The Pixel Watch is finally coming, and it’s going to have a price tag of $349 to start in the US. With that price, Google has a high bar to clear to keep its first smartwatch competitive, but will it nail the fundamentals?
Pixel Watch price: How much it will cost, and how that compares
The Pixel Watch is a device that customers have been waiting a long time for as Google’s Wear OS has always lacked a definitive option. Earlier this year, Google officially announced that the Pixel Watch was real, showed off the design, and told us that it would make its debut later this year.
As of this week, we’ve exclusively reported on Pixel Watch pricing for both the Bluetooth and LTE-capable models. The Pixel Watch price will start at $349 for Bluetooth/Wi-Fi and go up to $399 for cellular connectivity.
Where does that stand in the overall smartwatch market? It’s definitely on the higher end.
Looking at the current market leader, the Apple Watch, the Pixel Watch price will just barely undercut the Apple Watch Series 8, which costs $399. But Apple does offer a more affordable model in the Apple Watch SE, which costs $249.
Meanwhile, looking at more direct competition in the Android world, there’s the Samsung Galaxy Watch lineup. The Galaxy Watch 5 starts at $279 and goes up to $309 for the larger model – in terms of size, the Pixel Watch seems like it will sit in the middle of the two. Samsung also sells a higher-end Galaxy Watch 5 Pro for $449. Adding cellular adds $50 to the price of any model.
Elsewhere in the Wear OS landscape, smartwatches using Wear OS 2 vary wildly in cost. Fossil Gen 6 retails for $299, while the similarly equipped Skagen Falster Gen 6 asks for $295. Both of these are generally on sale for far less at this point, though. Mobvoi offers some of the most affordable Wear OS smartwatches. The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra costs $299, while the TicWatch E3 costs $199. All of these watches will be eligible for Wear OS 3 upgrades in time, the Pixel Watch software will be running out of the box.
So looking at the competition, Google’s Pixel Watch price appears to be largely in the middle of the pack. It’s not topping the charts, but it’s also not offering a bargain.
And a part of where the Pixel Watch is priced may also boil down to the rest of the company’s lineup. Fitbit is a core part of Google now, and the new Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 come in at $299 and $229 respectively. If Google were to match Samsung’s pricing, for instance, the company would be offering a smartwatch that has more features than its flagship fitness tracker for less money.
The concern then becomes living up to the competition. The Apple Watch is currently the gold standard for smartwatches, while the Galaxy Watch 5 has shown what Wear OS is capable of with solid hardware to back it up. The Pixel Watch, however, doesn’t seem to hold up, based on what we’ve seen so far.
What does the Pixel Watch need to get right?
Early leaks of the Pixel Watch seem to point to a less-powerful spec sheet compared to these other devices. The Exynos 9110 chipset is the main point of concern, with that chip having seemingly been pulled right out of 2018 to power Google’s smartwatch. The 9110 was a great chip when it came out, but things have advanced tremendously since.
The Exynos W920 in the Galaxy Watch 4 and 5 series has shown itself to be powerful and energy efficient, and Qualcomm seems ready to double down on that with its new Snapdragon W5 series.
The other area that has some worried is battery life, as we’ve reported that the Pixel Watch will only last about a day on a charge.
To be fair, Apple only quotes 18-hour battery life on the Apple Watch, so the 24-hour claim we’ve seen seems to outlast Apple’s, but user experience shows that the Apple Watch generally lasts longer than 18 hours on a charge. Samsung, meanwhile, doesn’t have an official claim for Galaxy Watch 5 battery life, but we found that it can easily last around 30-40 hours depending on usage.
But these two core areas aside, there’s a lot Google has been behind in the smartwatch race. Wear OS has long lacked the health features that Apple and Samsung offer, which Google seems to be solving with Fitbit integration. Apps on Wear OS are plentiful, but there have been glaring omissions in Google’s catalog for a while, and it’s taken time for some developers to improve their Wear OS experiences too.
Personally, I’m optimistic that the Pixel Watch will stick the landing, despite its price point. At a starting cost of $349, it’s no small fee to get in, but it seems like things are all coming together for an acceptable first-generation product.
What’s important to remember, though, is that wearables are an incredibly personal product. There’s the look, of course, as smartwatches are partially a fashion statement. But beyond that, there’s also the question of what you prioritize. Do you want top-of-the-line health and sleep tracking? Long battery life? The best app support? Better integration with your smartphone?
Mainstream smartwatches are tasked with being a “jack-of-all-trades” when they get pricey because you can pick up wearables that offer a lot of the same features for a lots less money nowadays.
So what is your priority? What does the Pixel Watch have to get right to make it worth its price for you?
The Pixel Watch will be officially announced on October 6.
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