Pebble Smartwatch Review
About the Pebble Smartwatch
The result of a wildly successful kickstarter campaign, the Pebble Smartwatch arguably started the smartwatch revolution.
Almost 69,000 people pledged a combined $10,266,845 to fund the development and production of the Pebble Smartwatch. It is one of the most successful kickstarter campaigns in the history of the website, far exceeding the $100,000 goal originally sought.
It’s follow up, the Pebble Time, released in 2015.
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Despite its plastic construction, the Pebble is an excellent smartwatch in both build and function. It’s a fine example of what can happen when Kickstarter campaigns go according to plan. As a companion to your iOS or Android device, the Pebble integrates and enhances seamlessly. Recent price drops have made it a great value.
Pebble Smartwatch Technical Specifications
An entire app ecosystem
Approximately 5 days
Current Pebble Features & Functions
- Notification display – Incoming text messages, e-mails, and phone calls (with caller ID) are displayed on the Pebble’s e-ink screen.
- Multiple “watch faces” – The e-ink screen can display a variety of different watch faces, from the traditional to the more abstract. I really like the “Text Watch” screen, which features the time written in big bold letters for the hour and regular letters for the minutes.
- Music control – Pause, play, and change songs using the music control app.
- Alarm – Further proof that anything with a battery in it also has an alarm in it.
- Downloadable app for iOS/Android – Adding or removing functionality from the Pebble is done via an app for your smartphone.
- Multiple watch faces – Choose from up to 8 different watch faces.
- Backlit e-ink screen – Backlight can be on, off, or set to automatic.
- Multiple colors – The Pebble comes in black, white, red, orange and grey.
The Pebble is part watch, part smartphone, part wonderdrug.
The Pebble connects to your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth (either version 2.5 or 4.0, which offers much less battery drain than version 2.5) and becomes a mobile notification centre. The concept of the watch was pretty simple: sync with your mobile device, display notifications, and enable cool functionality that a traditional watch simply can’t do.
Pebble Smartwatch Aesthetics & Design
There’s no mistaking the Pebble for anything other than a high-tech gadget to come out of some design studio somewhere. It’s got all the tell-tale signs: a buttonless face; a slick rubber strap; a nergasmic magnetic charging cable; a cool e-ink screen; a perpetual low-power bluetooth connection. By default, you read the time like you would a book.
I gotta say, I love that. It’s got style, and it knows what it is. Sure, it’s light as a feather and made entirely of plastic (Would I have paid more for a metal one? Yes. Was that an option at the time? No.). Despite that, it feels cool and it does some pretty cool stuff, too.
The integrated music app is pretty good. It displays the song/artist on the screen and uses the two buttons on the right side of the Pebble as the forward/back function (shame you can’t use them for volume, though).
It’s backlight is sufficient left on auto. In bright light it’s clear and can be seen from quite the distance. At night the watch lights itself up pretty quickly, and in the event it doesn’t come on automatically, press any of the four buttons (or shake your wrist to activate the accelerometer) and the light will activate.
Pebble Smartwatch User Experience & Build Quality
Nothing is ever perfect, and the Pebble is no exception to this rule. Like any new product it has its fair share of growing to do, though none of the minor inconveniences I encounter when wearing it would prevent me from buying it again or recommending it.
Probably the most notable is the random disconnections I’ve experienced. The Pebble just loses its bluetooth connection from time to time. In an eight hour window this may happen once or twice, and each time it happens resetting the bluetooth settings in the watch rectified the issue.
Second, the construction itself is both an accomplishment and a compromise. The lightweight plastic and scratch-proof display feel well put together, but that same lightness (coupled with the bundled rubber strap) gives off a certain “cheapness” to the feel of the watch. I would have happily paid another $50 for a watch made of metal.
Sometimes when I receive an incoming call and answer it from my phone directly, the Pebble continues to vibrate and show the name/number as if the call hasn’t been answered. This is very annoying, but tapping the bottom button (the decline call button) stops the vibrating and lets me talk in peace. This has happened three times over the last few days on probably 20% of the incoming calls I’ve had.
More About the Pebble Smartwatch
Value for Money
The Pebble is an interesting piece of engineering. It boasts contemporary beauty, excellent versatility, and the promise of even more functionality as time passes. However, like all technology, I can’t help but wonder how long it will take until there’s a Pebble2, and suddenly the original Pebble loses its luster.
Priced at $150, the Pebble is a bargain if you’re into this type of thing. I don’t know if “smart watches” will ever take off in the same fashion that smartphones have, but this one is certainly something cool. As I mentioned earlier, possibly the best (and worst) part of owning a Pebble is that the life of this watch is just beginning. As apps are developed that utilize the watches functionality it will be able to do, and be, more.
At $150 there simply isn’t anything else quite like it, and despite the few kinks it has right now (to be expected), I get the feeling that perfection is just a software update or two away.
Update January 2016: You can find the Pebble on Amazon for $80 🙂
Where to Buy
Pebble Smartwatch Review Conclusion
My thoughts Would I buy the Pebble in 2016? Absolutely. Amazon carries it for around $80 which is a great value considering its significantly expanded ecosystem (since I originally penned this review) and the functionality that it offers. It's a polished product that does a good job at what it's designed to do.