The smartwatch market has been full of activity and excitement as new products hit the market that have many consumers eager to try them out. The smartwatch market has seen steady development and the products and designs seem to get better with each passing year offering more functionality and better overall appearance.
Apple has finally decided to try its hand in the very competitive smartwatch space and see if they can have the same type of success as they have in other areas with their gadgets. So we decided to have a look at the Apple device and compare it to the Pebble Time Steel, which comes from a manufacturer very familiar to those who love smartwatches.
Pebble offers several models of smartwatches and has been one of the leaders in the market by constantly pushing the limits of what is possible. Their designs are very popular with consumers and they offer excellent functionality with a full list of features with most of their watches.
The Apple Watch offered at $349 is a little pricier compared to the Time Steel. However, small things can make a big difference and the extra few dollars might be worth it if you find a few features that you really enjoy.
Comparing the Initial Appearance
Both watches have a squared face with rounded corners but they are actually much different. The Time Steel has a display that is only 0.37 inches which is considerably smaller than its original model and smaller than our competitor watch the Apple model, which measures in at 0.41 inches thick.
The Apple Watch does come in two sizes, a model that is 1.5 x 1.3 and a model that is 1.7 x 1.4 inches for you to choose from. The Pebble watch is offered in three colors and each one comes with its own leather strap and a metal band to match. The Apple offers four distinct finishes and will also have six or more different style straps available to suit your preferences.
Winner: Apple Watch – More color choices and sizes
Design of the Display
Both of the watches offer a color display but they function much differently from another.
The Time Steel has an e-paper color display which is covered by Gorilla Glass.
The Apple Watch’s screen operates much like you would find on an iPhone or one of their other products and offers easy navigation with the touch of a finger swipe. It is probably not surprising we found this to be preferable over the Time Steel’s e-paper display as Apple has pretty much perfected this technology.
Winner: Apple Watch – Easy navigation and touch sensitive screen similar to an iPhone
Overall User Interface
The Time Steel’s display will feature a new look and design offered by Pebble. It will allow users to see a complete timeline of daily events which you can scroll through using three buttons on the right side of the watch.
The Apple Watch displays apps as smallish circles which you can navigate around by using your finger or button on the side of the watch.
The Pebble Time Steel while not quite as innovative as the Apple, has less required learning time and seems a little more straightforward in how it operates.
Overall it just seemed a bit more comfortable and easier to use especially for a first time user.
Winner – Pebble Time Steel – Easier operation
Comparing the Apps Ecosystem
The Pebble Time Steel is very versatile and comes with a lot of choices when it comes to apps and watch faces as well. This is obviously because Pebble has been in the smartwatch market for a while now and developers have had the chance to offer all kinds of applications that work with Pebble watches.
Additionally, the Pebble is friendly with both iOS devices and Android devices, while the Apple Watch will only work with an iPhone.
There are actually more than 6,500 apps available for the Pebble and while the Apple will have many apps available as well, it won’t be anywhere close to 6,500. NOTE: This was a surprise for me as it went against my initial assumption the Apple is the King of Apps.
Winner – Pebble Time Steel – More apps and more functionality, at least for now
The Pebble Time Steel does come equipped with a microphone but it is limited in function. The microphone will only let wearers respond to certain notifications or make memos and will not allow users to make calls. Additional attachments are available for a heart rate monitor, additional battery life, GPS and many other functions as well.
The Apple Watch lets you make transactions by paying for things with NFC right from your wrist. This watch also comes with a heart rate sensor as well as many other readings that are useful for fitness apps such as an accelerometer for measuring distance covered. The microphone is accessible for making calls and you can even use Siri.
Winner –Apple Watch – Better functionality
The Pebble Time’s battery will last up to ten full days on a single charge, which is quite remarkable and far longer than any other model available on the market.
The Apple only lasts about eighteen hours which is still respectable compared to other smartwatches but obviously not anywhere near the Pebble. However, it is always nice to not have to worry about charging your watch every single day and even better if you can go multiple days between charges.
Winner – Pebble Time Steel – Amazing battery life
Price Comparison: Pebble Time Steel vs Apple Watch
Both watches offer excellent style and functionality but the Pebble Time Steel has a slight advantage in the price category which makes it a little better overall value. It may not have the Apple name but in the smartwatch world, Pebble is respected much the same.
A lower price is certainly not always better, but the Pebble has a lower price with equal, if not greater functionality, which makes it a no brainer.
Winner – Pebble Time Steel – Offers a better overall value
Final Thoughts on the Pebble vs Apple Watch
The Pebble Time Steel has some advantages in significant categories which make it a better overall value for consumers given the price difference.
However, we suspect that over time, if Apple decides to stay in the smartwatch space they will adapt and overcome some of these challenges.
The number of apps topping over 6,500, working with both iOS and Android devices as well as the amazing battery life make the Pebble Time Steel our pick for the better smartwatch compared to the first version of the Apple Watch Sport.
Bottom Line: If you are looking for the best overall value right now, then the Pebble Time Steel should probably be your pick.
However, keep your eye on the Apple Watch and see what develops. Apple normally has a way of developing improvements fairly quickly and may introduce a follow up in short order that amazes us.