Five years with Pebble Time

I ordered my Pebble Time in 2016 and received it around May Day. I have used it daily ever since and couldn’t be happier about my decision to buy one. In the spirit of this 5-year anniversary celebration I will tell you why I’m still happy with my Pebble, what has changed since I bought it and would I like to upgrade to a more modern wearable.

Pebble Time outside

The brighter, the better. Pebble does have a backlight, but it's only needed when there is no outside light source.

What still works

Notifications work

Most important features for me are marked with bold. Vibration alarm is awesome, it silently wakes me up most mornings. Incoming call alarm means that I don’t need to have sound on on my phone, and being able to read notifications from watch is both nice and useful.

Pebble's smartphone app showing activity data

The original Pebble app can show activity and sleep details.

What works worse than earlier

It is only natural that after 5 years of daily use the battery is not as good as new. The battery life currently is somewhere between 2 to 3 days, as 4 or more days was the initial battery life. However, I still consider this a good battery life—no need to charge my Pebble daily.

There are also naturally some signs of use as you can see on the pictures, but it really doesn’t bother me in a device this old.

At some point caller name stopped showing up, I think it was a change in Android. This means that I need to reach my phone to know who calls me, which is really not a problem, as I mostly answer all calls if the situation is suitable.

What does not work

Pebble time with metal watch band

After the original band broke, I've mostly used this metal watch band and the navy blue textile band seen in other photos.

Physical condition

I haven’t really been too careful with my Pebble, but I tend to take good care of my devices. As you can see from the pictures, there are some scratches, but not really other damage at all. As stated earlier, the original band broke, but was easy to replace. Changing band is a nice way to change how the watch looks and feels. The Pebble Time is waterproof, and I have even took it swimming many times. However, I am now a bit more careful with water, as it would be a shame if it for some reason wouldn’t be waterproof anymore. Better safe than sorry—I couldn’t just buy a new one from the store.

Why I still use my Pebble Time

Simple answer: it does everything I wish a smartwatch would. There isn’t really anything available that would have caught my attention so that I would want to upgrade. Pebble does what it should and it does it well. I also really enjoy the physical buttons over tiny touch screen. Buttons make it easy to use Pebble even outside while wearing gloves. The always-on screen is also amazing: I can just look at it without needing to shake my wrist or anything like that.

Notification after workout

Even though not a sport watch, Pebble shows notifications after walks and runs with approximate workout data.

Would I like to have a new smartwatch

No, not really. I am really happy with what Pebble provides. It is not too smart and it is simple to use. Many of the smartwatches currently sold are expensive and/or are focused on fitness features, which would be fine, but I prefer the smartwatch approach more. Pebble’s health features include step count and rough sleep monitoring. When I’ve been active during the day, for example have ride a bicycle, but haven’t walked much, Pebble advises me to be more active. However, this is where Oura ring performs perfectly as it monitors my activity through the day regardless of the steps. Oura also monitors sleep much more precisely, so it has replaced my use of Pebble when tracking health, thus making it needless to upgrade to a health tracking watch.

Pebble also has the always-on display, which means that the current time is always visible. Most smartwatches currently seem to have displays that turn off for saving power, which is not optimal in terms of usability. After all, it is a watch, and its most important function is to tell the time.

Another point is the amount of data that a smartwatch can collect about the person who wears it. They are equipped with microphones, they monitor our sleeping and activity habits, even heart rate. It has also been studied that accelerometer data can be used to deduce surprisingly many things. How is my data used? How can I be sure that it isn’t used for evil purposes? As I have stated earlier, Pebble is not too smart and I like it that way.

One option that I am interested in is to buy a cheap smart watch like InfiniTime or Watchy. I think those would be simple and affordable enough. Fitbit, which bought Pebble, also has some nice wearables, but they are pretty expensive and Google currently owns Fitbit.

Not every Pebble owner is as lucky as I am

My girlfriend happily used a Pebble Time Steel, but after a few years the vibration motor broke down, meaning that the watch could not be used as alarm clock or notify about calls or notifications.

A friend of mine, Ilari Kuoppala, has had two Pebbles. He was actually the person inspiring me to buy a Pebble myself. Ilari’s original Pebble had issues with the screen, and the button of his Pebble 2 broke. However, he now has spare parts for the button issue.

The time I thought my Pebble deserted me

One night during winter I was enjoying a nice glass of mulled wine at a terrace. I wanted to take a look at my watch, but it was dark and for some reason the backlight did not light up when I shook my wrist. Well, okay, I just tried to press the buttons as that triggers the backlight on as well. Oh no, still no light. Being worried that my Pebble’s backlight broke down I tried to check that the settings on the watch were correct.

Turns out, there were infrared heaters on the terrace that made Pebble think it is bright, thus no need to turn on the backlight. I was so relieved to find this out—there was nothing wrong with my Pebble, it just observers different wave lenghts than my eyes do.

My journey with my Pebble Time continues.

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