April 11th 2012 10:49 am

final rating

reviewed on
this review has been viewed 5728 times

Criteria Comments Rating
  • Features No comments good
  • Display No comments so-so
  • Battery life No comments great!
  • Ease of use No comments good
  • Storage capacity No comments
  • Design and form factor No comments great!
  • Portability (size / weight) No comments great!
  • Durability No comments great!
Detailed review
The combination of style, size, features, and battery life makes the Pebble the best smartwatch available.
It's not without its flaws, but they are all software-based and the software will improve over time (knock on wood).
When I'm commuting (by train) my iPhone is either in an inside jacket pocket, or front pants pocket. Now with the Pebble I don't have to go digging for it nearly as much, which is awesome.
My job requires me to stay on top of (certain) email, so when in meetings I can put my phone on silent, keep it in my pocket and still make sure I know what's going on.
When driving I can easily screen calls from the watch and only take the ones absolutely necessary (hands-free people!).
Overall I'm very happy even though there are currently some glaring software issues. I'm banking that the software issues will work themselves out over time, hopefully quickly.

*Update* First firmware update went out today (2/11/13) and many bugs have been squashed. Loving my Pebble even more now!

*Update 2* First iOS app update available today (2/15/13). Great sign that the Pebble team is keeping on top of everything and pushing out updates quickly.
review history
Updated detailed review
Updated detailed review

Comments (6) subscribe to this review's comments


Based on the discussion that I listened to on a podcast, it sounds like iPhone users are going to have to deal with these quirks until Apple opens up some API support for these types of gadgets. It sounds pretty amazing for Android users, though, and I really want one now that I have a phone that can do Bluetooth 4.0.

I don't think the problems that I'm experiencing stem from anything Apple is doing. I believe the issues are with how the Pebble is receiving and processing the data it gets over the bluetooth connection.
It's also possible that the issues spring from the fact that there was a fairly significant iOS update (6.1) days before the Pebble shipped.
My confidence is pinned squarely on the hopes that the Pebble devs are very agile and will be able to push out updates quickly.
Let's hope that my confidence is not misplaced.

What kind of software issues are they? Could you describe some of the grievances? Are they frustrating or just minor inconveniences?

There is one big issue currently, and that is when you lose the bluetooth connection to the phone, and then re-establish, which usually happens automatically, all alerts except SMS, iMessage, and phone stop.
To have the alerts come in again you have to go to into phone settings, notifications, the particular app, and toggle the "Alert Style" to another style, then back to the one you want.
If this only happened because the bluetooth dropped because of range, it wouldn't be an issue -range is astonishingly good. I just tested and I maintained a connection, and received iMessage alerts, more than 50 feet away through 3 floors of my house. Phone was on top floor, and I was in the basement - that's multiple floors and walls. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least (iPhone 4 btw).
What makes this majorly frustrating is the connection drops all the time because I believe, from what I read in the Pebble forums, that there's an issue where some email alerts (from iOS 6.1 I think) crash the watch. I can't speak for behavior/stability under android.
The watch recovers very quickly from a crash/reboot, maybe 5 seconds and then reconnects itself, so I don't notice the crash itself, only the fact that email alerts stop coming in.
Currently I have stopped re-enabling the affected alerts and the watch and "core alerts" are stable. I'm happy with that limited set of functionality, some might not be.
What's working in Pebble's favor is the fact that watches are very slowly trickling out. Hopefully they will fix the issue (issues?) before too many get in the field and people really start freaking out.
I'm very tolerant of the issues because I've accepted the fact that we bleeding-edge early adopters are in fact, beta testers.
I believe in the company and the product, and the current functionality combined with the fact that I only paid $115 makes me a happy customer. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

That sounds really good (range part). And yeah, the bug sounds very software based and will hopefully be resolved by the time I'm able to purchase my own Pebble. :D

That's a really salient point - if you didn't get in on the Kickstarter, and the estimates on the number of preorders are to be believed, anyone ordering right now probably won't get a unit for months and months. By then most of the bugs should be worked out. Now that's great, but it also introduces some problems.

The first problem is in that time frame we're most likely going to see another iPhone, the 5s, and possibly a major revision of iOS -7. On the Android front we're likely to see the K revision, "Key Lime Pie". Now anyone in software can tell you, new OS versions always introduce new issues, bugs, and incompatibilities with existing applications. I hope the Pebble team can keep up.

The next big problem is competition. I guarantee most of Pebble's preorders will be cancelled if we see an iWatch in 2013 - it's coming, it's only a matter of when at this point. Smaller players will pop up as well, and they'll probably try to copy Pebble. I'm betting Motorola, Sony, and probably Fossil will give it a shot, and it's not hard to imagine lines ramping up in Shenzhen right now pumping out Pebble clones.

Right now Pebble doesn't need to ship more watches to succeed, it needs to ship updates. Lots of updates, regularly.
The Pebble needs an impeccable reputation to survive the coming onslaught of competition. It's starting in a good place with a good head start, but if they don't ship updates, squash bugs, and deliver promised features, they will truly look like a pebble next to the bolder Cupertino is likely to roll out.