Pebble Time 2 is Pebble’s most fabulous smartwatch yet. Expected to start shipping towards the end of 2016, the latest Pebble Watch comes with an added array of features focused on fitness and health. It also improves on features that were already in Pebble Time, which was released last year.
The company, Pebble, first made headlines in 2012 when they held a wildly successful Kickstarter, managing to raise 10 million for their first stab at smart wearables.
In 2015, the Pebble Time fundraiser raised $1 million in under an hour, topping out at $20 million by the end of the campaign.
For Pebble Time 2, they decided to go back to Kickstarter where their campaign raised $12 million from over 66,000 backers. The money supported the development of Pebble Time 2, Pebble 2 and the new Pebble Core.
After all that money and buzz, is the Pebble Time 2 worth it?
Below, we go through what we know so far including design, OS, fitness tracking and overall performance. Of course, we will tell you how much you can preorder it for and when it is expected to start shipping. If you have anything to add to the review, feel free to leave your comments below.
Pebble Time 2 Design
In terms of style, Pebble Time 2 makes much needed improvements from its predecessor. One of the things you will notice immediately is the reduced size of the bezel, helping give the smart timepiece a stylish flair.
It retains the rounded edges and is just the perfect size for most people, male or female. While it is larger than its predecessor, it is neither awkwardly gigantic nor delicately dainty.
The body is made from steel and zinc while the straps are silicone. Buyers will be able to choose from three colors; black, gold and silver. You can also swap out the default silicon straps with any other 22 mm bands, allowing you to customize your style further.
At the back, you will find a slightly elevated platform. This is the heart rate monitor, the heart (no pun intended) of the Pebble Time 2. The raised profile is likely meant to improve the accuracy of heart rate readings especially when you are active.
Overall, the Pebble Time 2 is not a major design reinvention from the Pebble Time. It retains most of the looks, while making slight tweaks to improve the overall design. The design is versatile enough to wear at the gym, when out running, at the office or to a dinner with friends. It does not have the finesse of Apple Watch or the sleekness of Samsung Gear S2/S3 but for its price, it looks just fine.
Pebble Time 2 will most likely not bring in a touch screen, a divisive issue that has persisted throughout most of Pebble’s timepieces. Regardless of the debate, Pebble watches seem to be doing just fine without battery-draining touch screens.
Pebble Time 2 comes with a color e-paper screen, though brighter, clearer and larger than the one in Pebble Time. This should help users see the screen perfectly well even when in the direct glare of sunlight. The buttons on the sides are good enough for scrolling through menus and making selections.
New OS: Pebble 4.0
Recently Pebble made a big announcement; the Pebble OS would be getting a major update. Pebble 4.0 brings huge improvements to software, apps and general functionality on the Pebble platform.
The company noted that the new version of Pebble OS would be focused on getting information to the user as quickly as possible. With a quick glance, you will be able to access various details including step count, heart rate, sleep performance, current time and much more information.
The new operating system will feel significantly lighter and faster, allowing you to launch apps quickly and navigate through the interface with utmost ease. It also comes with an updated Pebble Health app that focuses on simplicity and a quick ‘glance and go’ functionality. Other new features it comes with include
- Ability to view some notifications without having to open the apps themselves.
- A much sleeker and quicker launcher.
- The four buttons have been given increased functionality. You can use them to launch apps quickly and tweak various settings like airplane mode and backlight.
- iOS users can now act on their emails (Gmail only). This includes replying, deleting and archiving. This was previously something only Android users could do.
It is obvious that Pebble made this update well ahead of the launch of Pebble Time 2. Equipped with the new OS, Pebble Time 2 will be much more powerful, faster and intuitive. Among fitness-focused smartwatches, the user experience on Pebble Time 2 will simply be unbeatable.
Heart Rate Monitor
The heart rate monitor is the centerpiece of the Pebble Time 2. Designed with great care and precision, the monitor delivers to the user an accurate assessment of health and fitness throughout the day. As we mentioned earlier when talking about the design, the monitor is located at the back of the watch. It is easily identifiable by the slightly raised platform, presumably designed that way to ensure increased accuracy of readings.
The watch uses an optical heart rate sensor, which uses light to measure blood flow in blood vessels. At the moment, this technology delivers the most accurate measurements in wrist-worn wearables. The collected readings are at the center of how the Pebble Health app works. They are used to measure the amount of calories you have burned, your workout intensity and your general state of health throughout the day.
Developing the heart rate sensor took dozens of tests and numerous tweaks before the sensor achieved the desired measuring accuracy. It was tested in all kinds of situations – running, sleeping, lying down, sitting – to ensure accuracy no matter what you are doing.
A dedicated chest strap is still number one in delivering accurate heart rate readings. But for most people, the optical heart rate sensor in Pebble Time 2 will do. If you are a professional athlete where 100% accuracy is extremely important, we would recommend a dedicate heart rate monitor.
Activity and Sleep Tracking
Pebble Time 2 is sold on the premise that it is a simple but effective and affordable activity and sleep tracker. The heart rate monitor, already discussed above, is at the center of the watch’s fitness tracking but it is not the only component. There is also an accelerometer to track your movements and sleep quality.
Combined with the health app, Time 2 delivers an impressively powerful health and fitness feature. It makes it easy to track your efforts toward fitness, including your heart rate and daily step count. On the app, you can set goals and see how well you have been performing over the last several weeks and months.
Pebble Activity Tracking
The watch will be able to detect certain types of exercises such as running and send you summaries after the activity. Based on your current efforts, the health app will create tailored goals specifically for you. These goals help you make incremental progress without getting bored or burning out with exhaustion. Since the watch is water resistance up to a depth of 30 meters, you can swim, take a shower or run in the rain without worrying about damaging it.
In sleep tracking, the watch will keep track of when you fall asleep, what time you wake up and the depth of sleep you got during the night. Thus, it is not just about the length of your nightly snoozes but the quality too. The watch is able to determine the best time for you to wake up feeling fresh and utilizes smart alarms to nudge you awake in the morning.
If you have a busy schedule, integrate Pebble Health with your calendar and it will find free time in your day to use for a workout.
Unfortunately, especially for a fitness-oriented wearable – Time 2 lacks inbuilt GPS, meaning you have to rely on your phone if you want to track your runs and rides via satellite. If you want a GPS-enabled tracker, we recommend Pebble Core. This is another product Pebble is launching alongside Time 2.
In a first from Pebble, the Time 2 will have a microphone built into it. This will bring voice support to the wearable. You will be able to voice your messages and replies and perhaps even give commands to the watch.
Voice support issues are often problematic especially in smartwatches. We will just have to wait until the watch launches to see whether voice support is actually a useful feature or just a useless addition. If it works well, and we are optimistic it will, it could change a lot about how users interact with the watch.
Connectivity and Communication
Pebble Time 2 will come with the standard connectivity capabilities. As long as you have the Pebble app on your Smartphone, you can connect the Time 2 to your Android or iOS phone. When connected, you will be able to receive notifications on messages and emails. The OS update allows iOS users to even reply, delete or archive incoming emails right from the small screen on the wrist.
For a fitness wearable, Pebble Time 2 actually does better than expected in keeping you connected to the world. It is not at the level of Apple Watch but it is good enough for most users’ needs.
One of the reasons Pebble timepieces are so popular is the availability of Pebble apps. There are more than 10,000 apps and watch faces to choose from. This allows users to customize their watches and add functionality in ways that most other fitness watches cannot.
Apps like Runkeeper, Tripadvisor, My Bus and Misfit open up a whole new world of features and possibilities. If the watch does not cover something, for instance food logging, then you can be sure there is an app on the platform that does it.
With the new operating system, operating various apps is bound to get easier and faster. No lags when opening apps or switching between different apps.
These days, you would have a hard time finding a smartwatch that lasts beyond a day or two. We may have some very advanced smartwatches in the market but most are pretty disappointing when it comes to battery life.
Pebble has always made a point of creating products with respectable battery usage times. The company says you can get up to 10 days on a single full charge. This is of course average and will vary depending on how heavily you use your watch. But even 8 days is really good considering that Apple Watch and most Android Wear watches cannot go beyond two days.
When the battery runs out, there is a USB charger included in the kit to recharge it. If you are short of time, just 15 minutes of charging will give you an extra full day of battery life.
Price and Release Date
Pebble creates high quality, practical and affordable fitness products. Things are no different with the Pebble Time 2. It is available for preorder at $199.99 and can be shipped to most countries worldwide. It is hard to come across a fitness smartwatch at this price point and delivering the many features of Time 2. Comparing the features and price, this is undoubtedly a great deal.
With over 66,000 backers backing the project on Kickstarter, you are not the only one eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Pebble Time 2.Unfortunately, if you are not one of the backers, you may have to wait a little bit longer to get the timepiece. The company is likely to start shipping Time 2 to campaign backers in November. As for anyone else, the timepiece will not be officially on sale until 2017. Even if you preorder now, shipping is not likely to start until the beginning of next year.
A Simple Fitness Smartwatch that Just Works
Despite other big names like Garmin, Apple and Fitbit getting into the market with fancy wearables, Pebble has remained quite popular. They may not have the most stylish of watches but they deliver a fitness watch that does what it promises.
While we already know a lot about Pebble Time 2, we still cannot wait to unbox it and test it out. What feature in the upcoming Time 2 has impressed you the most?