With the Pixel Watch being available to the public for more than a month now, third-party straps and bands are starting to appear on sites like Amazon for super cheap. Seeing that, I decided to go ahead and order one, expecting very little in the way of quality.
At the connection, Google is using a proprietary design that resembles what Fitbit has put in place on their wearables. The watch band slides in from the right side to lock into place and can only be unlatched by pushing the very small button next to the connection point on the Pixel Watch. Because of the way Google decided to develop and manufacture the Pixel Watch’s watch band connectors, it has taken a while for companies to start producing their own bands.
Once they started popping up online, I decided to take the risk and get one. The band I decided to go with was the NINKI steel mesh watch band, which uses a magnet to secure the fit around your wrist. In design, it’s extremely simple and rather good-looking, as most steel mesh bands are.
As a point of comparison, Google is selling its watchbands anywhere from $80 for the leather band to $200 for its metal link band. Bands on Amazon, however, are going anywhere from $9 to $20 – a massive disparity in price.
With that in mind, I wasn’t expecting much at all and kept my expectations where they should be – smack dab in the middle.
When the NINKI band was finally delivered – after several days of delays and other shipping issues – I was right to expect very little. Frankly, a $17 band leaves a lot to be desired.
First off, the connections are very loose, as I initially expected would be the case. Production was likely rushed in order to get a band out there for the Pixel Watch before anyone else, and the fit where the band meets the watch definitely suffers as a result. The latch swims in the Pixel Watch’s band cutouts, which doesn’t do anything to give confidence that it won’t pop out.
Second, the metal itself, while definitely stainless steel, is completely unfinished. The magnet at the end of the band has burrs all along the edges and the lugs look like they had 200-grit sandpaper taken to them before the strap was boxed up. Because of that, I’ve ended up sacrificing a few sweater sleeves to the band, leaving me with loose threads galore.
As far as the look goes, the metal mesh band I got from Amazon for the Pixel Watch doesn’t look bad. In fact, it looks relatively clean from more than a couple of feet away. However, those problems mentioned above lend themselves to a rather uncomfortable experience.
If you find yourself needing a cheap and formal-looking band, the $17 band from Amazon isn’t a terrible choice. However, in the long term, you may want to invest in a pricier option, as the watch band is what determines a wearable’s comfort level. That isn’t to say a $200 band from Google is necessarily worth it, however, Ringke’s $70 leather bands look elegant and are undoubtedly more robustly designed than most options on the market right now – if you can find them in stock.
Our hope is that more affordable yet well-designed options start to come to market, although it may still be a while before that happens.
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