The original smartwatch gets heavily into metal
One of the first out of the blocks in the smartwatch race, with a very successful crowdfunding campaign, the Pebble was an ugly duckling, all brightly coloured plastic. The Pebble Steel, if not a swan, is at least reasonably chic, in an ’80s-retro, stainless-steel kind of way, with waterproof, Gorilla Glass screen protection and a leather or metal strap.
The finest feature from the original Pebble is still present: a 1.26-inch e-ink display, which is easy to read in direct sunlight and uses less power than the LCD and OLED displays on the other watches on test, so you get up to a week of full use of all the Steel’s features.
It connects to Android and iOS devices via Bluetooth 4.0, automatically relaying caller ID, texts and notifications from your phone, as well as controlling whatever audio is playing. There’s no new interface, voice-control mic or even a touchscreen, though, so navigating menus by buttons can still feel cumbersome.
Apps and watch faces are installed via the Pebble app on your phone and there are more than ever to choose from – over 3,000 and counting – thanks to an open platform that’s now paying off. Big names on board include Runkeeper, Foursquare and Evernote, as well as plucky bedroom-dev efforts such as FlappyBird “homage”, TinyBird. Quality is far from A-grade across the board, but there’s more to keep you amused here than on any other watch. The main problem is that the Pebble holds a maximum of just eight apps at a time, and a lot of the most popular ones also require companion smartphone apps, some of which you have to pay for.
Putting aside that and the fact this is not so much an upgrade as a reskinning, this is an attractive smartwatch in more ways than one. Again, it’s far from perfect, but it is the best you can get right now, especially for owners of smartphones that aren’t made by Samsung. Love Huge array of apps. Stylish watch and strap. E-ink display is easy to read, even in sunlight Hate Only space for eight apps at a time. Buttons are awkward. No touchscreen or voice control T3 Says The best smartwatch around with hordes of open-source apps but needs refining