Pebble has been my first and most prized possession of 2014. It has lived on my wrist since January 2014 and only comes off for charging. At times, it has undergone the charging therapy on the wrist too (via the small power bank). This little gadget also marked the beginning of the writer in me (if at all blogging is considered as writing). Check out my first review Pebble watch. Pebble in plastic, lacked the formal dressing essence. Pebble came out with the 2nd generation of Pebble watch. This was to fill the gap left by the Original Pebble (OG), they made this in Steel. Pebble Steel was also squared and had two band choices - leather and steel. Both the bands were packed in the retail packaging. Both, the band choice and Steel frame impressed the white collared working professional.
This April, Pebble announced Pebble Time. Technically, it is the 3rd generation of Pebble. Pebble Time, is a huge improvement from the 1st and 2nd generation. Pebble Time has a colour display, underneath a Gorilla in a steel cage (a gorilla glass 3 surrounded with a stainless steel bezel). Even with all the gorilla and the steel caging, Pebble Time maintains the slim.
Pebble Time is a smartwatch which best competes with both Android Wear and Apple Watches at the same time. The features that set it apart from the two top platforms are — always on display, sunlight readability and amazing battery life. These are primarily the reasons I'm staying away from Moto 360 (my favourite), a killer smartwatch and attracts me every time I look at it. There are few sections where Pebble Times lacks — better integration with iOS (partly Apple is responsible), WiFi access and ability to control the phone via watch.
Personally, if you are new to the smartwatch world, Pebble Time is a promising first step. Pebble has never intended to replace the phone on the wrist via the smartwatch. This still holds true with Pebble Time. Pebble in the only smartwatch that functions with both Android and iOS. The Pebble Time, might not carry the fancy features of Android Wear or the swanky Apple Watch, but it does the job of notifying very well. While each of these platforms only promote themselves via Android Wear and Apple Watch OS.
The shortcomings are huge if you are used to Android Wear or the Apple Watch, however, Pebble wins. The week long battery, always on display and sunlight readability makes a huge difference for me (or a heavy user).
What stays (Original Pebble to Pebble Time)
One feature which has really made me go casual with the original Pebble is being Water Resistant. This has continued to stay with the latest Pebble Time too. Interestingly, Pebble took good care of keeping the internals safe. This even with the added microphone opening for voice notes on Pebble Time. The Pebble has survived white water rafting, shower, swimming and even bathing the kids (they really enjoy pouring water on the Pebble during bath). Pebble Time continues to keep the excitement, along with being a new watch for them.
Another area where Pebble Time and Original Pebble outshines is Battery life. Pebble promises to make you forget your charger, literally! Pebble Time has a promised battery backup of 7 days, and mine continues to survive for 5 days. I get lot of notifications and I'm not biased. Interestingly, while testing the battery performance, I noticed Pebble Time survived the full day with 10% battery (close to 14 hours) and then later disconnected itself from the phone and survived another 5-6 hours on a standby mode (only to function as a watch).
Pebble Time stands by the focus of being a non gimmicky notification device and this continues from original Pebble. Pebble Time is totally worth the upgrade from the original iteration while keeping the best features intact. For Android its quite simple. For iOS it needs a little better understanding of how to get it past the Apple's fort-knox architecture, but it works.
Readability of Pebble Time has been inherit from the OG. The display is always ON. Pebble did add the colours but kept the power consumption closer to the OG.
The biggest update for Pebble Time is the Coloured Display. While it may not be as advanced as the display on - Apple Watch & Android Wear, but it's appreciated. Pebble Time supports only 64 colours (do not confuse 64bit colours). The display is packed under the toughness of the Gorilla Glass 3. It keeps it safe from the scratches which the OG Pebble suffered after a while. The coloured display and the glass are surrounded by the Stainless Steel bezel (quite surprising as the rest of the body is plastic). Pebble Time is a tad bit Slimmer and has a Curved back. The curve is subtle, but perfect enough make Pebble Time rest snuggly on the wrist. (sexy tones can be added here)
The physical layout of Pebble Time is similar to OG Pebble. The buttons positioning is still the same. There is a small hole beneath the buttons on the right. This is where the Microphone is placed. The microphone is really handy when responding to the messages/emails. Pebble Time converts the voice to text on the watch, displays the converted text and send the same as a response. The promo for Pebble Time did show the option of adding voice notes to self via the microphone, which seems to be part of the future updates currently.
Another change to the physical layout is the left side. The charging port is no longer there. Pebble Time supports the charging ports at the back of the watch. This is done for a reason rather than just convenience. The charging port is capable to power off devices. These devices can be embedded in the bands, called as SmartBands. These smartbands can be enabled to power inbuilt GPS, extra battery, or gesture support. SmartBands is the concept supported by Pebble but not manufactured by them currently. Really looking forward to the possibilities of the smartBands.
With the introduction to smartbands, Pebble Time also changed the regular bands. The 22mm band on the Pebble Time has Quick Release mechanism. Making it super simple to switch between supported bands. In case, you wish to switch to a regular band, you need to ensure that you have the spare watch pins.
Pebble went an extra step, creating a new phone application called Pebble Time for both Android & iOS. This application similar to the origin Pebble app, with more categories and better watchface and watchapps manager. The application now allows switching watchface from the phone. The watchapps can now be aligned from the phone application itself.
One feature that makes Pebble Time standout is the ability to load few too many watchface and watchapps. The limit of 8 on Pebble has been overcome. This leads to having a longer list of watchfaces available to style the Pebble Time.
Pebble Time also introduced the feature of Timeline. This enhances the navigation menu and makes it more useful. The Down button shows the Future events of the day along with the weather information. The Up button, shows the missed events like Missed Calls, SMS or past events. It takes a while to get use to this navigation, since on the OG Pebble the buttons helped switch the watchfaces directly without going into the menu.
Animations is another visual treat added to the software enhancements. The animations are seen for both navigation and actions on Pebble Time. The Charging notifications is also animated as the refilling of the coffee cup while its charged. On completion the full cup is closed with the lid and loaded to last few days.
Pebble might be a perfect choice of a smartwatch from others in the market. There are still some areas which Pebble Time needs to get addressed.
Pebble needs to have the option to *control the backlight *on/off based on the time of the day. Since Pebble Time is always on display, I really don't need to have it backlit while the sun is shining bright. This should be quite simple via Settings on the watch itself, just like how I can control to turn off the notifications during sleep hours.
One visual challenge is the font size on Pebble Time. It's really small to read. Due to the animation treat, the display is 2/3rd covered by the app icon for the notification and the content is small to read. The option to choose between the Small or Large font is also missing from Pebble Time settings.
Update: Recent update to the firmware for Pebble Time brought few enhancements. There are options to choose the Font size, select vibration intensity, backlight display and notifications settings.
Pebble has always made it a point to put across, their focus is only smartwatch. This is proved once again with Pebble Time. Pebble Time is totally worth the money if you are not looking for anything with fancy LCD touch screen flashing swanky colours. It stands committed on delivering notifications to your wrist.
The addition of the Coloured Display with Voice to text feature are definitely the added advantage over the previous generations. Pebble Time maintains the top features of - water resistance, long battery life and compatibility with Android and iOS.
Pebble Time is now available for $199 via the official website GetPebble.com. Also Best Buy (in US) has it in store for pickup for the traditional shoppers.
It's time to invest in the affordable and no gimmick smartwatch. It's time for Pebble Time!
PS: Pebbles in the family :)