The first smartwatch I owned was a Pebble Classic, the second edition, gifted by my sister. I used it for well over a year and was very happy for one main reason: this was a great watch at the end of the day.
The first smartwatch I owned was a Pebble Classic, the second edition, gifted by my sister. I used it for well over a year and was very happy for one main reason: this was a great watch at the end of the day. And it is this simple logic that drives Pebble, which gave the world the first really smartwatch, even today.
The Classic Pebble was a simple plastic watch that drew no one’s attention, but still gave you the advantage of some smart numbers and notifications on your wrist. The newer Pebbles add more features, but without overwhelming the user with apps or data. And the Pebble Time Steel is the top of the range watch from the company.
What is good?
A Pebble just works, it is more like a watch in that aspect. So the battery life even on its top end version is at least seven days. And that is despite the colour display and fitness tracking. So the times when you wear a Pebble and
realise it has no juice will be few and far between.
The user interface is as simple as it can get on something that has smart in its name. There are four buttons and you can use these to control everything on the watch. For the rest, you have the Pebble app on the phone with access to controls, more apps and watchfaces. And, yes, the animations are fun.
There are some good additions with this model. For one there is fitness and sleep tracking, which is integrated natively to the smartphone through the Apple Health and Google Fit apps. So you get all types of data based on the hardware capabilities. The data does not sync on the Apple Activity app, but details do show up on the Health app. On the watch you can keep track of steps, though it does not show up as distance. There is sleep tracking too, but I was not at all comfortable wearing a smartwatch to bed. I did test it though and it does work.
Another interesting new app is Voice Notes. There is a small microphone on this watch that lets you dictate notes which the app notes down. The app is very accurate and you can use these to set
reminders. You can also use many other third party apps that sync the phone too—I personally have loved using Endomondo on the Pebble.
What is not so good?
I am not a big fan of the Comic Sans type font the UI has. I would have loved for there to be a settings tweak to let me use other fonts and styles. The UI is very simple, maybe a bit too simple. On the homescreen, the up down buttons can be used only to scroll through your calendar, while you have to use the middle button to enter the apps.
It is time wearable makers put their minds together on creating a standard for chargers. The Pebble just adds another charger to my long list of these cables. The gold and red colour review unit, was not something I want to show off on my wrist. So be careful about the colour combinations you choose.
Should you buy?
The Pebble Time Steel is one of the best smartwatches you can buy, even if it is not the smartest. But the simple truth is that most users don’t use most of the features in a smartwatch. Maybe this is all you need: a Pebble watch that has just the right measure of smartness.
Estimated street price: Rs 15,999