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Google Pixel Watch hands-on: Possibly the prettiest smartwatch I’ve touched

We’ve been waiting years or the Pixel Watch to finally be real. Because it’s taken so long for Google to show us its own smartwatch, expectations are high for the company to deliver something impressive. We were able to get a preview of the Pixel Watch ahead of its release at the Made By Google event in Brooklyn today and suffice to say, we are taken with its design.

Video transcript

CHERLYNN LOW: We are here at Google's store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York where we've just come over from the Made by Google event. And we're checking out the hardware in person at last. It has been years, years that some of us have been waiting to see the Pixel Watch in person. And today, Google is finally letting us have at it.

This thing just got announced. It's one of the prettiest watches I think I've seen so far. It runs Wear OS 3.5, which is a slightly different version of the Wear OS that Google co-engineered with Samsung last year, that brings features like some Fitbit integrations, new watch faces. And I can't wait to just check it out.

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So let's start with just the physicality of the Pixel Watch. Now unlike a lot of other smartwatches, this thing doesn't actually have lugs. If you notice, a lot of fossil smartwatches have lugs where the strap is attached. This, however, uses a more unique mechanism that Google has described as sort of like attaching a DSLR lens onto its body. You have to push down on the button and then kind of slide the strap out. So I'm going to try that. I've already done this once. So you push and twist.

What's trickier is probably going to have to-- is going to be putting it back in. All right. No. I love when people watch me struggle with things, by the way. Now, there you go. It kind of clicks back in. It's not the most intuitive but I feel like once you get the hang of it, it happens quite naturally. The result though of not having the lug is that you kind of have a more intuitive curvature, I think, to the watch.

So when you put it on, the watch actually fits very nicely. It wraps very snugly around the wrist. Now there's only one size available, this 41 millimeter case. And it's very dainty. But it is a size that looks good on my wrist. And I have smaller wrists than most people. Despite having such a small screen, stuff is still fairly visible. Of course, I think I want to take this out into the real world to get a better sense for real world visibility.

But for now, elements like the time are easy to see and create different screens, different watch faces. Google says they're up to like 18 families of watch faces here. Each are customizable. I'm using a store employee's watch. So I don't know how much we can get into it. But again, there's plenty of options here. You can use the dial on the side, or the screen. It's going to go through. And I really, really dig this sort of-- they call it the domed shape here. It just looks like a polished pebble.

And it feels like a polished pebble too. So very light. And then you have the complication here of starting a workout. This is all a very Fitbit themed interface, by the way. If you're a Fitbit user, you'll be familiar with the color combination here. You'll be familiar with the font face, the way everything is named. These are all clear Fitbit touches. So this is the index screen. I'm going to try to customize it. It has different colors like the limoncello warm color option for this year.

You can choose here, as you can see, I swipe to the side. You can change up the complication. So this one shows your step count. But you can also do active zone minutes. That's, again, another Fitbit touch. You can put assistant, an assistant shortcut, your calorie burn, your count down. Just lots and lots of complication options. But these all for now seem like first party complications. So they're all from Google. Another thing I want to check out too is the heart rate sensor. So you're going to have to log into Fitbit to use this.

Google and Fitbit, or Fitbit-- former Fitbit CEO James Park talked a lot about how this uses the most accurate heart rate sensor that Fitbit has ever made. And it's sampling your pulse at the rate of once every second, which is faster than other devices on the market. So the device runs Wear OS, what Google is calling Wear OS 3.5. So it's an update on the Wear OS 3 that Google co-engineered with Samsung last year. Most of the stuff is very familiar. You'll still swipe sideways to see all your cards.

You can reorganize this however you like. You can add different cards to this, like different widgets. You also have a page for smart home controls. Then when you go to the-- you can press the dial to go back to the home page. And from the home page, you can swipe down from top to get your Quick Settings panel. You can see you can quickly enable things like mobile Google Pay. And then swiping up from the home page gets you your notifications.

So Google has also made a whole bunch of different bands to go with the Pixel Watch. You've got the standard, rubbery, silicone strap for sports. And we've got the stretch bands that are made of sort of a woven material that is very similar to Apple's Solo Loop. We've also got actual woven bands using different buckle closure. And if you want to look fancy, or have your device look more like a traditional watch, there are the more conventional options.

So as you saw just now, there was a lot we couldn't actually test out. I did borrow a watch off of an employee's wrist. So some features were not set up yet like a lot of the Fitbit features. I couldn't even get a real heart rate reading from the device at the event. But these are things we will have to test out in the real world anyway alongside other features like auto workout tracking. And I also want to get a better sense for how responsive it is, what sleep tracking looks like, and what the battery life is.

So for that, we're going to have to wait till we can publish our full review. In the meantime, if you're already convinced you want to buy the Pixel Watch, you can pre-order it today starting at $350 for the Y-Fi only model. It'll be available next week. But before you spend your money, make sure you give us some time to produce our full review and review video. So for that, and for more coverage of the world of consumer technology, make sure you subscribe to Engadget. And as always, thank you for watching.

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