when both become official very soon, so check back here in mid October for all the missing details.

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