Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Google Pixel Watch: How Do They Compare?

Apple Watch Series 8 and Google Pixel Watch next to each other

The Apple Watch has served as the gold standard smartwatch for several years, and its latest iteration—Series 8—continues on this path. But 2022 marks Google’s foray into the smartwatch market with first-party hardware.

Here we explore how these two devices compare and see whether Google has a product that can set the tone for future Wear OS smartwatches.

Pricing and Variants

The Apple Watch has been available in two sizes since its introduction; this doesn’t change with Series 8. The 41mm Apple Watch with aluminum case starts at $399, while the 45mm variant will cost you $429; prices increase by $100 on both if you add cellular.

Choosing the stainless steel case will also add to the cost, and if you’re eyeing the Hermès variants, expect to pay a hefty premium.

If you go with the aluminum case, you can pick between Midnight (a deep blue shade), Red, Silver, and Starlight (a pale gold). Choosing stainless steel puts another four options on the table, Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Space Black (exclusive to Hermès).

On the other hand, the Google Pixel Watch sells in a single 41mm stainless steel case option with three color options, Black, Silver, and Gold. It costs $349; the cellular model runs an additional $50, coming in at $399.

Design Differences

Image Credit: Apple

At first look, it’s evident that the two are as different as night and day. The Google Pixel Watch has a round case, while the Apple Watch Series 8 has a square-ish one. But move past this, and you’ll notice a lot of similarities.

The devices have glass-covered fronts that merge into the frame, plus a rotating crown and side button to navigate or interact with the user interface. They also have proprietary bands; swapping them on the Apple Watch might feel simpler due to better access to the release mechanism, while the Google Pixel Watch might feel a little fiddly at first.

Both watches also feature glass backs, which house the sensors and serve as the point of contact for charging.

Google Pixel Watch Profiles -- Side, Front and Back
Image Credit: Google

As for environmental endurance, the Apple Watch Series 8 has IP6X and WR50 ratings, while the Google Pixel Watch comes with 5ATM certification—WR50 and 5ATM fall under the same ISO 22810:2010 standard.

In simple terms, you can submerge the smartwatches up to 50 meters in water, but we recommend sticking to shallow bodies, as do both manufacturers. The IP6X rating on the Apple Watch also indicates dust resistance.

Overall, apart from the case design, these wearables are more alike than you think. Further, we’ll look at how the displays compare and dive into details on internal components.

Display Comparison

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Pixel Watch Display
Image Credit: Apple, Google

Apple Watch Series 8 and Google Pixel Watch feature OLED displays that can hit a peak brightness of 1,000 nits and output deep blacks that helps conserve battery.

As for screen dimensions, the Apple Watch has a 1.69-inch and a 1.9-inch screen on its 41mm and 45mm models, respectively, while the Google Pixel Watch’s 41mm casing fits a 1.2-inch circular panel.

The Apple Watch also has significantly thinner bezels, which allows full-screen watch faces to look great, especially the Portrait option, which is one of the best watch faces for the wearable. Full-screen elements on Pixel Watch are okay, but Google’s push for a blacked-out UI does indicate it’s looking to hide the bezel that some deem unappealing.

Processor, RAM, and Storage

In the smartphone world, Apple is known for its processing dominance, the A-series chipsets have led the competition for quite some time now, and the story is similar when talking about wearables. The S8 processor that powers the Apple Watch Series 8 will ensure you can zip between applications and tasks without lag.

The Google Pixel Watch uses dated hardware, the Exynos 9110, launched in 2018, along with a Cortex M33 co-processor. The combination will let you use the smartwatch without significant slowdowns, but it will feel a beat or two slower when compared to the Apple Watch.

Coming to RAM, reports indicate the Apple Watch has 1GB of RAM, while Google confirms the Pixel Watch comes with 2GB. But this shouldn’t matter much as watchOS and Wear OS utilize memory differently.

As for internal storage, both smartwatches come with 32GB. This amount is sufficient as it leaves enough space for system files and many applications, songs, or photos you may want to install or save.

Sensors and Health Features

Apple Watch Health Sensor

Apple Watch Series 8 and Google Pixel Watch have a similar array of sensors, though the former comes on top in some ways. We’ve listed the available hardware below:

  • Accelerometer
  • Altimeter
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Blood oxygen sensor
  • Compass
  • Electrical sensor
  • Gyroscope
  • Optical heart rate sensor
  • Body temperature sensor (Apple Watch Series 8 only)

Coming to health features, the Apple Watch offers a first-party suite that’s feature and data-rich without any paywalls. You have access to many workout modes on your wrist; in some cases, the wearable will even auto-detect the workout and record data.

Image Credit: Apple

The Google Pixel Watch tells a different story with its Fitbit integration—that needs a separate app—and paywall for enhanced sleep tracking plus fitness data recorded over a longer period. In addition, automatic workout tracking is not an option.

As fitness tracking devices, reports indicate both wearables perform similarly and are adept at their job—when tracking steps and calories. They also share the ability to record ECG, blood oxygen levels, and constant heart rate, though the Apple Watch takes a step ahead with in-depth tracking of menstrual health and noise levels in your surroundings.

Battery Performance

Apple Watch Battery

Lastly, we will focus on battery performance. Apple does not report exact capacities, but teardowns have revealed the Apple Watch Series 8 to have 282mAh (41mm) and 309mAh (45mm) batteries; Google states the Pixel Watch has a 294mAh one.

In terms of endurance claims, Apple says its smartwatch will provide 18-hour battery life, while Google claims 24 hours. But the testing metrics used by the OEMs likely differ as reviews say the Apple Watch fares better than the Pixel Watch in daily usage.

In our Apple Watch Series 8 review, we found the device to last well into the second day too. So, if you get the Pixel Watch, you might find yourself looking for a charger earlier than expected.

Both wearables offer a feature to extend battery life: Low Power Mode on Apple Watch and Battery Saver on Google Pixel Watch. Knowing how to use Low Power Mode on the Apple Watch Series 8 will help extend its battery life to 36 hours. Unfortunately, Google does not state the impact Battery Saver mode will have on the Pixel Watch.

When it comes to charging, the Apple Watch comes with a magnetic puck that will power the device from 0 to 100% in 90 minutes or less. Google claims a similar range for its wearable, stating a 0 to 100% charge will take 80 minutes.

The Pixel Watch Is a Decent First Attempt From Google

It’s known that these devices are locked to their respective ecosystems, meaning you’ll need to own an iPhone to use the Apple Watch and a Google Pixel—or any other Android phone—to use the Pixel Watch.

But this comparison shows us that in more than a few ways, Google has done many things right with its first smartwatch. Yes, in an ideal world, the health features wouldn’t be behind a paywall, plus we’d like to see a more modern display and internal hardware. But the Pixel Watch is laying down a path for a brighter future for Wear OS, with more options and a wider array of applications.

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