Pebble review: Two weeks with a smartwatch

April 21, 2013
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After what seemed like a wait that took forever, my Pebble smartwatch was finally delivered on April 6. That means I have now been wearing the watch for two weeks time and as such, I have some thoughts to share. I am still wearing my Pebble today, which should say something. I will also risk giving a spoiler in the beginning by saying that I really do like my Pebble. But to balance that a little bit, I am not able to say the Pebble is perfect and honestly I am not even sure how comfortable I would be offering a recommendation at this time.

Just to give a bit of a background here, I waited until almost the last day before I made the commitment on Kickstarter. Looking back I am not sure what I was waiting for, however I didn't back the project until May 8, 2012. That meant I paid $115 for a Black Pebble and became one of the 40,799 that were originally hoping for a delivery in September 2012. We all understand how that story went, so I will not venture down that road any further than just to say I am glad they held back and produced a quality watch as opposed to shipping junk and making the original delivery date. For that, I thank the folks at Pebble.

I will also go on the record here as not really being a watch guy. I have, and have been wearing other watches, but I have never really been into the fancy or expensive side. In fact, the Pebble may be the most expensive watch that I have ever worn. I have your standard Timex sports watch along a near 10 year old Fossil watch and a Russian military watch which you can see below. Basically, I like the Pebble because I am a tech and gadget geek, not a watch geek.

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Keeping on the topic of thanking the folks at Pebble, I should also thank them for helping me prioritize my smartphone use. You see, I was one of those who grabbed his phone as soon as it beeped and/or vibrated. I had to know what that message was, and without getting into those issues, I will say that Pebble has helped me prioritize. You see, now I can simply look at my watch and see what the message was all about. The truth here, looking at the message on my phone was never really the issue. The issue instead came from me jumping from that message into other things. Now with Pebble I can see the message and be done.

Basically, Pebble helps me to prioritize when my phone needs to come out of my pocket and when it can stay in my pocket. A recent trip out (wearing my Pebble) and I noticed that while my smartphone may have been in my pocket most of the day, the same cannot be said for those who were around me. In that respect it is a shame everyone isn't using a Pebble at the moment. But this is where the recommendation question seems to fit in -- would I feel comfortable suggesting someone buy a Pebble?

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More on whether I would suggest others buying a Pebble in a moment, for now lets get into some of my thoughts after two-weeks of daily use beginning first with the official Pebble app. This is a decent enough app, but in truth it doesn't do all that much. Instead I have used the third party Pebble Notifier app from day one and would suggest all Pebble users (if you haven't already), make sure you check out that app. The Pebble Notifier app is simple to use and allows for quite a bit more in terms of notifications. Basically, the Pebble Notifier app lets you send notifications from every app installed on your phone as opposed to the basics that come from the official Pebble app.

Just to give an idea, you can see a bit of what the Pebble Notifier app looks like in the above (three image) gallery. It is fairly straight forward to use and really just amounts to you checking the box next to the app you want notifications from. The official Pebble app on the other hand has a bit more to go through to really tweak the settings. That is not to say it is difficult to use, it is just that it requires a few additional taps. We should also point out, the official Pebble app, despite not living up to our every expectation, does what it should and does it well. You can get a look at the official Pebble app in the below (six image) gallery.

The Pebble is comfortable to wear. I would say that I have smaller wrists and with that taken into consideration, the Pebble still fits well and it doesn't feel overly heavy. The waterproofing seems to be good. I have rinsed the watch in the sink a few times and even had it on for a shower or two. No issues that I can see, however the waterproofing is also good for other reasons -- notably being a runner in the hot and humid state of Florida. Basically that is to say it is not uncommon to be caught in a rainstorm during the summer months and well, there is also the issue of sweat.

So far I have been getting about 5 days between charges which makes me pretty happy. Its not the full 7, but it is much better than some of the other estimates I have seen. I have the Pebble paired with my Samsung Galaxy S III and have not noticed any big hit on the battery life of the phone. I should also say that I am also a regular Bluetooth user. My phone pretty much always has an active Bluetooth connection given I also use a Fitbit and wireless headphones. The Pebble seems to hold connection without issue and will easily reconnect if for some reason it drops. So far I have only seen the connection drop for two reasons -- the first is when I reboot my phone and the second is when I venture out with either the phone or the watch, but not both.

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After two weeks of use I can say that I am fully into the Pebble. In fact, I am really happy with the purchase and plan to keep wearing it day in and day out. The catch here though, for now I will say this, as much as I like my Pebble, I am not sure I could recommend it at the moment. You see, that decision comes to price. I think the price is really sweet at $115, but I am not sure I can say the same at the current pre-order price of $150.

I did replace the band on my Pebble, which added an additional $10 to my overall commitment, however, even comparing $125 to $150 and that seems a big jump for what Pebble can do at the moment. The silver lining here is how that will hopefully change with future support and new features down the road. It also doesn't hurt that it almost feels like my Pebble was free, and just to clarify that statement, by that I simply mean that I paid for it so long ago that the price doesn't seem as important to me at the moment. Remember, Pebble funded back on May 18, 2012 -- just shy of one year ago.

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I will also say that based on what I heard direct from Pebble, as well as what I have read in other reviews -- the watch has lived up to my expectations. Of course, on the flip side I am hoping to see some apps come available. We have seen details of RunKeeper, but that would just be a start. Take for example the current music functionality, I would like something more. The watch is able to play/pause and even skip tracks when using my music player of choice, Slacker, however it doesn't show any track details. A Fitbit app would also be a plus. But you get it, there are likely many apps I could think of in this category so I will just leave it as a general -- I hope this improves over time.

Shifting away from apps and additional Pebble features would also be nice. There is the often complained about alerts -- Pebble currently only shows one. In this case, each new alert wipes out the previous alert. It would be nice to have the build up. Given this is a watch, improved alarms would also be a real perk. At the moment there is an alarm function, but it is pretty basic. Keeping on this being a watch and a countdown timer or stopwatch function would also be stellar.

Bottom line here, Pebble is not perfect at the moment, but it does work really well for what it does. I also believe (or like to hope) that Pebble will only improve over time. As for the uncertainty on the recommendation, that really just comes down to whether you can afford and are willing to shell out $150.


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  • Robert McKenzie

    Nice review .. I’ve also had my Pebble a similar time frame as you. Here’ some things I’ve found with it ..

    For better alerts and more alerts, check out Augmented Smartwatch Pro (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.alk.k9&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsImNvbS5hbGsuazkiXQ..) This provides tons of features including custom menu access so you can use Tasker to have the watch do more for you.

    I have been betting closer to the 7 days, but one period time the watch only last 3 days, I had a ton of facebook updates that week and it really killed it..

    It is a great bit of tech and can’t wait to see what comes once the full SDK is finally released for it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robertnelson Robert Nelson

      Hadn’t seen that app yet, I will have to give it a look.

  • http://www.facebook.com/esiemens Eldon Siemens

    Two months now and I absolutely love my Pebble. Pebble Notifier was quickly installed and setup, working perfectly and using the Pebble app only for updates and watchface selection. I use a second-less watchface to keep down the ‘refresh’ actions, as well as fewer notifications, and turned off the backlight, and while I haven’t paid too much attention to it, only charge it every 10-12 days when the low battery indicator comes on

    • http://www.facebook.com/robertnelson Robert Nelson

      10-12 days is wonderful. I think a big issue for me may be the backlight, I have the motion enabled so it often comes on. Still, I am happy with 5 days.

  • ergu

    “Shifting away from apps and additional Pebble features would also be nice. There is the often complained about alerts — Pebble currently only shows one. In this case, each new alert wipes out the previous alert. It would be nice to have the build up.”

    WTF, are you in 8th grade? That is some terrible writing. “There is the often complained about alerts?” Derp?

    • Claude

      I hope those up votes are from you to yourself, you pedantic TROLL. And the all-caps troll is on purpose, because I “shouted” the word at you, and the run on sentence, sir I will not say is me biting my thumb at thee, but I do indeed bite my thumb ….lurking under the bridge between one intelligent comment and the next …. “Why do they do that?” …,

      • ergu

        Yelling and thumb-biting is no way to go through life, son.

    • DolphinWheel

      Hey numbnuts, he missed one word. Are, he said is instead on accident. Chill your prepubescent balls.

      • ergu

        Why the strange obsession with my testes?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.hensiek Jeff Hensiek

    been waiting for my Pebble order. (6 months and counting.)

  • Amanda

    I didn’t see any post from women, or I couldn’t tell. And not that it matter much, except for the fact that I have very small wrist, about 6″. You mention you could buy other watch bands, so that may take care of it but I am concerned about the watch face it self. Have you had any problems with the watch face, do you think it will look to big on a women ?