Accessory Review: Pebble smartwatch

Pebble

This may not be a traditional accessory review but I thought that would be the best way to tackle this device on Ausdroid. It is not an Android device but it complements your existing Android phone, and that fits my definition of an Android accessory review.

For those of you that don’t follow all of the tech news, Pebble is a smartwatch that started it’s life on Kickstarter and just happens to be the most successful Kickstarter campaign to date, raising over $10M after initially seeking $100,000. It has taken a long time to get to this point and there are still Kickstarter backers waiting for watches along with pre-order customers.

Pebble’s main draw card is the fact that it can act as a second screen for your Android and iOS device and brings notifications right to your wrist. It has other additional features like music controls and if you connect it to an Android device (which you will) you will get the additional benefit of being able to receive every single notification on your watch as well as being able to control your phone right from your wrist, through the use of additional apps.

A lot of people are probably questioning why you would want your watch to vibrate and let you know that you have a text message or an email and I must admit that this watch is not for everyone. I however love the idea of being able to take a quick glance at my wrist and decide that it isn’t a message that needs immediate attention and forget about it until a more convenient time.

Pebble is available in five different colours: Black, Red, Orange, Grey and White and below are some quick specs / features of the pebble:

  • Load apps using Bluetooth
  • 144 x 168 pixel display black and white e-paper
  • Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR and 4.0 (Low Energy)
  • 4 buttons
  • Vibrating motor
  • 3 axis accelerometer with gesture detection

Pebble has been rated as water resistant up to five atmospheres, has a claimed battery life of 7+ days and is compatible with most 22mm watch bands.

I decided to grab a black pebble and I have been really impressed with the design and quality so far. It is a rather large watch and I have rather thin wrists, but I don’t feel that it is too big. I wouldn’t want it to be any bigger though. It is light, comfortable to wear has a beautiful display that you can see in any light conditions. The display isn’t super crisp though but it is a rather low resolution so I wasn’t expecting anything special but how often to do stare at your watch for an extended period of time? The four buttons on the Pebble are well laid out with three buttons for up, down and select on the right and a back button on the left. The buttons have a very nice feel to them and don’t feel like they are going to break any time soon.

Setup is super simple even though the only instructions that are included say “Get started at go.getpebble.com”. The site explains everything you need to know to get started and it is as simple as downloading the pebble app from the Play Store and then just following the instructions.

go.getpebble

One of the fun parts about owning a Pebble is experimenting with different watch faces but the official Pebble app only contains a few to download. Fortunately there are sites like mypebblefaces.com that will allow you to download and install all sorts of third party apps and watch faces. Installing a new app or watch face from this site is as simple as browsing the site on your phone (the one that is paired with your pebble) and then clicking on the download button for a watch face you like. The pebble app will take it from there, download all of the resources and push them to your Pebble. You do have a limited amount of storage though and I have hit the limit on numerous occasions.

MyPebbleFaces

Although the battery life is claimed to be 7+ days, on my first charge I managed to get a little over four days, but since I have hangouts notifications sent to the device and I average over 50 notifications a day, I thought that was a reasonable effort. Charging the Pebble is done using the proprietary magnetic charging cable but unfortunately I can’t say how long it takes as I simply let it charge overnight.

I have only had my Pebble for a week now but I have already fallen in love with it. I find myself pulling my phone out of my pocket a lot less each day, but I am the sort of person that must check every notification that comes in straight away, just in case it is important.

There are a couple of things that I now know I want in a watch that this device doesn’t have and the big one here is Google Now. On day two I wanted to add a quick note to Google Keep and found myself wanting to talk to my watch instead of pulling out my phone. I reality that might not have turned out too well, but in theory it sounds like a great idea.

In conclusion, this isn’t a perfect device, but it has evolved a lot since it first hit the wrists of early backers and it is a device that I am really enjoying and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. But, it isn’t going to be for everyone so it isn’t the sort of device that I could blindly recommend to everyone. If the idea of wrist top notifications interests you then I say go for it.

Pebble can be puchased directly from getpebble.com (pre-order) for US $150 + $15 international postage or if you are impatient like me, then www.pebblesmartwatch.com.au has black Pebbles in stock right now in Sydney for AU $199 with free postage and you can get your Pebble within a couple of days depending on your location. For me, it was well worth spending the extra money.


Special Offer for Ausdroid Readers

After we published this review, pebblesmartwatch.com.au contacted us to offer a AU $35 discount for Ausdroid readers, bringing the price down to AU $164. This offer expires on July 24, 2013.

When you purchase a Pebble, enter the promotional code ausdroidpebble after returning from PayPal (on the same page you confirm your shipping details) to apply the discount. The promo code is case sensitive, so be sure you enter it exactly as seen above.

If you’ve already purchased a Pebble from them after reading our review, send an email to sales@pebblesmartwatch.com.au with “I love Ausdroid” in the subject line, include your full name and email and they will refund your $35 manually through PayPal.

Ausdroid extends our thanks to pebblesmartwatch.com.au for their generous offer!

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About the author

Darren has a background in Computer & Information Science with a focus on database design and SQL scripting. He was first introduced to Android running various Android ROMS on his trust HTC HD2. He has since made the leap to... (read more)


  • David Watt

    So it’s only a monochrome type display? Not colour? I’d never buy one of these anyway, but that’s a major let down for those interested in it I’m sure.

    • PointZeroOne

      hardly, it’s an e-ink display and so hugely saves on battery.

      • Anthony

        I heard it’s not actually an e-ink display, but an LCD display.

  • derp

    Im really disappointed with mine. Officially the device can really just tell the time with a half dozen interchangeable faces. if you want it to do anything more useful you have to go to other places for the watch faces or get something hacked on there. Considering how long most of the early backers (myself) have had them its only now that a few slightly interesting things are popping up for it.

    Its really kinda like the first gen iphone. You couldn’t do an awful lot with the device till you jailbreaked it and accessed the cydia. Its exactly the same situation here.

    • Sean Royce

      I always felt it was very overpriced for what you get. Not to mention the display isn’t to great.

  • Glen Cook

    Q: “A lot of people are probably questioning why you would want your watch to vibrate and let you know that you have a text message or an email and I must admit that this watch is not for everyone”

    If you guys want to filter emails and text messages coming to your pebble check out an app that I helped to develop called eNotify. it is available for both Android and iOS. But it essentially lets you specify exactly which emails and text messages that you want forwarded to the watch…EX] sender is my manager, subject contains meeting etc etc Cheers.