The Galaxy Watch 5 Is a Better Pixel Watch

Galaxy Watch 5 and Pixel Watch
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

Samsung phones are great, but they’re feature overloaded – Google Pixel phones offer a better Android experience for most people. However, I can’t say that about the Pixel Watch. Samsung outbid Google this time.

While Samsung’s One UI and Google’s Pixel UI are both based on Android, they look and feel very different. Ditto for the company’s smartwatches, both of which are based on Wear OS. But in this case, Samsung offers the better experience, and it’s just as Google-y.

Samsung is the standard for Wear OS

Galaxy Watch 5 in multiple colors

One of the interesting side effects of Google taking so long to make its own smartwatch is that it hasn’t been able to set a precedent for how Wear OS works. Google made the first Android phone, but when it revamped Wear OS, it partnered with Samsung to get things started.

Unlike previous versions, Wear OS 3 is said to be customized by the manufacturer. However, since Samsung is the main maker of Wear OS 3 smartwatches, its vision for the operating system is basically the only one we’ve seen. It set the standard.

As expected, Google has its own custom experience for Wear OS on the Pixel Watch, but its choices don’t feel like different interpretations, rather deviations from the norm. I constantly expect things to work the way they do on the Galaxy Watch 5. When they don’t, it doesn’t feel like it differentit feels not correct.

That’s what happens when you let others carry the torch for your software. It’s like going from a Galaxy phone to a Pixel and the notification shade would be in a completely different place.

Going from the Galaxy Watch 5 to the Pixel Watch felt very different than going from a Galaxy phone to a Pixel phone. I expected it see different, I didn’t expect that function so different.

Try to run before it can walk

Pixel Watch and Apple Watch

I admit that it might not be fair to consider Samsung’s adaptation of Wear OS to be the “correct” implementation. Not everyone who uses a Pixel Watch has previous experience with a Samsung watch. Google may be late, but it deserves the opportunity to show us what it thinks Wear OS should be.

Google seems to want the Pixel Watch to be the Android ecosystem’s equivalent of the Apple Watch. It certainly has such a price tag, is designed as a fashion accessory, uses proprietary bands, and has fitness features heavily marketed with Fitbit.

The problem is that Google is targeting the wrong target. It’s trying to compete with the Apple Watch before it even comes close to the Galaxy Watch 5. The Pixel Watch just isn’t Wear OS’s best ambassador. The operating system can actually be relatively close to the Apple Watch, but you can’t tell that from the Pixel Watch.

Google should have targeted Samsung before attempting to play in the same field as Apple.

TIED TOGETHER: Google is not Apple and should stop being

There is a better Google Smartwatch

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

Here’s what Google probably doesn’t want to know: there’s already a better Google smartwatch, and it’s $80 less than the Pixel Watch. That watch is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5.

As mentioned in my review, the Pixel Watch doesn’t really offer an upscale Google experience. Almost all of the Pixel Watch’s Google features can be used on the Galaxy Watch 5. Apps like Google Assistant, Wallet, Maps, Keep, Clock, Weather and Home are available on the Play Store for the Galaxy Watch 5.

It’s not just about the price either. The Galaxy Watch 5 has more sensors for fitness tracking, a newer processor, a longer-lasting display, and better battery life. Standard wristbands can also be used. Also, you don’t have to pay $10 a month for “premium” features in Samsung Health.

The few things you miss are Google watch faces, some extra app tiles, and Fitbit integration. It’s hard to justify paying $350 for the second or third best Wear OS smartwatch. If you want a Google-y smartwatch, you should buy the best.