Pebble Time Steel Review: This all-new stainless steel version of the Pebble Time watch promises extended battery life as well as a premium new design. But is it better than the original, and worth the extra cash?
I was perfectly happy with the Pebble Time’s low-cost build, as it was refreshingly slim and light (it didn’t feel like you’d just taped a brick to your arm, like some wearables) and the colours were attractive too. But at the same time, I could see why many others weren’t too convinced – although the Pebble Time clearly has plenty of fans, after hoovering up over $8 million on Kickstarter in just 24 hours.
Pebble announced the Time Steel back in March, shortly after that record-breaking funding drive, to silence its critics. The Time Steel packs the same OS and features as the original Time, but with a couple of key differences – the first being design, as the Steel sports a sexified stainless steel edging.
Don’t expect an all-metal body; rather, the ‘steel’ part is merely a subtle strip that wraps around the edge of the face. The rest of the watch is still coated in plastic, which means it’s susceptible to scratches. The Time Steel is still an attractive little wearable however, sporting a range of grown-up colours (including various shades of grey) as well as a brushed metal effect on a slightly more expensive model.
The difference in weight between the Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel is immediately obvious. That chunky body adds a fair few grams to the watch, although I quickly adapted to the heavier 62g build build and soon barely felt it on my arm. Thankfully the Steel isn’t too much chunkier than the original (just an extra millimetre), still proving slimmer than most Android Wear affairs. And it’s once again water-resistant up to 30 metres.
If you thought the Pebble Time’s bezel was a bit thick, you’ll probably do a double-take when you see the Pebble Time Steel. That black bar surrounding the screen is even bigger now, with the unfortunate effect that the display seems to have shrunk towards the middle of the panel. I’d have preferred a larger screen to fill that space, although that bezel is no doubt hiding the internal components, making it a necessary evil.
Aside from that, it’s business as usual. The Pebble Time Steel charges via a proprietary magnetic charging cable, which means no irritating charging dock but also means you can’t simply use your phone charger to power it up. On the left edge you’ll find the back button while the right edge holds the three timeline buttons, for checking out your itinerary and notifications and playing with apps.
And while the Time Steel once again supports standard 22mm wrist bands, you now get a choice of two bundled in the box (provided you go for the slightly more expensive brushed metal model at £269). One is a suave genuine leather band, while the other is a chunky stainless steel effort to match the metallic vibe of the watch. If you want to save a bit of cash and opt for the plain £229 model, you’ll only receive the leather band.
Personally, we think the extra £40 is a worthy investment for that metal band if you’re hooked on the chrome design, providing you’ve got the wrists for it – but the leather band also goes well with the new watch face and feels nice and comfortable to wear.
The Pebble Time Steel promises even better battery life than the five to six days we usually enjoyed on the Pebble Time, and in our tests that was certainly the case. While we didn’t quite manage the full ten days Pebble promises, the Time Steel happily lasted eight days between charges with standard use and default settings.
If you play with a lot of different apps on the watch, you can knock that down a couple of days. But compared with the usual 24 to 48 hours of life that we see from smartwatches, the Pebble Time Steel is seriously impressive.
Everything else about the Pebble Time Steel is identical to the original watch. Same interface, with the same quirky notifications system; same 1.25-inch screen, which is pleasingly bright as well as colourful after Pebble’s recent update; and the same compatibility with Android 4.0 and up as well as Apple’s iOS 8 and up.
So, to avoid repeating myself, check out our full Pebble Time review for more info.
The Pebble Time Steel is £50 more than the original Pebble Time (which costs just £179) and for that price you get a more grown-up design and even better battery life.
However, those chunky bezels are all the more obvious here, and if you want the go full-metal with a stainless steel wrist band, you’ll need to fork out an additional £40. So, if you’re not that bothered about the modified look and feel, we’d recommend sticking with the original Pebble Time, which already boasts impressive longevity and identical features.
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