2022 is a huge year for Wear OS smartwatches, because we’ve seen both Google’s first smartwatch – the Google Pixel Watch, and the best wearables Samsung has ever released: the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
So, if you’re after a smartwatch and you don’t have an iPhone then it’s likely you’re considering one of these three – but with its premium price and outdoor-activity focus the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro stands aside from the other two.
With that in mind, we've chosen to focus on the two that are most closely linked in style, intended user and price. Here we run you through how the Pixel Watch compares to the Galaxy Watch 5, so you can decide which, if either, to buy.
Pixel Watch vs Galaxy Watch 5: price and availability
The Google Pixel Watch costs $350 / £340 / AU$550 for a Wi-Fi model, or $400 / £380 / AU$650 if you want to add LTE into the mix, and it hit stores in October 2022.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 landed in August 2022 and comes in a few more configurations, but the starting price is $279.99 / £269 / AU$499. That’s for a 40mm Wi-Fi model.
For a 40mm LTE version you’ll pay $329.99 / £319 / AU$599, while upping the size to 44mm costs $299 / £289 / AU$549 for the Wi-Fi version, and the 44mm LTE model costs $349 / £339 / AU$649.
Samsung’s smartwatch is a little bit cheaper – with the top model costing approximately the same in most regions as the base Pixel Watch – though, as noted above, Samsung has an even more expensive smartwatch in the form of the Watch 5 Pro, which sits above the Pixel Watch, in terms of price.
Pixel Watch vs Galaxy Watch 5: design
It can be hard for a smartwatch to visually stand out, but the Google Pixel Watch manages it, with a domed circular screen protected by Gorilla Glass 5, a stainless-steel body, and water resistance to depths of 50 meters.
It’s 41 x 41 x 12.3mm (not including the strap), and it weighs 36g. The available colors meanwhile include Matte Black, Polished Silver, and Champagne Gold.
In our review we noted that the sensor-packed back can make it a bit uncomfortable to sleep in, and that the proprietary bands can be a bit tricky to switch. There’s also a surprisingly large bezel around the screen, but this isn’t overly noticeable in general use, and the watch as a whole has an attractive, contemporary design.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 also has a circular display, but this one is flatter and protected by sapphire crystal. It has an aluminum frame, and the same level of water resistance as the Pixel Watch.
Grab a 40mm model and you’re looking at dimensions of 40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm and a weight of 28.7g, while the 44mm version is 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8mm and 33.5g. So it’s slimmer and lighter than the Pixel Watch, with the other dimensions sitting either side of Google’s wearable, depending on whether you go for the 40mm or 44mm model.
It comes in a choice of Graphite, Silver, or Pink Gold for the 40mm version, and Graphite, Silver, or Sapphire for the 44mm size. It’s a less visually distinctive wearable than the Pixel Watch, but it’s not ugly, and the choice of which looks better is going to be subjective.
Pixel Watch vs Galaxy Watch 5: display
The Google Pixel Watch has a 1.2-inch 450 x 450 circular AMOLED screen with 320 pixels per inch and a peak brightness of 1,000 nits.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 comes with either a 1.2-inch 396 x 396 circular AMOLED screen with 330 pixels per inch, or a 1.4-inch 450 x 450 one with 321 pixels per inch, and in both cases they can reach up to 1,000 nits of brightness too.
The smaller size is very similar to the Pixel Watch, but you have a choice with Samsung’s wearable. That’s handy, as we noted in our Google Pixel Watch review that the screen could feel claustrophobic at times. But for anyone who wants a small display, either wearable would work, and the overall screen specs are similar too.
Pixel Watch vs Galaxy Watch 5: fitness and features
The Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5 have largely comparable features, but with some differences. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has heart rate monitoring, an ECG, blood oxygen measuring, GPS, sleep tracking and more.
The Google Pixel Watch can match the Galaxy Watch 5 on almost every point here, but at the time of writing it can’t monitor your blood oxygen. However, it theoretically has the hardware to do so, and this feature will likely be switched on at some point. Plus, with the Pixel Watch you can make use of Fitbit’s apps, which aren’t available for the Galaxy Watch 5.
Away from fitness, both wearables tick all the typical smartwatch boxes, including notifications, contactless payments, alarms, timers, and all sorts of other things.
In the case of the Galaxy Watch 5, you’ll get things like Samsung Pay and Bixby as default, where the Pixel Watch gets Google Wallet and Google Assistant, but you can switch to Google’s offerings on Samsung’s watch if you prefer.
Pixel Watch vs Galaxy Watch 5: software, power and battery
Both of these wearables run Wear OS 3, so the core operating system is the same, but Samsung has stuck its One UI Watch interface over the top, so the look and aspects of how you interact with them will differ.
We were pleased with both in our reviews, so this is a somewhat subjective thing, but if we had to choose, we’d probably give the Pixel Watch the edge here, because the Galaxy Watch 5 requires you to install multiple smartphone apps – and to be using a Samsung Galaxy phone – to access all of its features.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 should have the edge when it comes to power though, as it’s using an Exynos W920 chipset (introduced in 2021), while the Pixel Watch has an older Exynos 9110 (introduced in 2018). However, the Pixel Watch does have slightly more RAM at 2GB rather than 1.5GB, and both wearables offered smooth performance in our tests.
The Pixel Watch also has twice as much storage, at 32GB, but its battery capacity can’t match Samsung’s wearable, or at least not the 44mm version of Samsung’s wearable.
The Google Pixel Watch has a 294mAh battery, while the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has either a very similar 284mAh cell (if you get the 40mm version), or a much bigger 410mAh one, if you opt for the 44mm model.
In practice, we found that we got around 26 hours of life from the Pixel Watch when not using its always-on display. So daily charging is need, really.
We found that the Galaxy Watch 5 offered similar longevity – though we’ve only tested one model, but Samsung for its part claims that both versions have up to 40 hours of life.
There are a lot of differences between these two smartwatches and no clear winner, with both getting four stars in our reviews.
The Galaxy Watch 5 is the more customizable, in terms of the size of the device, its screen and its battery – so you can pick the best fit for you and your wallet. Even at the top end of its pricing though the Galaxy Watch 5 only reaches the lowest pricing of the Pixel Watch in most regions, so Google’s wearable is more expensive.
So far, so good for Samsung, and the wins continue when you look at the chipset, which is newer and better in Samsung’s watch, while the operating system is the same, and the battery life, screen specs and features are broadly similar.
However, the Pixel Watch has the more distinctive and eye-catching design, along with more RAM and more storage. It also doesn’t depend on a Samsung phone to get the most out of it; with features like the ECG and blood pressure monitor being locked off for non-Samsung phone users who have a Galaxy Watch.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.