Google, Samsung, or Apple: Which Smartwatch is Best?

Google, Samsung, or Apple: Which Smartwatch is Best?

After Google dropped the first Pixel Watch last year, we took the opportunity to compare it to the best Android smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. Since then, however, both phone-makers have launched new watches, and Apple has, too. So, we thought, why not give this another go. Below we’ll compare promises made, and features of, the Apple Watch Series 9, Google Pixel Watch 2, and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6.

Which is better, the Google Pixel Watch 2, Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, or Apple Watch Series 9?

Our review of the Google Pixel Watch 2 can be found here, our review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 can be found here, and over here is our review of the Apple Watch Series 9.

But the TL;DR from each is that the Pixel Watch has a nice, round aesthetic and the tactility of the crown is great; the Galaxy Watch is the best at sleep monitoring and for fitness/health tracking; and the Apple Watch is the perfect companion to an iPhone.

Pixel Watch 2 vs Galaxy Watch 6 vs Apple Watch Series 9: Specs

Google Pixel Watch 2:

  • Diameter: 41 mm (31g)
  • Battery: 24 hours (with always on)
  • Display: 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 5, 320 ppi AMOLED, always-on
  • Colours: Polished Silver, Matte Black, Champagne Gold, Polished Silver.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6:

  • Diameter: 40mm (28.7g), 44mm (33.3g)
  • Battery: Up to 40 hours (Always On Display off) / Up to 30 hours (Always On Display on)
  • Display: Sapphire Crystal (40mm: 33.3mm, 432×432 Super AMOLED, Full Colour Always On Display), (44mm: 37.3mm 480×480 Super AMOLED, Full Colour Always On Display)
  • Colours: Graphite and Gold (40mm), Graphite and Sliver (44mm).

Apple Watch Series 9

  • Diameter: 41mm (42.3g), 45mm (51.5g)
  • Battery: Up to 18 hours, up to 36 hours in Low Power Mode
  • Display: Always-On Retina display
  • Up to 2,000 nits
  • Colours: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, Pink, Product (Red).

The winner: Last year, this was awarded to the bigger screen and longest battery life, so if we were going for size options, Google loses, but if we’re going for battery life, Apple loses. Samsung gets 2/2 here, Samsung wins.

Pixel Galaxy Apple Watch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Pixel Watch 2 vs Galaxy Watch 6 vs Apple Watch Series 9: Looks

The Google Pixel Watch 2 looks exactly like its predecessor (actually, all three of them look like watches the respective companies have put out in the past), but there’s something too juvenile about the Pixel Watch 2 in that it looks like you’ve carefully poured a thick liquid onto the table and the surface tension is giving a beautifully raised liquid blob. But the software is nicer than it is on the Galaxy Watch 6.

That being said, the Watch 6 looks the most like a watch and was actually the most comfortable out of the three to wear to bed.

Apple, meanwhile, made the decision to maximise the space it had and opt for a rectangle – a few years ago, this design was odd to look at, but now it’s such a non-issue. But it means you can do more on the Apple Watch with the area you have.

The winner: Has to be Apple, right? A more efficient use of space. But out of the other two, the Google Pixel Watch 2 comes in second for its smoothness.

Pixel Watch 2 vs Galaxy Watch 6 vs Apple Watch Series 9: Compatibility

The Google Pixel Watch 2 can work with any Android device running Android 9 and higher, same with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. You miss out on a few features, though, such as the hardcore fitness/health/sleep-tracking stuff on the Galaxy.

Neither watches are compatible with non-Android operating systems. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and below can connect to iOS, however.

The Apple Watch Series 9 will only work on an iPhone/iPad.

The winner: Well, it can’t be the Apple Watch Series 9 because you’re stuck with something running iOS, but neither the Galaxy nor Pixel can use iOS. Can all three lose here?

Pixel Galaxy Apple Watch
Google Pixel Watch 2. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Pixel Watch 2 vs Galaxy Watch 6 vs Apple Watch Series 9: Price

This is where things get confusing.

Google Pixel Watch 2:

  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: $549
  • 4G LTE + Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: $649.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6:

  • Watch 6 40mm (Bluetooth) $549
  • Watch 6 44mm (Bluetooth) $599
  • Watch 6 40mm (LTE) $649
  • Watch 6 44mm (LTE) $699.

Apple Watch Series 9:

  • Apple Watch Series 9 41mm (GPS): $649
  • Apple Watch Series 9 45mm (GPS): $699
  • Apple Watch Series 9 41mm (GPS + Cellular): $809
  • Apple Watch Series 9 45mm (GPS + Cellular): $859.

There are two Stainless Steel options for the Apple Watch, as well as the Apple Watch Ultra 2. Similarly, the Samsung Galaxy Watch this year also comes in a Classic model.

The winner: The cheapest watch is the non-cellular Google Pixel Watch 2 and the 40mm Bluetooth watch from Samsung. For $100 more you can get the cheapest Apple model. On price alone, Samsung and Google tie.

Pixel Watch 2 vs Galaxy Watch 6 vs Apple Watch Series 9: Fitness & Health

The best watch for health and fitness fanatics (or even just those interested in tracking sleep) is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. While all three watches can tell me how many steps I’ve taken, monitor workouts, and how long I slept if I wear it to bed, the Galaxy provided the best insights and on sleep-tracking, even gave me tips and tricks on how to sleep better.

The Google Watch 2 has three sensors, including what Google is calling a “multi-path heart-rate sensor”, which will give it an advanced heart-rate tracking capability that also powers health and fitness features like sleep tracking, high and low heart rate notifications, and Daily Readiness Score. Daily Readiness Score is a Fitbit feature that requires a Fitbit Premium membership, but, you will get six months free if you buy the new watch. Google also promises to help with stress.

The Apple Watch, meanwhile, told me minutes before I got my period that I was getting my period. This cannot be understated how important it is to many people.

The winner: All three watches have stepped up their fitness and health game this year, and you’ll be happy with the tracking and insights each gives you. For me, personally, I got the most out of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, because I am interested most in curing my mild insomnia.

Pixel Galaxy Apple Watch
Apple Watch Series 9. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Of course, we didn’t consider the watch bands for any of the models here – there are so many brand and third-party options out there, I’m sure you’d find what you like, regardless of your taste. Worth noting, the Nike band I’ve had on the Apple Watch Series 9 is $69 on top of the cost of the watch, and Zac uses the $300 Metal Links strap on the Pixel Watch.

The verdict

I’ve been wearing the Apple Watch Series 9 since it came out, but that’s because my main phone is an iPhone. Zac only stopped wearing the Pixel Watch 2 because I needed to borrow it to compile this article (he uses a Pixel 8 Pro) and the watch he’s been wearing instead is last year’s Pixel Watch. I had every intention of wearing the Galaxy Watch 6 every day as the sleep-tracking was exceptional, but without a Samsung phone to use, I decided to not to take Samsung up on the offer to loan the Watch 6 longer. All of the above considered, the watch that’s best for you is definitely the watch that belongs in the same ecosystem as your phone. Features and promises aside, it’s the seamless experience that trumps everything else.

Image: Google/Samsung/Apple/Gizmodo Australia

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