Pebble Time Steel Review

Hands on with the new Pebble Time Steel smartwatch

Just weeks after Pebble’s record-breaking return to Kickstarter with the Pebble Time, CEO Eric Migicovsky decided to surprise us by walking into our small briefing room with a Pelicase. Lurking inside was the new Pebble Time Steel.

Like the Pebble Steel, the Time Steel has a stainless steel bezel all the way around the screen and also comes with an optional metal bracelet. Combined, it wipes the floor with the stainless steel Sony SmartWatch 3 and the Huawei Watch. It still uses the same quick-release strap mechanism as the Pebble Time, so you can swap out the bracelet for any 22mm-wide straps to customise. It also has the same waterproofing as the Time.

Watch our Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel hands-on video

SEE ALSO: Pebble Time hands-on

Pebble told me it’s about 1mm thicker, but you can barely notice it up close. The reason for the jump in size is to deliver a 10-day battery life. That’s because it uses the same colour E Ink non-touchscreen display as the Time, which is less draining than the LCD screens you find on most smartwatches.

The software is the same here as well. So you can access all the usual settings and smartphone-controlled features, plus navigate the new Timeline feature. This delivers the most important information relevant for that exact time, whether that’s scheduled meetings or reminders not to miss the football. You can also look back in case you’ve missed an email, but you can only go as far back as 24 hours.

Pebble Time Steel (left) and Pebble Time (right)

There are four buttons to navigate the very streamlined interface, while the new built-in microphone works for Google Voice-style search, voice memos or even sending voice files. The buttons on the model I tried did feel a little stiff to press, so that’s hopefully something Pebble will look at that before its global launch in July this year.

The other big news is that Pebble will be introducing “smart straps” for both the Pebble Time Steel and Pebble Time. It vaguely mentioned the idea of the ability to add sensors to the new smartwatch when it launched the Time on Kickstarter, but now it’s offered more concrete details on how that will work. It’s opening development for any company to build straps that can connect to the Time and Time Steel to add extra functionality. That could be NFC-style wireless payment systems or heart-rate sensors, for instance.

There’s no smart straps built as yet for the Pebble, but when I asked about how much these smart straps will cost, I was told that it should be no more than $50-100.

Early Verdict

I’ve seen a lot of smartwatches over the past couple of years, and for the first time I’ve found one I think I would actually want to own. The stainless steel finish makes the Time Steel more desirable than the Pebble Time. It’s waterproof, the software is simple and effective in what it can do, and then there’s the battery life. Five days on the Time is good, but 10 days on the Time Steel is even better.

The Pebble Time Steel is going back on Kickstarter and will go on sale in July for €299, which is around the £220 mark. If you’ve already backed the Time, you can transfer over to the Time Steel and not lose your place in the queue. The Pebble Steel was £180, so you might have to pay more this time around.

I can’t help but be impressed with what Pebble has come up with and it looks like Apple is going to have a fight on its hands.

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