Pebble Time is an interesting smartwatch. This is a bit different from anything else out there in the sense that it’s super low-tech. There’s absolutely nothing flashy about it. As far as smartwatches go, this is as barebones as it gets, but is that bad thing?
I’ve been wearing Pebble Time for about a week now and being an owner of the last generation, this was extremely easy to get used to. Pebble Time’s design is thinner, lighter, and more comfortable to use than its predecessor. It definitely feels like a second generation product, but still feels a bit behind in certain areas when compared to Apple Watch or Android Wear. The materials being used are mostly plastic, but there is a nice metal bezel around the outside (of the inner bezel) and Gorilla Glass covering the screen. Pebble Time is also water-resistant and feels quite durable.
Pebble Time features a colored backlit e-paper display, that’s easy on the eyes and works good enough to make your way through the menus and options Pebble Time has to offer. The company’s new Time OS is a re-imagining of the software you’ll use to navigate it. Everything on Pebble Time is controlled with four buttons. Animations are snappy and fun and the interface is very smooth, but you won’t find any touch screen here.
Check out our Pebble Time review video below:
One of the main features here is Pebble’s Timeline. This is accessed from the main screen using the up and down buttons on the right side. This is essentially just a look into the past and future based on your calendar events. From an event you can dig deeper to find out more information about it or you can remove it. I never found much use for it, but it’s a handy feature to have.
Within the Pebble Time companion app, you’ll find additional watch faces that can be downloaded, along with third-party apps for things like Twitter, Philips Hue, and Nest to name a few. The companion app is very straight forward and easy to use and apps can be arranged in a custom order. Pebble’s developer community is pretty strong and there’s a lot to discover here, but I really only ever cared about having notifications on my wrist.
The main reason I used Pebble Time was for notifications. When each notification arrive, you’ll feel a solid short vibration on your wrist. Unfortunately, it’s quite limited when compared to native smartwatch solutions on both iOS and Android, but one thing is clear: Pebble Time is much more useful if you’re using an Android device. A lot of what makes this a good smartwatch is currently unavailable for iOS users.
Three major things about Pebble Time and iOS that are annoying:
- There’s no granular control of notifications on iOS. It’s all or nothing here, unless you’d like to disable those app’s notifications on your iPhone as well.
- There’s no way to prevent your iPhone from buzzing if notifications are being displayed on Pebble Time.
- There are currently no voice replies using Pebble Time’s build in microphone.
To be fair, I think these limitations might have to do with restrictions in iOS. Pebble notes that voice replies to Gmail notifications are coming soon, but currently there’s nothing else to look forward to with Pebble Time on iOS. On Android, this is a completely different experience. Everything I’ve mentioned works great across all compatible apps and services. Pebble Time’s voice dictation feature will work with hundreds of apps already available on Android.
One other annoying aspect of Pebble Time’s software is that you need to press the center button twice to dismiss a notification. It’s a minor thing, but I’d like a one-click solution here. If you don’t dismiss the notifications as they arrive, they will remain visible on your device. However, you can go through the notifications list in Pebble Time and dismiss all of them at once.
The best feature Pebble Time has to offer is its battery life. I used Pebble for four days straight and still had 40% battery life. Regardless of anything that’s limiting Pebble Time’s functionality, there’s definitely nothing standing in the way of battery life.
The real story here centers around the new hardware and software design. It’s nice for sure, but not the prettiest looking smartwatch available. Here’s the bottom line: Is Pebble Time a must-have smartwatch? Nope. Are there better solutions available? Yep. Pebble Time only set me back around $180, but I’d rather pay a bit more (or less in the case of certain Android Wear devices) for something that offers native integration on either iOS or Android. I’m sure software updates will improve Pebble Time in the future, but as for now, it feels like it’s stuck in the past.