The Google Pixel Watch has been one of the most anticipated smartwatches in years, and it’s finally here. It’s the first smartwatch to sport the Pixel name, and it focuses on providing excellent software and fitness features, thanks to Wear OS and Fitbit integration. Then there’s the Galaxy Watch 5, one of Samsung’s very best smartwatches with a boatload of fitness features, Wear OS and tight integration with the rest of the Samsung ecosystem.
They’re two of the best Android watches you can get, but where do their weaknesses lie, and what makes them unique? That’s what we’re here to find out.
It’s time to put the Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5 head-to-head to help decide which one is best for you.
Google Pixel Watch vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 at a glance
1 to 1.18 ounces
|Battery life (rated)||
|Key health and safety features||
Full Fitbit integration, optical heart rate sensor, blood oxygen sensor
BioActive heart rate sensor, Advanced sleep coaching, Blood Oxygen, BIA sensor, Auto Workout Tracking
Champagne Gold, Matte Black, Polished Silver
Graphite, Silver, Pink Gold
The Pixel Watch’s design is beautiful, while the Galaxy Watch 5 is more versatile
The Pixel Watch is the obvious choice for anyone who prioritizes good looks. Google crafted a design that’s simple and sophisticated. It perfectly fits with the company’s overarching, natural aesthetic that all of its products share. In other words, it’s very Pixel.
But it’s also an easy design to dislike. It only comes in a single size, and that size is pretty small. It also feels a lot more delicate than most other smartwatches because of how the display glass melts off the sides. You definitely want to make sure you don’t bash your wrist into anything while you’re wearing it.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch 5 takes care of those problems. It’s available in 40mm and 44mm sizes, it uses Samsung’s Sapphire crystal glass that’s 1.6 times stronger than previous Galaxy watches and the outer edges are all aluminum so you don’t have to worry as much about damaging it.
The bezel is also much slimmer. On the Pixel Watch, Google includes a border around the display itself that’s so thick, it’s almost jarring when you compare it to other watches. The Galaxy Watch 5, meanwhile, has a much slimmer border that makes it feel a bit more modern.
Both models come in a variety of colors: the Pixel Watch ships in Champagne Gold, Polished Silver and Matte Black, while the Galaxy Watch 5 comes in Silver, Graphite and Pink Gold. They also each have a wide variety of different bands to complete the look, and neither model makes it difficult to remove and attach new bands (although the Pixel Watch’s locking mechanism takes some getting used to).
TL;DR: The Pixel Watch definitely looks nicer than the Galaxy Watch 5, but if you want something bigger and more durable, Samsung’s watch is your best bet.
Fitness buffs will love the Galaxy Watch 5, but the Pixel Watch is better for Fitbit users
Both the Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5 focus heavily on fitness as key selling points, but Samsung takes the crown here for providing a more complete fitness-tracking package.
The Galaxy Watch 5 has virtually every health feature you could want. It uses a 3-in-1 BioActive sensor that houses optical heart rate, electrical heart signal and bioelectrical impedance analysis sensors in a single unit. Together, they provide features such as heart rate tracking, body composition monitoring, electrocardiogram (ECG) support and blood oxygen levels.
It all feeds into Samsung’s Health app, which makes it easy to view your health data and track your progress. You can view heart rate patterns, body composition over time, stress levels, sleep stages when using the watch at night and more. The best part is the wide variety of workouts you can track with the Watch 5, so every activity you partake in counts toward your fitness goals.
The Pixel Watch, by comparison, is a bit lacking in the tech department. It doesn’t have a bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) system, so it can’t record body composition, but it does have a heart rate sensor and SpO2 sensor for blood oxygen monitoring.
In classic Pixel fashion, however, it’s more about the software than the hardware when it comes to health tracking on the Pixel Watch. Google built the classic Fitbit fitness tracker experience right into the Pixel Watch and made it the primary way to track your health.
During setup, you’re asked to install the Fitbit app on your phone and sign up for an account. From there, using the Pixel Watch will feel instantly familiar to anyone who’s used a Fitbit in the past. There are various workouts to pick from, advanced sleep tracking, easy ways to share your data with your doctor and more. Plus, you get six free months of Fitbit Premium, which enables granular insights into your health, mindfulness tips and Stress Management Score breakdowns.
The experience is delightful, and it’s perfect for any existing Fitbit user who wants to make the jump to a more powerful smartwatch.
TL;DR: Any fitness buff who wants a more complete picture of their health will like the Galaxy Watch 5 more, while fans of the Fitbit experience should check out the Pixel Watch.
Google takes an easy victory with the Pixel Watch’s software
We’ll keep this short and sweet: The Galaxy Watch 5 has good software, but the Pixel Watch has excellent software.
Both watches run Wear OS 3.5, the latest version of Google’s smartwatch software that was built in conjunction with Samsung. They work in similar ways, with each boasting the same Tiles interface that can show you information when swiping left or right on the clock face. They also both use the Play Store for all additional apps, and even notifications and Quick Settings are almost the same.
However, Samsung applies its One UI Watch 4.5 skin to the top, which gives it a unique Samsung experience. But like a Galaxy phone compared to a Pixel phone, the Galaxy Watch 5 isn’t as smooth or responsive as the Pixel Watch because of it. The Pixel Watch boasts Google’s take on Wear OS 3.5 with a unique Pixel experience, and it feels miles better to use. Apps open quicker, the user interface feels more responsive and the system is generally smoother and more fluid.
Google really knocked it out of the park here. Of course, if you prefer the look and feel of One UI, the Watch 5 will certainly give you just that. But anyone who wants an experience that can easily compare to that of the Apple Watch (aka the best smartwatch experience currently available), the Pixel Watch is the way to go.
TL;DR: The Galaxy Watch 5’s One UI Watch 4.5 can’t compete with the silky-smoothness of the Google experience atop Wear OS on the Pixel Watch.
The Galaxy Watch 5 is best for Samsung phones, while the Pixel Watch has more range
As you’d expect, a Galaxy Watch 5 pairs best with a Galaxy phone. It’s all because Samsung emphasizes its own services so heavily, to the point where it’s difficult to use the watch with a non-Samsung phone. In fact, if you wanted to do just that, you have to install four or five apps to simply get it up and running. It’s pretty tedious.
The experience of using a Pixel Watch on a non-Pixel phone is a bit simpler, since a lot of the apps the watch uses are probably already on your Android phone. During a test we performed with the Pixel Watch and a Galaxy Z Fold 4, we found that the only two apps we had to install were the Google Pixel Watch app and Fitbit. The setup was otherwise as straightforward as setting it up with a Pixel phone.
Obviously, pairing a Pixel Watch with a Pixel phone is easier, thanks to Fast Pair and the cohesiveness of Google’s Pixel software experience, but if you insist on buying a Pixel Watch for your third-party-branded Android phone, you should have a fine experience.
TL;DR: It’s best to pair a Galaxy Watch 5 with a Galaxy phone or a Pixel Watch with a Pixel phone. But if you own a third-party Android device, you’ll have a far easier time getting the Pixel Watch to work with it than a Galaxy Watch.
Battery life is best on the Galaxy Watch 5, but not by much
In our tests, we found the Galaxy Watch 5 manages to last longer than the Pixel Watch, but not by much. The Watch 5 can easily last a full 24 hours on a charge — we placed it on our wrist at midnight, used it for sleep tracking, wore it the whole day with a mix of fitness tracking and music streaming, then took it off at around 11 p.m. with about 15% in the tank. Meanwhile, the same test with the Pixel Watch would see the watch die by 7 p.m.
That’s not a huge difference, but it’s enough that those who may worry about having juice left in their watch after a long day will gravitate toward the Watch 5. Of course, if you’re a particularly light user, you could get through a full day with the Pixel Watch without issue, but it’s clear the Watch 5 is the one to grab if you need more power.
Notably, having the always-on display enabled on either watch will cause them to drain much faster than they otherwise would, so you’ll want to keep it off for the best endurance possible.
As a side note, charging on both watches takes about the same amount of time. It usually took an hour or so to go from zero to 100% using their included fast chargers.
TL;DR: While the Pixel Watch can last a full day for lighter users, the Galaxy Watch 5’s ability to last a few extra hours on a charge will appeal greatly to those who care about battery life.
The Galaxy Watch 5 and Pixel Watch are two of the best smartwatches you can get for your Android phone, with excellent fitness experiences on both and solid software features.
Really, it comes down to what you want to do with your smartwatch. Fitness buffs, Galaxy phone owners and those who like a few extra hours of battery life will appreciate what the Galaxy Watch 5 has going on. But if you’re a Fitbit fan, you’re someone who appreciates beautiful design or you own a Pixel phone or some other non-Google device, the Pixel Watch is pretty perfect.
If we had to give a slight edge to one watch, it would be the Pixel Watch. It’s all thanks to that excellent software experience. Despite its shortcomings in hardware, you can’t beat good software, and that’s exactly what Google provides.
But no matter which you pick up, you’ll be getting a solid smartwatch. It’s never been a better time to jump into the world of Wear OS.