Pebble Time vs Apple Watch comparison

Thinking about buying a smartwatch? The Apple Watch and Pebble Time smartwatch are two of the most talked-about smartwatches in the market, so we've put them head-to-head in our Pebble Time vs Apple Watch comparison.

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When the idea of smartwatches surfaced, Pebble was one of the first brands you'd think of. In 2012, it broke records on Kickstarter and successfully funded its original Pebble Watch, and has now returned to the crowd-funding platform to launch its Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel smartwatches (and has already got almost $20 million in funding).

The Pebble Time Steel looks suspiciously like another smartwatch that's about to launch, though. Yes, we're talking about the Apple Watch, one of the most highly anticipated smartwatches to enter the market so far. Despite first impressions, these smartwatches are very different, though, so we've compared every aspect of both to find out what the differences are between the Apple Watch and Pebble Time/Pebble Time Steel.

Pebble Time vs Apple Watch comparison: Design & build

At first glace at the image above, you'd be forgiven for thinking that those two smartwatches are in fact the same device. We think that Pebble's choice to use the image on the left in its marketing is a strange one, as it's difficult not to compare it directly with the gold Apple Watch with red strap as shown on the left. However, there are various models of each smartwatch and other design differences that set them apart from one another.  

The Pebble Time measures 9.5mm thick, which is thinner than the original Pebble, and also thinner than the Apple Watch, which measures 10.5mm. The Steel version of the Pebble Time measures the same 10.5mm as the Apple Watch.

You only get one size option with the Pebble Time, though, at 40.5mm tall. The Apple Watch is available in two different sizes – 38mm and 42mm – the smaller option designed for more dainty wrists.

There are three versions of the Apple Watch available, and two versions of Pebble Time. In both cases, it's simply the design that's different about the various models available from Apple and Pebble, rather than the specs and features. Of course, the design also changes the price quite significantly, which we'll talk about more later in this article.

Taking a closer look, you'll find that the three versions of Apple Watch are the Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition. The Apple Watch Sport is the entry-level model, is made with aluminium, and is available in silver or space grey. The standard Apple Watch is made with stainless steel in silver or space grey colour options. Finally, the Apple Watch Edition is the luxury model that is made with 18 carat gold – either yellow gold or rose gold.

There are various different straps and colours available, too, and in total there's a choice of 38 different combinations. Find out more about the 38 Apple Watch options in our Apple Watch buying guide.

The Pebble Time is available in three colours: Black, White and Red. Each has a silicone band with a matching stainless steel bezel. The Pebble Time Steel is the more expensive version of the Pebble Time, and comes in Silver, Gunmetal Black or Gold and each has a matching leather band.

Similar to the Apple Watch, you can buy interchangeable straps for the Pebble Watch.

Both smartwatches can be worth on either wrist, and are designed to be durable, with water resistance that should allow you to wear them in the shower. The Apple Watch Sport has a strengthened Ion-X glass display while the other Apple Watch models have a Sapphire display – one of the hardest transparent materials in the world, second only to diamond.

Pebble Time vs Apple Watch comparison: Display

The Pebble Time and Apple Watch both boast colour displays, but they are significantly different from one another.

Pebble has opted for an ePaper display, which is designed to consume less battery life but does mean that it's low-res and pixelated. The Apple Watch, on the other hand, has a 330ppi display, but this means it won't be always-on like the Pebble Time. Instead, the screen will turn on whenever you raise your wrist.

Pebble Time vs Apple Watch comparison: Features

The Apple Watch has some intriguing unique features that we're looking forward to testing out. For example, it uses Force Touch technology in the touchscreen display to determine how hard you're pressing. A hard press will bring up various additional options, differentiating it from a tap and removing the need for some gestures that would have been impractical on such a small screen.

There's also the Taptic Engine, which provides haptic feedback using vibrations. For example, if you get a notification you'll feel a tap on your wrist. It can give you different kinds of taps depending on the interaction. 

Fitness tracking is a feature available on both smartwatches, though the Apple Watch works with a dedicated Health app whereas Pebble relies on third-party apps to enable fitness tracking features. Pebble is already compatible with RunKeeper, Misfit and Jawbone, though, so it's not like those third-party apps aren't big names in the fitness tracking industry.

In addition to the touchscreen, you can also use the Apple Watch's Digital Crown to interact with it.

The Pebble Time doesn't have a touchscreen, and instead uses three buttons that are found on the side of the watch for navigation. There's a new user interface called Timeline on the Pebble Time, which means the notifications are laid out chronologically and you click the buttons to see the past, present and future. For example, you can click past to see an email you missed, your step count, sports scores and more, present to see the current time make selections, and future to see upcoming events, weather and more.

Pebble Time vs Apple Watch comparison: Software & compatibility

The Apple Watch will, of course, only work when paired with an iPhone. The Pebble Time can work with both Android and iOS, so will be accessible to a much wider audience.

However, not all of the features available on Android are available on iOS when it comes to the Pebble Time. For example, you'll be able to use the Pebble Time's built-in microphone to send voice replies to all incoming notifications, but on iOS you'll only be able to do this to reply to Gmail notifications.

When it comes to apps, the Pebble Time is compatible with most of the apps already available from the established Pebble App Store. There are more than 6,500 apps and watchfaces, ranging from fitness apps to games.

However, we're sure it won't be long before the number of apps available in the Apple Watch app store far surpasses 6,500. Apple released the WatchKit SDK for the smartwatch a few months ago, so developers have been busy working on their apps ready for the Apple Watch's launch in April. You can find out about some of the apps already announced in our best Apple Watch apps article.

Pebble Time vs Apple Watch comparison: Battery life

You'll need to charge your Apple Watch ever day, as according to Apple you'll get about 18 hours of use out of it. If you buy the Pebble Time, however, you can get up to seven days battery life from a single charge, which is one of the smartwatch's big selling points. The Pebble Time Steel actually has an even better battery life of up to ten days, thanks to its bigger battery.

Charging the Apple Watch is a simple case of using the Magsafe equipped inductive charger that snaps onto the back of the smartwatch. The Pebble Time charges via USB.

Pebble Time vs Apple Watch comparison: Price & availability

As you will now have gathered, despite our initial impressions based on that image at the top of this article, the Apple Watch and Pebble Time are very different smartwatches aimed at quite different people. Therefore, they also have very different price tags.

The Apple Watch is available to pre-order from 10 April, and will begin shipping on 24 April in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US.

It's pricey, starting at £299 but reaching all the way up to a whopping £13,500. The Watch Sport is priced at £299 - £339, the Watch is £479 - £949, and the Watch Edition is £8,000 - £13,500.

The Pebble Time, on the other hand, is not set to be released until May, followed by the Pebble Time Steel in July. They're currently on Kickstarter, and if you're a backer you can get the Pebble Time for $169, reduced from the $199 RRP it'll have when it's released. That's around £115. The Pebble Watch Steel is slightly pricier at $250 for backers, which is around £160, so still significantly cheaper from the entry-level Apple Watch.

See also: How to use an Apple Watch

Apple Watch: Specs

  • Requires iPhone
  • Requires iPhone

OUR VERDICT

We can't give a solid verdict until we've tried both of these smartwatches out for our full reviews, which is what we'll be doing as soon as they become available and arrive in our labs, but for now we can say that it should be a fairly simple decision about which is right for you as we think they're aimed at very different people.

For those looking for a smartwatch that doesn't break the bank, is stylish but practical with a long battery life, and is compatible with both Android and iOS, the Pebble Time is an ideal smartwatch.

If you're putting style first and have a bigger budget, the Apple Watch offers a better display, a touchscreen and more customisation options when it comes to the style, but it also needs to be charged more regularly and is only compatible with iOS.