Pebble Technology Corporation, famous for raising over $10 million through a Kickstarter campaign, finally came to India with their entire range of smartwatches.
The original smartwatch was the Pebble Classic from 2013 and its successor the Pebble Time Steel was launched globally in 2015. It took them a year to get it to India and it’s now available on Amazon India at Rs 15,999.
The Pebble Time Steel competes with the likes of Motorola’s Moto 360, Huawei’s Watch and of course the Apple Watch.
The Time Steel is a smartwatch that works with both Android and iOS devices. The app interface is also fairly easy to use and it’s capable of doing almost everything that its competitors do.
• Battery life
• Design and build quality
• Compatible with Android and iOS devices
• Lacks a heart rate sensor
• No touchscreen display
• Cannot be used as a fitness smartwatch
Design and Display
The design of the Pebble Time Steel is like a watch that’s not too garish but can subtly make a style statement for a user. It’s made of marine-grade stainless steel with four physical buttons. Three are on the right for scrolling and selection and one is on the left for powering on the watch or switching it to a silent mode.
The watch has soft curved edges and a leather strap. And yes, this one does not have a touchscreen display. So the physical buttons is all you have to operate this watch. We like this old-school mechanism in a modern day smartwatch simply because it keeps the display clean and there are no fingerprint smudges. While many might still prefer a touch display on their smartwatches.
The smartwatch sports an always on, colour e-paper display with LED backlight. This display is similar to what you find on an Amazon Kindle. This might not be as bright as the display seen on an Apple Watch or a Moto 360 but is subtle enough for regular usage. The 1.25-inch dial is also not that big and looks smart on your wrist. The e-paper also helps in enhancing the battery life of the Time Steel.
The thick bezels on the watch give it the sturdiness and the Gorilla Glass display gives you a decent 144x168 pixels resolution and a pixel density of 182ppi.
The Pebble Time Steel's design would only appeal to people who don’t like to show off their latest gadget.
Usability and Performance
The Time Steel works with both Android and iOS devices. The only condition being that your smartphone should run Android 4.0.3 or higher and iOS 8 or higher. The App interface is fairly simple to use and the watch syncs in easily with both Android and iOS devices via Bluetooth.
There are also loads of watch faces that one can choose from within the app. The watch provides seamless notification of alerts, calendar events, weather, texts, e-mails, incoming calls and more. Reading a message or an email is also simple enough and the display does not hurt your eyes when you want to check notifications in a movie theatre.
The smartwatch is powered by a Cortex M4 processor and runs on Pebble OS 3.0. The operating system is pretty basic and sports a clean interface with pre-installed apps like alarms, watch faces and music.
It also syncs in with numerous health apps available on both Google Play and Apple Store. It does track your steps and sleep but it does not monitor your heart rate. The Time Steel is a watch that’s 30m water resistant but we would not advise you to swim with it.
The Pebble Time Steel is a watch that is meant for your urban life. But if you want to hit the gym and use it purely from a fitness point of view, you’ll be disappointed.
The watch comes with a leather strap that can get a little irritating if you are running or lifting weights in the gym. The sweat also ruins the inside of the leather strap and apart from the step counter there is really not much data that it will provide you.
It’s a basic smartwatch and not a Fitbit Surge or Blaze. We would like to term the Pebble Time Steel as an urban lifestyle smartwatch.
Pebble does not reveal the mAh capacity of the Li-Ion battery on the Pebble Time Steel but does claim a 10 day battery backup after full charge. During our testing the maximum we could stretch the battery was a good 8 days. That’s phenomenal as most of its competitors need charging almost every day.
The reason behind the long battery life is also a low powered display and a single core 100 MHz CPU that powers the watch. Overall we were quite surprised by the battery longevity on the Pebble Time Steel.
If you are looking to buy a smartwatch that is not too loud in the face and gives you all the basic stuff you would expect from a smartwatch, the Pebble Time Steel will not disappoint you.
It’s compatible with both Android and iOS devices and is fairly simple to use. The lack of a touchscreen display might be a deal breaker for some, but considering the competitive price point of Rs 15,999 the Pebble Time Steel is a decent smartwatch to own.