Google Pixel Watch 2 unveiled: Release date, price, specs

The Pixel Watch 2, priced at $349.99, may not appear significantly different externally, but its internal enhancements are quite remarkable. This second-generation smartwatch boasts numerous upgrades, including a new processor, a revamped array of sensors, enhanced safety features, heart rate zone training, and compatibility with Wear OS 4. Furthermore, it now offers an impressive 24-hour battery life even with the always-on display activated.

In anticipation of the Made by Google event, extensive leaks had already revealed the Pixel Watch’s design. At first glance, the most noticeable change is that the screen now sits flush with the digital crown, eliminating the slight cutout present in the original model. Another subtle alteration, though not readily apparent, is the shift from stainless steel to 100 percent recycled aluminum for the watch’s body. This change results in a slightly lighter watch, with the Pixel Watch weighing 36 grams and the Pixel Watch 2 weighing 31 grams. However, it’s worth noting that the price for the Pixel Watch 2 remains unchanged from the previous version.

The Pixel Watch 2 retains its 41mm case size and OLED display, but there’s a significant transformation on the underside. Instead of a single line of LEDs, it now features multiple LEDs and photodiodes, enabling measurements from various angles and positions. These measurements are processed by an algorithm, resulting in a 40 percent increase in accuracy during vigorous activities, according to Fitbit CEO James Park.

Additionally, the Pixel Watch 2 introduces new sensors for skin temperature and continuous electrodermal activity (EDA). These sensors support proactive stress tracking, a feature previously seen in Fitbit’s Sense 2. The EDA sensor can detect tiny amounts of sweat, which, when combined with metrics like heart rate variability, heart rate, and skin temperature, helps determine stress levels. Users receive delayed notifications when a stressful event is detected and are encouraged to log their emotional responses.

Battery life has been a concern since the original Pixel Watch’s release. However, the Pixel Watch 2’s 306mAh battery is now optimized to provide 24 hours of use with the always-on display active. It also offers rapid charging capabilities, with a 50 percent charge achievable in 30 minutes and a full day’s charge in 75 minutes. Wear OS 4 and the more energy-efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 processor are expected to contribute to improved battery life. Initially, Wear OS 4 will be exclusive to the Pixel Watch 2.

The Pixel Watch 2 addresses a previous limitation by automatically recording workout starts and stops for seven activities, including running and outdoor cycling. The workout screen has been redesigned for better readability and more comprehensive information display. Users can also access heart rate zone training with voice and haptic feedback, featuring four personalized heart rate zones. Additionally, the Pixel Watch 2 introduces a Pace Training mode.

In terms of smart features, the Pixel Watch 2 introduces a Safety Check feature. This feature allows users to set a timer when taking an Uber ride, and if they don’t respond once the timer expires, the watch shares their real-time location with emergency contacts. Notably, this functionality doesn’t require an LTE plan due to the inclusion of Safety Signal, which provides phone-free safety features. These safety features are included in a Fitbit Premium subscription, though an LTE watch is required.

The Pixel Watch 2 also offers Google services like Gmail, Google Wallet, and Calendar, along with enhanced Google Assistant capabilities for health and fitness queries. Each watch comes with one month of YouTube Premium and six months of Fitbit Premium. Google is introducing new watchfaces that align with the Material You design language, along with an “At a glance” complication for contextual information about the user’s day.

In terms of physical feel, the Pixel Watch 2 closely resembles the original model. The aluminum construction results in a slightly lighter watch, but this difference may not be immediately noticeable to most users. The new Metal Slim band and perforated sports bands add versatility and address issues with band hole sizing.

Demonstrations of exercise screens, stress tracking, and Safety Check suggest improvements in usability and readability. The stress tracking functionality is reminiscent of the Sense 2, with added haptic feedback and breathing exercise animations. Safety Check shows promise but requires real-world testing to assess its effectiveness fully.

In comparison to the Fitbit Charge 6, which was announced earlier, there is now a clearer distinction between Google’s wearable products. The Pixel Watch 2 is positioned as a smartwatch, while the Charge 6 is categorized as a fitness band. This distinction is seen as a positive step toward integrating Fitbit into Google’s ecosystem more effectively, following Google’s acquisition of Fitbit in 2021.

Despite some bumps in the integration process, Google aims to provide a seamless experience for both Google and existing Fitbit users over time. The transition of Fitbit data to Google accounts, originally set to become mandatory by 2025, is now required for users seeking new devices this year.

In conclusion, on paper, the Pixel Watch 2 appears to address many of the issues that plagued the original Pixel Watch. Its success in the market and its impact on competitors, such as Samsung, remain to be seen. Preorders for the Pixel Watch 2 are available now, with shipping expected to begin on October 12th. Pricing starts at $349.99 for the GPS version and $399.99 for the LTE version, with color options including silver and blue, silver and white, all-black, and gold and hazel.

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