Pebble Time Smartwatch Review: Is It a Good Purchase in 2019?

Pebble Time Smartwatch: Is it a good purchase?

Product Name: Pebble Time Smartwatch

Overall Rank: 2/5

Price: $129.99

Best Place To Buy: Amazon (click here for direct link)

Guarantee: None, unless the reseller gives one.


Intro

As you may know, Fitbit has recently (about 2 years ago) acquired the smartwatch maker Pebble for an amount of $23 million to help them increase their strength and position in the wearable market. Fitbit was initially producing fitness trackers but since this purchase, they have developed two models of smartwatches named the Versa or the Ionic. They were able to create these two smartwatches because of Pebble’s original platform and ecosystem.

Before passing the lead to Fitbit, Pebble created some great smartwatches launched after a crowdfunded campaign, captivating new users and app developers with his unique style and innovation. One of these well-acclaimed smartwatches was the Pebble Time Smartwatch. A smartwatch with 2D graphics that had great features. They still can be purchased on different web store like Amazon with good comments/reviews.

We are presenting you the Pebble Time Smartwatch review and you will know at the end if you should or shouldn’t purchase this smartwatches. Let’s see if this smartwatch can still be a great purchase or not. Let’s dive in!


What’s in the Box?

Each of the models (Time and Time Steel) comes with a Quick Start Guide (also a pamphlet to download the companion app (iOS or Android) some Pebble stickers and a magnetic charging cable. The magnetic charging cable can be connected to a PC/laptop or a wall charger with USB port.

Hardware and Design

Waterproof (30 meters) Rugged 2D display but not touchscreen

The Pebble smartwatch comes with a 1.25 inch colorful (64 colors) always-on display (Gorilla Glass) that feels tough. The chassis is 0.37 inch (9.5 mm) thin with gray curved aluminum edges. A small issue noted with the gray edges is that it can get scratched easily with normal use but since it is pretty rugged (marine grade stainless steel), you won’t be worry about breaking it. Unfortunately, the display is not touchscreen so this can be a problem for many users (and there’s a lot) that are used to touch the screen to access the menus. The watch is waterproof up to 30 meters a good thing to mention for people that hate removing their watch when taking a shower or running on bad weather.

Note: The display is also named LCD ”e-paper” display, known for low energy consumption.

Tactical buttons and secure strap

Pebble Time Smartwatch strap

The tactical buttons on the side of the smartwatch are easy to use for navigation or to play games (we will talk about app integration later on). There’s a dedicated button on the left side that let you go back in the menus or apps. Each color (black, red and white) available comes with the same display, it’s just the strap and the side buttons that change colors. The strap is 22 mm long and comes with a 2 loops that keeps the buckle secure at all time.

CPU that does the job and Battery Life that Last 7 days

On the hardware side the Pebble Time Smartwatch runs a 100 MHz Cortex-M4 processor making the navigation go smoothly without any lag, thanks to the lightweight Pebble OS. The 150 mAh Lithium-ion battery will give you around a week of battery life depending on the usage and it will take you 2 hours to get recharge it. Not bad if we think about the latest smartwatches in the market like the Galaxy Watch or the Apple Watch 4 Series that stand less than 3 days.

Limited Fitness Features

For the sensors, the Pebble Time Smartwatch uses a three-axis accelerometer, ambient light sensor, compass magnetometer, pedometer and microphone. It also has a vibrating motor that is activated when you get phone notifications or if you have set a custom alarm.

No built-in HR sensor or GPS Tracker

Unfortunately, there’s no heart rate sensor integrated to this smartwatch. A company named TYLV created a HR sensor case compatible with the Pebble smartwatches but the product is not obsolete and many clients are still asking for a refund on Kickstarter.

Automatic tracking but no advanced features

With the automatic tracking (with Pebble Health), you can record ”active minutes” if you go for a run or walk but detailed information is missing. Still, the step counter and the sleep tracker are the features that users seems to like on this watch but in terms of advanced fitness data, you will be disappointed if you want more. You can also activate a timer if you need it for a workout. In general, the accuracy of the sensors is fine but don’t get too excited.

Keep in mind that this smartwatch was never focusing on advanced fitness features (even before Pebble was acquired by Fitbit) but more a ”open source” watch with standard fitness features.

Software and Apps

Since day 1, Pebble OS a ”open source” operating system that lead programmers to create their own watch faces, apps or games compatible with this smartwatch. This is what stand out from the other fitness devices in the past and that’s why the Pebble’s project was well acclaimed on Kickstarter at first, raising more than 10.3M in only 2 days (earning $20.4M by its deadline on 3 March 2015). Games like Mario Bros and Tennis+ or apps like Misfit or PlexFit were all launched making the geek and fitness lover happy.

Click here if you want to see an example of the games available.

Built-in microphone with phone functionalities are a thing of the past…

The built-in microphone was used in the past to reply quickly to text messages or to record voice notes but since the company purchase by Fitbit, the phone carriers have left the boat.

Social apps like Facebook Messenger or Hangouts doesn’t work anymore that this can be frustrating. If you are planning to talk social you will be disappointing. Standard apps like TripAdvisor, Uber, Yelp are still available but nothing exceptional there. You still can download some apps for workouts but don’t get too excited. Misfit is one of the best with Pedometer and Steps but the list is very short.

Since the dead of Pebble’s platform (after Fitbit’s purchase) users lost many features that were available making them angry leaving their smartwatch aside. This was before the creation of Rebble, an unofficial Pebble platform that is trying to offer most of the features and services that were available in the past. If you are a Pebble smartwatch user you probably know that since June 30th 2018 you cannot transfer (manually) your old Pebble account to Rebble’s server. So, you will need to create an account with Rebble and start from scratch.

This was also twitted by Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky last year from his personal account.

Rebble to the rescue with tons of fitness apps and more

Thank god for Rebble! That’s probably what Pebble active users have yell out loud when Rebble was created. This put the credibility of the smartwatch back up and resellers have now a great argument if they want to keep selling the Pebble smartwatch in the near future.

Smartphones compatibility issues?

Since the company was sold to Fitbit 2 years ago, not much has been tested since that day. We are not sure if Android 8+ and iOS 11+ smartphones is 100% compatible. One thing for sure is that your going to miss some features on iOS compared to Android.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

Battery Last 7 days and Fast Charging (2 hours)

Open Source OS that allows you to download watch faces, games and apps made by different programmers and makes the watch unique (did I told you that you can run Mario Bros? ha ha ! )

iOS and Android compatible (some features are missing on iOS)

Waterproof up to 30 meters

The 2D Color e-paper display looks great and animations are cool

Retro style device fun to use (if you love to play games and customize your watch)

Cons:

The display is not touchscreen

No GPS Sensor (GPS strap can be purchased separately).

No Heart Rate Sensor

Limited advanced fitness features

No internal music storage

Voice Recognition and Weather Reports now cost $3/monthly (subscription)

No warranty from Pebble (Fitbit), unless the reseller gives one.

Long term functionality is not 100% sure for now.

For the complete specifications list, please click here.


Conclusion

The Pebble Time Smartwatch is a wearable for people who love gadgets and who like to customize their watch to fit their style and need. The new Pebble community (Rebble) seems to be alive so users will still have apps, games or watch faces to tweak their watch with. Consider this wearable a retro ”open source” smartwatch that will bring you a lot of fun. Period. For the fitness person this watch is not enough. The lack of heart rate sensor and GPS chip don’t make it attractive at all if we compare it to other brands like Amazfit or Huawei.

This smartwatch comes with lot of incertitude in terms of phone compatibility, software and warranty. People love to be secured and without warranty, this is not good. We all know that electronic stuff can last forever but can also break in no time. So is this smartwatch a good purchase? I don’t think so, unless you are a geek that love a funky smartwatch that stand out from the others. If you are looking for something more realiable you can go with the Amazfit Bip just to name one.

You can also check my other smartwatches reviews by clicking here.

Does this retro funky smartwatch could be a great match you? Are you a person that love to customize stuff?

What do you think about the Pebble Time Smartwatch?

Write a quick comment below, it would be awesome!

Thanks for your time!

Have a good one. Al

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About Alvaro ''Al'' Paez

I am a passionate fitness/wearable enthusiastic person who loves to share to the world, news and reviews about what I call fitness wearables. Ive been using wearables since many years and I found they can be a useful tool to improve your health, increase your fitness level and lose weight. There's a fitness wearable for every person. Let me show you the good path! Alvaro ''Al'' Paez.

View all posts by Alvaro ''Al'' Paez →

2 Comments on “Pebble Time Smartwatch Review: Is It a Good Purchase in 2019?”

  1. Hi Alvaro,
    I got my Pebble Steel about six years ago and I wore the buttons out after about two years. I was really unsure if I should upgrade to a Pebble time steel since the company had just been bought by Fitbit.
    I ended up taking a chance and and I’m glad I did. The watch has been working well with daily use for the last two years and the functionalities only dropped off a little bit after transferring to rebble.
    For me the battery life, water resistance, and physical buttons are the key selling points for this. The physical buttons are much more useful to navigate the watch without having to look at the watch face itself. Each button has its own shortcut that you can assign to it so you can Launch several apps just by long pressing one of the four buttons.
    Are used to teach English to children and then I used my Pebble watch to control my Bluetooth speaker. It was so much more convenient to be able to change songs from across the room and not distract students by pulling out a smart phone.
    I know I mainly use it for step tracking in sleep tracking like you mentioned and for getting notifications during the day. Of course I can’t respond to any of the notifications through the watch, but in most cases I am in the middle of something anyway so I wouldn’t be able to respond.
    All in all I am happy with my pebble time steel and I’ll keep on using it until the battery or some of the physical parts die out. If anyone is wondering if they really need all the stuff on an Apple Watch this might be a good buy for them.

    By the way, the Pebble round watch is another interesting smart watch although it’s not really well-suited to fitness. It’s really thin and light and looks a lot more like a regular watch the most smart watches. The battery doesn’t last last as long is other pebbles but it only takes about 45 minutes to recharge fully.

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