Google’s Pixel Watch Might Have Shorter Battery Life Than Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5

A render of the Pixel Watch

Google’s Pixel Watch may only have 24 hours of promised battery life.
Image: Google

With the launch of Samsung’s newest Galaxy Watch 5 smartwatches, we’re curious if the upcoming Google Pixel Watch will have a fighting chance. According to 9to5Google’s latest foray into the Fitbit APK, the outlook seems grim, especially if estimations that the Pixel Watch’s battery life will be only a fraction of what Samsung is advertising turn out to be true.

Last week, 9to5Google decompiled the version 3.65 update to the official Fitbit Android app to sniff around for anything Pixel Watch-adjacent. They found code evidencing an “evening charge reminder” for the Pixel Watch. Essentially, you toggle it on for a notification to charge your watch before your “bedtime goal” if the battery level is too low to make it through the night. That cutoff is at 30% battery, which gives us a rough idea that 8 hours might be 30% of the Pixel Watch’s life, although there’s certainly some wiggle room in there.

That’s a hefty chunk of juice, especially since most modern smartwatches expect you to sleep with the watch on to aggregate metrics. The marketing around Samsung’s Galaxy smartwatches has usually been that you can get through the night with enough juice to monitor your REM cycles. It’s why I relied on the Galaxy Watch Active before it was Wear OS-based in the first weeks of parenthood: to figure out the quality of my sleep in between nightly feedings.

The Fitbit app is an interesting metric to use here. Google bought the company in 2017, and we’ve been expecting to see some of the fitness app’s DNA embedded into this new wearable hardware. And while the Pixel Watch is rumored to handle up to 24 hours of life before needing a charge, it’s a wonder how much less it would be with all the sensors turned on for tracking. The Galaxy Watch 5, for example, promises up to 50 hours of battery life, while a regular Fitbit Charge 5 band can manage up to a week on average, as long as you turn off GPS.

While it’s true that smartwatches and fitness bands often promise more than they deliver, it’s also true that battery optimization for devices this small is a hefty challenge. Anecdotally speaking, I’m still waffling on how much battery my Galaxy Watch 4 with LTE is capable of, since it’s all dependent on factors like whether I turn on location or if there’s an app hanging in the background. I’ve had the watch since it debuted last summer.

It may be that the Pixel Watch is tuned for more casual users than the ones looking for a smartwatch to fit specific needs. As The Verge pointed out when the Pixel Watch battery rumors initially hit, fitness watches tend to last longer on the battery because they’re made for serious tracking. Samsung’s smartwatches are beefy to compete at a more palatable price point, but even its Galaxy Watch 5 Pro model has a bigger battery to accommodate the person that would use it for tracking physical exercise.

We’ll know more about the Pixel Watch in just a month or two, which is when we expect Google will have an event to accommodate the launch of the Pixel 7 and its accessories. And while you shouldn’t worry about the battery life based on unconfirmed factoids, you might consider what it is about the Pixel Watch that would inspire you to get one and whether there’s another wearable that would be better suited.

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