While Google confirmed last month that the Pixel Watch is coming, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the device, such as its hardware specs. However, the rumor mill has been buzzing and the gist is that the device will allegedly feature a 300mAh battery and Samsung’s previous-generation wearable processor.Latest reports from 9to5 Google The watch is claimed to get around 24 hours of battery life on a single charge, and fast charging isn’t among them. It might be tempting to cry about doom and gloom, but what if it worked out? These numbers are the norm for the course.
Battery life remains one of the biggest challenges facing smartwatch makers. Try packing in a bigger battery for more power and end up with a giant watch that doesn’t include anyone with wrists. Try designing a watch that’s slim and stylish, and you’ll end up with something that will barely last a workday. Add an always-on display, an increasingly popular feature, and end up with worse battery life. Try to cram as many advanced features as possible and watch how fast the battery goes from 100% to 0%.
It’s also a huge burden on consumers. If you want to track sleep, you must have a smartwatch with adequate battery life and/or fast charging. The same is true if you are an active person who does several hours of GPS activity every day. (That’s one reason many marathon runners choose Garmin, Polar, or Coros over more “advanced” wearables.) It’s also a consideration for people who use their smartwatch to answer calls while on the go.
When you combine all these factors, a 24-hour Pixel Watch on a single charge is decent by today’s standards. I haven’t tested a Wear OS watch that’s been used for more than a day. Apple sticks to an 18-hour battery life estimate for all smartwatches — although many models have much more battery life than that.Samsung’s Tizen Watches often hover around 24-48 hours, while the Galaxy Watch 4 is notorious for dropping extremely Shorter than its estimated battery life of 40 hours. Meanwhile, Fitbit used to knock it out in terms of battery life, but thanks to the addition of an always-on display to its latest trackers, that has been reduced to two or three days when the feature is enabled.
Of course, you’ll find fitness watches with more than a week of battery life—sometimes weeks. I’ve been testing the Garmin Forerunner 255 for over a week with about five hours of GPS activity, and I still have 40% battery left. However, that’s because the watch prioritizes fitness tracking, has a low-power transflective screen, and doesn’t have a ton of “smart” features. This is often the case with multisport fitness watches.
You can’t eat cake at the same time – not yet. Currently, there is an inverse relationship between battery life and feature settings in flagship watches. The more features you want, the worse your battery life will be. If you want an always-on OLED display, you’re going to have to put up with frequent charging. If you want a digital assistant that can be triggered by a wake word? Sorry, you have to pay attention to charging. If you want to track sleep reliably, you’re going to need a creative charging schedule.
The best solution so far is fast charging. If the rumors are true, the most disappointing thing is that fast charging isn’t on the table. Then again, this is also relatively new for high-end smartwatches. Fossil has been around for a while, but Fossil also only has one watch that supports cellular. (And it’s not even the latest model.) Apple won’t implement true fast charging on the Apple Watch Series 7 until 2021. It’s also not possible on the Galaxy Watch 4. Chances are, many smartwatch users are used to a two-hour charge, even if they aren’t happy with it.
If — and that’s a big assumption — the Pixel Watch can manage 24 hours with always-on display enabled while listening to Assistant in the background, that’s enough. It’s only a “bad thing” if Google fails to deliver a watch that doesn’t last a full workday and has about an hour of GPS activity. Now, we just don’t know because we don’t have the final product in our hands. Until we do, it’s best to take any rumors about the Pixel Watch’s battery life and performance with a grain of salt.