Pebble bets on round, thin watch to combat Apple Watch, Android Wear

The new Pebble Time Round is just 7.5 millimeters thin and can get a day's worth of run-time with just a 15 minute charge. Will consumers spend $249 for a limited experience though?


Looking for a round smartwatch that actually looks like a watch and is thin to boot? You'll see one in early November: The Pebble Time Round is now available for pre-orders at

The Pebble name should sound familiar.

Back in 2012, the company set a then-record Kickstarter project, topping $10.3 million for its e-paper smartwatch. Aside from the long battery life, thanks mainly to the low-power screen, Pebble's watch was attractive to iOS and Android users, since it works with both mobile platforms.

Since then, the company has re-tooled its product line, introducing a color e-paper version earlier this year in steel and several color options. The new Pebble Time Round takes things a step further.

Pebble says "At 7.5mm thin and weighing just 28 grams, Pebble Time Round is the thinnest and lightest smartwatch in the world." And it looks like a traditional round watch, more so than a smartwatch. Pebble Time Round still works with both iOS and Android, has the unique timeline feature to see past, present and future information, and can get a day's worth of run-time with a 15-minute charge.


At $249.99, is that enough though?

While some consumers may prefer the simplicity of Pebble Time Round, I suspect most iPhone owners will opt to spend more for an Apple Watch. Due to iOS limitations, Pebble's watches don't integrate fully with an iPhone. The experience is richer with an Apple Watch by comparison.

Android phones work better with a Pebble, but here Android Wear can be had for the same price -- less in some cases -- and (like iOS) have a richer ecosystem. Pebble has made great strides in building its own app store for Pebble watches but it still falls short by comparison.

Apple isn't making a round watch (yet) and there are some Android Wear devices with round faces. Here, Pebble has an advantage, particularly since the Pebble Time Round is thinner.

That thinness comes at a sacrifice though: The old Pebble watches could run for five to seven days on a single charge. A thinner watch means less room for a battery and sure enough, Pebble Time Round lasts for two days.

The new watches from Pebble look nice: The redesign shows smaller buttons along with the thin profile. And for some that may be enough. It would be an easier sell, however, for $199 or less based on the competition.