4 years and several upgrades later, the new #Pebble2 #smartwatch is now ready for public scrutiny.
The Pebble 2 came just in time to breathe new life to a company struggling in its David versus Goliath battle of smartwatches. While Pebble used to be THE smartwatch with features other manufacturers could hardly crack – with its 7 day long battery life and always-on screen, competitors have been relentless in closing in the gap. In this newest addition, Pebble 2 attempts to even out with its competition on the hardware end with a microphone for voice control and heart-rate monitoring.
Design wise, the new Pebble remains true to its Swatch-like minimalist approach – with a more refined and elegant touch that lends this new version worthy as an upgrade. While the buttons for controls are less defined than it was previously, you’ll appreciate solid feel of the buttons and how well the the silicone coating blends in with the watch’s overall design once getting used to them. Strapped onto the wrist, the Pebble feels almost weightless – until you wriggle your arms to move the watch, and notice a mark that is left by the heart-rate monitor that is built as a hump on the underside.
Pebble’s insistence on not having a touch screen reflects more benefits than just battery saving. All controls are straightforward with the four physical buttons, and this saves users from the guesswork of figuring out which gestures they need to use to access certain functionalities. Compared to the likes of Apple and Android, the apps available on Pebble may look less fancy, however, there are more than enough to go around that allows users to customize your smartwatch. On top of the previously available apps, several productivity apps already utilize the Pebble 2 inbuilt microphone – personal favorites include Note to Self, Travel Crumbs, and a (non-mic activated but useful addition) Torch/Flashlight app that could double as a reflector during the long winter nights here in Finland.
Pebble Health, Pebble’s venture into fitness tracking involves tracking heart-rate, steps, and sleep through a centralized platform. Unlike its competitors, Pebble’s approach to fitness tracking compares you to your own personal average instead of an arbitrary step count. Based on the average amount of your activity, Pebble sends encouraging notifications to you for being active, which is a nice touch. In its recent software update, users are be able to check their activity average on the watch. However, the accuracy of its fitness tracking remains up for debate, as I observed abnormal spikes on the heart-rate, and the huge inconsistencies of step counts between Pebble Health and Google Fit during testing. Heart-rate and distance tracking during sports on the other hand seemed fairly reasonable for its lack of a GPS. That said, there remains a lot of potential for the amount of data collected and hopefully with its next update, Pebble Health could do better in its daily tracking department.
The Pebble 2 is a fitness-friendly smartwatch and makes for a modest upgrade overall. As competing manufacturers expands consumers options with releases such as the Huawei Fit, Pebble’s appeal may wane off for some. But if you’re the type who prefers subtlety and simplicity, Pebble 2 may be the perfect choice for you.
Developer: Pebble Technology, Corp.
Display: High contrast Black and White
Features: Heart rate sensor, Sleep monitor, Built-in microphone, Smart notifications, Water resistance (up to 3M), Always-on display, Silent alarms, Music control, Changeable bands, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor