Pebble Time Round Review
Just in case you don’t immediately see the difference with this latest smartwatch from Pebble, it’s built right into the name. Yes, it’s the first round Pebble watch! All previous watches from Pebble have been square or rectangular. With some obvious exceptions, other smartwatch manufacturers have largely been favoring the round form factor.
Personally, I feel that a square/rectangular form factor is optimal for a device for text consumption. After all, we don’t have circular smart phones or laptops, do we? However, round watch faces were born with analogue timepieces of old, and there is a stylistic heritage to consider. The Pebble Time Round is Pebble’s nod to this stylistic preference. Let’s look at some more details:
|Phone Compatibility:||Android 4.3+, IOS 8+|
|Screen Size (Diagonal):||1.25" (color display)|
|Screen Resolution:||180 x 180|
|Screen (crystal) Material:||Flat Corning Gorilla Glass, with oleophobic (anti-fingerprint) coating|
|Strap Type:||Standard 20mm Strap or Standard 14mm Strap depending on model.|
|Sensors:||Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Magnetometer, Microphone, E-Compass|
|Water Resistance:||Water Resistant|
|Estimated Battery Life:||2 Days|
What's in the Box?
I’m a little surprised that Pebble didn’t decide to present the Pebble Time Round in a circular box to emphasize the departure from the rectangular form factor, as does the Moto 360. However, the watch arrives in a square box containing the Pebble Time Round, a quick start guide, the charging cable and some Pebble stickers. Like all Pebble watches, charging is via a supplied cable with a USB connection on one end, and a magnetic charging connector on the other.
Historically, Pebble have introduced a plastic version of each watch before offering a premium metal version at a higher price. I’m pleased to see here that they have skipped a step, and the Pebble Time Round case is marine-grade stainless steel. This is a good move, as I think a plastic version of this would have had an extremely limited customer base and would have put it into “toy watch” territory.
The Pebble Time Round is offered in three choices of color: silver, black and rose gold—and with a choice of 20mm or 14mm straps. The suppled strap has quick-release connectors, and can easily be replaced with a range of readily-available standard straps. The 14mm version, in particular, may be ideally suited to ladies with smaller wrists.
I must admit to having reservations about the look of this watch before I got my hands on one. I’m pleased to be able to say that it looks and feels better than I expected. It has a solid, quality feel to it which didn’t convey in the photographs I had seen. The Corning Gorilla glass meets the edge of the case nicely, and the buttons are well placed and easily reached.
The thing that stands out most about this watch is how incredibly thin and light it is. At 7.5mm thick (and 28 grammes), it meets the official designation of “thin watch”. What this means in reality is that it easily slips underneath cuffs, doesn’t bind or interfere with gloves, and is a watch that you truly can forget you are wearing. That is, until you get that gentle vibration on your wrist… In a world where we are being exposed to ever larger and heavier smart watches the Pebble Time Round truly is a breath of fresh air.
There is a fairly substantial bezel between the watch case and the display. This has attracted some criticism online based on pre-release photographs. Although being concerned about that myself, I find that it is not as prominent in real-life as I expected. That was a relief. As I have experienced other smartwatches in the past with bezels, I find that they tend to disappear in one’s perception in short order—especially if you select watch faces that have black backgrounds.
Among the selection of variants available, you can select a plain bezel, a black one which has markings at the three hour points, or a white one which is marked with five minute increments. I particularly like these two latter options as they make the bezel an integral part of the watch, rather than a distraction.
It is not all without compromise, however. Because of the smaller case, a smaller battery had to be used. This gives the Pebble Time Round an estimated battery life of two days. In practice, I found that two-and-a-half days could be achieved. The good news is that it has a correspondingly fast charge rate. A fifteen minute charge gives a full day of use. That’s shower time. Quite impressive. 80% charge is reached in half an hour, and a full charge is reached in about 45 minutes.
Water resistance has been reduced. Whereas the Pebble Time is rated at 30 ATM, the Pebble Time round has an IPX7 rating, which means “splash resistant”. You won’t be taking this into the shower with you (perfect time to charge it), but splashes incurred while hand washing will be no problem.
The Pebble Time Round in Use
Functionally, the Pebble Time Round is identical to the Pebble Time. I found the watch to be snappy, and the now famous cute animations display without lag. One thing I did appreciate was that, when reading messages, the display scrolls by a complete page of text. This is far better than the scrolling by line that was present with the original watches. It is little things like this that show Pebble’s commitment to a lithe, eminently useful experience with minimal fuss.
Just like its predecessors in the Pebble Time range, the Pebble Time Round has a microphone. This is getting more useful as time goes by, and as Pebble (and other developers) create applications to use it. Of course, you can reply to texts and messages by dictating to the watch. You can also make notes and set reminders using voice commands. There is also a handy translation app which will translate what you dictate. Again, it is Android users who get the most use from this ability. Voice-transcribed responses to iOS messages, for example, will be coming soon, but only work on Android as of writing.
As stated at the beginning of this Pebble Time Round Review, the most obvious change with this watch is the shape. This shape, combined with the thinness and lightness of the watch does come with some compromises though. Compared to other Pebble smartwatches in the range, you are giving up some water resistance, and some battery life. If these things aren’t crucial to you, and you’re looking for a smart, ultra-light watch that doesn’t compromise on functionality, the Pebble Time Round could be the smart watch for you.