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One step forward with Timeline, two steps back with everything else
Pebble Time Review – Not much of an upgrade over the original
Today we’re going to review the Pebble Time. This is one of Pebble’s newest smartwatches and when compared to the Pebble classic is a decent step forward but it still comes nowhere near the Apple Watch or Android Wear devices.
The Pebble Time has an e-ink screen, 7-day battery and allows you to go swimming with it. The greatest strength of the Pebble are all the apps that you can install which alone makes it better than most fitness based smartwatches (like the Fitbit Surge).
No matter how we look at it, the Pebble Time isn’t as good as our Android Wear Moto 360, Samsung Gear S and Apple Watch in terms of functionality and in general, doesn’t look or feel that smart. There’s other oddities that annoyed us about the setup of the device and the entire Pebble Time experience was childish. We’ll elaborate in a bit.
For this Pebble Time review, we’ve given it a score of 3.8 Eh’s out of 5. It does better than the Pebble Classic, is on the same level as the Moto 360 (for design) but doesn’t come as close to the Apple Watch. If you’re looking for other smartwatch reviews, check out the comparison tool for all the smartwatches that we’ve reviewed!
Compare With other
(out of 5)
|Top Buy Buttons|
- Compatible with both Android and iPhones
- Better designed than the Pebble Classic
- One of the few watches that are waterproof
- Better battery life than Apple and Samsung equivalents
- Not as powerful as Apple and Samsung equivalents
- OS looks childish
- Screen is small
|Potential Problems||Potential Problems:|
- None that we found
- Is more comfortable than the Pebble Classic
- Over 50% of the watch face is useless
- Not as bulky as the Moto 360
|Battery Life||Battery Life (5/5):|
- Pebble claims a 7-Day battery but we've had to charge it twice a week
- Water resistant
- Scratch resistant against keys and coins
- Syncs with both iPhones and Android phones
- Lots of watch faces to choose from
- Lots of apps to customize the Pebble functionality
- No desktop/web sync
- Not touch enabled
- Buttons are fairly easy to use
- Viewable in direct sunlight
|Information Display||UI (3.5/5):|
- Notification system is simplistic
- Animations between actions seems childish
- Watch faces aren't interactive like
- NO GPS (needs to in range of iPhone for navigation)
- Will not add much value to your life
- Too many notifications
|Bottom Buy Buttons|
Design – Better looking than the Pebble Classic
In terms of design, the Pebble Time looks much better than the Pebble Classic but when compared against other modern smartwatches, it physically doesn’t really stand out. It’s a little more comfortable to wear than the Classic as our biggest complaint with the original Pebble was that the watch strap kept coming out (we called it “tailing”).
Our white Pebble Time didn’t take on any new colors during our review period and like the Moto 360, is compatible with other 22mm watch bands. The Pebble Time’s viewable area is covered with a piece of hardened glass which is surrounded by with an aluminum bezel. This entire setup results in over 50% of the Pebble being useless which is quite different to the Moto 360 and Apple Watch where the entire face is almost dedicated to the display.
Durability – Waterproof with a 7-ish day battery
In terms of durability, Pebble claims that it has a 7-day battery but we found ourselves recharging the watch at least twice a week. Unlike most other smartwatches, the Pebble Time is one that you could actually shower with and subsequently swim with if you really wanted to.
Our Pebble Time didn’t suffer any scratches during our 4 week testing period as the hardened glass withstood up to scratches with keys and knives but the aluminum bezel didn’t. It will show signs of wear and tear quicker than the glass on the Pebble Time.
Functionality – Does enough to get by
In terms of functionality, the Pebble Time doesn’t really add much more than the Pebble Classic. The Timeline is probably the standout feature of the Pebble Time as being able to move forward and backwards with your calendar will be very useful for people with FULL calendars. People with the occasional appointment (like Aaron) will not benefit much from this feature.
This smartwatch is the only one compatible with both iOS and Android devices that comes with an app store. Oddly enough, in terms of managing your Pebble Time, you need to use a different Pebble app and this fact isn’t explicitly stated in the instructions so we had to fumble around for an hour trying to pair the Pebble Time to our iPhone. However, the new Pebble Time app was able to sync and pull the apps that we had for our Pebble Classic which was nice.
As we’ve mentioned in my other smartwatch reviews, the apps you can get for the Pebble is what makes this product so strong. Unlike other devices like the Fitbit Surge, being able to tailor what appears on your device will make this product more useful in the long run. The level of customization comes nowhere near Android Wear devices and to a lesser extent, the Apple Watch.
User Interface and Notifications – Childish and annoying
The UI and notification system was a sore point for us.
We found the notification system simplistic and annoying to use. We generally find notifications on Android devices a little more annoying then iPhone notifications and if there was a barrage of notifications, the Pebble Time would be vibrating constantly. However, after a few minutes, all the notifications would disappear so you really have no idea what was going on. However, being able to interact with the notification if you caught it was nice (“Open on phone” is something we hope Apple implements in their notifications).
The UI on the Pebble Time is a step backwards, especially when compared to the UI on the Pebble Classic. The Classic appears to be more responsive and you can see multiple apps/settings whereas the Pebble Time only shows one app at a time.
In addition to this reduced visibility, Pebble decided to add inconsequential animation between button presses which in our opinion, make the device seem childish. The “swoosh” of notifications that get deleted, the blur of the timeline and animations for the sun do not provide any value. The purpose of the watch is to gather information quickly so when the animations seem to take away from the urgency of using your smartwatch.