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Apple Watch Series 8 vs Google Pixel Watch (2023): Which Smartwatch Is Better?

The Google Pixel Watch is a long-awaited addition to the company’s Pixel ecosystem. Like rivals Samsung and Apple, the smartwatch joins the Pixel earbuds and phones to complete a tech troika.

Ever since Google acquired Fitbit, the idea of a Pixel Watch has lingered in the minds of loyal consumers. While Wear OS watches and even Fitbit trackers worked with a Pixel phone, a watch specially designed to integrate with Google’s top-rated smartphone was a dream.

Now that the dream is realized, how does the Google Pixel Watch, with its minimalist aesthetic, fare against a device like the Apple Watch Series 8? Beyond integration with their respective ecosystems, which is a better smartwatch?

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Google Pixel Watch Comparison Chart

ModelApple Watch Series 8Google Pixel Watch
 
Price
Size41mm, 45mm41mm
Materials & BuildIon-X glass display on aluminum cases; sapphire crystal display on stainless steel and titanium cases
Ceramic and sapphire crystal back
Gorilla Glass 5 display, 80% recycled stainless steel frame
DisplayAlways-On Retina LTPO OLED display, up to 1,000 nitsAMOLED always-on display, 1,000 nits peak brightness
OSwatchOS 9.0, upgradable to 9.2Wear OS 3.5
ChipApple S8Exynos 9110 SoC
ConnectivityLTE and UMTS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth4G LTE and UMTS2 ยท Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC
NavigationL1 GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDouGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo
MicrophoneYesYes
SpeakerYesYes
Heart Rate MonitoringYesYes
Sleep TrackingYesYes
SpO2 SensorYesYes
ECG AppYesYes
Women’s HealthYesNo
Workouts TrackingYesYes
Call, Text & App NotificationsYesYes
Battery LifeUp to 18 hours in standard use and 36 hours in low-power modeUp to 24 hours
DurabilityWater resistant up to 50 meters; IP6X dust resistantWater resistant up to 50 meters; IP68 rating
ColorsGraphite, Silver, GoldMatte Black, Polished Silver, Champagne Gold

Design

With several models under its belt, Apple’s Watch Series 8 offers better hardware for the user experience than the Google Pixel Watch.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Google Pixel Watch Design Comparison
Compared to the Apple Watch Series 8 (left), the Google Pixel Watch (right) has a smaller screen estate.

The Apple Watch Series 8 follows the design of previous Apple Watch iterations. You get a rectangular watch face but one that is โ€” like last year’s Series 7 โ€” 20% larger than what the Series 5 offers. Despite the increase, the Watch Series 8 comes in 41mm and 45mm sizes like its predecessor.

Like made-for-Android smartwatches, the Google Pixel Watch adopts a round watch face. This draws comparisons with Samsung’s Galaxy Watch models. However, unlike the Korean tech giant’s wearables, the Pixel Watch has thicker bezels, obscured by Google’s dark UI design. And by sporting a minimalist, unibody-like design it’s closer to the Apple Watch in design philosophy.

But the form factor spells a big difference between the two devices. While a round watch face is easier to pass off as an analog device, it doesn’t lend well to reading notifications. Apple’s display not only offers more screen real estate but also feels easier to use than the Pixel Watch. It’s worth noting the Pixel Watch is only available in a 41mm model, so you can’t opt for a bigger display.

Still, the Pixel Watch is reminiscent of Apple’s top-selling wearable. Like the Apple Watch Series 8, the Google Pixel Watch features a watch crown and a side button for controls. By default, both watches also come with sports bands and connect to the case through a slide mechanism. Lastly, the Apple Watch Series 8 and Google Pixel Watch are waterproof up to 50 meters.

Health, Fitness & Safety

The Apple Watch Series 8 has more advanced health, fitness, and safety features than the Google Pixel Watch.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Google Pixel Watch Health, Fitness, and Safety Features
Crash detection on the Apple Watch Series 8 (left) and workout tracking on the Google Pixel Watch (right)

The Google Pixel Watch is entering the market with an idea of the health and fitness features necessary for a wearable. Like other flagship smartwatches, it comes with all-day heart rate monitoring, an ECG app, SpO2 monitoring, and sleep tracking. The usual activity tracking metrics are also present โ€” from daily steps to calories burned โ€” and you can track up to 40 workouts.

As expected, these health and fitness features on the Pixel Watch are powered by Fitbit. If you’re coming from one, the Pixel Watch provides information like heart rate zones and active zone minutes. You also get on-screen stats and comprehensive sleep analysis care of Fitbit Premium.

You’ll find the same sensors and capabilities on the Apple Watch Series 8. Unlike the Pixel Watch, however, Apple’s wearable has some extras. For instance, a new skin temperature sensor is designed for more accurate cycle tracking. Its heart rate monitoring also includes notifications for irregular heart rates.

But most of the new features are more software than hardware. This means you would still get these additions if you upgrade an older Apple Watch model to watchOS 9. This latest update focuses on specifics. It brings heart rate zones, pacer, and custom workouts for improved training experiences. You also get additional running form metrics, medication logging, and multisport use.

The Apple Watch Series 8 also edges out the Pixel Watch in safety. While the latter also comes with fall detection and SOS, Apple’s latest wearable offers crash detection.

OS and Smart Features

Apple’s Watch Series 8 has a slight edge in smart features over Google’s Pixel Watch.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Google Pixel Watch OS and Smart Features
A look at the watchOS 9 user interface (left) and messages on the Pixel Watch Wear OS (right)

Consumers looking to pick up the Apple Watch Series 8 or Google Pixel Watch are more than likely to integrate with a companion phone. So in terms of ecosystem integration, it boils down to whether you prefer iOS/watchOS or Android/Wear OS.

Performance-wise, the Apple Watch feels more seamless and intuitive. With the watchOS 9, Apple’s wearable gets UI improvements. Although they’re minor updates, it makes the Apple Watch experience smoother than before. New and re-designed watch faces also mean users can customize their Apple Watch further.

You can do a myriad of customizations on the Pixel Watch, too. The watch employs a tile-based interface, making it easy to navigate to your favorite feature or app. While there are some hiccups in terms of integration with the Pixel Phone, the overall experience is solid for a new device.

The Apple Watch Series 8 and Google Pixel Watch also has several smart features. For instance, users can download music to both watches. Pixel Watch is limited to Spotify or YouTube music, but no one really adds a ton of tracks on a smartwatch.

Contactless payments are available on these wearables. Apple’s smartwatches rely on Apple Pay, while the Pixel Watch uses Google Wallet. As expected, Google’s flagship wearable has several built-in Google apps, including Google Maps and Google Assistant. On the Apple Watch Series 8, you get similar Apple apps instead.

Performance and Battery Life

The Apple Watch Series offers a smoother performance than the Google Pixel Watch, although the latter has the edge in battery life.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs Google Pixel Watch Battery Life and Performance
What you get when you buy the Apple Watch Series 8 (left); the tech troika of Google’s Pixel lineup, featuring the Pixel Watch, Buds, and Phone (right)

The Apple Watch Series 8 runs on Apple’s S8 chipset, which is the same CPU as the Series 7’s S7 and Series 6’s S6. As such, you get the same 32GB of storage and a dual-core CPU. Despite being the same S-series chip as its predecessors, it yields the same smooth performance for the Apple Watch Series 8.

In contrast, the Google Pixel Watch is equipped with the Exynos 9110. It’s the same chipset you’d find on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 from 2020. While it delivers a pretty solid performance, one would have expected Google’s foray into wearables would have included a better CPU.

Fortunately, the Google Pixel Watch makes up for it with battery life. Google claims its smartwatch can last up to 24 hours. Based on user reviews, however, you’re likely to get a maximum of 20 hours on the device. The numbers are even lower with the always-on display mode turned on.

Meanwhile, the Apple Watch Series 8 offers up to 18 hours of battery life in standard use. It’s hardly the highest in the smartphone market and is one of the few pitfalls of the device. Apple, however, shares that the latest iteration offers a low-power mode to extend battery life to 36 hours.

Click here to read our Google Pixel Watch vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 comparison.

Verdict

Overall, the Apple Watch Series 8 is a better smartwatch than the Google Pixel Watch.

Based on design, performance, and features, the Apple Watch Series 8 is a better smartwatch than the Google Pixel Watch. It offers a smoother performance, an intuitive design, and a suite of features, some absent on Google’s flagship wearable. The Google Pixel Watch isn’t too far behind, as it still delivers the basics like health and fitness tracking. Moreover, you get a better 20-hour battery life than Apple Watch Series 8โ€™s 18-hour runtime.

Of course, both wearables are designed for their respective smartphones. As such, you’re likely picking up the Apple Watch Series 8 if you own an iPhone and the Google Pixel Watch if you have a Pixel Phone. And for users of these smartphones, these smartwatches are head and shoulders above compatible third-party devices.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ What is the main difference between the Apple Watch Series 8 and Google Pixel Watch?

The Apple Watch Series 8 follows a rectangular form factor and features a suite of advanced health and fitness features. It also only works with an iPhone. In contrast, the Google Pixel Watch has a round watch face and runs on Google’s Wear OS. While it is compatible with Android phones running on Android 8 or higher, the Pixel Watch works best with Google’s Pixel smartphones.

๐Ÿ“Œ Can I use my own photo as a watch face for the Apple Watch Series 8?

Yes, you can. With the watchOS 9, portrait enhancements for your photos can also be applied to images of your dogs and cats.

๐Ÿ“Œ What type of charger does the Google Pixel Watch use?

The Google Pixel Watch uses a magnetic USB-C charging cable.

๐Ÿ“Œ How long does it take to fully charge the Google Pixel Watch?

Google shares that the Pixel Watch charges to 100% in about 80 minutes.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.