Introduction

Almost three years after its predecessor took Kickstarter by storm, the Pebble Time crashes the smartwatch scene with an even louder bang. The newcomer became the most successful Kickstarter project to date only a few days after its launch and ended up with more than $20 million in funding.

Of course, three years is a hell of a long time in the tech industry, and the Pebble Time arrives in a totally different landscape compared to its trailblazing predecessor. An Apple Watch backed by a monstrous marketing budget and an army of Android Wear devices are as serious a competition to face as it gets.

To face its competitors, the Pebble Time comes with a color screen, voice control, and a brand new OS. It is also the most water-resistant smartwatch available at the moment. See the device's full list of key features below.

Key features

  • 1.25" 64-color LCD e-paper display with memory-in-pixel technology and LED backlight; 168 x 144 pixels (182ppi); curved Gorilla Glass 3; superb sunlight legibility and power efficiency;
  • ARM Cortex-M4 CPU; 256KB of RAM; 16MB of storage
  • 3D accelerometer; compass; ambient light sensor
  • Built-in microphone for voice replies
  • Pebble OS with support for actionable notifications (Android only)
  • Samsung-made 150mAh battery, a week worth of battery life
  • Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity
  • 40.5 x 37.5 x 9.5mm; 42.5 grams with standard silicone band easily replaceable, standard 22mm band
  • 30m water resistance

Main disadvantages

  • The display lags behind the competition in terms of colors, resolution, and performance indoors
  • iOS device functionality lags behind the one for Android
  • Limited app ecosystem (at least for the time being)
  • Plasticky construction, though there is a Pebble Time Steel on the way

With a color screen and more capable hardware, the Pebble Time is unsurprisingly a massive upgrade over the first generation. The new model has also retained the key features that made the original Pebble such a success, headed by mind-blowing battery life and ease of use.

Despite being an update over its predecessor in terms of design and hardware however, the Pebble Time lags behind the Apple Watch and the Android Wear army on this instance. Competing smartwatches from Apple and Google look more stylish and boast better screens, internals, and app ecosystems, thus meaning that the Time will have to rely on ease of use and battery life to gain followers.

We are going to kick the review off with unboxing of the Pebble Time, followed by our take on its design and hardware. Head over to the next page for a closer look at the smartwatch.

Retail package

The Pebble Time comes in a rather understated retail box. Inside it, you will find the smartwatch, a USB charging cable, and a quick start guide.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time

A look at the retail package

It is important to note that the actual retail box of the non-Kickstarter Pebble Time will look a tad more attractive, though its contents will be the same. The Kickstarter variant is a thin cardboard box for easy international shipping.

Swapping the dull silicone band for something more exciting is easy - there is an overwhelming amount of 22mm options to choose from - from rubber, though fabric, all the way to exotic leather options that cost more than the device itself.

Pebble Time

Pebble Time with an aftermarket 22mm band

Pebble has further dedicated $1 million from the Kickstarter funds it gathered to the development of watchbands. Therefore, more choices tailored for the smartwatch are certain to appear in the near future.

Design and build quality

Pebble Time looks "grown up" compared to the original. However, it is still unmistakably a member of the Pebble Family, thanks to the now signature hardware button setup and rectangular body.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time

Pebble Time in the flesh

With the above in mind, we find the design of the newcomer quirky, decidedly casual, but generally appealing. You will certainly enjoy the styling of the Pebble Time more than you will that of the original, which looked like something that came out from a bag of potato chips.

The Pebble Time is available in three different colors - white, red, and black like the unit we tested. Standard interchangeable bands will allow users to let their imagination run wild regarding possible color combos. We won't be surprised if Pebble releases more color options down the line too - it pulled this trick with the original.

Build quality of the smartwatch is overall solid, but don't expect to be wowed. Pebble Time is a plasticky device and the metal bezel does little to hide this fact - the buttons of the smartwatch are particularly at fault on this instance.

The display of the smartwatch is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The latter should be sufficient to prevent it from scratching in most scenarios.

A Pebble Time Steel due to arrive next month will certainly appeal to those who are looking for a more premium finish. As its name suggests, It will feature a body made of stainless steel, coupled with a leather or metal band (both will be included in the retail package).

One major trump card that the Pebble Time has over its smartwatch competitors is water resistance. The wearable can be submerged in a water depth of up 30 meters of water. That's a feat that neither Apple Watch, nor any Android Wear device can boast about. We can easily see this one shape up as the preferred smartwatch for swimmers.

With measures of 40.5 x 37.5 x 9.5mm and 42.5 grams of weight, the Pebble Time is a comfortable device to wear on a daily basis. The bundled silicone strap in particular is surprisingly comfy and easy to maintain.

Pebble Time

A wrist shot of the Pebble Time

Display

The 64-color LCD e-paper display of the Pebble Time is manufactured by Japan Display Inc and utilizes memory-in-pixel technology. The LED-backlit unit has a resolution of 168 x 144 pixels and pixel density of 182ppi.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time

The display of the Pebble Time

Sharpness of the screen is below average for a smartwatch today and so is its color reproduction. Sunlight legibility however is impressive thanks to the e-paper nature of the display.

Visibility actually decreases indoors, but that's what the LED backlight is for. It is automatic, though you can also activate it with a shake of your wrist.

Overall, the display of the Time is a typical Pebble affair. It does the job on every occasion with no fuss and focus on energy efficiency.

Battery life

This is an area where the Pebble Time literally wipes the floor with the competition. While Apple Watch and Android Wear users barely make it through a full day of use if at all, the Pebble Time lasts up to a week on a single charge.

We were a tad skeptical about Pebble's claim during the announcement of the device. However, after spending time with the watch, we easily made it though a week without recharging. In our testing, we used the smartwatch daily from 8am to about midnight.

Controls

The Pebble Time features the same controls' layout as the original Pebble. There are three buttons on the right side of the smartwatch for menu navigation and selection, as well as a small microphone pinhole. A single button on the left for going back in within the menus.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time

The controls of the Pebble Time

A couple of logos and a charging port are located on the back of the smartwatch. Kickstarter backers will get a special logo on the back just like the first time around.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time

The back of the device

It is worth noting that the charging port of the Pebble Time can be used for connecting smart strap accessories. Time will tell how these will turn out (no pun intended).

Pebble Time app

Just like the original, Pebble Time needs a companion app to connect with your smartphone. The application is available for Android and iOS for the time being.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time

The Pebble Time app

You can manage the apps and watch faces of your Pebble Time via the app. The latter can handle more than one smartwatch if need be.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time

Managing the content on your Pebble Time

A dedicated submenu within the application handles all notifications that you want the smartwatch to receive (or not). Android users can also add custom notification responses.

Sadly, actionable notifications don’t work on iOS hardware. Apple will only allow to receive notifications on your Pebble Time and dismiss them.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time

The notifications menu

Of course, the Pebble Time app is also where you get new apps and watchfaces for your wearable. The two are separated in a duo of submenus.

In the watchface storefront, Pebble Time-optimized ones are naturally promoted. You can also install watchfaces designed for the old Pebble if you wish.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time

A look at the watchface storefront

Take a look at some of the popular watchfaces for the Pebble Time below.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time

Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time

Some of the popular watchfaces

The app section contains six subcategories - daily, tools & utilities, notifications, remotes, health & fitness, and games. Just like in the case of the watchfaces, you will find out that color-optimized apps are given extra attention. Again, you can install apps for the old Pebble too.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time

The app storefront

Most apps for the Pebble Time are basic, yet functional. It is hardly a surprise that there aren't as many quality apps for the device as there are for the Apple Watch and for Android Wear offerings. However, Pebble has a vibrant developer community at work, so things will certainly improve in the future.

User interface

The user interface of the Pebble Time will be instantly familiar to owners of the previous model. There is naturally color in the mix now and some really cool-looking animations.

We've prepared a short video of the Pebble Time in action. See it below.

Native apps

In terms of native apps, the Pebble Time offers the bare minimum. There is a settings menu with various submenus, a music player remote, notifications menu, alarm app, and dedicated menu for watchfaces. Installed apps will appears after the aforementioned few.

The settings menu allows you to tune your Pebble Time, its connectivity and notifications. Two of the buttons on the right can be configured as shortcuts, which activate via long press.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time

The settings menu

The music remote can be configured to control an app of your choice. You can play, pause, and change tracks and volume.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time

The music remote app

The notifications menu is self-explanatory. It shows all notifications that your watch has received. You can clear them if you wish.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time

The notifications menu

The alarms menu works as expected. The same goes for the dedicated menu for changing watchfaces.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time

Alarms • changing watchfaces

The overall user experience is minimalistic and fuss-free. If you are looking fro animated emoji or gobs of eye candy in the UI, the Pebble Time will not be a smartwatch for you.

Final words

The Pebble Time is a solid upgrade over the first generation. Its improved looks, hardware, build quality, and platform reveal that the ambitious upstart is capable of coming up with a mature product, whose unique qualities allow it to go head on with the best in the business.

Launching the smartwatch on Kickstarter was a brilliant idea by Pebble. The crowdfunding platform success provided the smartwatch with a lot of media buzz and practically free marketing. For a company with the size and resources of Pebble, this is a huge deal.

Key test findings

  • Battery life is the best in the business
  • So is the 30m water resistance
  • Sunlight legibility of the display is top notch
  • The overall user experience is lean and distraction-free
  • Easily changeable watch straps allow you to customize the Pebble Time any way you like
  • The 64-color screen feels massively outdated in 2015
  • Build quality and finish lag behind those of similarly priced devices
  • The indoor visibility of the display is not great
  • A $199 price tag is ambitious for the hardware on offer
  • Limited amount of apps and watchfaces are optimized for the new OS (for now at least)

Like its predecessor, the Pebble Time bets on battery life and simplicity to attract buyers. Whereas the Apple Watch and the hordes of Android Wear devices try to take over as many functions from your smartphone as possible, the Pebble Time focuses primarily on delivering notifications and lets your handset handle the rest.

Of course, the device's superb battery life and ease of use come with caveats. The display of the smartwatch feels outdated next to the units found in the Apple Watch and the Android Wear offerings.

The Time's plasticky build on the other hand is as far from the premium feel of an Apple Watch or a Moto 360 as it gets. Thankfully, the soon to be revealed Pebble Time Steel will allow people to choose a more premium option.

The first Pebble passed a million units in sales, so the Time has plenty of expectations to live up to. We believe that in today's highly competitive environment, matching the success of its predecessor will be a massive achievement for Pebble and its latest creation. The Pebble Time will surely not have the same easy ride as the original.

Liking (or not) the Pebble Time boils down to one's personal view about what a smartwatch should be. If you want your wearable device to take over functionality from your smartphone as often as possible, then the Time is not for you. However, if you are looking for a smartwatch mostly as a platform to deliver notifications, then you will surely like what the Time has to offer.

Retail package

The Pebble Time comes in a rather understated retail box. Inside it, you will find the smartwatch, a USB charging cable, and a quick start guide.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time

A look at the retail package

It is important to note that the actual retail box of the non-Kickstarter Pebble Time will look a tad more attractive, though its contents will be the same. The Kickstarter variant is a thin cardboard box for easy international shipping.

Swapping the dull silicone band for something more exciting is easy - there is an overwhelming amount of 22mm options to choose from - from rubber, though fabric, all the way to exotic leather options that cost more than the device itself.

Pebble Time

Pebble Time with an aftermarket 22mm band

Pebble has further dedicated $1 million from the Kickstarter funds it gathered to the development of watchbands. Therefore, more choices tailored for the smartwatch are certain to appear in the near future.

Design and build quality

Pebble Time looks "grown up" compared to the original. However, it is still unmistakably a member of the Pebble Family, thanks to the now signature hardware button setup and rectangular body.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time

Pebble Time in the flesh

With the above in mind, we find the design of the newcomer quirky, decidedly casual, but generally appealing. You will certainly enjoy the styling of the Pebble Time more than you will that of the original, which looked like something that came out from a bag of potato chips.

The Pebble Time is available in three different colors - white, red, and black like the unit we tested. Standard interchangeable bands will allow users to let their imagination run wild regarding possible color combos. We won't be surprised if Pebble releases more color options down the line too - it pulled this trick with the original.

Build quality of the smartwatch is overall solid, but don't expect to be wowed. Pebble Time is a plasticky device and the metal bezel does little to hide this fact - the buttons of the smartwatch are particularly at fault on this instance.

The display of the smartwatch is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The latter should be sufficient to prevent it from scratching in most scenarios.

A Pebble Time Steel due to arrive next month will certainly appeal to those who are looking for a more premium finish. As its name suggests, It will feature a body made of stainless steel, coupled with a leather or metal band (both will be included in the retail package).

One major trump card that the Pebble Time has over its smartwatch competitors is water resistance. The wearable can be submerged in a water depth of up 30 meters of water. That's a feat that neither Apple Watch, nor any Android Wear device can boast about. We can easily see this one shape up as the preferred smartwatch for swimmers.

With measures of 40.5 x 37.5 x 9.5mm and 42.5 grams of weight, the Pebble Time is a comfortable device to wear on a daily basis. The bundled silicone strap in particular is surprisingly comfy and easy to maintain.

Pebble Time

A wrist shot of the Pebble Time

Display

The 64-color LCD e-paper display of the Pebble Time is manufactured by Japan Display Inc and utilizes memory-in-pixel technology. The LED-backlit unit has a resolution of 168 x 144 pixels and pixel density of 182ppi.

Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time
Pebble Time

The display of the Pebble Time

Sharpness of the screen is below average for a smartwatch today and so is its color reproduction. Sunlight legibility however is impressive thanks to the e-paper nature of the display.

Visibility actually decreases indoors, but that's what the LED backlight is for. It is automatic, though you can also activate it with a shake of your wrist.

Overall, the display of the Time is a typical Pebble affair. It does the job on every occasion with no fuss and focus on energy efficiency.

Battery life

This is an area where the Pebble Time literally wipes the floor with the competition. While Apple Watch and Android Wear users barely make it through a full day of use if at all, the Pebble Time lasts up to a week on a single charge.

We were a tad skeptical about Pebble's claim during the announcement of the device. However, after spending time with the watch, we easily made it though a week without recharging. In our testing, we used the smartwatch daily from 8am to about midnight.

post from sitemap