The original Pebble is simply put one of the best smartwatches on the market. Unfortunately, the body style and design leave a little something to be desired.
There’s no denying the fact that the case looks clunky and well… incredibly geeky. That’s why it came as a welcome surprise when Pebble announced their latest models which feature stainless steel bodies instead of the chintzy plastic.
Pebble Steel Review
Even though it looks nicer, there’s still the question: is the Pebble Steel worth your hard earned money? Let’s take a closer look to find out
|Pebble Steel Review|
To be honest, there really isn’t too much different about the steel model with exception to a couple new tweaks. That doesn’t mean there’s no reason to purchase one. In fact, this is the Pebble we all know and love in a much more beautiful form factor. If you already own the original Pebble, I would venture to say the redesign alone is enough to upgrade.
The Pebble Steel includes the same 144×168 e-paper display with an LED backlight that is perfectly visible even in sunlight. The same UI and four button physical controls are used. The same magnetic charging port, and bottom left location have been used. Even the battery life is the same, rated at five to seven days depending on usage patterns.
So, what is new then? Well, the design is new. With the metal watchface you now get a stainless steel band and a leather wriststrap – if you’d prefer that. There are a couple of models available, one in a dark steel and the other in a more traditional silver color. The Steel also includes a small indicator light that will alert you when the device is being charged. Of course, in true Pebble style the LED can also be utilized by devs when they build apps for the device.
- Overall: 4.5/5 – the Pebble Steel is – hands down – one of the best smartwatches currently on the market
The original plastic build has been ousted for a stainless steel exterior. It’s not just the original Pebble that uses durable plastic either, lots of other smartwatch models have been manufactured with similar materials. It goes without saying the Pebble Steel is leaps and bounds better for that reason alone. Adding to that, if you decide to use the stainless steel wristband instead of the leather one, the entire watch is durable not just the watchface.
The watchface also includes Corning Gorilla Glass which is scratch resistant. It bodes well for the Pebble display, which would have otherwise been the weak point in the overall design. It means that not only is the watch body durable, but the display is just as strong. When you couple that with the fact that the Pebble is waterproof up to 5 atm you pretty much have a nigh indestructible watch. The Pebble Steel is viable device for any lifestyle, whether that be an active one or not.
- Build: 5/5 – both the watchface and the stock bands are of excellent quality, the stainless steel body is certainly durable
Have you taken a look at the smartwatch market lately? Very few smartwatches are what you would consider “desirable” in terms of aesthetics. Although the Pebble Steel still features a masculine design, it’s undoubtedly a very attractive device.
The Pebble Steel works great even with a suit and tie. That alone sets it apart from a lot of the other watches currently available. It is neither geeky nor nerdy. I would even venture to say no one would have a clue you’re wearing a smartwatch unless you show them, or use it with them watching. It looks just like a normal wristwatch. It is exactly what the smartwatch market has been missing. The Pebble steel is actually a piece of jewelry that anyone can and will wear.
If you have never had an affinity for stainless steel watches then the Pebble Steel is not going to interest you that much. That being said, it has style – it looks damn sexy.
- Design: 5/5 – finally, a smartwatch that you won’t be embarrassed showing off to friends and wearing in public
With dozens, if not hundreds of unique watchfaces to choose from you can change the look and feel of the clock. Want an analog clock? No problem. Want a digital clock? No problem. Want a custom face with Robocop in the background? No problem.
The stock watch faces are remarkable, but there are so many custom faces to download it’s mind boggling. The Pebble Steel tells time beautifully, and the black and white screen elements look better than ever accented by the black bezel and steel frame.
As mentioned above, the Steel also comes with both a stainless steel and leather band out of the box. You can switch between the two quickly and easily, but if you want a completely different band you can install another one provided it’s the right size.
- Customization: 5/5 – the stock watch faces, multiple watch bands and a limitless app store, they’ve got it nailed so far
In terms of functionality, the Pebble Steel is identical to the original Pebble. If you’ve ever used the previous model, then you know exactly how the Steel works. Pebble has adopted this minimal approach which essentially dumbs down everything the watch does. While it may not seem obvious to those that have never used one, the idea is pretty simple.
For example, for fitness applications the Pebble basically uses the GPS on your connected smartphone to track your progress. That being said, it can’t actually perform those duties on its own – it needs to be connected to a smartphone. This really won’t be too much of a problem for most people in fact a lot of Pebble users will never take advantage of the fitness features. The point is just that the original Pebble – and now the Steel – has its limitations.
The main reason to own a smartwatch is that it will pair directly with a smartphone and deliver notifications and alerts right on your wrist. We’ve repeated that statement several times here at Smartwatches, so much that we now sound like a broken record.
The thing is, the Pebble gives prominence to all notifications and alerts – and it does a great job. There are certain scenarios where this may cause problems however. For example, let’s say your hands are full and you’ve been receiving text and email alerts for the last few minutes. You also want to check the time quickly, but save the alerts later. The notifications take precedence over the screen, and the only way to view the time is to dismiss them. Unfortunately, after you dismiss them you can’t get them back – the notifications anyway.
- Functionality: 4/5 – the same Pebble functionality as the original, one of the best smartwatches on the market but still lacking in some areas
When it comes to using the Pebble with iOS 7, the push notifications pretty much just work. All you need to do is pair the watch with your phone, install any updates available and off you go! Any alerts that appear in the notification center will also by synched to the watch.
Android on the other hand requires you to install a third party app – such as Pebble Notifier – to get advanced notifications on your watch. Of course, the basic alerts will go through on their own but I’m willing to bet you have another app or two that you’d like to recieve notifications for. The downside is that you need to go through several apps to get what you want. The positive to that is you can control exactly which notifications show up on your device – thus allowing you to trim some of the excess fat.
- Compatibility: 4/5 – with the requirement of 3rd party apps for Android and the potential for your clock to go away, there is room to improve
All in all, the Pebble Steel is an excellent watch that can be both as simple or advanced as you want it to be. If you just want to wear a watch that pulls notifications from your smartphone, while looking good then the Pebble Steel is ideal for that. On the other hand, if you want a smartwatch that has a huge selection of customization options and can be tweaked to high hell then the Pebble is also great for that. Long story short, the Pebble Steel is – hands down – one of the best smartwatches currently on the market.