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Should I buy the Pebble watch?

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly



Our Score:


Should I buy the Pebble smartwatch?

Technically you can’t. Currently Pebble is only available to KickStarter backers and for everyone else you must pre-order for ‘summer 2013’ shipping. Hairsplitting aside, if you use an Android handset, Pebble makes a great purchase. It delivers a slick, comprehensive experience and is quickly being supported by third party developers in the Google Play store.

For iPhone users things are less clear. With iOS6 alerts are limited and only the ‘view in lock screen’ glitch (admittedly one Apple doesn’t seem in a rush to fix) allows more than SMS and iMessages to be received. This should change with increased support for smartwatches in iOS7, but we’d make sure Apple delivers on it first. We stress this isn’t a Pebble problem, but a problem for all third party smartwatches on iOS right now.

When pitched against rivals Pebble currently sets the standard. It is arguably the best looking smartwatch so far, offers the slickest experience and comes with a bargain price tag. For these reasons we’d inch it above the still excellent MetaWatch Strata while both models suggest the thin client approach is more practical than models like I’m Watch, which try to be full blown smart devices.

Of course, this may change as a host of big names ready smartwatches for later in the year (including the fabled Apple iWatch), but until we know something concrete about them Pebble is the model we’d buy.


It comes with huge hype, but the Pebble smartwatch predominantly delivers. It is smartly designed, intuitive and affordable. Currently it works far better on Android than iOS, but that is down to the limitations of Apple’s platform and should change with iOS7. Many rivals will hit the market in 2013, but so far Pebble is the smartwatch to beat.

Overall Score



July 1, 2013, 9:47 am

If you still have this in your possession, could you please try something for me? If you have any bluetooth headphones (A2DP), does the Pebble support simultaneous music controls/push updates AND bluetooth music playback?

I know most A2DP headsets have playback controls of their own, but the whole Pebble package of updates etc. as well as playback requires both to be connected at the same time.......

Hamish Campbell

July 1, 2013, 10:42 am

Is it only me who thinks this is a particularly ugly watch?


July 1, 2013, 12:52 pm

I no longer trust this site....

If you think this is tatesfull design you must shop at ASDA!


July 1, 2013, 2:02 pm

It's not often a gadget comes along that makes me want to be an early adopter, but this ticks that box.

I was surprised to see no wireless charging, at least as an option. Just sitting it down on a wireless charging pad with my phone every night would be really convenient.

My main concern would be scratches, though not really a design fault. I've scratched my watch a few times, albeit quite lightly, and its face is a lot less exposed.


July 1, 2013, 3:18 pm

Wear the face on the inside of your wrist?
That's what I do, works well.


July 1, 2013, 3:21 pm

Just out of interest, which phone did you try it with and did it's hardware/firmware correctly support Bluetooth 4.0 LE? Because that might have something to do with the battery life. Maybe it's running on 2.1. In fact I'm pretty sure only Android 4.3 supports BT 4.0 LE so maybe you could re-test with a suitable phone (Nexus4?) + Android 4.3? Not that it's going to stop my getting one. I was waiting for a smart watch that used ePaper as it's the obvious display tech to use.


July 1, 2013, 3:42 pm

Is that precisely why you do it? I had a PE teacher in school who wore it that way and I always wondered why! It was very obvious as PE teachers, of course, always having to check their watch.

I'm wondering if I'd actually pick up more scratches that way from it hitting my desk when typing...


July 1, 2013, 4:49 pm

That is precisely why I do it.

My dad suggested is many years ago.

Apparently it's a military thing? He was in the Navy so it makes sense.

Maybe your PE teacher was actually an ex-club-swinger.

Never considered the desk thing. Just haven't owned a watch for so long. I guess I'll have to keep moving it. And buy watch-screen-protectors!

T.J. Kenny

July 1, 2013, 10:48 pm

The writing has been on the wall form sometime now but it is becoming obvious that apple are doomed. Their closed practices are getting the better of them and that latest Jonny Ive "designed in California ad" has really driven it home. Good riddance.


July 2, 2013, 2:24 pm

de gustibus non est disputandum

Gordon Kelly

July 3, 2013, 1:21 am

For smartwatches the picture will certainly change with iOS7, but I think Apple has long accepted the pros and cons of its walled garden approach. It will be interesting to see how skilfully it can continue to manoeuvre from here on.

Gordon Kelly

July 3, 2013, 1:22 am

I used it with a Nexus 4. That said Pebble has been steadily improving the battery life with each firmware update and I don't think even 3 days with intense use is a great inconvenience for a device that charges in 2 hours.

Gordon Kelly

July 3, 2013, 1:24 am

If you're on Android then yes I'd sign straight up, but from an iPhone wait for iOS7 and see how that pans out.

Wireless charging is an interesting idea and I'd also like to see the simplicity of a capped microUSB port on the watch itself. That would make it far simpler. That said when you're dealing with a multi-day battery life it isn't a problem when no charger is to hand.

I didn't have any problems with scratches - that said I didn't accidentally hit it anywhere hard and with such limited samples I wouldn't be inclined to! I doesn't seem a scratch prone finish, but even metal watches pick up scuffs over time.

Gordon Kelly

July 3, 2013, 1:28 am

Good to see a modest and vital reaction. If you have taken the time to see the bulk of other smartwatches on the market then you may change your opinion. Not that this is the biggest factor.

Gordon Kelly

July 3, 2013, 1:29 am

I can see why people would think it is ugly, but for the tech it packs in I think the most impressive fact is it looks like a normal watch. Most smartwatches so far have been huge with terrible battery life.

Gordon Kelly

July 3, 2013, 1:29 am

I don't, but I believe Bluetooth only pairs to one source at a time so this is an interesting point to make. During the review I noticed if I output music to a Bluetooth dock it cut the connection to the watch so I'd say no.

That said this is a limitation of Bluetooth rather than the watch itself.


July 3, 2013, 8:48 am

Grapevine says that 4.3 is coming July 2013 for the N4 and that one of the features is BT 4.0LE support. Could you do us an update then please?

Hamish Campbell

July 3, 2013, 8:50 am

A good point, there is a distinction between comparing looks of a smartwarch with other smartwatches, and a smartwatch with watches in general.

Watches have generally moved from a functional device to be a piece of jewellery as far as I can see. So it will be interesting to see how the 'functional' niche works again.

There may be a very real difference between those who want to buy a smartwatch (functional phone connectivity a priority) to those who want to buy a watch (asthetics priority).

A little difficult to blend as well, as a really nice watch might cost you a couple of hundred pounds and up (this is a watch as jewellery) and it is likely to be a pretty timeless (ha ha) design that can be used for a lifetime (or decade or whatever). But the functional phone connectivity is going to be fast changing, so you'll want to upgrade regularly (almost as often as your phone?) which will make it unlikely you'll want to splash out so much for the smartwatch.

Now I've blabbed on too long, I apologies.


July 3, 2013, 8:55 am

Nope, not a limitation of Bluetooth, you can have up to 7 devices in a Bluetooth PAN (piconet, 1 master + 6 slaves, including another 255 "parked" slave devices which can be swapped out for an active slave)
Must be a limitation of Android at the moment.
Which is irritating, because how frickin' cool would it be to be in the car with a master phone, slave car stereo playing music/doing hands free and slave pebble to control the volume/track/see what's currently playing/answer the phone.

go go gadget Android 5.0 perhaps?

Gordon Kelly

July 3, 2013, 11:47 am

Sadly we won't have the sample then, but we'll see what v4.3 brings as it will likely have a knock on effect for just about every Bluetooth peripheral.

Gordon Kelly

July 3, 2013, 11:48 am

You're spot on. Of course people said the same thing about smartphones - not everyone wants their phone to be a personal computer, but that changed quickly for the vast majority.

Be interesting to see how the fashion brands like Rolex respond if they are seen to be little more than exorbitant jewellery over time..

Gordon Kelly

July 3, 2013, 12:05 pm

Ah I see what your, but the master + slave arrangement would work poorly for two devices needing constant connect, especially a high bandwidth pairing with headphones.

I believe the AptX codec is looking to address this later in the year. If so I think it's already solid takeup should skyrocket.


July 4, 2013, 1:39 am

the company which made the watch treated the backers like cr-p


July 11, 2013, 12:37 pm

Bluetooth 4.0 LE is not currently activated in the Pebble firmware. THey have posted previously that it will be activated in a later firmware update, so your test will be running on BT 2.3

Memo Garcia

July 12, 2013, 11:06 pm

Is it possible to use the a bluetooth headset like the jaybirds while paired with this watch?

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