Just last week, I got my first ever smartwatch. I ordered it over at Pebble.com a month ago and even got a 10% discount. After using it the past week, I’ve been observing and noting down the good and the bad with having this as my daily wearable. So without further ado, let’s get to the review.
I. The Feel of a Smartwatch
So before I describe what it’s like to wear it, I’d like to describe first my experience with watches. I’ve owned 5 watches my whole life. This is both the 5th watch and the 1st smartwatch I’ve ever owned/worn. My first three watches were all digital and made mostly with rubber encasings and straps. I went afterwards with a steel analog watch with a steel band.
The watch itself is a polycarbonate body and a 22mm silicon strap for the watch band. Before, it used to come in many colors but now it comes in just black, white, and red. It weighs around 38g. It has bezels but it’s nothing too annoying since it looks like it has continuity with the black areas of the display (if you have a black Pebble Classic).
In terms of how it feels like when wearing it, I would say that it’s not too shabby at all. I say this because I’ve always been a fan of metal bands since rubber bands always irritated my skin when worn everyday. The silicon band though felt comfortable enough when worn and the body didn’t weigh so heavily on my wrist. The watch didn’t also bulge out from my wrist. Overall, the experience of wearing it was quite pleasant.
If I were to perfect the wearing experience though, I’d probably buy a metallic band in the future. Other than that, I have no further things to add.
II. The Everyday User Interface
One of the most important things about smartwatches is how easy it is to get the information you want off it.
Externally, the Pebble Classic offers an E-Paper display. It drains battery much less than other smartwatches and can always be left on. It comes with a 1.26-inch black and white display with 144 x 168 resolution. Under normal lighting and the sun, the screen is readable and in the dark, you can just flick your wrist to read what’s on the screen with the backlight. The backlight also activates whenever you press a button.
I’ve taken a sort of liking to the display. The fact that it can stay on because it’s an E-Paper display is exactly what I would like in a smartwatch. No need to flick my wrist to activate the display. I just take a glance and I can see the time.
The watch also has 4 buttons. The sole button on the left is called the back button which can take you back to wherever you were. There are three buttons on the right: the up, select, and down buttons. These are used mainly for navigating through the menus and apps.
Software-wise, the Pebble Classic features Pebble OS. It uses a customized FreeRTOS kernel which can communicate with Android and iOS apps using Bluetooth. Navigating through the watch interface isn’t so hard. You’re usually at the watchface. By pressing the select button, you go into a menu which has all your watch apps. You can scroll through the menu by using the up and down buttons. Of course, you select whatever app you want using the select button. If you want to go back, just use the back button. Pressing the back button a few times, you’ll usually end up back at the watchface.
The watch also displays notifications from your phone so you don’t have to always take it out of your pocket. As soon as a notification pops on your phone, your watch displays it on screen regardless of what you’re doing with your watch. You can choose to either dismiss it, mute the app notifying you, or enable quiet mode (a sort of Do-Not-Disturb mode).
III. The Watch Features
The Pebble Classic has a couple of features that make it standout from other smartwatches. One of these is a battery that can last up to 7 days without charging. That’s pretty impressive. I haven’t even charged it since I got it and it’s still at a bit more than 10%.
The watch is also water resistant up to 50 feet. Meaning you can swim and shower with it on your wrist and not worry about it. Just don’t expose it to extreme tempartures.
Pebble OS packs quite a lot of features as well.
The Pebble Classic has a lot of watchfaces to put on. You can go through a lot of watchfaces that Pebble and other developers offer on the Pebble App and Watchface store or you can sideload a few of your own custom and 3rd party watchfaces.
The main thing that Pebble OS boasts is its apps. iOS and Android Wear aside, Pebble OS provides many available apps for its consumers and opportunities to make new ones for developers. Also, since the arrival of timeline in the Pebble Classic just last year, developers have been able to add schedule related features for their apps. One such example is the app Habits by Zevive which allows its users to add daily reminders to their timeline for the day.
Despite not having things its successors have (Pebble Health, colored E-Paper displays, microphones, etc.), the Pebble Classic is still pretty unique in its own and has features other smartwatches do not have. Add the fact that its 50ft water resistance and battery are still no match for any other smartwatch outside Pebble.
IV. The App
Part of what comprises the smartwatch can also be found on the phone. The app is available on iOS and Android simply as “Pebble.” It’s very easy to use and very intuitive. When you open it for the first time, you are prompted to connect to your Pebble smartwatch via Bluetooth and then you can just let the app and Pebble OS work their magic. You are then allowed to go to the Watchfaces, Apps, and Notifications tabs to control what you want on your smartwatch.
The app also features the watchface and app store which allow you to load whatever you want on your smartwatch. A lot of apps still support Pebble Classic and work pretty well despite having no color. Navigating through the app is also very easy since there are a lot of categories, suggestions, and a search button.
Overall, the app is very clean and user friendly.
V. The Verdict
In my personal opinion, the Pebble Classic is a great watch. It may not be the best watch out there (and rightfully so since it’s old), but it still gives you everything you want in a smartwatch. Now that it’s one of the cheaper smartwatches out there, it definitely is worth your money. I’d recommend it either to someone who never had a smartwatch before or is on a tight budget.
I would rate the Pebble Classic at…