Once upon a time there were boring old watches. They looked like this:
Then Pebble beat everyone to the smartwatch market, especially Apple. They made a smartwatch that worked with iPhones and Android devices, long before either camp made an exclusive smartwatch.
To prove the market, they crowdfunded their device, making crowdfunding history with over $10-million in pledges.
That was 2013. Then the big players did everything they could to catch up.
Now, Apple has their second Watch. They call it the Series 2. Pebble has made several other devices since that first one, but the first one remained unchanged for years… until now.
The biggest factor between these rivals is the price. The Pebble 2 kills the Series 2 right out the gate. You’ll drop at least $269 on an entry-level Series 2. The Pebble is $160. No contest there. Pebble wins, but price isn’t everything.
Both smartwatches have their fans, but only one can win this battle. We’ll dive into these two noble devices, weighing several elements for the verdict: style, device features, and functionality.
Their both square-faced designs, but the Series 2 offers bright, full-color, touch display. The monochrome Pebble 2 offers what some call a retro design, but it’s more like dated.
Retro is an ironic commentary on long-forgotten design elements. They should be aged enough that those elements feel like a welcome return to simpler times.
An off-white Windows-based desktop PC with a CRT display would not look and feel retro. It would give the feeling of slow.
While the Pebble may have more under the hood than the design implies, it begs the question: why wrap the new tech in old-timey packaging?
Not only that, the Series 2 makes better use of screen landscape. The Pebble 2 is not only a simple display, the upgraded but still thick bezel of the design pushes that face into a tiny box.
The Apple design takes flack for not being round, but it still wins over the Pebble 2.
Walk into a board meeting wearing the Series 2 and they’ll notice your fancy watch. But,walk in wearing the Pebble 2, they may think you wore your kid’s toy into work.
Both offer health tracking with metrics like activity-mentoring, calories burned and the like. They’ll both let you swim.
The Pebble 2 just added the heart rate monitor, which the Series 1 had already offered.
They both send you notifications about texts and calls, but the Series 1 is better integrated with Apple’s ecosystem than Pebble. That won’t matter to Android users.
One big feature on which the Pebble 2 takes the Series 2 is battery life. The Series 2 battery life is about the same as the Series 1. The Pebble 2 lasts a week on one charge. This is the advantage of a simple e-ink display.
Both offer various bands and apps to customize your experience, although Apple wins on volume, but how many bands and apps does one person need?
On balance, these tie for features. For most users, outside of price, it will come down the battery life and ecosystems of these devices.
In battle, these devices stand up about the same.
They both go deep in water, but most users won’t go very deep unless they are diving. Swimmers tend to hang at the surface. Divers will buy dive watches, not these.
They’ll both keep you rocking as you run, even if it rains, but only the Series 2 will track your run. Only the series 2 will show you a map in case you get lost. Pebble 2 does not offer GPS.
Where Pebble 2 makes up the difference is with compatibility. You can pair it with your Android device. Series 2 will only pair with iPhones or iPads.
That’s a tough blow to the Series 2, but not enough to kill it. Series 2 goes more places and does more than the Pebble 2.
Unless you love your Android ecosystem, the Apple Series 2 offers you a more robust experience for only about a hundred dollars more.
Of the two, only the Series 2 allows you to leave your smartphone at home. For fitness enthusiasts, this is everything.
Apple might cost more, might be more exclusive, but it takes on its old rival without flinching.
Most Pebble fans who want more will upgrade their old Pebble for the Pebble Steel, which is more stylish but still can’t go phone free when running. Pebble needs to catch up on the GPS battle.
Either watch makes a nice addition to your arm, but anticipate the Pebble to draw some questions when you wear it. Apple wins.