Google’s official line is that the Pixel Watch does not support Qi charging or reverse charging from a phone. However, in the last few days, many users have anecdotally reported that these wireless charging methods do, in fact, work. Curious, I tried it out for myself, and I’m sorry to say that, while it does sort of work, it’s simply not reliable.
First off, I decided to try charging the Pixel Watch using my Pixel 7 Pro review unit. I turned on the Battery Sharing feature, plopped the watch on the back of the phone, and it worked! For a grand total of 10 seconds. While the charging animation popped up, it never actually maintained a stable-enough connection to meaningfully charge. Sometimes I got it to work for as long as a minute, but that was the best I could manage. It was easier if I removed the straps so the watch could lay perfectly flat — but that’s not always realistic when you’re on the go.
Undeterred, I tried it again with my 3-in-1 Belkin charging dock — and got the same results.
On Twitter and subreddits, some users have reported better luck. Others have had a similar experience to mine. But the bottom line is this isn’t going to work the same for everyone, all of the time. It reminds me of Samsung Galaxy Watches, which also have this feature. Sometimes it works like a charm. Other times, it just plain doesn’t. Mostly, it was a lot more effort than simply sticking it on the charger that the watch came with.
I get the frustration. Unlike virtually every other consumer gadget, smartwatches and fitness trackers still rely on proprietary chargers. Even if two chargers look identical, they won’t work with another company’s smartwatch or tracker. You can buy third-party chargers off Amazon, but your mileage will vary on whether it works 100 percent of the time. Some companies, like Garmin, manage to use the same charger across several devices and models. Others, like Fitbit, keep changing the design to the point where it’s an e-waste disaster. What gives?
The answer is pretty straightforward. These devices are too dang small, and the technology isn’t there yet. Most standard connectors, like USB-C, are too large to fit within a smartwatch or on devices that are meant to mold to your body. The smaller the device, the more difficult this becomes.
Even with wireless charging, the coil size is tricky to get right due to sensor placements. This could explain why some people can get wireless charging on the Pixel Watch to work relatively well and others, like me, can’t. It depends on which Qi charger you have, how you place the device, and whether you can maintain that placement without a magnetic element to ensure everything lines up perfectly. (For the record, this is why so many smartwatches and wearables have magnetic chargers.)
A reliable, universal wearable charging standard is next to impossible right now
The kicker is that, because each smartwatch’s internal design is different, the charging elements likely won’t be in the same spot. That’s why you won’t see truly universal third-party smartwatch chargers, either. I’ve written more in-depth articles about this before, but a reliable, universal wearable charging standard is next to impossible right now. This, in turn, is why most smartwatches don’t support Qi charging. Or if they do, as in Samsung’s case, the experience is wonky and requires you to buy Samsung’s Qi chargers or phones to get the best result.
Google probably says it’s not officially supported — even if it’s technically possible — because it can’t guarantee a uniform and reliable experience for everyone. So sure, this “hack” might work in a pinch. I just wouldn’t bet on it.