While Google confirmed last month that the Pixel Watch is on its way, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the device, like its hardware specifications. However, the rumor mill has been buzz, the gist is that the device will have a 300mAh battery and Samsung’s last generation wearable processor. Latest report from 9to5 Google It claims that the watch will consume about 24 hours of battery life on a single charge and that fast charging is not in the mix. It may be tempting to cry over the gloom and gloom, but if this stops? These numbers are equal to the period.
Battery life remains one of the biggest challenges facing smartwatch makers. Tried packing a bigger battery to get more juice and ended up with a giant watch that would rule out anyone with a wrist. Try to design a watch that is slim and elegant, and you’ll end up with something that hardly outlasts the workday. Add an always-on display, an increasingly common feature, and you end up with worse battery life. Try to cram in as many advanced features as possible, and watch how quickly that battery goes from 100 to zero percent.
It is a huge burden on consumers as well. If you want to track sleep, having a smartwatch with sufficient long battery life and/or fast charging is a must. The same is true if you are an active person who does several hours of GPS activity per day. (It’s one reason many marathoners choose Garmin, Polar, or Coros over a more “advanced” wearable.) It’s also a consideration for people who use their smartwatches to make calls on the go.
When you pull all of these factors together, the Pixel Watch that works for 24 hours on a single charge is decent by today’s standards. I have yet to test a Wear OS watch that lasts more than a day. Apple sticks with 18 hours of battery life for all of its smartwatches — although many models will get you a little more than that. Samsung’s Tizen watches have often hovered around the 24-48 hour mark, while the Galaxy Watch 4 is notorious for its fall until far away Less than 40 hours of battery life. Meanwhile, Fitbit used to take it out of the park when it came to battery life, but since it’s added always-on displays to its latest trackers, that’s been reduced to two to three days with the feature enabled.
Of course, you’ll find fitness watches with a battery life that exceeds a week – and sometimes several weeks. I’ve been testing the Garmin Forerunner 255 for over a week with nearly five hours of GPS activity, and I still have 40 percent battery left. However, that’s because this watch prioritizes fitness tracking, has a low-power reflective display, and doesn’t have a lot of “smart” features. This is generally the case with multisport fitness watches.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too – not yet. At the moment, there is an inverse relationship between battery life and the feature set in flagship watches. The more features you want, the worse the battery life. If you want an always-on OLED display, you’ll have to put up with frequent charging. If you want a digital assistant that can be triggered by a word alert? Sorry, you have to be careful about shipping. If you want to track sleep reliably, you’ll need an innovative charging schedule.
The best solution so far is fast charging. If the rumors are true, the most disappointing thing is that fast charging is not on the table. Then again, this is also relatively new to high-end smartwatches. Fossil has enabled it for a while, but Fossil also has one watch that is capable of cellular connectivity. (And it’s not even the latest model.) It took Apple until 2021 to get real fast charging on the Apple Watch Series 7. That’s not possible on the Galaxy Watch 4 either. Chances are that many smartwatch owners are quite used to two-hour charging times, even if they aren’t the happiest about it.
If — and that’s a big thing — the Pixel Watch can manage 24 hours with Always On Display enabled while the Assistant is listening in the background, that’s good enough. It’s only “bad” if Google fails to offer a watch that can’t last a full working day with GPS activity for about an hour. Right now, we just don’t know because we don’t have the final product on our hands. Until we do, it’s best to take any rumors about the Pixel Watch’s battery life and performance with extreme caution.