The Pebble was the first broadly successful modern smartwatch, selling over 1 million units by the end of 2014. Buyers jumped on the successor Pebble Time Kickstarter project, to the tune of more than 78,000 backers paying more than $20 million.
I was an original Pebble Kickstarter backer and also ordered the Pebble Time, hoping it was going to be a solid upgrade over the original. According to a number of reviews that were posted last night, it looks like Pebble succeeded in improving on the Pebble experience. However, in today's smartwatch world with the Apple Watch and next generation Android Wear it may not be enough.
My Pebble Time order should be shipping soon so I cannot speak from personal experience as I have yet to see one in person. Even when I do review a product, I recommend people read a number of reviews to develop an informed purchase decision. Let's take a look at the current Pebble Time reviews.
- CNET: CNET's Scott Stein posted his Pebble Time review and awarded the new smartwatch a 7.8/10 rating with the battery life and software earning the highest praise.
- Engadget: Engadget's Nicole Lee also awarded the Pebble Time the same 78/100 rating as CNET, with comments on the impressive battery life and poor iOS functionality.
- The Verge: Dan Seifert spent a week with the Pebble Time, including a holiday weekend without the charger, and awarded the new smartwatch a 6.8/10. While battery life was a major benefit, the limited iOS capabilities and voice control troubled him.
- Wired: The Wired review also had a bottom line rating of 6/10 with the same concern about iOS functionality.
- Business Insider: The Business Insider review concluded that the Pebble Time was better than any Android Wear device and highly recommended it for Android smartphone owners while iPhone owners should pick up the Apple Watch.
- Wall Street Journal: The WSJ review had the same conclusion as Business Insider in regards to Android phone owners, but with Google I/O starting later today Google may offer improvements to Android Wear.
- TechCrunch: TechCrunch was also impressed with the battery life and satisfied with it as an Android Wear alternative.
A couple of common themes are apparent from the reviews; the Pebble Time has long battery life, the design is better than before, but not better than the Apple Watch, iOS functionality is lacking, and it is recommended for Android smartphone owners over any Android Wear device.
The first Pebble also had limited iOS functionality at first with an all-or-nothing approach to notifications. The software improved over time and I imagine we will see the same thing from Pebble with the Pebble Time.
The following are some review conclusions, but make sure to read the entire review for the full context:
Those fancier watches may win out in the long run, but for now, Pebble's simplicity still charms. And it's mainly this that makes me want to keep using the Pebble Time. I didn't like it at first, but it won me over, just like the first Pebble. It's a low-key smartwatch. It's not as forward-thinking as Apple Watch, but it's also a lot easier to recommend. - CNET
For the most part, the Time does everything you might expect from a Pebble: it gives you smartphone notifications on your wrist, has an always-on display for checking the time quickly, and lasts days between charges. It's the best Pebble yet. And that's its main problem. The Pebble Time is just a better Pebble, which is great if you're a fan of Pebble's earlier watches. But if you weren't swayed by those, or are on the fence about smartwatches in general, the Pebble Time isn't likely to push you over the edge. -The Verge
I want the uncluttered and productive idea Pebble is selling. But I don't want the watch. - Wired
Pebble will open up orders for the Pebble Time later in June, but until then Kickstarter backers should be receiving them and I'll post my own thoughts when it arrives.