Cool Tech for Your Commission Check: Apple Watch vs. Pebble Watch

Cullen MacDonald
June 19, 2015

In our very first “Cool Tech for Your Commission Check” post, we talked about the Pebble smartwatch, a watch that can connect with your iOS or Android device. Most of that article involved me trying to convince you that a smartwatch is actually something that you want, while a little of it was talking specifically about the Pebble. Now that Apple has actually unleashed their Apple Watch onto the world, let’s revisit that post to see how my earlier recommendation stacks up.

Apple Watch vs. Pebble Watch: A Review of Pros and Cons

The Apple Watch

In the Apple Watch vs. Pebble Watch debate, we’ll start by actually taking a closer look at Apple’s offering. Side note before we begin...Apple’s foray into wearables is actually a good thing for small shops like Pebble, serving as validation that what Pebble and other hardware companies have been working on is a promising, potentially game-changing field. That said, the Apple Watch has been described by CNET as “the most ambitious, well-constructed smartwatch ever seen.” Here are some of the feature highlights of the Apple Watch that might lead one to agree with that statement:

  • Tight integration with iPhones
  • The ability to respond to text messages and emails right from the phone
  • Because it’s an Apple product, developers are flocking to the platform. So. Many. Apps.
  • Heart rate monitor and fitness software
  • Color retina display/touch screen

However, as you may already know, the Apple Watch is PRICEY, at $350 for the most basic model, and $600 for the cheapest one worth getting (the only differences between models are the in the aesthetics of the watch. The internals are the same). CNET also points out that the Apple Watch’s “first-gen shortfalls make it feel more like a fashionable toy than a necessary tool.” According to CNET, some of those shortfalls include:

  • Short battery life (about 24 hours) and long recharge time
  • Requires an iPhone 5 or later to be functional
  • Confusing interface
  • Slow communication with iPhone
  • Simplistic early apps
  • Spotty connection when connected to bluetooth headphones

With an idea of these pros and cons concerning the Apple Watch, let’s take another look at the Pebble smartwatch.

The Pebble Smartwatch

Pebble actually has two models that we’re going to talk about here: the Pebble Time, and the original Pebble Watch.

The Pebble Time

Pebble just announced the impending release of their new watch, called The Pebble Time. The Pebble Time uses a color e-ink display to retain its great battery life (with a battery life if up to 7 days, the Pebble watches leave the Apple Watch in the dust in this arena), deviating from the basic black and white text of the original Pebble Watch. The Pebble Time also offers an interface that wants to tell you all about your day and life. When is your next appointment? How is traffic on the highway you always take to get home? While this seems like an awesome idea, I’ve heard rumors that the Time won’t integrate very well with the iPhone when it is released. Also, with the $299 price tag, you might be better off getting the Apple Watch for $50 more.

The Pebble Watch

At this point in the smartwatch race, the original Pebble Watch (and even the Pebble Steel) is what I’m putting stamp of approval on. My experience with this product has stayed pretty much consistent since my last article. I still charge my Pebble once every 7 days. I still use my Pebble to read text messages and emails. I still control the music blasting throughout my apartment. I still check Twitter, check in on Foursquare, and check things off my to-do lists in Evernote. All without taking my phone out of my pocket (or bag, or off the charger in the other room, or when I’m in the shower. Did I mention the Pebble was water resistant up to 50 meters?). The only thing that has changed is the price. $99.

The Bottom Line in the Apple Watch vs. Pebble Watch Debate

To recap, the Pebble Time's high price point ($299) makes it a less attractive option. By contrast, you can basically buy three regular Pebble Watches ($99 each) and still have spent less money than if you’d purchased the cheapest available Apple Watch ($350). In terms of the everyday use case for a smart watch, the Pebble and Apple Watch are very similar. With that in mind, consider also that the first gen Apple Watch is a prime example of a first generation Apple product. It’s pretty neat, but you know that in one year, a much better version will go on the market. Until that time, treat yourself without splurging and pick up a Pebble Watch.