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Pebble Time Steel Review – What’s New in Pebble after 4 years of R&D

The wearables arena has seen a lot of improvements over the past couple of years, not just in terms of features, but design as well, because let’s face it, you won’t wear an ugly looking watch on your wrist. The smartphone, we even put into our pockets, but a smartwatch stays on our wrist for the most time of the day. Such is the story of Pebble, one of the first in the industry to introduce a smartwatch.

Moreover, there also comes the part where the design should be comfortable so that its users can make the most of the abilities like sleep monitoring. While there are separate wearables for that, it’s called fitness trackers, but who would wear two bands on their wrist. It is why companies are unifying two features in one wearable; smartwatch features and fitness tracking.

What is that unification got to do with Pebble? Well, since you asked, it has everything got to do with. If you haven’t followed the Pebble story, let us wrap that up for you in brief.

The Pebble Story

Original Pebble was a Kickstarter project by a bunch of geeks, who wanted to see the world on their wrist, instead of hands for a change. That’s when the company introduced a tiny, tasteful design, which had a simple setup and was reasonably priced. It was also one of the first smartwatches to be compatible with Android and iOS, both mobile platforms.

Pebble Story

Next came the Steel, the same internals but in a grown-up body. Last year, we saw company shifting gears in a big way, as the company introduced Pebble Time with all new design and OS. Within just weeks, there was an announcement of Pebble Time Steel, which is the highest variant among the range of watch that company has revealed in India today. The company has officially entered the country with their range of smartwatches.

There are four models that are introduced officially for the Indian audience includes Pebble Classic priced at RS 5,999, while the second model Pebble Time would be available for Rs 9,999. The third variant is the company’s first round faced watch, which was introduced in September last year at $249, but can be seen priced considerably low at Rs 13,599. The fourth model is the Pebble Time Steel, which is going to be the flagship watch for the company priced at Rs 15,999. We had the Pebble Time Steel with us since a couple of days, and we find out how Pebble has matured over the years in terms of design and usage. Let’s dive in.

Design

There’s no doubt that latest Pebble is quite an improvement in terms of the design language from the last iterations, but there is one particularly sad thing about it is that it strikingly looks similar to the Apple Watch Gold Edition. It’s not really an insult, though; the Time Steel has an elusive curved glass screen, a solid aluminum body and a polished body, which reminisce the design of Apple Watch.

The first Steel was distinctly metallic and angular, giving it a certain vibe that was mostly liked for its traditional digital watch look. Nonetheless, it was bit chunky. While talking about the Time Steel, it feels softer and more curved, thus offering more comfortable fit on the wrist. It’s far more underrated than the first Steel watch, which is for sure. Though, a lot of people that is a good thing: it is paired with a leather band, as a package it makes a good look. While the original Steel had a certain sense of geekiness, I feel it has been gone with Time Steel, which again might be a good thing as the company wants to cater more audience with their offering and it makes sense too.

There is a one design shortcoming that I would like to point out is the Bezel. The already noticeable bezel on the original Steel takes a big part of the dial, which just makes it heavier than older iterations. It doesn’t destroy the looks of the watch, though, as the black bezel conceals into the screen seamlessly, when the backlight is off. But it gives a feel that’s more like a Casio watch than Rs 16K fashion accessory.

How does it fare with the competition?

Pebble has been rocking an e-ink display on their smartwatches since more four than years now and how I feel about is that it should have shifted to a more stylish and crispier display. When compared in terms of the display with the competition, it certainly lacks a lot. One of our teammates has been using a Fitbit Blaze, which rocks an LCD display, I borrowed his watch to get an idea how the new Time Steel compares to its latest competition.

The first thing that can be stated is that Pebble watch doesn’t have a touchscreen, as well as doesn’t feature a crown button. You’d still have to operate the watch using the physical buttons, which isn’t an ideal situation as the better interface technologies are out there now. While in terms of functionality, I’d say that Pebble has finally increased its functions regarding fitness tracking with dedicated operations for health in the OS. With an in-built microphone, you can quickly reply to messages as well as create quick notes. Moreover, it probably offers the best battery life when compared with other smartwatches in the market. As well as it is a water resistant up to 30 meters too.

Conclusion

If you’re new to the wearable world, you can start with Pebble Classic, which will not cost you a lot at Rs 5,999, while if you want to enjoy the latest Pebble OS features, then you would have to go with Pebble Time that’ll cost you Rs 9,999. The next step up from that is the Time Round and Time Steel, which retails in the country at Rs 13,999 and Rs 15,999. If you want your smartwatch to sing, dance, navigate and tell you to get moving, then an excellent Android or maybe an Apple Watch is the best option to go with. But you know I have always liked the idea of what Pebble has to offer, a watch that works foremost like a watch offering thousands of watch faces that can be customized. Apart from that, they have their app store. For me, that’s all a smartwatch needs to do and Time Steel does everything that I need in the best way.

By Vishal Toshiwal on Thursday 12th of May 2016


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