Pebble Steel

Score

Sections

Pros

  • Works with Android and iOS
  • Excellent battery life
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Monochrome design
  • Only Cosmetically different from cheaper Pebble

Key Features

  • Review Price: £179.99
  • 1.26-inch, 144 x 168 pixel display; Android & iOS compatible ; 3-axis accelerometer; 5-7 days battery life; Vibrating motor; Bluetooth 4.0 & 2.1 + EDR

What is the Pebble Steel?

The Pebble Steel is the premium model of the trailblazing Pebble smartwatch which hit the market last year. Backed by a successful Kickstarter campaign which raised $10 million in funding, this intelligent timepiece is compatible with both Android and iOS and is getting a fresh push thanks to new distribution deals in the UK (mobile network O2 will be selling both versions in its high street stores), not to mention the hype around wearables generated by the announcement of the Apple Watch.

Pebble Steel: Design

The original Pebble was subtle and understated but, sporting an all-plastic design, it didn’t exactly exude class. The Pebble Steel may sport the same internal tech, but it’s squarely aimed at the higher end of the market – it retails for £180 compared to the standard Steel’s £100. The cheap-feeling plastic is replaced by brushed stainless steel, lending the watch a more sophisticated appearance. This is accentuated by a genuine leather strap, and there’s also another variant which comes with a metal strap.

Despite its upmarket look, the Pebble Steel shares the same 5 ATM water resistance rating as its cheaper relation. There’s no touchscreen – something which sets it apart from other smartwatches on the market – so four buttons are used to navigate the interface and make selections. There’s a single button on the left-hand side which acts as the “back” button and three others on the right-hand edge. The top and bottom of these move you up and down through the intuitive on-screen menus, while the middle button acts as the “accept” command.

Pebble Steel: Screen

The screen is also somewhat low-tech when compared to the latest Android Wear devices, being as it is a monochrome display, rather than a full colour model. Described by Pebble as “e-paper”, it calls to mind the e-ink display of e-readers like the Kindle but is in fact a type of LCD. However, it uses a particularly clever type of LCD that acts similarly to e-ink in that it draws very little power, particularly when no pixels are changing.

At 1.26-inch across and with a 144 x 168 pixel resolution it is around half the resolution of the top Android Wear watches but it is easier to read outdoors in direct sunlight, though again it isn’t quite in the same class as e-ink. It has a backlight, too, and this can be triggered simply by flicking your wrist.

The watch has an internal battery which is topped up using the proprietary connector cable. This latches to the side of the watch magnetically and uses a standard USB plug, which means it can be used with most wall chargers or pretty much any device which offers a powered USB port.

The only downside of this system is that if you happen to lose this cable, you have no means of recharging the watch unless you purchase another; in the past, we’ve seen Sony’s smartwatches use the now-ubiquitous Micro-USB port, which is a better option in this regard as most people have countless spare leads dotted around their households.