Pebble Time review

Pebble Time review

Updated: Useful, affordable, geek chic and now with Pebble Health
Pebble Time

There are some big questions hanging over smartwatches - do we need them?What are they for? How much should they cost?

Pebble's 'thing' has always been to be helpful and stay out of your way and now, with the Pebble Time, it has a new Timeline UI that's already been copied by the Apple Watch.

Read this: Pebble Time v Apple Watch

Is the new $199 Pebble the answer to the smartwatch question? It's one answer and an option worth considering for anyone looking to buy a smartwatch but Pebble is struggling to break away from its geeky origins.

Pebble Time: Geeky design, colour e-paper

First things first, the Pebble looks better in real life than the pics you'll have seen online. The black model is a little boring but will look neat under suit sleeves - for the record, we prefer the red and black Time.

Download them now: The best Pebble watch faces

Admittedly, the Time is plasticky, with a stainless steel bezel, but it retains the toy-like charm of the original Pebble while adding friendlier, more unisex curves. It's very light at just 42.5g including the standard strap, 20% thinner at 9.5mm and the new slightly curved body helps to make it comfortable to wear on the wrist.

Pebble Time review

It's amazing how many smartwatch manufacturers are satisfied with making devices that sit flat on top. The Time is the kind of smartwatch you can forget you're wearing, until it vibrates.

The bezels are wide and this does have the effect of making the screen look tiny - at 1.25 inches it's actually the same size as previous models. Still, the colour e-paper screen livens the Pebble's alerts up compared to the first one though it cleverly reverts to monochrome for boring settings and menus.

The GameBoy Colour comparisons come easily - how you feel about that is a good indicator of how well you'll get on with the Pebble Time. It's quite dim though and even though there is a backlight it can be tricky to read - this is no bright and punchy Android Wear screen, put it that way.

Pebble Time review

The four physical buttons remain and that's no bad thing - anyone who has worn a smartwatch for any period of time knows a reliable button press can be preferable to a swipe that might go astray. And we prefer these to the Steel's buttons, for instance. All round it's a practical package with water resistance down to 50m though we have noticed that the watch scratches rather easily.

Any 22mm watch band will fit the Pebble Time, as before, and a new quick release mechanism (a pin that you slide) means that swapping from Pebble strap to Pebble strap takes just ten seconds. It's actually really fool-proof. Smartstraps with added functions or battery haven't materialised yet but there is a $1m fund for them so these could be the making of Pebble six or twelve months down the line.

Pebble Time: Timeline and UI

Pebble Time review

We had high hopes for Pebble's new OS, especially the Timeline feature, and as we mentioned earlier Apple appears enamoured with the idea since it will soon appear as Time Travel on the Watch. Does it live up to the hype?

There are currently only 13 Timeline ready apps in the Pebble app store but you can begin to see the potential here - downloads like Swarm by Foursquare, fitness and sleep app Morpheuz, and Battery+ battery manager can all push alerts to your upcoming Timeline.

There's still a watch face screen, don't worry, but you can then press the middle button to access the 'present' info like your music player, weather etc. Otherwise, pressing the lower button takes you scrolling back up to 24 hours in the past whereas clicking the top button scrolls up to 48 hours in the future. Yes, it's largely calendar items for now so it's not quite the gamechanger we were hoping for but it could get there.

Each 'card' on the Timeline has a geeky icon, like a clock, and colour background too. It's not pulling in search and location info like Google Now so it's not as suggestive in knowing what you want to see.

But there are some clever elements - notifications will still pop up on screen when they are pushed from your smartphone but these can be managed to be in Timeline, as alerts or both.

Pebble Time review

You can set certain apps or functions to a long press of one of the buttons such as music. Music controls include play/pause and skip and can be set to work with Play Music, Spotify etc but don't reliably show the title of the track you're playing onscreen which is annoying. For skipping between Spotify playlists, you'll have to go third party.

It's worth remembering too that the Pebble Time is iPhone and Android compatible. The new addition of voice replies will only work with Gmail on iPhone versus a whole bunch of apps on Android.

It works surprisingly well with responses to WhatsApp and Facebook messages detected mostly accurately but you don't get much time to speak after it says 'Listening' onscreen. This is for short snippets of dictation only.

Pebble Time: Apps

Pebble Time review

One benefit of the new colour e-paper screen is fresh watch faces with everything from a classy Mondrian style face to Donkey Kong available to adorn your smartwatch. Pebble has also removed the limit for the number of watch faces and apps so you can add a bunch to the Pebble iOS or Android app to swap in and out.

Read this: A beginner's guide to Pebble Health

All the old apps, more than 6,500 of them, will work on the new Pebble Time watches even if they're not in colour. Which is good and a smattering of big names such as TripAdvisor's tidy app for finding nearby restaurants and attractions have made the effort to upgrade.

There's a lot of tat still though and the quality of the apps compatible with the Apple Watch and Android Wear does put Pebble's roster to shame a little.

Pebble Time review

The Time also suffers from the limitations - it won't display images or Vines, for instance, which the Apple Watch can. Part of the reply options include templates (fine) and emojis but these aren't rendered clearly enough to be able to distinguish the faces without really squinting at the watch. Devs won't get into the Pebble game to make beautiful apps then.

If you're interested in fitness, it's worth updating your Pebble Time app and giving Pebble Health a go. Otherwise, Misfit supports Pebble and Jawbone's UP platform does too though it is classed as a watch face not an app.

If you use Android and have another wearable for running, say, you could also use PlexFit which has Google Fit compatibility so everything will be in one place including steps from Pebble. There's no extra sensors such as heart rate monitoring but the third party VU Pulse case adds this functionality.

Pebble Time: Pebble Health

The newest addition to Pebble's features list is Pebble Health which brings native activity and sleep tracking to the Pebble Time, Time Steel and Time Round. Head to our beginner's guide to Pebble Health for how to get going and how we got on with the new platform.

It's worth enabling Pebble Health and giving it a go as it's a simple, easy to use tracking app and it shouldn't impact battery life too much (5 - 10%). The sleep tracking, in particular, is impressively accurate. Plus you get glanceable yellow lines on bar charts indicating how many steps you've usually done by this time of day. Very clever and it could motivate you to move more.

You view everything over four screens in the Health app on the watch itself, with automatic pins to your Timeline for sleep and activity summaries once a day. So there's nothing within the Pebble Time apps, except settings, but you can hook Pebble Health up to Apple Health or Google Fit for weekly and monthly graphs.

Pebble Time: Battery life and charging

Pebble Time review

The promised still-seven day battery life is probably a big reason you're interested in the Pebble Time. We didn't quite get seven days out of it on iPhone or Android. The best we managed was 5/6 days but, to be fair, when reviewing and adding new apps you're likely to perhaps hammer a smartwatch a bit more than usual.

It charges very quickly via a proprietary cable which secures to the pins on the back of the watch more easily than previous Pebbles, a plus point which means you won't think it's charging when it's not. Ultimately we'd like a dock but for now this works.

The battery life is definitely a reason to choose the Pebble Time over Android Wear watches and - if you're interested in using Misfit or Jawbone on Pebble - even some fitness trackers.

Pebble Time
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In fact, that stamina changes the way you use the smartwatch - yes, you can have all your alerts on it, yes you can play games like Pixel Miner without worrying about a blank screen. We're just not sure colour e-paper will satisfy us long term and if you think it will, it might be worth waiting for the Pebble Time Steel which has a longer, 'up to' ten day battery life.

Pebble Time
By Pebble
Ah, Pebble Time. It's a geek chic grower that will fit into your life if you're willing to overlook some shortcomings. It's comfortable, reliable and works with both iOS and Android so you can commit. Timeline is useful and can only get better, Pebble Health turns it into a basic tracker. Voice works. Colour e-paper livens things up a bit and doesn't seem to impact battery life. But it's not quite the answer to the smartwatch question. Now we've seen Now's AI skills on Android Wear and real world partnerships with the Apple Watch, Pebble's combination of keeping things simple and geek-friendly might not be enough for everyone interested in owning a smartwatch in 2015. Plus, don't forget the more premium and longer-lasting Time Steel if the Pebble is on your shortlist.

  • Great battery life (for a smartwatch)
  • Reliable for alerts
  • iOS and Android compatible, good price
  • Needs more quality apps
  • Screen can be tricky to read
  • Limited features


  • NeoVdV says:

    With a $100 difference to the Apple Watch ... I think you better spend that extra for a much better, nicer, more versatile smartwatch !!!

  • Odower says:

    The Apple Watch is really slick, but the Apple Watch is not an option unless you have an iPhone 5 or better. Like previous Pebbles, the Pebble Time works with both Android and iPhones. 

    $100 is not chump change and there is more like $150 difference between the base Pebble Time and cheapest Apple Phone. That's about 1/3 more for the Apple Watch than the base Pebble time. 

    Don't forget 7 days between charges for the Pebble. The 1-2 day run time (if you are lucky) for the Apple Watch and most smart watches is a deal breaker for many people. 

  • ahbap says:

    When Apple made a "revolutionary" new product we have to wait model "2" or "s". Only 1 day battery life??? Apple's new motto "All day long" :) 

    Pebble Time

    + Battery life

    - Needs more app like appstore
    - Motion detect backlight does not work always

  • Susien says:

    I don't know how this smartwatch work, it can make a call?

  • mduckitt says:

    This is why Apple in the end will close your business down and it is sorry as I believe you have a better product but the difference is that Apple ensure that their supply chain and all suppliers they use are world class. I cannot say the same for you, your supply chain and your suppliers are not world class and they are damaging your Brand to the extent that customers will rather walk away from a superior product than dealing with suppliers that demonstrate an utter lack of the importance of Brands and customer service.

    An example if you please> I ordered your new Pebble TIme and you promptly shipped it with DHL Express (For which I paid a pretty penny) it took 2 days to get from Hong Kong to Johannesburg South Africa and yes I was excited so I could track this on the tracking service you provided. After arrival I waited and waited and absolutely nothing happened. No communication from DHL no notifications nothing. After 4 days my patience with them ran out and I tried to contact them, a complete disaster, I have had phones put down, I have experience call center bingo and guess what I still have not received and answer on what is going on. So I asked you would Apple allow this to happen, I think Not.

    So Pebble you can see that as of this moment I am no longer in love with your product and in fact I think you should take it back because you have clearly demonstrated to me that your attention to detail is just not there because if it was you would never ever allowed a supplier like DHL to touch your Brand.

    So please take your Pebble back, refund me my money and we will call it quits and yes I will go and buy an overpriced Apple watch because in the end I know I will leave with a smile instead of suffering a near heart attack.

    • NorthEarth says:

      Wait, isn't that what you get for living at ass end of the earth, like SA?

    • cvc_2k says:

      So Pebble will lose because you live in white racist africa and DHL didn't deliver well where you live?

      What happens when you order Apple? doesn't it come from China? and then it's amazing as you say "I Think apple would not let this happen"... so you don't know... you just write random shit online because DHL doesn't work well in south africa...

      lol... what an ass... as in donkey.

    • JweenyPwee says:

      Lives in one of the worst countries at the literal end of the Earth. Blames Pebble for a shipping company's issues.

      I don't think I've ever said this before, but with all due respect, this opinion is utterly and completely irrelevant.

      "I don't like Toyota because the salesman wore Fruit of the Loom underwear!"

    • JweenyPwee says:

      "I will never buy a Toyota because the guy that mops the floors wears Fruit of the Loom underwear."

      They say everyone has a right to their opinion, but in this case, it is completely and utterly irrelevant.

      Your issue is with DHL having difficulties in one of the worst countries in existence located at the literal edge of the Earth, not Pebble.

  • wear4 says:

    Here's my recent experience ordering from Pebble on line:

    I ordered the Pebble Steel on 7/20/15 with a purchase price of $169.00. A minute or so later I received a confirming email showing a purchase price of $219.00, a difference of $50.00.

    I replied back immediately explaining the problem. Didn't hear back. I also contacted Pebble using their website contact page, again explaining the problem.

    The watch was shipped but refused. My credit card was charged $219.00.   As of todays date they have not processed a credit back to the credit card or sent a confirming email of receiving the watch.

    On 7/27/15 I did receive a reply but no mention about the $50.00 error. Also the tracking information indicated the watch was received back on 7/27/15 and again I have received no email confirming receipt as of todays date. 8/15/15  

    I suspect this company has many challenges ahead.  Maybe it's one guy working out of his garage?

  • maxgrp says:

    it looks pretty but cheap with poor resolution of the round screen. It loses connectivity with nearby iphone all the time and letting you know about it with annoying buzz every few seconds. And forget about using it as the fitness/running monitoring device - it simply not supported by any of the mainstream apps - Endomond, MapMyRun, Strata... And yeah if your Facebook friends are sending your message in some other than english language then you wont see anything readable on the screen, it just not supporting any languages as Russian for example. Verdict: useless and pretty annoying piece of hardware on your hand. Oh, and forget about getting any support from the Pebble - they don't even have a customer service phone number (!) and they would never acknowledge their product sucks. Look for some other wearable tech somewhere else.

  • jimbo696 says:

    I bought a Pebble Time watch and had some problems setting it up. There is almost no instructions in the box it came with. There is also way to contact a person by phone. The only way to get any help is by email and it can be a very long time before they get back to you as in a week. If you need customer support and you can't wait a week, this is not the watch for you.

  • expertmagician says:

    I have had my Pebble Time for about 2 months now and I love it ! It is a great complement to my iPhone 6 Plus running IOS 9.2 Works great !

    Personally, I use it with Misfit all the time, love notifications and voice to text replies are faster using AT&T vs. going through the normal iPhone text messaging service.

    While I wish the screen was brighter, it works well under most lighting and GREAT outdoors in sunlight...and of course, the long battery life is great so I can wear the watch while sleeping to monitor my sleep activity :-)

  • Shrinivas says:

    My pebble time steel konked off within 2 months. It is not charging anymore, getting a replacement also seems tedious about 6 months 3 months to get the charging cable and another 3 months for watch + for all have to pay hefty custom.duty as they don't specify it clearly as replacement. I had ordered both pebble time steel and pebble classic and both of them had issues. Highly disappointed and don't recommend especially for Indians.suffered huge loss instead should have gone for apple or android.

  • Shrinivas says:

    My pebble time steel konked off within 2 months. It is not charging anymore, getting a replacement also seems tedious about 6 months 3 months to get the charging cable and another 3 months for watch + for all have to pay hefty custom.duty as they don't specify it clearly as replacement. I had ordered both pebble time steel and pebble classic and both of them had issues. Highly disappointed and don't recommend especially for Indians.suffered huge loss instead should have gone for apple or android.Only advantages is battery life and fact that u can write ur own apps.Major drawbacks  poor quality, insensitive service. 

  • mcs2315 says:

    Okay... I started out with the first generation Pebble. Loved it. I broke it myself when I 'disassembled it'. ( lol ) In all honesty, I couldn't do without it, so I went to BB and purchased the Pebble Time. I don't understand why anyone would complain about a smartwatch that gives approximately 6 days of battery life, notifies me when the top of the hour is, wakes me up EVERY weekday and shows me instant weather ( using Pebble AllinOne ). In my vocation I touch my phone less using an LG Tone headset and can respond to texts using my voice. It's a utility watch. Not a fashion accessory. I find most negative reviews, and I said most, are from those that suffer from wanting perfection. Oh, if life could only be perfect... I love my watch and will buy another, given the need. It of theirhas all the functionality that a SMARTwatch needs. It's not designed to be an exercise monitor or a computer. It's an extion of your phone. Too bad most people barely know how to use the features of their phones. I recommend if you have an IPhone, go with Apple Watch. It's for people looking for status, not function.

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