The price slash of Pebble smart watches after the announcement of Apple Watch was just too enticing. After reviewing the fairly simple website at getpebble.com, I decided that I had to get it. Shipping was free but it was via snail mail and thus took 2 weeks before I finally got my hands on it. You can pay US25 to get it couriered to you via DHL.
My initial fear that it would be too large for my small wrists was quickly diminished. It was very light as compared to my earlier Tissot watch. I had almost forgotten how light a watch can be since wearing a Casio digital watch ages ago. It almost feels like a toy.
One of the reasons I got the Pebble was the reportedly longer battery life. It was ridiculous to have to charge your phone everyday and it could only last you a day. I would certainly sometimes have no access to charging points for more than 24 hours. So the fact that other smart watches can barely last a day was just out of the question. Pebble boasts up to 7 days of battery life. Since having it, I could go a full 5 weekday without having to charge. Even then, it did not die on me. So battery life is a great bonus.
The e-ink display is crisp and is clearly visible even without the back light. So it almost looks like a usual watch. You do not have to lift your hand or move your wrist to activate the backlight to see the time. I did have an opportunity to see some Android wear which turns on only when you move your wrists, to save power that is. If you need that back light in near darkness, a flick of the wrist will activate it for about 2 seconds. It rarely comes on with usual movements, which I heard is a problem for many Android wear devices.
The apps in the store is abundant. Most have very simple functionalities. Do not expect a smartphone on your wrists. The fitness apps are a big bonus utilising the accelerometers in the Pebble. I have been using Misfit and it syncs with the Misfit app on iOS and also to HealthKit. Here are some of the other apps that I find great.
1. Swarm – to check in quickly with your watch.
2. Evernote – to view some reminders or checklist without taking out your phone.
3. Pebble Notes – syncs your notes from the app on your phone to your watch. So you can almost write anything.
4. Smartwatch+ – I use it to view my Google Calendar quickly. It also comes with remote camera control functions and much more.
5. Simple GPS – great for getting directions especially when traveling. Just look at your watch and not your phone.
Never forget the large number of watch faces. You can have a new watch face every day.
The Pebble app enables you to sync almost seamlessly. It does limit you to 8 apps but you can store some less used apps in the locker and recall them when you need it back on your watch. It is just shuffling them around in the app.
The notification is a big bonus. I rarely miss a call these days. There were many occasions where I felt the vibrations on my wrist but hardly felt it in my pocket where the phone was. It is great when you are caring for your children and you do not need to fumble for your phone while you attend to your kids. The flipside is if you do not manage your notifications well, you might be overwhelmed with the number of vibrations on your wrists. You can set your notifications appropriately.
The downside of Pebble is that it does not have color and the functionalities are limited and is not meant to replace your smartphone just yet. If your vision is less than ideal, then sometimes looking at the watch can be a challenge as the characters can be small. Although some apps allow you to construct short replies or tweets, you would not want to “type” on the phone. Trust me, you will be frustrated by the experience.
All in all, for the price and functionalities, it is worth your dollars. With the Pebble Steel, it is likely going to give it a more “refined” look. It will cost US100 more though.
It is no wonder that Pebble has sold hundreds of thousands of watches. Unless Apple Watch can improve on battery life, Pebble is always going to have that advantage for a watch.