Out of the box, the Pixel Watch comes equipped with an “Active Band” that takes very clear inspiration from Fitbit, for better or worse.

One of our favorite things about the Pixel Watch is the incredible variety of watch bands that Google has made available for its first smartwatch. That said, there will surely be a contingent of people who simply use the free Active Band included in the Pixel Watch box without ever having a second thought about other options.

As the name implies, the Active Band is the watch band best intended for use while exercising. The fluoroelastomer of the band — similar to what the Apple Watch’s Sport Band uses — is highly resistant to sweat and water alike, effortlessly handling an intense workout or a rainy day. I’m personally not the gym-going type, but I’ve had no issues with the Pixel Watch Active Band during activities like Beat Saber.

Both to help keep the band on regardless of what you’re doing and to stay stylish, the Pixel Watch Active Band uses the same design as Fitbit’s signature “Infinity Bands.” The longer strip passes through two loops and is affixed to a peg between the two. The end result is quite secure. I don’t think it’s possible to unintentionally loosen the Active Band without ripping the rubber itself.

Fitbit and now Google’s approach to Active Bands is superior to the Apple Watch’s equivalent Sports Band. That second loop adds a meaningful extra layer of security. Once the peg comes loose on Apple’s Sports Band, it’s easy for the looped strap to come undone and the Apple Watch to slide off your wrist. With the Active Band, there’s more friction and you’re more likely to notice what’s happening before the Pixel Watch could potentially fall off your wrist.

Pixel Watch and Apple Watch Series 8

The band’s emphasis on exercise doesn’t come at the expense of style, quality, or comfort. It’s undeniable that the Active Band is part of the signature style for the Pixel Watch and helps the smartwatch look like part of the Pixel lineup.

Meanwhile, the “soft touch” finish of the band manages to both keep the Pixel Watch comfortable to wear and give it a clean look. That is at least until you smudge it, but thankfully those wipe off quite easily.

Altogether, the Pixel Watch Active Band makes for a solid and stylish default accessory, expertly balancing the comfort you need for every day and overnight wear with the resilience needed for exercise. Adding in the flair of Pixel style that it brings, I’d normally have no issue using this as my one and only watch band.

Unfortunately, the Pixel Watch Active Band is not going to be the perfect band for everyone. After a little over a week of wearing the Pixel Watch daily, a rash began to develop on my wrist. A few days later, my partner began to experience the same thing on her wrist. My colleague Ben Schoon was also noticing irritation following 24/7 use, but not to the same extent.

Mind you, I don’t hold these incidents against the Pixel Watch or the Active Band design, as we both had experienced the exact same irritation with bands from Fitbit, Apple, and Samsung alike. All of that to say, if you’ve experienced irritation with rubber watch bands in the past, it should be no surprise that Google’s Active Band will likely do the same. This likely won’t be a problem for most Pixel Watch owners, but it’s worth noting.

Google Pixel Watch with Hazel Active Band

In addition to being the default option, the Pixel Watch Active Band is also the most affordable replacement band from Google, priced at $49.99, with other band options starting at $59.99. This makes it a great option for those looking to affordably customize their color palette, as the watch band you receive is normally based on the color of Pixel Watch you purchased.

In fact, one color of Pixel Watch Active Band is only available through retailers — the Lemongrass shade of green that perfectly complements the recent releases of Pixel 7 and Nest Wifi Pro. Of course, if you’re looking to pick up a second watch band and Lemongrass is your preferred shade, Google’s Woven Band may be a more compelling option that’s also less likely to irritate your skin.

Broadly speaking, we like the Pixel Watch Active Band enough to want to see it become available in a few more color options. By comparison, Apple’s Sport Band is offered in seven different colors (to Google’s five), along with the occasional limited edition design like the Pride band.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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