Is It Worth Spending $300 on a Band for the Google Pixel Watch?

Is It Worth Spending $300 on a Band for the Google Pixel Watch?

I’m not a watch guy. It was only when the Google Pixel Watch came out that I started to wear one – because with its phone integration and my love for the Google suite of apps and hardware, I was actually getting value out of it, instead of discomfort on my wrist (although, the Pixel Watch did launch to mixed reviews). Because of that, I started to care about the Pixel Watch band I had fitted and decided to get a more comfortable strap.

In March, I bought a $16 Milanese band from Amazon (this one to be precise) – a price far below the $69 starting point of Google’s official bands, which include colour variants of the strap the watch comes with and not a comparable Milanese one. But now, thanks to Google, I’ve just received an even bigger purchase to compare the band to: The company’s most expensive Pixel Watch band, the $300 Metal Links strap, which is yet to be available in Australia (though you can join the waiting list on Google’s website).

So let’s put Google’s entry-level band head-to-head with its most expensive strap, because I have some thoughts.

Google Pixel standard band vs Google’s $300 band: look and feel

Google’s $69 ‘Active Band’ strap, the rubber (Fluoroelastomer) band that the Pixel Watch comes with, is fairly neutral. It doesn’t have any big stylistic points to raise, and it’s fairly similar to the entry-level bands available to Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch buyers. Personally, I find the band to be fairly boring – perhaps it’s because I have the most boring hazel-coloured one, however, there is also Lemongrass, Charcoal, Obsidian, and Chalk colour variants to choose from (keep in mind though that the Hazel, Obsidian, and Charcoal bands are the only ones available with the purchase of a Pixel Watch, divided by different chassis options of the watch itself). It feels fine on the wrist, but I really don’t like the rubber texture against my skin. I prefer metallic bands.

pixel watch band
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Hello, the Google Pixel Watch Metal Links band – Google’s most expensive watch strap. This band is made of stainless steel (with a Matte Black or Brushed Silver finish as your colour options), which feels much heavier on the wrist. It’s designed to make the watch look much more sophisticated and formal, edging away from the FitBit roots implied by the rubber Active Band strap. It feels really nice and smooth on the wrist, but if you like to fidget with a watch, you may be disappointed with this band, as it’s harder to slide up and down your wrist and lock and unlock the strap.

pixel watch band
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Google Pixel standard band vs Google’s $300 band: I’m a sucker for a metallic feel, but the rubber band is likely to be fine for many users.

Google Pixel standard band vs Google’s $300 band: configuration and durability

The rubber Active Band strap features eight wrist size notches, easy to scale to your intended size, while not being difficult to unbuckle at any given time. It uses the same clip-in feature as all of Google’s other watches, where you press in on one of the sides around the lug, to pull the strap away from or into the watch side, when attaching or removing the band. It’s simple and it’s also sweat and water-resistant, with two band sizes available in each box: 130-175mm, and 165-210mm.

pixel watch band
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Meanwhile, the Metal Links Band isn’t designed to be played with: In the box, users are given several extra links, and a watch link remover, so that the owner can scale as many links as they need for it to sit comfortably around the wrist. Unlike the Active Band, it’s not sweat or water-resistant, though with the links provided, Google says the watch can fit wrist sizes between 137 and 203mm. The clip to loosen and set the strap to your required size is also easily clicked in.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Google Pixel standard band vs Google’s $300 band: The Active Band is much easier to use, without the same level of adjustment required for the Links band.

Google Pixel standard band vs Google’s $300 band: cost

Finally, let’s talk price. The Active Band is included in the box when you purchase a Google Pixel Watch, though the colour of the band is determined by the watch chassis you decide upon. Watches start at $549 for the Bluetooth/Wi-Fi model, and $649 for the 4G LTE + Bluetooth/Wi-Fi model. If you want another colour, it’ll cost you $69.

Meanwhile, Google’s Metal Links band costs $300 in Australia, effectively bringing the cost of the entire purchase up to either $849 or $949. I’m not sure I’d spend that much on a watch, but if you like the Pixel Watch and want it to look more premium on your wrist, this is definitely an option if money is no object.

Google Pixel standard band vs Google’s $300 band: $69 is already a lot of money to spend on an accessory, but for what you get in the box, the rubber strap Google offers is a pretty good deal.

The verdict

The Metal Links band feels great on the wrist, but not $300 great. Frankly, the prices of all of Google’s watch bands, like with other Smart Watch brands, are a bit unbelievable, especially when you can get much cheaper aftermarket alternatives.

For the sake of this comparison, the standard rubber strap is the value winner, but the Metal Links band definitely gives the Pixel Watch a very stately look and feel.

I’m going to try and stick to the metal band, but I have a feeling I might switch back to the cheap aftermarket Milanese band I bought on Amazon.

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