Google finally launched the first smartwatch under its own Pixel brand, and the reception of the wearable device has been a bit mixed. Its unique dome-like display definitely gives it a unique visual personality, but the jury is still out when whether that’s actually a strength or a liability. Even with years of references and lessons from other manufacturers, the Pixel Watch seems to have all the makings of a first-gen device, especially once you start to open it up. As iFixit discovered, the smartwatch’s simple yet attractive design doesn’t extend inside, and the device could be a nightmare for both owners and technicians that need to simply repair a cracked screen or a loose crown.
Unlike almost all Wear OS smartwatches today, the Pixel Watch does away with the visible external bezels with a very curved glass that covers the screen. It’s almost like the Apple Watch, except that it comes in a circular shape. Like the Apple Watch again, the Pixel Watch utilizes a digital crown, but the similarities end there. The crown has been noted to look a bit cheap, and at least one reviewer has experienced the domed screen cracking for no apparent reason.
These flaws on their own wouldn’t be too disastrous if it were easy to fix the Pixel Watch, which isn’t the case yet for this first attempt. To its credit, the back is easily removable with some heat and prying, and iFixit a mysterious adhesive that could be good news for repairs in the future. The screen can also be pried off with the same techniques, but it cannot be disconnected unless you really dig inside.
The small, squishy battery needs to be removed first, which needs a bit of heat that could be a disaster waiting to happen. There is a maze of screws and components that you need to get out of the way first before you can even disconnect the display cable. Even after all that, it is nearly impossible to remove the crown and buttons without risking irreparable internal damage. Considering these mechanical parts are likely to fail at some point, that’s not a reassuring scenario.
To be fair, this is Google’s first smartwatch, so there’s still ample room for improvement on all fronts. It’s not a great first step, though, especially considering how late it is already in the game. Perhaps more worrying is that this is a company that is notorious for suddenly canceling products and services, even those that many people have heavily invested in already. It’s going to be a tense waiting game to see if future Pixel Watches will be able to rise to the challenge or be unceremoniously put to pasture after one or two tries only.