A few months ago, Pebble launched another highly-successful Kickstarter campaign for the latest addition to their smartwatch line, which brought with it some major improvements over its predecessors. Devices are rolling out to early backers, and we were lucky enough to receive ours. Before giving it the comprehensive review treatment, here is a quick look at the unboxing and our first impressions about Pebble Time!
The box of the Pebble Time is going to be a little different from the final retail packaging, but it’s still quite nice to see that even the Kickstarter version does come with some form of custom packaging, with a bold “It’s time” inscribed across the top of the box. Opening the box reveals the usual suspects, with a Quick Start guide and some other important documentation included, the microUSB charging cable, in a different implementation that what was available with previous Pebble smartwatches, and of course, the device itself.
The Pebble Time has a design language that is somewhat reminiscent of the Asus ZenWatch, and given that the ZenWatch featured one of my favorite designs in the Android Wear camp, this isn’t a bad thing. One noticeable issue is with the silicone band, which is quite flimsy. While it probably won’t break easily at any point, it just doesn’t feel that sturdy and of a high quality. The strap can be replaced though, so you do get to customize this aspect to your liking. As you can also see in the video and images, there is also a sizable bezel around the display, which is now of the color e-paper variety.
Turning over to the back, below the Pebble logo is a stamp stating that this device is the Kickstarter Backer version, and while the retail version is likely not going to be very different, the stamp is a clear indication that this is device that I contributed towards in their fund-raising campaign. Along the right side is the selection button flanked by the up and down navigation keys, and on the left is a back button to go back to the watch face from within an app.
To begin setting up the smartwatch, you will have to download the new Pebble Time application from the Google Play Store, which has been created specifically for this device and is a different from the standard Pebble Watch app. It is a very simple process that requires signing in to your Pebble account before starting the pairing process using Bluetooth, which is similar to how it was done with its predecessors. Using the app on your phone, you have to make sure the Pebble Time is set up with notification access and you can change other settings from there as well, including selecting between different watch face options.
In the app is also where you will find the various watch applications that are compatible with the Pebble Time. While the apps from the original Pebble watch will also work here, they do have to be re-configured to work with the color display of the latest watch, with them otherwise retaining their black and white look.
Things look really good on this display with the added touch of some color elements when compared to previous Pebble smartwatches, and is certainly going to be more enjoyable to use. Scrolling through the notifications is a simple affair using the up and down navigation buttons on the side. Further action available with these notifications include muting the app, opening the app on the phone, or dismissing the notification, and there are some nice transitions on the watch when performing these tasks.
Pressing the down navigation button from the watch face takes you into the weather and calendar information, and if you are someone that uses the calendar on your phone a lot, this watch offers a great and simple way to stay on top of things. Taking a look at the different apps on the watch, you’ll notice that some of those that are also compatible with the original Pebble watch will still retain their black and white motif as they may not have been updated, but remain as functional as before. Newer apps do take advantage of the color screen however. With an app like Music Boss, there is some nice additions as well, like the ability to have the controls slide out from the side, and the fact that you can now see the album art on the watch itself, which is a great example of how the color display adds some more functionality and a better aesthetic for some of these apps.
Being a fan of the Pebble ecosystem, I am certainly excited to put the device through its paces in the upcoming in-depth review. Of course, Android Wear isn’t behind or worse by any means, but I certainly appreciate the way that Pebble presents its smartwatches, especially with the tactile buttons helping more with navigation. For example, if you know how many button presses are required to get a particular app, you won’t even need to look at the watch, which can be useful in certain situations. There are a few animations when moving around the various elements of the UI, which makes the device feel slower than it actually is, even if they do make things look a lot nicer.
As mentioned, you can replace the watch strap of the Pebble Time, which I did attempt to do with the leather watch strap I had with the original Pebble, but unfortunately, it didn’t look as good. Of course, there will be a lot of customized watch straps for the Pebble Time soon enough, and is something that I will be picking up when available.
Stay tuned with Android Authority for the full review of the Pebble Time and for everything else that the immense world of Android has to offer!