Apple sent out invitations to a March 9 event where we expect to hear about the final details about the Apple Watch. Meanwhile, Pebble just kicked off another Kickstarter campaign for their third generation wearable: Pebble Time. Instead of waiting to hear what Apple plans, I went ahead and backed the Pebble Time Kickstarter campaign for a few reasons.
Pebble Time boasts a few interesting updates. First, it replaces the black and white e-paper display with a color display. User still can’t interact with it using touch, but they can now talk to the watch thanks to a mic built-in. This comes housed in a more attractive body.
The Apple Watch includes a touch screen and, like Pebble, users can talk to the watch. In addition, Apple Watch includes some unique interactive features, like the one that taps the person’s wrist instead of vibrating like most watches or phones. That way only the wearer knows she’s getting a notification. There’s also the ability to message by drawing an icon instead of typing or talking.
If Apple offers some creative new features that Pebble and Android Wear don’t, then why would anyone pick Pebble Time over Apple Watch, especially before we get all the details about the Apple Watch? We have most of them, thanks to the Apple’s fall event where they first officially introduced Apple Watch.
Don’t view this discussion as an appeal for anyone to choose Pebble Time over Apple Watch. Nor should anyone look at this as a debate about why one is better. Instead, here’s why I chose to back Pebble Time instead of waiting on Apple Watch. Some people might share the same priorities, so think about these four differences to judge for yourself whether Pebble Time or Apple Watch makes more sense for you.
Apple Watch Costs More
Pebble Time will cost $199 when it gets released to the public after the Kickstarter campaign ends. Pebble offered an early bird price point of $159 and a second one of $179, but the ones available in June are all gone. You can still get one later. This is due to how Kickstarter works. A Kickstarter campaign asks people to promise to pay a set price. When the campaign ends, if they reach their goal, Kickstarter will charge the backer the amount they promised to pay. Then the company gets the funds to finish the product development.
Pebble chose to limit the number of early adopter watches available. Thanks to publicity and experience, those lower tiers went quickly. Unless a person wants to buy at least five watches, they can’t get the lower Kickstarter prices till Pebble Time shows up on the company’s website or in stores.
The retail price of $199 comes in $150 less than the lowest price Apple Watch. Apple plans to offer three versions, but we don’t know the prices of the more expensive models. What if a potential Apple Watch buyer doesn’t like the version available for the lowest price? Then they will have to pay even more.
Apple Watch fans will say that it’s made of better quality materials and worth the extra money. They’re probably right, but some people really like the original Pebble and more of them like the Steel. For people who think price matters more than a metal housing, Pebble Time becomes a viable choice.
Pebble Time Compatibility
Pebble Time will work with both Android and iPhone. Apple Watch will only work with iPhone. People who only own an iPhone and never plan to own anything else won’t care, but that’s not me. I carry both, but my primary phone is a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. When I replace it I’ll likely get another Android device.
If someone prefers iPhone over Android, which makes sense for a lot of reasons, they will enjoy the Apple Watch. Can everyone say they will never replace their iPhone with an Android phone? If there’s a possibility, then compatibility matters and only Pebble Time will work with both. If it doesn’t matter, then Apple Watch will suffice.
Pebble Time Battery Life
Pebble promises a week of battery life for normal use with Pebble Time. We’ve already heard that battery life will disappoint some users. If that’s true, then the Apple Watch will likely only last one day. Like most of the Android Wear watches, we might see a day and a half or two days with limited usage.
The original Pebble and Pebble Steel lasted at least three days and usually five days before needing a charge. That’s important for people who want to use their watch to track sleep activity at night. They can’t do it if they need to take off the watch to charge it every night.
As an Android Wear user, day long battery life is the minimum. It’s also bearable since most people also charge other devices like a phone or tablet every night. If it weren’t for the top two concerns, this wouldn’t be a big problem. However, it does detract from the appeal of the Apple Watch, even if only a small amount.
Apple Watch is a 1.0 Product
First generation products usually come with more problems than a mature platform like the Pebble Time, the third generation from Pebble. Who knows whether the Apple Watch will suffer from serious bugs, manufacturing defects or poor design choices? It may not suffer from any of those. So why not wait till it comes out to decide?
The other factors, price, compatibility and battery life, matter more than platform maturity. If a potential buyer doesn’t mind paying the higher price and only cares about connect to an iPhone, then don’t worry that much about the platform’s maturity. Long time Apple customers expect the company to fix the software bugs aggressively most of the time.
While platform maturity alone doesn’t matter as much as price and compatibility, it does matter. Pebble worked out many of the bugs and design problems between their first generation product and Pebble Steel. Pebble Time should benefit from the company’s experience and this 3.0 product will likely show the platform’s maturity.