Bottom Line Up Front: The Pebble Time is a great watch for both the curious smartwatch consumer and the tech savvy power user as well.
As an impatient tech geek, I was able to stay out of the smartwatch market for a long time somehow. I let the first generation of Android Wear go by with ease. I knew it would improve drastically in a short time. I decided though after reading a lot of reviews that a Pebble watch was what I wanted. Instead of pull the trigger on the first generation, I opted to wait until they announced on the next generation (Pebble Time) on Kickstarter. I got in on the first round. I have had the watch for the past few months. Here is my Pebble Time review.
- It is very comfortable. The watch is very light, lays flat on the wrist, and has a band that is downright pleasant to wear.
- It is durable. Not a single scratch on it or any blemishes after two months of continuous wear.
- It is easy to use. The interface is very simple. You can scroll through your calendar and alarms or go into the individual apps. For example, with a quick click on the lower right button, I see today’s weather and events (I synced it with my Google calendar).
- It has a lot of apps and watch faces. More than enough to please you and keep it fun. I have one face I love, but I had some patriotic ones on 4th of July weekend and some fun ones for a change of pace.
- Battery life is good, not great. I get 4-5 days out of it. I would like a hard 7 days. I usually forget the last time I charged it when I have to charge it again. It is more than fair. You will get one day, maybe one and a half with an Android Wear or Apple Watch. You basically have to charge those every night like a cell phone. The Pebble doesn’t make the watch an inconvenience to charge.
- No impact to phone battery life. I thought it would take a big hit to my phone battery, but it doesn’t. I was really worried I’d lose 20-30% of my cell battery with it connected all the time, but it is trivial due to the Bluetooth low energy connection. You can connect to other Bluetooth devices with your phone while the Pebble is connected too if you were wondering. I have my watch connected while my phone connects to my car and to my headphones.
- It looks sharp. The watch doesn’t look “techy” or weird, like you are wearing something complex on your wrist. With the right face, you can may it look a little dressy almost (almost). You can get the Pebble Time Steel if more professional looks are important to you (see link to product page below).
- It is useful in the right ways. It may not do everything Android Wear or Apple Watch can do, but I really don’t want those extra things. What I do with it is tell time & date, wake me up when I need an alarm (I get up at 4:15 AM on weekdays), time things (tea steeping or workouts usually), and notify me of incoming texts, calls, and calendar events. I disabled notifications for everything else. My phone doesn’t notify me of anything else either (no emails or Instagram likes or Twitter retweets). You can have it notify you as to everything your phone can if you wanted. I don’t like being disturbed constantly. Responding to text messages through the Pebble without even pulling out your phone is very easy. You can preset some responses (OK, Thanks, Yes, No, or Call you later), respond with emoji, or actually speak into the Pebble. I use the presets almost all the time (a few clicks to say “OK”, no phone comes out of the drawer or pocket), but I am amazed at how well the voice recognition works. It gets almost every word right all the time.
- I can leave my phone in another room and get notifications. At work, I leave my phone in my desk, but with my Time on, I can read texts or see who is calling me or be reminded of events sans phone. In fact, I have my phone ringer off, not even vibrate. I rely on the Time for all notifications.
- Its notifications are subtle. You can choose no notification, vibrate (3 levels of strength), or sound. I leave mine on vibrate all the time. When my Pebble Time alarm goes off in the morning, the vibrating on my wrist wakes me up without disturbing my wife at all. When I get a notification in a meeting, no one can hear and I quickly scan my wrist without anyone knowing. It is far easier than pulling out your phone or having it on the table vibrating.
- It has an accelerometer aka motion sensor. I have replaced my old watch and Fitbit with my Pebble (minimalism!). It gives me all I need to know about sleep and steps. It isn’t as accurate as the Fitbit, but it’s close enough for me not to wear my Fitbit anymore (sold it to a friend for half price – you’re welcome). For example, when I wore both to compare, I’d have a few thousand steps variation. The Fitbit would also get my sleep more accurate. The Pebble Time will count all the time I spend in bed reading as sleep whereas the Fitbit could tell I wasn’t asleep somehow. Even these deviations are acceptable to me. They are minor ultimately. If my Pebble says I walked 8000 steps, that is a reasonable day. If it says 3000, I know I was too sedentary probably. Whether or not it was 8000 or 9000 or 7000 doesn’t really matter.
- It is water resistant. It is debatable how far you could/should dive with it, but for swimming and showering, it’s good to go. I rarely take mine off.
- Charger. I’d much rather it charge via micro USB or the new universal USB Type C. The Pebble watches use a charger that is unique. One more thing I have to bring with me if I travel.
For future generations, I’d like to see it have a touchable/swipable face. It is all buttons now if you didn’t realize that. I am fine with this today, but a few years from now we should be able to get a tap/touch face on this and still keep the battery life up. I’d also like to see 7-10 days of battery life. I really like the idea of charging something once a week or less.
Do you NEED a smartwatch? No way. But, for those with the money and interest, I would recommend this watch to anyone. At $200, it is a fair entry into the smartphone world. The time is an open platform that is very useful. You can be an Android or iPhone user and have the Pebble ecosystem work for you. Just being able to change watch faces alone (there are hundreds) is worth it almost. You could enjoy this watch without even using it to get smartphone notifications.
You can class it up a little and get the Pebble Time Steel, which is the same watch with a pretty steel band and face. It is much more formal. If you are a business type person who needs this look to match your outfits, it is identical except for appearance.
If you really want to get into the Pebble world at a low price, you can get an original Pebble for $100 (or less if you get a used one). I think the improvements are significant enough to spend the cash for the Pebble Time. If I were not 100% sold and I found a $50 Pebble, I may buy it.
QUESTION: Do you have a smartwatch? If yes, have you found it useful or unnecessary? If no, what is holding you back? Post thoughts to comments.
References & Further Reading