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Google Pixel Watch shows why Samsung is the king of smartwatch design

Opinion
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Last updated: May 11th, 2022 at 23:55 UTC+02:00

It’s not uncommon for unreleased devices to be leaked so frequently that they basically become the worst kept secret of all time. We’ve seen this happen many times with Samsung smartphones and devices made by other manufacturers.

In recent weeks, the Google Pixel Watch has been the worst kept secret of the tech world. The leaks were too many to count. Detailed images of the new smartwatches were leaked online for everyone to see. Even though Google hadn’t confirmed yet that it was making a new smartwatch, everyone knew that it was.

So it hardly came as a surprise today when the company unveiled the new Pixel Watch at its I/O 2022 conference. It didn’t provide a lot of details about the device but Google did give us a great look at the Pixel Watch. The smartwatch is going to be released later this year in the fall alongside Google’s new Pixel smartphones.

The device has a round design with a tactile crown and side button. The first thing that comes to my mind when I look at the Pixel Watch is “round Apple Watch.” It’s difficult to shake the feeling that Google saw the Apple Watch and thought that it would look good if it were round. So it went to the drawing board and created what is essentially a round Apple Watch.

That’s a bit disappointing because Google had the perfect opportunity to define Android smartwatch design with the Pixel Watch. Since Wear OS is licensed and there will be many more smartwatches hitting the market from different brands, it would have been nice if Google took the lead and basically pushed its partners to elevate their smartwatch design as well.

This feels like an abdication of responsibility even as Google basically left it up to Samsung to define what a Wear OS smartwatch can be when it launched the Galaxy Watch 4 last year. It might have needed to show that flexibility to get Samsung interested in ditching Tizen for Wear OS in the first place. After all, it was Wear OS that needed Samsung, not the other way around.

Samsung’s smartwatch design has always been top-notch. Back when manufacturers were trying out wonky shapes for their watches, the company simply refined the ubiquitous watch shape for smartwatches. Since then if you think of a round smartwatch, you instantly think of the Galaxy Watch.

Samsung stuck to its design ethos for smartwatches with the Galaxy Watch 4 and that helped make the device a success. Despite the fact that this was one of the biggest upgrades made to its smartwatch series in years, the Galaxy Watch 4 felt every bit of the well-designed and beautifully put together Samsung watch that we have come to expect.

What’s impressive is that year after year, Samsung has been able to churn out smartwatches that look uniquely its own. You don’t get the feeling that they’re overly inspired by another product. That’s the vibe I’m getting from the Pixel Watch. It wants to be the Apple Watch of Wear OS.

Then again, hardware isn’t a big area of concern for Google. The money it makes from hardware sales might not register as more than a rounding error on its balance sheets. For Google, it’s about showcasing its software prowess, which the Pixel Watch will do better than any other Wear OS device on the market.

One just wishes that if Google is going through all this trouble to make a new device, perhaps it should make more of an effort with the design to make its products stand out a bit more. Is that too much to ask?

Opinion Galaxy Watch 4GooglePixel Watch
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