-Elegant design is thin, light, beautiful
-Round display is Pebble's first, used well for apps and info
-Performance snappy and reliable
-Battery charges up in very little time
-Voice input is still good, leverages Android Wear well
-Time OS is still quirky and fun but highly functional


-Display backlight sometimes tough to trigger
-Bright daylight viewing can be a little difficult
-Only 2 day battery life
-Apps still haven't fully made the transition to round software
-Not applicable in as many situations (only splash resistant)

Our Rating
Bottom Line

For its design and the well-performing functions this smartwatch does offer, users will look to the Time Round as the watch they want when simplistic elegance is the order of the day.

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Something we all want from our smartwatches is to have them look as close to an actual watch as possible. Of course, some of the latest Android Wear releases can certainly be considered fashionable, and more importantly, indistinguishable from regular timepieces. However, the biggest hurdle faced by these devices is their size, something that can easily be seen, and always felt, with most current generation smartwatches being thick enough to pale in comparison to the sleek analog watches that are available.

Pebble hopes to address this issue with the latest addition to the popular Time series, along with this device also being their first foray into the circular watch face game. How does this new smartwatch fare amidst increasing competition? We find out, in this in-depth review of the Pebble Time Round!

thumb pebble time editors (1 of 1)Don't miss: Pebble Time review33


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The big story with the Pebble Time Round is its circular display, which is a first for the wearable maker. As technology has improved over the past few years, circular smartwatches have been growing in popularity, and Pebble is now trying to bring their Time series into the growing group of round smartwatches released this year. With that said, there is a lot more to the design aspect of this device than its circular watch face.

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The metal-constructed round body is made splash resistant rather than completely water resistant, and is something that will take some getting used to. It does make sense, though, given Pebble’s larger focus on this being more of a traditional timepiece and less of a tech wearable. To that end, lugs on the top and bottom are also available to accommodate either 20mm or thinner 14mm watch bands.

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Another aspect you will notice right off the bat is just how thin the Pebble Time Round is, and when compared to just about any other smartwatch out there, the Round comes out looking much sleeker. This also makes it far more accessible for anyone with smaller wrists. Of course, the body is thick enough to make room for the up, down, select, and back navigation buttons, as that still remains the primary mode of input, given the lack of a touchscreen display. The buttons do make for a somewhat weird back, where the charging port is also found towards the top. That isn’t something anyone will see when the device is on your wrist, though. The buttons feel solid and offer good tactile feedback, which is great, since these buttons will be used a lot.

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The Pebble Time Round is the lightest smartwatch we've used to date

Pebble’s commitment to making an incredibly fashionable smartwatch continues with their choice of bands, which include leather and metal options – both of which nicely complement the silver, black, and rose gold bodies. The leather band seen in this review feels really nice on the wrist, and doesn’t take away from what is quite literally the lightest smartwatch we’ve used to date. You actually won’t realize that you are wearing the Pebble Time Round most of the time, up until you have to take it off to charge.

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The Pebble Time Round is simply one of the best looking smartwatches available now, not because of what it packs in, but rather because it prioritizes minimalism. Granted, there are a few features that had to go by the wayside in order to make this thin body work. But if you’re looking for a smartwatch that is as easy on the eyes as it is easy to wear, the Pebble Time Round is definitely worthy of your attention.


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The switch to a round display means a new way of fitting information on the color-capable e-paper display, but Pebble has managed to handle the round design beautifully. Speaking of the display itself, e-paper means that the watch is easy to view in bright conditions, with a back light available when in poorly-lit situations. In broad daylight, however, the Round has the same issue as the original Pebble Time, and it can get tough to really see the elements on the display. The back light can also be a bit strong in low-light conditions, but the intensity can be lowered in the Settings menu.

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The only real issue we had with the display is triggering the back light

The only real issue we had with the display is triggering the back light easily, which sometimes required the wrist movement to be overly aggressive to make it happen. The 2.5D Gorilla Glass panel also gives the display a nice sheen, but a bit of a peeve we have is with the bezel. The issue isn’t just with how thick the bezel is, but also with regards to how it is used.

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The silver version of the watch, as seen in this review, comes with minute markings all around the bezel, and as such, some may prefer the black edition, that comes with either hour designations or nothing at all. This meant that I was torn between getting a digital watch face, or using an analog one to properly utilize those minute markings. Luckily, the Pebble Store does have plenty of good looking options to choose from. Of course, the bezel can also be covered with a skin of some sort if it is a big deal for you, but even if it isn’t, it is definitely something that you will notice.


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Similar to what we got with the Pebble Time, performance on the Time Round is snappy and smooth. We hardly experienced any issues with apps. Apps and watch faces are installed from the accompanying smartphone application, and doing so is a pretty easy experience. After that, the apps are either standalone on the watch, or require a companion application on the phone.

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In either instance, we’ve had a good time using apps like the Pomodoro Timer, or even a sleep tracking app, without any issues. In an upgrade from the first-generation Pebble devices, the various Time editions can also save what the current app is doing, even if it gets covered up with an incoming notification. The Time operating system is able to perform most tasks without any issues, and provides a smooth overall experience.


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Hardware on the Pebble Time Round is actually rather simplistic, and with this essentially being a smartwatch that requires pairing to a smartphone, Wi-Fi and mobile network connectivity aren’t a focus. For that matter, there are no extras like a heart rate monitor either, but there will supposedly be smart straps available in the future that will add this function.

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Voice input is quite good on the Pebble Time Round

What you do get is the standard Bluetooth connection, with a microphone underneath the buttons on the right side for voice input. Voice input is quite good on the Pebble Time Round, and only in the loudest of environments is it difficult to perform proper dictation. For most purposes, such as replying to messages, we didn’t have much trouble with it. When the watch needs to alert the user about anything, it uses the vibration. While effective, the smaller body does mean that the vibration is a little weaker than we’d ultimately like it to be.

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Battery life on the Pebble Time Round is a big deal, and unfortunately not in a good way, with it being the first smartwatch by the company to not boast exceptionally long battery life. While the Time and the original Pebbles last for a week, or even more, the Time Round is only able to squeeze out around 2 days. This does make sense though, given how thin the device is, and is a compromise that just had to be made for the sake of aesthetics. Of course, two days isn’t terrible given its competition, and you can get more with lower usage if you only focus on notifications. Still, battery life is disappointing given what was possible with its predecessors. Charging the Pebble Time Round is incredibly fast however, with only about 20 to 30 minutes required to get back a full charge from 0 percent.


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On the software side of things, we have the round version of the Pebble Time OS, and the transition to this new shape has been smooth, for the most part. What we do love about the Time OS is its nice transitions and sometimes cute animations, that make for a fun experience that is still very functional.

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Going through the app list requires hitting the up and down buttons a lot, and this is the same input method within any and all applications as well. Even the animations that are just for the Time Round are nice eye candy, like an iris animation when going backward in the interface. The Timeline is the main addition here, where you can go up or down from the watch face to see future events, reminders, and other useful information. If you aren’t much of a calendar user already, this might not strike you as a must-have function, but after installing one of the few apps in the store than can convert voice input into reminders, the Timeline can prove to be a good tool.

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Notable developers still haven't brought their apps to the Round

To that end, applications are the crux of the Pebble experience, providing a layer on top of what is primarily a good notification center. That said, with the transition to a round body, applications had to be changed in order to utilize the space better, and that conversion is not yet complete. For example, Yelp and Evernote have yet to make their applications available for the Round, which is a little disappointing, but will hopefully be rectified soon. Certain apps do make the Round their home however, like Solanum, a Pomodoro style app, and Note to Self, which takes voice input and uses key phrases to insert what is said into the Timeline.

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It is easy to find uses for the Pebble Time software, even past the main the function as a method to see notifications from your phone. If you have never used a smartwatch as a way to keep your phone in your pocket, you should definitely try it. Customization is still alive and well in the Pebble ecosystem, and with an even better looking body to surround it all, a little due diligence can certainly make the Time Round a worthy companion to have on your wrist.


Pricing and final thoughts

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You can buy a Pebble Time Round with a leather strap directly from Pebble’s website for $249, with the metal band versions going for $50 more. The smartwatch can be found much cheaper on Amazon right now, however.

editors choice awardSo there you have it, for this in-depth look at the Pebble Time Round! For its design and the well-performing functions this smartwatch offers, users will look to the Time Round as the watch they want when simplistic elegance is the order of the day, and that is exactly what this device is able to achieve. For most users, being able to see notifications, and in most cases, respond to them is the core of a smartwatch, and Pebble has certainly delivered that.

Where other smartwatches fail is in their feature sets – not because these features aren’t good, but because the design has to suffer to make room for them. The Time Round is the anti-thesis of this trend in smartwatches, and by prioritizing simplicity, it is probably the first device that can be recommended to anybody. If you really do need a heart rate monitor, the ability to make calls from your wrist, or even use the device for mobile connectivity, then this isn’t the device for you. What you do get here is simplicity, elegance, and one of the best looking smartwatches we’ve seen all year.

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The fierce competition

  • JohnA

    I cannot look beyond that bezel. It is hedious!! Fair, far, far from being a stylish watch, imo.

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  • Bradley Huddleston

    I don’t understand why Pebble insists on these crazy huge bezels. We are almost in 2016. The future is bezeless. If your engineers and designers cannot figure out how to create these great smartwatches without the bezel then they need to be replaced by those who can. This is coming from someone who loves their original black pebble. I wanted to purchase the Pebble round watch but that bezel kills the deal. That and selling it for $249. We engineers know how much things cost.

    • Marcus Townsend

      Clearly you don’t seem to understand the basics of engineering and design, so don’t give me that “we engineers” stuff. The bezels are a result of the display component, which pebble grabs off the shelf. You essentially have one of three options: Add giant lugs onto the watch (Huawei), use a flat tire (Motorola) or go fully round in both body and screen with a smaller screen (Pebble). The display flex has to go somewhere.

      Further, E-Paper is a much less developed technology, unlike amoled and lcd where they’ve had decades to refine the tech.

      Dont’ like it? Okay that’s fine. To each their own. But blaming the engineers and designers because they can’t change something determined by display manufacturers is wrong.

      TL;DR if you were a real engineer working in tech you would know just why those bezels exist/

      • Bradley Huddleston

        The e-ink display is a Sharp Memory LCD so the bezel exists to cover the black lining. Those cost around $8 in bulk. The Panasonic pan 1316 RF module that is used to connect with your phone runs around $13.41 for one or $9 in bulk. The Texas instruments CC2560A are around $4 each when purchased in bulk. The bluetooth is another $2 and the battery is around $5. You add the wrist band for at most $5 in bulk and the plastic casing which is dirt cheap when manufactured in high volumes.

        All in all you are looking at around $45 to manufacture these watches. Maybe $50. So they are taking a 50% profit from each purchase.

        I completely understand why they have to use the bezels as the LCD required it. The fact that they are selling the original watches at $70 or $79 means that the manufacturing costs have dropped quite a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are making these watches for less than $30 per unit.

        However, my main point is that they can figure out a way to get rid of the bezel. There are other LCD manufacturers who make these e-paper displays that have smaller areas that require covering.

        • Marcus Townsend

          To counter your points:

          Let’s talk about the Time Round since it’s the one in the article. The color E-PAPER display is a JDI LCD so the bezel exists to cover the inactive area as well as the display flex. The case is made out of machine injected 316 stainless steel which is MUCH MUCH more expensive than the plastic used in the OG and Pebble Time. In addition, don’t forget that the rose gold one is polished, which means that it was polished TWICE = lower yield. I wouldn’t be surprised if the case alone was $30-$50 (button assembly included). There’s no plastic spacer on the body (It’s all metal unlike their past watches) so i assume that the antenna is a complex custom one. The bands are also made of leather. In addition, you’re forgetting:

          The microphone and it’s waterproof membrane, the gyroscope, the accelerometer, processor, memory, the PVD coating, and the cost of assembly, shipping, packaging, etc.

          So I disagree. The BOM for the Time Round is probably not just somewhere around $45. More likely $75-$100. And then when you add in things like Best Buy taking a cut it’s not hard to understand why the price of these metal watches go up. Pebble has to make at least a minimal profit.

          The manufacturing of any device goes down over time as they improve on the processes and increase the yield. But those are specific to those devices. It’s not like it’s simply: “Hey, we figured out how to increase the yield of our $150 plastic watch so now our $250 metal ones with different components and a completely different form factor are somehow cheaper as well!”

          To your bezel argument: Point out one circular e-paper display that has a smaller bezel and I’ll give you the bezel argument. Do some research. Go ahead. I’ll wait. I have time.

          Can’t do it? I’ll tell you why: a bigger display doesn’t all the sudden have a smaller inactive area or flex module. Smaller proportionally sure, but not smaller period. So a bezel of some kind is going to exist, and Pebble wouldn’t have been able to reach a watch size this small (38.5mm diameter, smaller than everyone else). All smartwatches have to deal with it.

          Two final points of comparison for you to put this in perspective.

          1. The time round uses the same display as the garmin forerunner. Notice how it’s massive in comparison to it? The Time Round is clearly doing something better here.

          2. Apple, the most profitable and most valuable computer company in the world, has a smartwatch that is 50% bezel. They hide it by using an amoled screen and mostly black backgrounds, but it’s definitely there. Just look up apple watch white screen. So if the company with thousands of engineers working of the smallest of elements of each device can’t create this bezel-less device everyone somehow assume exists, why do you think the startup with 150 people could?

          You design rockets and engines. Good for you. Doesn’t make you the leading expert on mobile technology. It’s not like people come in and say this could definitely be faster. If “insert company you work for” can’t make it go faster while using less fuel then they should fire the engineers who work there and find ones who can.


          • Bradley Huddleston

            I am guessing that you are a designer, engineer or someone who works for pebble? That’s neither here nor there as it is quite apparent that a lot of people do not like the bezels. As a company who prides themselves on their watches, they need to figure out a way to get rid of them.

            You clearly have a lot invested in Pebble as it is the only way to explain your comments.

          • Marcus Townsend

            I’m an engineer who works in consumer electronics. When people make comments acting as if they know something can be done when it clearly can’t, it adds unrealistic expectations of the industry which we all have to live up to. Putting blame on the engineers and designers belittles their hard work, and makes us all look bad if we can’t produce something massively better than these competitors when we’re not the limiting factor.

            Also, when you get in THIS industry, it’s very useful to know what and how everyone’s doing what they are to learn and improve from them. I could go through Motorola’s process next if you’d like. Or maybe LG’s. There’s only a few items on each device that can’t be figured out from a teardown and some industry experience (outside of apple products where everything is custom).

            With that being said, I’m deleting my comments because I got way too far into this conversation. Hopefully you understood my point, though.

          • Bradley Huddleston

            Well, my comments don’t make much sense now that the poster deleted his comments. They weren’t bad parse’. Hostile? Yes. Why? I have no idea. He said he was an engineer in the industry, which, if true, is great. I applaud you sir. Simply being an engineer nowadays is noteworthy (if you are an engineer who has an engineering degree and not simply someone who works in the industry. There are a lot of titles that have “engineer” in them that is simply false. Tech support positions have the word, “engineer” in them but that are not engineers.)

            I enjoy talking with other engineers and those who are becoming engineers. So if you are still reading these comments by all means we can continue the conversation, albeit maybe a little less hostile and abrasive.

  • Peter

    Most beautiful? This thing is the ugliest, most hideous watch I have ever seen… How can you even suggests this is a better design than for example Moto 360 2gen?

    • Raz

      It’s almost like beauty is subjective or something!

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      • spookiewon

        Nah. That’s impossible. Obviously beauty is a an objective, even quantifiable, thing. It’s a gorgeous watch. But then, I also like my Moto 360 with the supposedly “hideous” flat tire..

    • paxmos

      It’s something like people have different tastes.

  • crisban

    Not spending that much money for that much bezel.

  • Marty

    “Where’s the beef?”

  • Blake

    I’ve heard that there was a problem with the previous Moto phones where the wood back peeled. Have there been any cases of this with the Moto X Pure Edition wood backs? I’m planning on getting one soon and any insight is greatly appreciated! :)