Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch 8: which is best?

Do you go Apple or Android in the battle of the latest smartwatches?

Pixel Watch vs Apple Watch Series 8
(Image credit: T3)

It's an exciting time for anyone considering a new smartwatch with the Apple Watch 8 recently released and the Google Pixel Watch out imminently. 

If you've been checking out the best smartwatches, now seems likely to be time for a shake-up of the rankings.

Neither smartwatch is cheap, so it might be tricky to know which one is for you. That's where we come in. We're here to compare both and determine which smartwatch is best for each person and their corresponding needs.

Google Pixel Watch

(Image credit: Google)

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch 8: Price and availability 

The Apple Watch 8 is already available. It starts at $399/£419/AU$679 for GPS and $499/£529/AU$789 for cellular. As with all Apple Watches, prices will vary depending on the watch strap choice and the size of the Apple Watch 8 you go for with 41mm and 45mm models available.

The Google Pixel Watch is available for preorder and launches on October 13. It's only available in one size -- 41mm. The watch costs $349.99/£339/AU$549 for the standard version, while the cellular version is $399.99/£379/$649. 

Winner: The Google Pixel Watch is cheaper than the Apple Watch 8, although the latter is available right now. 

Apple Watch Series 8

(Image credit: Apple)

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch 8: Design 

The Apple Watch 8 has a distinctive rectangular screen -- the one you've seen on all Apple Watches since its inception. There's a choice of a 1.57-inch or 1.73-inch display with a resolution of either 352 x 430 or 396 x 484, with both sizes sporting an OLED display. An always-on display, it has IP68-certified protection against dust and water, plus it's swim-proof up to 5 ATM. 

The Google Pixel Watch has a smaller 1.2-inch display that is also always-on. It's dome-shaped with only a button on the side for a physical control compared to the Apple Watch 8's two buttons. Made from stainless steel, it's likely to be quite durable with up to 5 ATM swim proofing. 

It's smooth and clean to the touch and eye and smaller than the competition. As with the Apple Watch 8, it's an OLED display with 320ppi, although Google hasn't shared the resolution yet. 

Winner: This comes down to taste. With its smooth stylings, we're erring on the side of the Google Pixel Watch, but larger wrists may find it a bit delicate. 

Google Pixel Watch

(Image credit: Google)

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch 8: Features and performance 

The Google Pixel Watch is designed to be a general all-rounder. Fitbit's ecosystem has been built in with six months of Fitbit Premium included. It also comes with three months of YouTube Music Premium. Google is pivoting it as the best of Google, and Fitbit rolled into one. Using the latest Wear OS 3.5, it has an Exynos 9110 processor, which has been previously seen on the Samsung Galaxy Watch range. 

There's the usual supply of Google apps built-in like Google Maps, Google Wallet, Google Assistant, as well as Gmail and Calendar. There's also superior integration with the Pixel range of phones.

In contrast, the Apple Watch is an all-rounder but with an eye on all things Apple, understandably. WatchOS 9 has typical fitness and workout tracking, including the Activity Rings method of motivating you. It also has car crash detection, so it can automatically connect you to emergency services and notify your emergency contacts if you're in a severe car crash. How often you'll need it is hopefully never, but it's a neat extra. It also has fall detection, which the Google Pixel Watch will introduce later this year. 

Both watches have built-in sleep-tracking features with the Pixel Watch tweaking what Fitbit already offers. 

Winner: Assuming you're not prone to serious car crashes, the Google Pixel Watch has more useful features on a daily basis.

Apple Watch Series 8

(Image credit: Apple)

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch 8: Sensors 

The Apple Watch 8 has fall detection and car crash detection sensors. It also has a blood oxygen sensor and ECG facility and will give you a heads-up if your heart rate is unusually high or low. 

The Google Pixel Watch also has a heart rate sensor, blood oxygen sensor, and ECG tracking. Having borrowed tech from Fitbit, it promises to be more accurate too, with the watch able to tell you when you need to take a break and rest up. 

Winner: We need to see just how accurate the Google Pixel Watch is, but for now, it's a dead heat between the two, with both offering very similar features.

Google Pixel Watch

(Image credit: Google)

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch 8: Interface and user experience 

Predictably, much of your decision-making process will depend on what phone you already have. The Apple Watch 8 will only work with iPhones, and the Google Pixel Watch will only work with Android phones. 

That means they both lean toward offering iOS or Android-friendly experiences depending on what you're used to. They feel relatively alike in use, so it won't take long to adjust to with swipes the order of the day for both devices. 

When it comes to battery life, things get interesting. Apple promises about 18 hours for the Apple Watch 8 in its standard mode and up to 36 hours when the low-power mode is active. Google promises 24 hours of use from the Google Pixel Watch with no option to extend that lifespan. 

In both cases, the numbers will vary depending on how you use the watch. 

In either case, wireless charging is possible, proving far more convenient than relying on cables. 

Winner: The Google Pixel Watch has the edge unless you're keen to use your Apple Watch in its more limited low-power mode all the time.  

apple watch designs

(Image credit: Apple)

Google Pixel Watch vs. Apple Watch 8: Verdict 

If you're an Android phone owner, your choice is the Google Pixel Watch. iPhone owner? Go with the Apple Watch 8. If you're flexible, however, the decision is more complicated. Both watches are well-designed and good-looking. We're rather partial to the dome-shaped stylings of the Google Pixel Watch as it looks different than other smartwatches we've seen in the past, but it depends on what suits your wrist.

Features-wise, if you've previously owned a Fitbit, you'll appreciate picking up where you left off with the Google Pixel Watch, but Apple has its own set of dedicated health tools that work well too.

Still, we think the Google Pixel Watch pips Apple to the post with a hint of more battery life and some eye-catching good looks. A lower price further helps here, providing you have an Android phone, of course. 

Jennifer Allen has been writing about tech for nearly a decade. Her specialisms include fitness wearables, Bluetooth speakers, and all things Apple.