Marking the end of an era, the Pebble 2 is the last of its kind, the last smartwatch from the now sold, but long-beloved company. Many Pebble fans may not even get their hands on the latest, and last smartwatch not made under the Fitbit brand.
In case you missed the news, Fitbit, one of the biggest fitness tracker companies in the world, bought most of Pebble’s assets in December. As a result, this will be the last smartwatch under the Pebble name.
The Pebble 2 is a unique smartwatch. That’s why we’ve decided to forgo our traditional review format and do something a little special this time around. We’ve reached out to fellow Pebble fan and industry friend, Michael Fisher, to talk about the very last Pebble device. We hope you enjoy our Fitbit 2 review.
The Pebble 2 should be very familiar to those who owned the first Pebble smartwatch
As one of three products in Pebble’s last Kickstarter campaign, the Pebble 2 is a familiar device for original Pebble owners. A larger display and a bit more polish are noticeable at first glance, with the new watch being a nice update from even the Pebble Time, maintaining the square watch design. The inside exemplifies where Pebble was headed with their software, something we’ll talk about in a bit.
Around the edges of the Pebble 2 is the familiar button layout, offering that satisfying click and function from previous watches. More specifically, that’s the navigation buttons on the right and the back button in the top left corner.
The rear of the Pebble 2 sports the same magnetic charging contacts as we’ve seen before, with the inclusion of the new heart rate sensor. As the main upgrade in the Pebble 2, the heart rate monitor marked a shift to a more health-centric focus, which plays into their acquisition from Fitbit.
Allowing for interchangeable watch bands, we really like the look of ours with a full width band installed – that is, our band is as wide as the watch itself, which didn’t detract from the iconic design of the Pebble line.
Still rocking a black and white display (the Pebble Time was the color variant in the line), Pebble stuck to their guns, offering up the very best in simplicity, without sacrificing functionality.
Truth be told, performance is one of the few things that strike us when using the Pebble 2. Obviously any lag or delayed responses would stand out for us, but this is not a smartwatch like we’ve seen from some of the larger players. Instead of driving a high quality color display, navigating through image rich pages and cards, Pebble keeps it quite simple, but does so with a passion.
In typical Pebble fashion, the Pebble 2 will last almost a full week on a single charge
Adding to their own software by adopting and promoting an open source atmosphere around their products, most functionality is as simple as can be. As such, overall device performance remains smooth and without lag. This also adds to the excellent battery life of the Pebble 2, rocking close to a full week of life between charges.
The software in the Pebble 2 exemplifies the nature and philosophy of Pebble as a company. We’ll just have to wait to see what Fitbit does with the brand moving forward. For now, Fitbit has pledged support for Pebble users and devices through 2017, at least.
The Pebble 2 has one of the most unique and fun software experiences on a smartwatch to date
The core of the Pebble experience is in a fun and playful approach to not only how things are done, but in the very flow of the software. One can only be so creative with an LCD looking e-paper display, but Pebble has done a great job at putting its own spin on things. Little things like the alarm clock are represented as an animated character bouncing around the display, for instance.
Telling the time is a basic starting point for this, as with any smartwatch, and popping up notifications is an important feature. The Pebble 2, in Michael Fisher’s words, “executes on those fundamentals pretty well.”
Our thoughts on Pebble
Mr. Mobile here. I never got to spend time with the Core or the Pebble Time 2, but I was delighted enough by my experience with the standard Pebble 2 that I don’t think I missed out on much. Josh already covered most of the Pebble 2’s bits and pieces so I won’t retread them. Instead I’ll tell you what I loved most about this upgrade:
Pebble didn’t sacrifice its fundamental simplicity. Part of that is the aforementioned preference for tactile buttons over touch screen swipes, and part of it is the use of well-designed software. Some may find the animations a little cutesy but to me they gave Pebble a personality that’s missing from other wearables … and that, plus the small footprint and rock-solid notification reliability, is something I’m really going to miss.
I feel like the Pebble gave itself a license to be geeky in a way that most of its competitors are a little too shy to do.
Pebble was one of those products that you just wanted to succeed. A lot can be said about the company and how it handled itself, but it stands that the product was not only different, but effective. Tactile feedback and input offers a critical interface with a smartwatch that isn’t present in a touch screen display. Android Wear, as the predominant wearable OS in these parts, relies on you to view the display, then accurately touch or swipe to make anything happen. There is gesture support as well, but none as easy as finding a side button without looking.
Pebble built a community upon which developers came to build apps and services. This was a small community, granted, but one that was passionate, with an open source community. Something that was destined to continue with the Pebble Core, Pebble Time 2 and the Pebble 2, only one of which ever making it to backers.
That’s all a thing of the past now – with Fitbit acquiring much of the company, the future of existing Pebble devices will run into 2017 with no word on what will occur after. If you do have a Pebble 2, cherish it – it is quite literally the very last of its kind.
We’d like to thank Michael Fisher (MrMobile) for joining us here today. You can find him at his YouTube channel giving his thoughts and takes on today’s tech, from mobile to robots to Star Trek gadgets made reality. You can hit him up on Twitter as well, he’s @theMrMobile.