Review: Pebble Time Steel

The Pebble Time Steel could be the perfect mix of style and utility – we take it for a spin.

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Our Verdict

Pebble adds a layer of style to its brilliant pioneering smartwatch, but its price brings it up to the level of smarter watches with which it struggles to compete in terms of apps, screen size and resolution. But it is a clear winner for colour-screened battery life, and it has a charm that is lacking in slicker rivals.

For

  • Characterful
  • Week-long battery life
  • Plenty of useful features

Against

  • Getting pricey
  • Huge bezel/tiny screen
  • Lacks apps

Pebble virtually invented the smartwatch segment with its crowdfunded e-ink watch, now branded the Pebble Classic. But time moves on (sorry), and with tech heavyweights including Apple, Samsung and LG competing to create great watches for designers – with the Apple Watch featuring some of the best iPhone apps – Pebble had to up its game.

The result was the (also crowdfunded) Pebble Time, which added colour and a number of other improvements to the Classic's simple formula. Pebble then offered a more stylish alternative to the Time, creating the Pebble Time Steel, and it's that watch that piqued the interest of us at Creative Bloq. Could it provide the ideal combination of good design and useful features to help improve our productivity while still being something we'd like to wear on our wrists?

Review: Pebble Time Steel

Red and gold is a curious colourway, but it works

Well, after a month of testing out the Time Steel in a variety of challenging environments (the office, home, the car, home again… the list literally ends there) we can report that we love it.

Our supplied watch has a blood red strap and gold case, which initially raised so many eyebrows that it was like our office air conditioning started to suck instead of blow. But it grew on me – it's not a colour combination I'd choose personally, but that is the whole point of personalisation and Pebble offers plenty of options there.

Review: Pebble Time Steel

The Pebble's calendar is a useful addition and works on that colour e-ink screen

If you're used to Pebble's previous watches, the first thing you'll notice is how grown-up it feels. It has a lovely metal case, and its colour e-ink screen – while not the last word in resolution – is clear and fun. It is chunky but light and comfortable on the wrist (and I have ludicrously skinny wrists).

That low resolution pays dividends when it comes to battery life, however. On my test, I only gave the battery a boost with the accompanying magnetic charge cable every seven days or so, and I could probably have eked out a day or so more at a push. That sort of longevity will have Apple Watch owners weeping into their pricey docks.

Review: Pebble Time Steel

Many apps are compatible with the Pebble, but not as many as its rivals

The Pebble does all the smartwatchy things you'd expect – it notifies you of your calls, messages and more, and there are calendar apps to remind you of deadlines and meetings so you can probably persuade your tax return that it's a productivity tool.

It is lacking apps compared to the Apple Watch and Android Wear-toting smartwatches, as you'd expect, and it has limited functionality if you don't pair it with a phone. But most people will not be buying a smartwatch as a standalone object, anyway.

More importantly, it has funky watch faces aplenty – my personal favourite was a cool '70s-style face with slick sliding numerals, which suited the gold bezel, but you're sure to find a face you like amongst the myriad available options that range from stylish to sci-fi, geeky to cheeky, and everything inbetween.

And that perhaps summarises the Pebble Time Steel best of all – while most other smartwatches take themselves very seriously, the Pebble is fun and yet it still offers much of the functionality of its (more expensive) rivals.

Pebble Time Steel

The Verdict

8

out of 10

Pebble Time Steel

Pebble adds a layer of style to its brilliant pioneering smartwatch, but its price brings it up to the level of smarter watches with which it struggles to compete in terms of apps, screen size and resolution. But it is a clear winner for colour-screened battery life, and it has a charm that is lacking in slicker rivals.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Craig Stewart is managing editor of Creative Bloq. Craig has written about everything from cars and design to football and tech for numerous national newspapers, websites and magazines, including Classic Ford, The Scotsman and T3.