I’ve always been hesitant to the idea of wearing a “Smartwatch”. I like the idea of reading text messages, seeing who’s calling and tracking my activity. However, I’ve always viewed smartwatches as expensive & complex, miniaturized smartphones strapped around your wrist. Over time, the idea of seeing my texts became more and more appealing. So I set out to find a simple smartwatch that could show me notifications from my phone, activity tracking, and at it’s core had to be a watch and have great battery life.
I soon stumbled into the vast sea of smartwatches. It seems that the definition of smartwatch is pretty vague. Devices ranged from activity trackers that also had a watch function to devices running full blown android with an optional slot for a sim card. Facing so many options, I decided to ask friends, colleagues, and family what watches they had and what they would suggest.
The initial response was pretty pro Apple Watch. Given the fact that I have an iPhone and I’m totally in love with it, this news wasn’t shocking. I’ve liked the Apple Watch since I first saw it, but the major drawbacks for me left me saying no no no. The drawbacks in my opinion were: First, short battery life. Second, it’s pricy. Third, for the price, I expected built-in GPS.
The next appealing contender was the Pebble, more specifically the Pebble Time Steel. This watch didn’t have the fancy retina LCD screen like the Apple Watch but it did have a 30 frames per second e-paper display. As for battery life, Pebble advertises a 10-day battery life. Activity tracking, yes but no heart rate monitoring. GPS, no but at a cost of $195 I was willing to let that one go. After borrowing a co-workers Pebble 1 for a few weeks I was convinced so I pulled the trigger and bought the Pebble Time Steel.
After the honeymoon phase was over, my feelings for the watch are/were this: It’s great; It’s a watch at the core; The battery life is incredible (I regularly get 7-10 days based on the amount of usage and notifications I receive). The Pebble app has good integration with the Health app on iOS (I cannot speak for Android). As far as the Pebble apps go, I haven’t used a ton of them the only one I use regularly is the Leaf app. It’s an app that allows you to control your Nest thermostat from the pebble. It’s simple and just works; It even lets you check the status of your Nest Protect (smoke & carbon monoxide detector).
Go Pebble go! But seriously, I’m glad I chose the Pebble Time Steel and I’m even a backer for the Time 2 Kickstarter campaign (53% larger screen and hear rate monitor, yay!). When it comes to smartwatches (like most things in life) buy what you need not necessarily what everyone else is using. I’m sure I’d be perfectly happy and fine with the Apple Watch but I’m extremely happy with the Pebble.
Disclaimer: the links in this post for the Apple Watch and Pebble Time Steel are Amazon affiliate links.