Long Term Pebble Classic Review

I got a Pebble Classic watch for Christmas a few years ago, in Dec 2014 to be clear. That’s (as of now) about 18 months of use. I haven’t used it every day, but I’ve used it often, and here are a few things that I wanted to put down as a long term look at this device.

This is the first smartwatch I’ve owned. I’ve been a Timex Ironman (or some variation) person for most of my life. I went about two years with just my cell phone when my last watch died and decided I didn’t like that, so I got the Pebble.

tl;dr – I have really enjoyed the watch, but I’m not sure I want a (nother) device that lasts a year or two.

Current Status

The watch still works, though I have found that I need to charge it every 3-4 days. This seems in contrast to when I originally got it and the battery would last 6-7 days. In fact, early on I forgot my cord and went to the UK. I left Monday, returned Saturday, and the Pebble made it.

The big issue, for me, is that I have screen tearing. There are times I can’t read anything, though changing watch faces usually corrects things. However, when you’re doing something and want to check the time and can’t see it, you don’t always want to do this. For example, I’ve been out working in the field, with dirty hands, and I couldn’t get the time without getting grease all over the watch.

Looking Back at First Impressions

I wrote about the watch when I got it. For the most part, things still work for me. I use the watch to change music when I’m traveling, and I get text messages on it. However, sometimes I get too many messages, and need to go through menus to turn off notifications from the phone. It’s annoying, but that’s somehow what happens with apps that notify you.

I haven’t done much with timing on the watch, but I’ve usually found the phone to be more useful here.

In terms of running, I wasn’t running a ton when I got the watch, but I run daily now. Perhaps that’s why the battery doesn’t last. Each time to flick your wrist, the backlight comes on, which is a lot when I run. I’ve noticed it on the treadmill. Perhaps the backlight doesn’t happen outside? Hard to tell.

I do love the MapMyRun integration to see my time/pace. I use the audio coaching for motivation, but it’s nice to glance down and see my pace as I go. I wish this allowed me to change music and go back to the tracking, but I haven’t seen that work.

Alarms

One thing I’ve done a few times is use the alarms on the Pebble to wake me. The vibration is quieter and better when I need to get up at 5am for a flight, and this doesn’t wake my wife. It’s kind of nice. It’s also a great second alarm in hotels.

However. I do forget to turn it off and the default is to repeat the alarm the next day. Good when I travel, bad when I come home and set it on the nightstand to charge. The vibration on wood is loud enough to wake my wife.

Annoyances

There are a few things that bug me. I have the phone sync sometimes fail, and I’ve struggled to get my Pebble reconnected without forgetting the device and doing a new phone pairing. It’s been simple sometimes, frustrating other times.

The screen tearing is really annoying, as is the lack of battery life. It’s still better than daily charging for something like an Apple Watch or Samsung Watch.

There isn’t good support for step tracking unless I have an app on the phone all the time. Not what I want and I miss this a bit since my Fitbit was lost.

The band isn’t great, though that’s on me. I should get an aftermarket band that I like.

How Long Should This Last?

That’s a good question. The Pebble warranty is one year. I’m obviously past that. As a comparison, Timex provides a year as well. 30 days replacement online, then warranty replacement.

However, I’ve usually had Timex watches last for 4-5 years. This seemed flaky at 14 months, which feels a bit like too short a period.

What would I want? If this lasted two years, do I think that’s OK?  I think crossing a year mark has psychological significance. Now it feels like a one year old watch, but if it made it to December, that would be two.

Ultimately I’m not sure. I know some people have had these last a couple years, so maybe that was just my luck.

The Verdict

The Pebble does most of what I need and want, and it’s been a good watch. I’m disappointed in the screen tearing, but it’s not unusable at this point. I can’t think of much more I’d want other than constant step tracking.

I’ll need a replacement this year, I’m guessing. There is a Kickstarter for the newer Pebble 2, which will have heart rate monitoring. That interests me, as does the Core. The idea of not needing a phone and just carrying the Core is nice.

I’m not into color or a lot of other features, and don’t like charging. The Apple Watch is out for that reason (and likely other Android wear). Pebble 2 is interesting, as is the Microsoft Band, but I’ll have to think a bit. Maybe I’ll go steel and see if that’s more durable?

At the end of the day, I think Pebble is a good device for your wrist, if you want one.

About way0utwest

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2 Responses to Long Term Pebble Classic Review

  1. Wayne says:

    I bought in to the second Kickstarter that Pebble did, I barely missed the first one, and I have a Time Steel on my wrist right now. And they just completed their third Kickstarter for the Time 2, which has a larger display and a pulse sensor. So I’ll have that coming in later.

    I am VERY happy with my Time Steel. I do like the color display, but I don’t go gaga with it. I found a watch face that I can read without having to wear my reading glasses. I don’t do much with apps, just a count down timer which I use for timing my lunch hour. But since my contract wasn’t renewed for this year, that won’t be used for that function for a while.

    Personally, I want the solid steel housing as my sweat has destroyed watch cases made of base metal, and when you lose a $300 Seiko that way (in mid ’90s dollars), it makes you a bit angry.

  2. way0utwest says:

    That’s good to hear, Wayne. I jumped into the third kickstarter a Pebble 2. I wasn’t sure I wanted metal, but I would like the heart monitor. Plus $100 is probably my limit for a watch

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