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PixelWatch vs. Galaxy Watch 5: How to Choose Between Android Watches

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Google Pixel Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 are two high-end Android watches aimed at Apple Watch’s dominance in the smartwatch space. Both run the latest version of Wear OS, have a round screen, track similar workouts, and have many similar health sensors. But how do these two Android watches compare when using them in the real world instead of just looking at the specs on paper?

Your initial decision may be about price and size. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 starts at $280 (£269, AU$499) for the 40mm version or $309 for the 44mm version, while the Pixel Watch comes in just one 41mm size and costs $350 (£339, AU$549). Spend a little extra cash, $330 for the Galaxy Watch or $400 for the Pixel Watch, and you can get the LTE or cellular version to receive calls or send messages when you’re away from your phone.

The type of Android phone you have can also affect your choice, because as we’ll explain later, the Samsung Galaxy Watch has a few features that are only available when you have a Galaxy phone.

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Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5 design and displays

They may both be round watches, but there is much more that sets the design of these two wearables apart. The Google Pixel Watch features a curved screen and has the look of a stylish wristwatch, complete with a digital crown and side button. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has a flat screen with two side buttons. Instead of a hill, it has a virtual touch bezel around the screen. Move your finger around the frame to scroll through the menus and options.

Comfortably, the Pixel Watch looks and feels better on my small 152mm wrist, especially for sleep tracking, but may be too small for some wrists. This can have you instantly searching for a larger watch and rocking the Galaxy Watch 5 (or even the larger 45mm). Galaxy Watch 5 Pro) in your favor.

Pixel Watch vs Galaxy Watch 5 on one wrist

Both watches look good on a small wrist, but only the Galaxy Watch 5 comes in 44mm larger for larger wrists.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

A lot has been made of the bezel around the Pixel Watch screen, but that’s only really noticeable when you have a watch face with a lighter background. Note that unlike the Galaxy Watch 5’s touch bezel, which doesn’t really work well with any humidity, physical controls like the Pixel Watch’s top are easier to check, especially if your hands are sweaty or wet during a workout. fingers.

Each has a bright OLED display that reaches a maximum of 1,000 nits. This means both are very easy to see in direct sunlight. They can also stay open all the time; this is nice if you want to avoid raising your wrist or touching the screen, but of course this affects battery life.

Water resistance is a feature available on both watches, but only the Galaxy Watch 5 has an official IP68 rating, making it dust and water resistant. The Pixel Watch’s water resistance is rated at 5ATM or 50 meters.

Watch faces are another way to change the look of your watch, and the Pixel Watch doesn’t have as many first-party options as you’ll get on the Galaxy Watch. But you can get third party ones from Play Store.

Both have a speaker and microphone: You can answer calls, dictate messages, hear read-aloud notifications, but only the Galaxy Watch 5 lets you play music through the speaker. Overall, I find it easier to use the full-size QWERTY keyboard on the Galaxy Watch 5 to send messages and enter text, because it’s a hair larger than on the Pixel Watch.

Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5

A selection of first-party watch faces on both the Pixel Watch (left) and Galaxy Watch 5 (right). You can also download a number of third-party options from the Play Store.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5 health and fitness features

These two watches do all the basics: track steps, calories, sleep, and multiple types of exercise. The Pixel Watch really relies heavily on Fitbit’s interface and ecosystem for exercise tracking, so you’ll find all your health data consolidated in the Fitbit app. Galaxy Watch 5 uses the Samsung Health app. You can also choose to use Google Fit on both, but you’ll get the most robust experience using each company’s proprietary app.

This is purely subjective, but I find the Fitbit app much easier to use and it reveals my data much nicer than the Samsung Health app. Sleep tracking metrics, step count and exercise metrics are easier to see and understand.

On the other hand, Galaxy Watch 5 can automatically detect outdoor activities like walks and runs. I find it extremely reliable, it always prompts me to start a workout if I forget. Something I really miss when using the Pixel Watch as it doesn’t do that – even if other Fitbit trackers do.

Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5 on an orange background

Lexy Savvides/CNET

The Galaxy Watch 5 also has additional sensors for measuring body composition, which some might value, such as bioimpedance. There is also a temperature sensor, but it is not active during this comparison. There is also an EKG or electrocardiogram app, but you must have a Galaxy phone to use it, unless you install the Health Monitor app on another Android phone.

Pixel Watch also has an EKG, but it works natively on any Android phone. Both watches have a blood-oxygen tracker, but this is not yet active on the Pixel Watch. It also doesn’t include high and low heart rate alerts or irregular heart rhythm alerts like the Galaxy Watch 5.

For tracking workouts when you don’t have a phone near you, GPS is built into both, and each locks onto a signal about five seconds after you step outside. The Pixel Watch was more accurate in calculating distance compared to a control phone, but things like steps and pace were all within the same range.

The accuracy of the heart rate sensor is closer to the chest strap on the Pixel Watch compared to the Galaxy Watch 5; Pixel is the watch I would choose if I wanted the best results for a cardio workout.

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Sleep tracking also excels on the Pixel Watch, based on my many nights wearing each watch on my wrist. Not only is the sleep score much more indicative of the overall quality of my sleep, but the Galaxy Watch 5 continues to give me alarmingly low blood oxygen at night in the 70% to 80% range; sleep disorder (which I don’t have).

One potential ongoing cost for the Pixel Watch is Fitbit Premium, a $10-per-month subscription service that offers in-depth reviews of your health data like workouts, recipes, and daily readiness score and more sleep data. You can use the watch without it, but remember, Galaxy Watch 5 doesn’t need a subscription. With Pixel Watch, you get six months of free Fitbit Premium.

Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5

Sleep tracking on Pixel Watch (left) and Galaxy Watch 5 (right).

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5 battery life

As always, battery life will vary depending on how you use your watch. For general use, which includes an always-on display, notifications, and an hour of GPS work, I can get 21 hours on the Galaxy Watch 5 40mm version and a maximum of 20 hours on the Pixel Watch. Overall, you’ll want to top up both before tracking your sleep, especially when the Pixel Watch drops more than 20% battery life during the night.

With the always-on display and no GPS working, expect around 24 hours on the Galaxy Watch 5 or 26 hours on the Pixel Watch. In CNET’s review, Lisa Eadicicco even managed to get 28 hours under similar conditions. When you use the 44mm Galaxy Watch 5, you’ll get close to 30 hours of battery life under similar conditions while it’s always active. I will update this article with LTE results whenever possible.

Galaxy Watch 5 supports reverse wireless charging, so you can put it on the back of some Samsung phones to charge. Speaking of charging, the Samsung clock goes from flat to 45% in under 30 minutes and takes about 1.5 hours to reach 100%. Pixel Watch charges at a similar rate, taking at least 30 minutes for the same 45% charge and about 1.5 hours to reach 100%. Neither comes with a USB-C charging pad.

Pixel Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 smart features

Both watches let you store music, but the Pixel Watch only supports downloading from apps like Spotify and YouTube Music, while the Galaxy Watch lets you transfer your own music files from a phone. Mobile payments are both available in Google Wallet, or you can add Samsung Pay to the Galaxy Watch 5. There are a number of third-party apps available for both watches when downloading from the Play Store.

The Google Assistant experience is mostly similar between the two, but the Pixel Watch is a smoother, smoother experience, especially when paired with a Pixel phone. You can also use Bixby with the Galaxy Watch 5.

None of these clocks use the latest processor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but to me the Pixel Watch doesn’t come as fast as the Galaxy Watch 5. It’s certainly not slow, but it’s a bit less responsive at times, especially when using multiple apps and compared to a Samsung watch. multitasking.

Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5

Lexy Savvides/CNET

PixelWatch vs. Galaxy Watch 5: Verdict

Both of these are excellent Android smartwatches, but each is better suited for slightly different use cases. The Pixel Watch arguably looks prettier and has better heart rate tracking, GPS tracking, and more refined analysis of your sleep and health metrics. But it only comes in one size, and the battery life really isn’t as strong as it should be for the price.

The slightly cheaper Galaxy Watch 5 doesn’t add any game-changing features, but it might be a better choice if you already have a Galaxy phone. It also comes in several sizes and has some extra sensors that the Pixel Watch doesn’t, like a bioimpedance and temperature sensor – as long as the last one is on at some point.