Google Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9: which one should you buy?

Google Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9
(Image credit: Future)

Google has just announced the Pixel Watch 2, which brings some worthwhile upgrades to the Android wearable experience. But of course, we can’t talk about this smartwatch without bringing up the Apple Watch Series 9.

We just have one question to answer: which one is better? It’s one helluva battle — specifically in design and capabilities, so let’s get started.

Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9: Specs

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SpecGoogle Pixel Watch 2Apple Watch Series 9
Dimensions41mm diameter, 12.3mm thickness41 x 35 x 10.7mm (41mm) 45 x 38 x 10.7mm (45mm)
Weight31g (without band)31.9g (41mm) 38.7g (45mm)
ButtonsHaptic crown, side buttonDigital crown, side button
Display320 ppi AMOLED display, up to 1000 nits brightness326 ppi Retina LTPO OLED display, up to 2000 nits brightness
ChipsetQualcomm SW5100 with Cortex M33 co-processorApple S9 SiP
Battery capacity306 mAh308mAh
SensorsCompass, Altimeter, SpO2, heart rate, temperature (skin), barometer, magnetometer, gyro, accelerometer, GPSAccelerometer, gyro, heart rate, barometer, always-on altimeter, compass, SpO2, VO2max, temperature (body), Ultra Wideband 2 chip, GPS
DurabilityIP68 water resistance50m water resistance, IP6X dust resistance

Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9: Price

Pixel Watch 2 maintains the same pricing structure — starting at $349, which comes in at $50 less than the base 41mm Apple Watch Series 9.

That’s going to turn some heads in terms of affordability, which goes doubly so when you could easily be spending up to an eye watering $1,049 on Apple’s offering. 

Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9: Design

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Google)

Both Apple and Google have rigidly stuck to their usual aesthetics, which means in my personal opinion, Google is out in front on this. 

Apple’s copy and paste of the standard, almost bubbly, design brings the same gripes. The glass curves around the edge without protection, leading to it being particularly scratch-prone without a screen protector. And the rectangular shape with an attachable band doesn’t quite taper at the edges and form a snug fit around your wrist like a traditional watch. 

That’s not to say the convex glass atop the Pixel Watch 2 doesn’t face the same potential scratch issues, but the traditional circular construction just looks more pleasing to the eye. However, it does make the watch a little thicker on the wrist.

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Google Pixel Watch 241mm diameter, 12.3mm thickness31g (without band)
Apple Watch Series 941 x 35 x 10.7mm (41mm) 45 x 38 x 10.7mm (45mm)31.9g (41mm) 38.7g (45mm)

Of course, Apple is heavily rumored to be working on a ground-up redesign of its wearable for the Apple Watch Series 10. But as it stands right now, Google’s is the more attractive option.

Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9: Display

Apple Watch Series 8

(Image credit: Future)

Both the Pixel Watch 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 offer crispy screens — packing well over 320 pixels per inch, and vivid DCI-P3 color. But where the real difference lies is in maximum brightness.

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WatchDisplay resolution (pixels per inch)Brightness (nits)
Google Pixel Watch 2320 ppi AMOLED displayUp to 1000 nits brightness
Apple Watch Series 9326 ppi Retina LTPO OLED displayUp to 2000 nits brightness

Is the fact that the Pixel Watch 2 can only go up to half as bright as the Apple Watch be an overt problem? Not necessarily, as you may find 1,000 nits is more than enough for most direct lighting conditions. 

However, in the fringe cases of super bright sunlight or needing to turn on the flashlight, the Series 9 starts to edge out ahead.

Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9: Health and Fitness tracking

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Google)

You’ve seen on the specs table that both these watches have a very similar array of health and fitness tracking sensors. Let’s see how they are put into practice. For Google, it comes down to the smarts it bought from acquiring Fitbit.

The Pixel Watch 2 packs a multi-path heart rate sensor — paired with an AI heart rate algorithm to make the most of its advanced sensor to deliver more accurate measurements into its foundational health metrics and make recommendations on how else to improve your heart health.

Alongside that, the continuous electrodermal activity sensor is able to pick up microscopic beads of sweat, and combines with the heart rate sensor and skin temperature to detect potential signs of stress. At that moment, you’re prompted to log your current mode, at which point Pixel Watch will make recommendations for interventions like guided breathing or going on a walk.

Apple Watch Series 9

(Image credit: Apple)

Cap it all off with automatic workout start and stop reminders, more detailed metrics for said workouts including heart rate zones and pace training, fall detection and SOS, this is quite a fully-featured device.

But of course, Apple’s been around the block when it comes to health and fitness tracking, and the culmination of iterative developments over the past few years makes the Watch Series 9 quite formidable in this category.

These include the ECG app, blood oxygen measurements, sleep tracking, tracking your ovulation cycle, and a comprehensive host of mindfulness and workout tracking — all with a ton of detailed metrics like heart rate zones and customized intervals.

Oh, and while it does have both the emergency SOS and fall detection features of Pixel Watch 2, Apple Watch is also packed with crash detection. Of course, I’m not going to test the latter of those three for the sake of a review, but it's nice to have.

Pixel Watch 2 vs Apple Watch Series 9: Battery life and charging

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Google)

We can only go off the numbers here for this section at the moment, but things seem to be leaning in Google’s favor, as the company touts up to 24 hours of longevity with the always-on display.

This result was collected with the average Pixel Watch use across a mix of talk, data, standby, and other features. Meanwhile, Apple claims up to 18 hours in average use without the always-on display activated, and in personal experience the Series 9’s stamina is reduced to around the 15-hour mark with that screen permanently on.

There is a low-power mode that reduces the regularity of sensors being used and dims the display, which doubles Apple’s battery life to 36 hours. However, for those looking to keep everything turned on, the numbers point towards a clear winner.


Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Google)

In terms of which you should buy, there’s a very conscious bias here based on what kind of phone you have. If you’ve got an iPhone, the Apple Watch is the logical choice. Owners of Android devices should steer clear of Cupertino’s efforts and get the Pixel Watch 2 to make the most of its feature set.

But when it comes down to a spec-by-spec/feature-by-feature comparison, you can’t help but admit that Apple does have an edge here. That comes from years and years of iterative updates that really puts the Watch Series 9 on the front foot.

However, that same bubbly design is starting to look really tired on the Apple Watch, which does make the Pixel Watch 2 a far sleeker sight for the eyes. Pair it with all the FitBit integrations, and this looks set to be an impressive accessory to your Pixel 8 experience.

Jason England
Content Editor

Jason brought a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag, and he is now the Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.