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Which is right for you?

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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 with a purple band on a white background

  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

    Our top pick

    The fifth generation of Samsung’s successful Galaxy Watch series is an incremental update over its predecessor but offers a refined smartwatch experience that remains hard to beat.

    Pros

    • Better battery life
    • Better value (especially the 44mm version)
    • Takes any 20mm strap
    Cons

    • Samsung Health is no Fitbit
    • A bit plain looking in comparison

  • Google Pixel Watch with a chalk positioned at an angle

    Google Pixel Watch

    A solid alternative

    Google’s first ever smartwatch has a whole lot going for it, including Fitbit integration and a stylish look that really makes it stand out on the wrist.

    Pros

    • Distinctive look
    • Good blend of Google hardware and software
    • Fitbit integration
    Cons

    • Weak battery life
    • High price of entry
    • Proprietary straps

Neither the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 nor the original Google Pixel Watch are the newest models, but that doesn’t mean that these two smartwatches still can’t offer a lot to anyone looking to get a smartwatch for Android. Choosing a slightly older model is a great way to save a little money, which is always appreciated — especially if you catch a great deal on the Galaxy Watch 5.


While both smartwatches have attractive, eye-catching designs and run the latest Wear OS, there are some significant differences between them that will impact your buying decision. The good news is that we’ve put them through the paces and have a head-to-head comparison to make sure you have all the info you need.


Price, availability, and specs

Although Samsung is not generally known for offering low-priced wearable devices, it has managed to beat Google in this category. At the time of release, the cheapest Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 started at just $280 for the smaller 40mm without 4G LTE. For the cellular version, the price went up to $330. Now, the Galaxy Watch 5 isn’t always the easiest to find, as the Galaxy Watch 6 has come in to replace it; however, you can often find the device for under $200 on Amazon.

The Google Pixel Watch only comes in one size, and the cheapest version was $350 at launch. One of the bigger knocks against the original Pixel Watch was its price tag being too high; however, in recent months — since the launch of the Pixel Watch 2 — you can routinely find it for about $200, which we admit, makes it a more compelling product.

  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 5Google Pixel Watch
    Display1.19″ Sapphire Crystal Glass AMOLED 396x396px (40mm) or 1.36″ Sapphire Crystal Glass AMOLED 450x450px (44mm)1.6-inch 384 x 384 AMOLED, Always On Display
    CPUExynos W920Exynos 9110 SoC, Cortex M33 co-processor
    RAM1.5GB2GB
    Storage16GB32GB
    Battery284mAh (40mm) or 410 mAh (44mm)294mAh
    ConnectivityNFC, GPS, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi (2.4Gz & 5Ghz), LTE (optional)4G LTE, UMTS, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz, NFC, GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo
    SoftwareOne UI Watch (Wear OS 3 powered by Samsung)Wear OS 3.5 (upgradeable to Wear OS 4)
    Health sensorsOptical Heart Rate, Electrical Heart Sensor (ECG), Bioelectrical Impedance (BIA), Continuous SpO, Skin Temperature SensorOptical heart rate sensor, Multipurpose electrical sensor, Blood oxygen sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Altimeter, Compass
    PriceFrom $280From $350
    Dimensions40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8 mm (40mm) or 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8 mm (44mm)41 x 41 x 12.3 mm
    Weight29 (40mm) or 32.8g (44mm)36g

Display: Distinctive or familiar

A hand holding a Google Pixel Watch showing the steps taken by the wearer

Both watches sport a round face, but that’s where the similarities end in terms of their looks. While tastes will vary, Google’s Pixel Watch is probably the aesthete’s choice. Its 3D glass dome gives the timepiece an eye-catching raised effect, which also does a rather good job hiding its thick bezel. It’s also masterfully minimalist, featuring a barely visible side button and a digital crown for the classic wristwatch look.

It comes in three colors — Matte Black, Polished Silver, and Champagne Gold — and only one size: 41mm, with a 1.2-inch AMOLED screen. It’s not the thinnest wearable around, measuring 12.2mm thick, and it’s quite weighty at 36g.

Galaxy Watch 5 being worn on a wrist in front of a rocky background with the app drawer screen on

Unlike the Pixel Watch, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 comes in two sizes: 40mm and 44mm with 1.2 and 1.4 inches, respectively. Both sizes are thinner and lighter than the Pixel Watch at 9.8mm, with weights of 28.7g and 33.5g.

Its design is also a bit more sporty, with a flat screen and two side buttons. It lacks a crown but has a virtual touch bezel around the outside, allowing you to pick between apps by swiping around the edge. Sadly, the physical twisty bezel of the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic isn’t available this generation.

If you opt for the Samsung wearable, you get a slightly wider choice of colors, as both sizes come in Graphite or Silver, with Sapphire available on the 44mm model and Pink Gold as an exclusive option for the 40mm version.

One last thing to note: while the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 accepts any standard 20mm strap, the Pixel Watch has a proprietary connecting mechanism that means only bands designed for it will fit. That’s something to bear in mind if you like to accessorize.

Software: Pure Wear OS, or with a Samsung sheen?

A person changing the watch face on a smartwatch.

Both watches run Wear OS, which means that they can be expanded with additional apps via the Google Play Store. With 32GB of storage, the Pixel Watch has more space for this and offline music, though the 16GB Galaxy Watch 5 isn’t exactly short of storage capacity either.

In terms of apps, it’ll come down to personal preference, but bear in mind that the Pixel Watch is a reference device for what Google software looks like when combined with Google hardware. As such, it’s Google heavy with Wallet, Assistant, YouTube Music, Maps, Home, and Calendar all built in.

The Galaxy Watch 5 has a bit of Google but also offers Samsung alternatives where available. That means you get to choose between Google Pay and Samsung Pay, or Google Assistant and Bixby. The flexibility doesn’t end there. While the Pixel Watch only lets you download music from apps like Spotify and YouTube Music, the Galaxy Watch 5 allows you to import tracks directly from your smartphone.

Neither wearable is exactly slow, but it’s worth noting that the 10nm Exynos 9110 processor used by the Pixel Watch is four years old now, and it doesn’t feel quite as snappy as the 5nm Exyos W920-toting Galaxy Watch 5.

Health & fitness: Drawbacks on both watches

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

Like most smartwatch makers, both Samsung and Google have decided that fitness is an integral part of the wearable experience. As a result, both go big on sensors and features, though it’s fair to say neither is perfect, and true fitness heads might want to go after a dedicated running watch instead.

In terms of raw sensors, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is the clear winner. As well as the usual heart rate, GPS and blood oxygen tracker, Samsung’s wearable packs in sensors to measure body fat composition and skin temperature, though the latter is currently awaiting activation. If you have a Samsung phone, the watch also has the ability to measure blood pressure and take an ECG.

It’s an impressive package on paper, but the Watch 5 has weak spots. In particular, GPS accuracy isn’t especially strong, leading to some quirky run tracking, and the Samsung Health app is also very much an acquired taste. Still, with support for 90 exercises — and automatic detection for six of them — it remains a good option for casual fitness fans who don’t sweat the granular detail.

The Pixel Watch’s big selling point on the health front is that its fitness features are powered by Fitbit, a company it acquired back in 2021 for $2.1 billion. That means that exercises are tracked within the excellent Fitbit app, which is extremely user-friendly and a decent fitness social network in its own right.

It has fewer advanced sensors than the Galaxy Watch, though it does support ECG and blood-oxygen tracking (albeit not yet enabled in the case of the latter). And like the Galaxy Watch, it isn’t great for GPS accuracy either and lacks any kind of automatic workout tracking. Most importantly, the Pixel Watch might not be the best for tracking long bike rides or runs thanks to its Achilles heel: battery life.

Battery: Have your charger on standby

google-pixel-watch-cradled

As with price, this is another category where it’s objectively a win for Samsung. While it’s struggling to match the impressive stamina its wearables managed when using its own Tizen operating system, Samsung has made some progress on battery life with Wear OS. Both the 40mm (284mAh) and 44mm (410mAh) Galaxy Watch 5 wearables have 13% larger batteries than the previous generation.

To be clear, you’re still not going to get days of life out of either. In our Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review, we managed around 24 to 36 hours worth of battery on the smaller, 40mm model. And while Samsung says you’ll get up to 50 hours on the 44mm version, anecdotally, people are claiming it falls some way short of that thanks to its larger screen. In other words, expect 1.5 days, and accept anything extra as a bonus.

But as meager as that is, it’s still better than what the 294mAh cell on the Google Pixel Watch provides. Google says that a full charge will last up to 24 hours, and we found that mixed-use on the 4G model takes about 15% of the battery per hour.

There are ways to extend stamina on both, such as reducing brightness and turning off the always-on display, but ultimately neither watch is exactly a champion in the stamina department, especially if you lean heavily on the GPS-backed fitness features. Still, if battery life is a deciding factor, then you’ll want to go with Samsung.

Which is right for you?

Both the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Google Pixel Watch offer an excellent smartwatch experience. But with different strengths and weaknesses for both, you can at least prioritize what’s important for you and buy accordingly.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 isn’t exactly slacking when it comes to looks and features, and it’s had two objective wins over the Pixel Watch from the very beginning: battery life and price — and the second of these is even more of a gap now that the Galaxy Watch 6 has pushed the price of last year’s models down by up to $100.

Bluntly, the Galaxy Watch 5 offers significantly better value, with the larger 44mm model with LTE now retailing for up to $90 less than the basic Bluetooth Pixel Watch. Ultimately, that makes it the better wearable on paper, and it’s unbeatable if you’re looking for a great smartwatch on a budget.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 with a purple band on a white background

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

Best overall

A quality smartwatch with plenty of value for money

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is a solid refinement of an already winning formula. It’s stylish, performs well, and outdoes the Pixel Watch on battery life while still undercutting it on price.

The Pixel Watch is the choice for people who want a distinctive-looking wearable and a model of what Wear OS can do. Like the Pixel phone series, the Pixel Watch is a showcase for Google’s operating system, and it really shows. While some Galaxy Watch 5 features are exclusive to Galaxy phone owners, the Pixel Watch works flawlessly with any Android device.

Google Pixel Watch with a chalk positioned at an angle

Google Pixel Watch

Runner up

A solid first attempt from Google

We like the Pixel Watch more now that its price tag is only about $200, and that Fitbit health tracking does make it pretty great at keeping an eye on your workout metrics.

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