Editor’s note: Each month, we put a device directly in our community members’ hands. In July, Erick Adame gave the Pebble Time a thorough and thoughtful review. Stay tuned to see what devices we’re giving away next, and read the user review below.
Well, after a week spent reviewing the device, I’ll say that the Pebble Time still leads in the smartwatch market. The design is a huge improvement from the original Pebble and now makes wearing a Pebble on your wrist look stylish. Though the watch doesn’t have the best screen or any time of cutting edge technology, but it’s still a damn good watch. And it’s just that — a watch. It tells the time all of the time. It may seem like a silly thing to say, but it’s a huge advantage to be able to look at your smartwatch in any situation and easily determine what time it is.
Not to be forgotten, the Pebble Time now makes receiving notifications fun thanks to the new color animations and the color e-paper display. And, last but not least, the Timeline is a neat new feature with the potential to grow into something more robust. Overall, the design, the up-to-7 days of battery life, and the user experience make the Pebble Time a watch that I not only love but brag about to my family and friends. I gave it an average score of 4.2 of 5 — here’s why.
- Battery Life is great (at least 3 to 4 days)
- Very lightweight and comfortable to Wear
- Fun user interface with cute animations
- Developers are constantly making this watch better
- The screen can seem very dim at times
- The bezel becomes scratched easily
- The gap under the glass creates weird shadows on the screen
- Limited compatibility with iPhone
Unboxing experience – 4
I received a Kickstarter edition Pebble Time. Very much like the watch, the unboxing was fun and cute-sy. There is a zipper-like tab to open the box, and everything was neatly placed inside. With this edition, you get the watch, a charging cable, some brief instructions, and a few stickers. The retail version of the Pebble Time, however, has a beautiful box with a clear plastic display window that shows off the Pebble Time inside.
Battery life – 4
Battery life is one of the biggest draws of the Pebble Time. Pebble claims up to 7 days, but I seemed to get only get about 3 during the week-long review process. This is probably because my testing the many features the watch has to offer. I also did extend the length of time the screen stays illuminated because the standard few seconds seemed much too quick to get a good look at the notifications. I’m sure with more “normal” use the watch could last 5 to 7 days as advertised. Still, I was left somewhat disappointed. Once neat feature of the Pebble Time is that once the battery reaches 0%, the smartwartch goes into a special mode that only shows the time. All other features stop working but it still functions as a watch. Despite the variable battery life, the watch does charge up very quickly.
Comfort – 5
I was pleasantly surprised by how the Pebble Time felt on my wrist. It’s very lightweight and the stock silicon wristband is very soft and feels absolutely amazing. The curved shape of the Pebble Time makes the watch itself hug the wrist perfectly. It gives the watch a flatter look on the wrist and, therefore, a sleeker look. Even during exercise the watch felt comfortable and snug. I didn’t notice any irritation from sweating or while getting in and out of the pool. The Pebble Time is truly a huge upgrade from the original Pebble, which felt more like a large piece of plastic on the wrist.
You might also like: The Wearables.com community review of the Apple Watch
Easy to put on – 5
The watch is very easy to put on with the stock wristband. The watch itself is very light, so it’s easy to hold while you’re trying to secure the clasp. Once the watch is on your wrist, using the buttons feels easy enough. If you previously used the original Pebble, you may notice the Pebble Time buttons are a touch smaller. For me this took some adjustment, and at first, I found it a little awkward to use the UP and DOWN buttons on the right side of the watch.
App experience – 4
Apps are what can make your Pebble Time as unique and customized as you’d like. The original Pebble’s display was black and white, but with the introduction of color on Pebble Time’s e-paper display, the app experience is greatly enhanced.
There really are two different ways to talk about apps with the Pebble Time. There is the app that connects your phone to the watch and then there are apps on the watch itself. In fact, I suppose a third category could be a class of select apps called companion apps that you download and operate from your smart phone but they provide information directly on your watch.
In order to use your Pebble Time you must first install the Pebble Time App on your smartphone. I have an iPhone, so my experience may vary some from those using an Android phone. You can download the app in the App Store or Google Play Store and it connects your phone to your Pebble via Bluetooth. Once connected, you can add watchfaces and apps from the Pebble App Store.
Watchfaces are probably the one area that benefit the most from the introduction of the color e-paper display. The endless choices in the Pebble App Store range from Nintendo themes to sports and weather themes to simple digital or analog screens.
Some apps have taken advantage of Pebble Time’s most notable upgrades, the Timeline. The Timeline provides information about the past, present or future. Most of the information will come from your phone’s calendar but some apps can add information to the timeline that you find relevant. Since I’m a big Yankees fan, getting the ESPN app to add the start times to each game to my calendar was a major perk. Pebble calls these events pins. Pins can sometimes be selected to reveal more information. In the case of a Yankee game start time on the ESPN app, the pin can reveal season records and even live coverage of the game. One could spend days searching through the Pebble App Store finding various apps that satisfy different needs of a different Pebble Time users.
And of course, one of the biggest upgrades with the Pebble Time is unlimited apps. Previously users were limited to only eight apps. Now, with the Pebble Time, there is virtually no limit. Now, this doesn’t seem completely true as I did notice that apps would occasionally have to download back onto my watch. So it basically seems like you summon an app from your phone once it’s needed on your watch. This was a little annoying at times because it took a minute or two for the app I wanted to appear on my watch.
At the time of this review, many apps still do not support the Pebble Time specifically. These apps still work on the Pebble Time but they do not have color or integration with the Timeline. I’ve seen the great potential and look forward to more developers upgrading their apps to work with the Pebble Time!
Style and design – 4
The design of the Pebble Time is a huge upgrade from the original Pebble. The watch is very sleek and really can be worn with a casual look or dressy look. I first used the watch without any custom accessories but then later decided to purchase a wrap to cover the bezel. I chose a black wrap and that gave my watch a totally different look that seems to have everyone asking me, “What kind of watch is that?” You can also change the watch band to any 22mm watch band you’d like, but I stuck with the silicon band because it was so comfortable.
Durability – 3
I never took the Pebble Time off my wrist other than to charge it. During yard work, while playing volleyball, and while swimming, the watch stayed securely on my wrist. Overall it seemed to handle activity very well. However, one major issue was the bezel. The bezel was scuffed up very easily. I quickly noticed minor scuffs and even a few deeper scratches, like the coating on the bezel was coming off. For someone who can’t even handle a smudge on the phone screen, this drove me crazy. This is why I purchased a wrap for the bezel — and now the watch looks as great as it feels.
Water resistance – 5
I wasn’t able to test how deep the watch will remain water resistant, as it claims up the 30 meters. I didn’t experience any negative effects from swimming with the watch or showering.
Price – 4
I think the Pebble Time is priced fairly well, retailing for $199. Especially for iPhone users whose other options, like the Apple Watch, start at $350. You get a smartwatch and an activity tracker all for one price with the Pebble Time. Since it’s compatible with Android and iOS, it’s a great investment for people who tend to switch from iPhone to Android and vice versa.
Any additional thoughts?
One of Pebble Time’s drawbacks is the screen. Of course the color e-paper screen is the main reason the watch battery can last for 7 days It uses very little energy but that comes at a price. The screen can be difficult to see sometimes. Pebble has recently made some updates to the firmware that allow you to turn of the brightness and the length of time the blacklight stays on. Both of these options make the watch much easier to see in certain situations. Still, I find the screen to look dull at times. I also noticed that at certain angles in the sunlight, the screen appears to have shadows from the small gap that exist between the glass and the color e-paper display.
What recommendations would you have to those considering purchasing this device?
I would recommend that anyone who is considering purchasing the Pebble Time to know its limitations. This is not a smartphone on your wrist. It’s a watch that can track your activity and save you from reaching into your pocket or purse several times a day to check your phone when you hear a notification. Once you try the Pebble Time you’ll realize how many times a day you don’t need to unlock your phone. And a week after trying the fun Pebble Time, you’ll feel totally lost when it’s not on your wrist. When I finally had to charge my watch and I heard a notification on my phone, I looked at my wrist and was hugely disappointed that I had to walk across the house to unlock my phone just to read a message that said “see you tomorrow”.
The Pebble Time because a part of your daily routine and you will absolutely love it. Even with its limitations on iPhone (which don’t exist for Android users), it’s still so fun and so useful day to day. I would also recommend getting something to cover the bezel. There are several options on the market. The bezel will inevitably get scratched, and putting a wrap over it will prevent that from happening.