(Pocket-lint) - We've had Android-based watches available for a long time, with any number of manufacturers trying their hand at smart, connected Google-powered wrist wear. From Motorola, LG and Samsung right at the beginning, through to fashion and luxury brands like TAG Heuer, Montblanc and Fossil.
But in the whole time it's existed as a platform, it's felt like there's one thing missing: a Google watch. A watch that is to the Android ecosystem what the Apple Watch is to iPhone users: a tightly integrated experience that promises a fluid and highly customisable user interface, with great fitness tracking.
With the Pixel Watch, that's exactly the feeling we get, leaving us with the feeling that this is - indeed - the Apple Watch for Android users. For better and for worse.
As a smartwatch, the Pixel Watch experience is generally very good. You get pretty much everything you need from a wrist-worn gadget. There's contactless payments, great fitness tracking, interaction with notifications/messages, and downloadable third party apps and - crucially - watch faces you can customise.
We only have two complaints really. One of those is the battery life. With its one day battery it's not setting any records. Our other minor niggle is that it's a bit too small. We'd have loved to see a case over 41mm, closer to the usual 44mm. For fitness buffs who love HIIT, the watch's performance here will disappoint too, but for most other activities you should find it absolutely fine.
In the end, what the Pixel Watch delivers is something a lot of Android users have been waiting for: a proper smartwatch experience that rivals the Apple Watch in features and fluidity. And - in our mind - does it better than the Galaxy Watch 5. It's a stellar watch.
Google Pixel Watch
- Gorgeous and seamless design
- Properly customisable watch faces
- Great display and haptics/alerts
- Quick charging
- Solid Fitbit-powered fitness tracking
- Battery life is underwhelming
- Proprietary strap mechanism means lack of third party options (for now)
- It feels a bit small for larger wrists
- Doesn't cope well with HIIT workout tracking
- 41 x 41 x 12.3 mm - 36 grams
- Stainless steel case/frame - Champagne Gold, Matte Black or Polished Silver
- Gorilla Glass 5 lens
- 5ATM waterproof
It might be a surprise to see that the watch described as the 'Apple Watch of Android' is completely round, shunning the square look of Apple's smartwatch completely. But even here there are elements where Google has taken a similar approach to the world's most popular smartwatch.
One of those is the fact that Google has gone with an entirely proprietary strap-fixing mechanism. Unlike pretty much any other smartwatch maker, you can't just buy a 20mm or 22mm quick release band and swap it out when you want. Instead - at least for the short term - you have to go with Google's own watch straps.
Still, the mechanism is pretty cool. The band is held in place within the edge of the stainless steel case, with a small button to one side of the band that allows you to release, and then slide the strap out. The advantage of this method is that you get a really sleek, seamless look, and a close fit.
With the silicone band that ships with the watch as standard, the fit around the wrist is really close, and you don't get those big gaps you sometimes get with some lug/strap designs. (We're looking at you Galaxy Watch 5).
Google is launching the watch with a number of different, additional watch bands and straps though. There a chunky leather options for people who like those, the standard silicone bands, woven bands and a one-piece 'stretch' band. And those bands are all comfortably under the £100 price point. From next year, Google will also offer a 'Metal Mesh' (read: Milanese) band too.