Apr 16 AT 3:18 PM Taylor Wimberly 49 Comments

Could Pebble become the smartwatch of your dreams?


Will 2012 be the year you buy a smartwatch? I have dreamed of a smartwatch that did not suck for a long time, and it looks like this year might finally be the time to purchase one.

Back in 2010, I pleaded with people to buy the Sony Liveview, in hopes they would make a better model in the following years. Sony listened to feedback and this year they debuted the Sony Smartwatch at $149, which has been met with mostly positive reviews. It features an improved color OLED display with multitouch, support for lots more apps, average battery life of 3-4 days, and it can be found online for as low as $117.

Sony’s Smartwatch looks impressive and I still might order one, but in the last week the upcoming Pebble watch has been getting a lot of buzz and now I’m having second thoughts.

pebble-630 trio_straight music2 golf2 cycling4 email1 wordclock4

Pebble launched a Kickstarter project to raise $100,000 for their e-paper watch. In a little under a week, they have raised over $3,100,000 from 22,204 backers and the support keeps coming in.

So what makes the Pebble so special? For starters, it supports both Android and iPhone, which will attract a larger group of developers to make applications. Compared with the Sony Smartwatch, the Pebble offers roughly double the battery life (7 days) and it will be waterproof.

The Pebble should also be infinitely customizable. It will ship with a handful of downloadable watchfaces and its own official app store, but Pebble has provided the tools that will allow almost any geek to tweak the smartwatch to their liking. It features integration with ifttt.com (perfect for non-coders), a RESTful API (for medium-coders), and a full SDK (for boss coders).

Like the Sony Smartwatch, the Pebble will debut with a suggested retail price around $150. However, you can score one of the first Jet Black Pebble watches when it launches later this year by pledging only $115. If you pledge an additional $10, then you can pick one Pebble in any color (choose from Arctic White, Cherry Red, Voter’s choice or Jet Black).

We don’t know exactly when the Pebble will launch, but it’s expected to ship sometime around September. Those who pledged $235 for the hacker special will receive a prototype watch in August so they can start coding their apps early.

Looking at the Sony Smartwatch and Pebble, each one has its own advantages. The Sony model is available for purchase today and it features a multi-touch color display, while the Pebble will have a longer battery life and likely more developer support.

If you are in the market for a smartwatch, let me know what you think. Should I dive in and pick up the Sony Smartwatch right now for the sale price of $117 or wait another 5-6 months for the Pebble in hopes that it it lives up to the hype?

Source: Kickstarter

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Bryan Stoner

    Huhuhu vibrating motor. Yup sounds like a neat idea.

  • ranwanimator

    People still wear watches?

    • http://clarklab.net Clark Wimberly

      They will if they become useful again.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      I stopped wearing a watch years ago when I started using my phone to tell time. But now I see the appeal of wearing a smartwatch. It would be nice to be able to still be connected without having to pull out your phone to view every notification. I think it’s rude in certain situations to pull out your phone in front of others, but I guess it could also be rude to stare at your watch haha.

      • smartlife

        why is it rude to pull up hand phone to view. STUPID!!!!! we have freedom to look at our phone anytime we like.. what a silly comments. why you care about how people look at you… STUPID!!!

    • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

      I lost my watch a few months ago and left like I was walking around naked.

    • Stigy

      Wait, people don’t wear watches?

      I have a watch on 99% of the time (except sleeping/showering). I own about 8-10 watches that I change based on dress and how I feel that day.

      I thought watches were making a comeback based on what I saw in college 2-3 years ago.

  • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

    If I didn’t hate wearing a watch, I’d be ALL over this. However, I spend ~12-18 hrs/day at a computer and I just can’t stand the rubbing of the band between my wrist and desk – I always have to take it off.

    But yes, if you want a smart watch, this is the one to get and right now is the time to get it!

  • droilfade

    Pebble, right from the start, sounded to me like a great project. You hit the nail on the head, when you said it is compatible with iOS and Android and I have both in my household. Also, in the video looking at the different skins and apps really got me excited! Can’t wait for it be released soon so that I can sport this with my new SIII :p

    • Stigy

      The only non-iOS compatible part is the sending of SMS to the watch since iOS doesn’t make that available.

  • spazby

    very cool, i would not mind getting one of these… still sounds funny if i were to say – i forgot to charge my watch…

  • Adam Smith

    The e-paper display is a let down in my opinion. It doesn’t have that same wow factor as Sony’s Smartwatch. It just doesn’t link in with a smartphone.

    I don’t see any improvements on this vs. Sony, it’s just a different approach, which is fine.

    Sony should have included more features with their SmartWatch and it would have been an instant hit.

    • esper256

      The e-paper display is the biggest reason that the Pebble will be so much better.

      1) The screen always shows something, you don’t have to press a button on it to turn it on.
      2) No problem reading it in the sunlight.
      3) Battery life (who wants to have to plug in their watch every night?) With the Sony watch, the estimated battery life is probably based on someone not using the watch at all. How long will it last when apps are constantly using the screen? Probably not long.

      Put another way, let’s say I’m biking to work and Google Music plays a song I like but I don’t remember the name. I rotate my wrist a bit so I can see the watch, now I know what song is playing. With the Sony watch, I’d have to touch the screen on the watch with my other hand, then I’d have to try to get it at the right angle so that I can read it clearly, then the battery drains for 15 seconds while the screen times out and goes back to blank).

      • pjamies

        What would be even kooler would be if they used a Mirasol display from Qualcomm.
        This is a super low powered high-def colored technology that Qualcomm is reading for some time late this year or early next year ..
        Maybe in the second version of this watch … 1 can only hope !
        Interesting product tho ..
        Open it to Mod’rs and you will have crazy success …

  • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

    I’ve pledged money to the project already and can’t wait to get mine once it’s available. I played around with several smart watches at CES and am excited to see what’ll be available in the next few years. The main issue I had with the SONY product is that the screen is very low resolution and that the you need to charge it every day if you actively user it as a smart watch and check notifications or use it to interact with applications on your phone. I’m sure the final Pebble product won’t get a full 7 days of battery life, but it should be much better than what other products currently offer.

    • http://www.ndroidgamers.com B2L

      I’ve pledged my money as well, i’m really surprised it’s gotten so high. When I first pledged they were only at $300,000. I was extremely glad to see they’re making it waterproof and since it always displays the time without having to push a button, I just couldn’t help myself.

      My only hope is they decide to offer a larger variety of colors, possibly 2 or 3 user’s choice colors instead of just the one.

  • Nathan D.

    this is cool, I wouldn’t mind getting this, it would be a good way to pass time in school reading text when there nothing else to do.

  • billc

    Dude this is the future of communications!

  • Stigy

    I already backed this project a few days ago and I absolutely cannot wait for it to come out. It’s half the price of the MotoACTV too, which a bunch of friends have and highly recommend so this is awesome.

    I think the biggest selling point for me (or the coolest feature at least) is the open SDK so that developers can use this to create apps specifically for the watch.

    I can’t wait to see what other updates they provide, now that they told us it is going to be waterproof.

    • honourbound68

      I’m hoping it will have apps a la run keeper/endomondo. It’d be nice not to use my phone to track my runs.

  • NoRootNoFun

    Didn’t the video from Sony suggest the SmartWatch is waterproof, too? At least I think a watch should be water proof…

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      I can’t find any info to confirm is the Sony Smartwatch is waterproof. There is chance the Sony could be water resistant or spill proof, but with the Pebble you could go swimming.

      • NoRootNoFun

        I see. I thought it could be waterproof because the video from Sony shows the SmartWatch getting dropped into water (at 0:53). But that little bit of water probably just means it’s water resistant. I like the idea of swimming with the Pebble much more :-)

  • Curly

    I wouldn’t trust Sony with *any* of my money.


  • Max.Steel

    lol. Watches.

  • professandobey


  • JPB

    I like the idea but will it be something that women want to wear? Too many of these smart watches seem huge for a female wrist.

    If not, it will be a shame. Please, take my money, but only if you have a woman’s model (no, that doesn’t mean “make it pink”).

  • Anthony

    I’ve had the same Fossil watch since 2004, changed the battery once in that time and have never seen a need to get a new watch, despite occasionally browsing in stores when I happen upon them. Despite having a smartphone in my pocket, you just can’t beat the speed of being able to tell time on your wrist at a moment’s notice, fashion factor notwithstanding. The openness of this thing though is very intriguing and I can see how the applications could really give you that James Bond feel. I might have to check this out!

  • George Alex Terry Creasy

    I can see smart watches being the next big thing for 2012/2013 you know. Once smart TVs get out of the way. the ipod nano is already around you know…

  • westy

    how bout you get both and then give us a full review and a vs between both devices. This will help us make a decision :)

  • cthonctic

    By pure chance I got wind of this project when there were still 160/200 early bird items available and got behind it right away. That’s why I’m really happy it went off like this and exceeded all expectations in terms of getting it financed.

    For the longest time I have wanted a manufacturer to pair the power-sipping eInk/e-paper screen technology with a semi-smart watch such as this. It’s cool to change watch faces and customize the experience but IMO it’s so much better to just pair the device with our already existing smartphones and let them do the heavy lifting in regards of apps and utilities rather than have a smartwatch that runs a bright screen and tons of processes (which in all likelihood are redundant with what we have installed on our smartphones) but needs to be charged every night…

    I feel absolutely naked without a watch and have a very nice Suunto Core that I wear all the time, but I am so looking forward to clapping this onto my wrist.
    And actually to me it doesn’t hurt that the Pebble kind of sports the same rustic geek charm as the G1 did back in the day, I dig it. :)

  • http://tinkerdad.blogspot.com xfaith

    I have been on the fence about this one, last time I checked it was at 1mil, now 3mil. It has been a while without a watch on, and have been fine with just my phone, but would like it again…welll I guess it doesnt matter anymore just backed it for a black watch :).

  • Maximo

    Looks good. I wonder when an Android ones gonna come out

    • Yapapi

      Pebble works with both iPhone and Android. They say target date for delivery is Sept ’12

  • smeghead68

    haven’t worn a watch in years but this may make me go back.

  • awundrin

    So gimmicky..I mean really…does anyone really NEED one of these? Something for the young crowd I suppose.

  • vid500

    I’m just wondering if the watch works when you are out of the phones range or dose it need a connection all the time to show you the time? But otherwise I’d go for the Pebble.

  • Not for me

    3-4 days!? I’m in the market for a new watch, but I think I’ll take my current watch sans-features which is currently on battery cycle #1 after nearly 10 years

  • epps720

    I’m not that fond of the look of the pebble. It’s not terrible but I think the Smartwatch just looks better. I’m tempted to go w/the Smartwatch but have 2 possible issues. I need the watch to show time at ALL TIMES. I don’t want to have to click on the screen just to see what time it is. Also in the link to the article it states that the watch will not tell time unless it’s connected to a phone. I hope this was just on the prototype b/c that is just asinine if true.

  • Greg

    I hate to be that guy, but I’ll wait for the Pebble 2.

    On another note, has anyone else here owned the PEBL? It was the cooler, well-rounded brother of the RAZR. I used to love it…and everyone loved its slide-to-open mechanism.

    • Max.Steel

      My sister had that phone. It was one of the best phone designs I’ve ever seen. I had the KRZR. I loved that one too!

  • olen

    up to 7 days still sucks

  • kungpaodragon

    Sounds cool.. idea is cool… but if I have to carry my smart phone around anyway to do anything useful, why would I really need a watch that tells my smart phone what to do (in a much harder smaller screen) other than to show… Sounds like one of those things Apple fanboys would love. But who cares, these days, it’s popularity that counts.

    • leaponover

      Not having to take my phone out of my pocket, or check the other room to see who is calling for starters….

      That alone will be invaluable to me!

  • leaponover

    I want to be in on this but it really bugs me that they are up to 3.1 mil and can’t deliver anything until September. I won’t commit to anything that far away because you never know what is around the corner and can be even better than this…

    It has everything I want though, definitely a step in the right direction for smart watches.

    • Travis

      Actually, if you go to place a preorder, they say that you will not be charged until the watch is ready to ship, and you have the option to cancel your order at such a time if you no longer deem this a valuable accessory

  • Glen Bramlitt

    So what happens when you want to check it at night? e-ink might be good in the daylight, but what about in the dark? Backlights are so in the past.

  • Graham Parkes

    Are people really so lazy that they can’t take their phone out of their pocket or bag to check notifications?

    Sorry, I think the smartwatch idea sucks. Yet another device to charge and if it connectes to the phone by Bluetooth it’s just one more thing to drain my phone’s battery that much faster.

    I’ll stick with my Tissot on my wrist and remain happy taking my phone out of my pocket when I need to look at it.

    I suspect that this is one of those faddy gimmicks like 3D for phones that will die quickly.

  • An6el

    I have the Sony Smart Watch, and after seeing the pebble I kinda want that one too to see the difference. From looking at the pebble I kindda like it, the only thing that bothers me is the size. I’m only 5 feet my husband is 6 feet 3 so I’m sure it’ll be fine on him. But I got small arms so I think that watch would look too bulky on me :(