Pebble Time vs. Apple Watch

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Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Pebble Time (left) and Apple Watch

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With the retail version of Pebble Time launching, maybe you're torn between it and the Apple Watch? Let's compare the features and specs of the two smartwatches.

Size

Pebble Time's size is very close to that of the larger (42 mm) Apple Watch, which says a lot about Apple's engineering. The company was able to make a color touchscreen smartwatch, much more technologically advanced than Pebble Time, that's around the same size or smaller.

One minor advantage for Pebble Time is that it's 10 percent thinner.

Display size

None of these watches have especially large displays (most Android Wear watch screens are bigger), but the 38 mm Apple Watch gives you 77 percent as much screen as its 42 mm counterpart, and Pebble Time's screen is only 70 percent as big as the larger Apple Watch's display.

Display type

Pebble Time is the first Pebble with a color display, but it's still of the low-powered "e-paper" variety (a different technology from e-ink, like you'd see on a Kindle reader, but it produces a somewhat similar result).

Apple hasn't publicly confirmed that the Watch has an OLED display, but its deep blacks and rich colors leave little doubt that it's an OLED.

Display resolution

The Apple Watch has a (roughly) 81 percent sharper screen than Pebble Time, based on pixel density.

Touchscreen

Pebble's display is still non-touch.

Display covering

Pebble Time's screen is protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass 3, while the Apple Watch Sport uses similar "Ion-X glass." The more expensive steel and gold versions of the Apple Watch trade glass for sapphire.

Always-on display

While many color touchscreen smartwatches have moved to always-on displays, the Apple Watch keeps its screen off until you lift your wrist or activate it with a touch or button-press.

Build (main body)

Pebble Time has a plastic casing (with a matte stainless steel bezel), though you can also pay more for Pebble Time Steel, which, as its name suggests, trades plastic for an all-steel casing.

Water resistance

The Apple Watch doesn't have significant water resistance (it can handle a drop into 1 m or 3.3 ft or water, but isn't certified for extended submersion). Pebble says that its latest watch can handle submersion up to 30 m (98 ft).

Colors

Looking at main bodies, Pebble Time ships in black, red and white options. The Apple Watch Sport gives you space gray or silver casings, the stainless steel Watch moves to silver or space black, and the Edition has yellow gold and rose gold hues.

22 mm band compatibility

Pebble Time ships with a cheap-feeling silicone band, but you can swap it out for a standard 22 mm replacement.

You can buy third-party replacement bands for the Apple Watch, but unless you add an adapter, they'll need be made specifically for the Apple Watch.

iPhone compatibility

Both watches play nicely with iPhones.

Android compatibility

Pebble plays for both teams, while the Apple Watch (naturally) doesn't work with Android handsets.

UI navigation

Like older Pebbles, Pebble Time relies on four buttons (up, down, select and back) for navigation. The Apple Watch uses (primarily) a touchscreen, but it also has a Digital Crown (which you can wind to scroll and zoom) and two buttons of its own.

Force Touch

The Apple Watch also adds a second kind of touch input: press down harder on its screen to activate a "Force Touch," which often brings up extra menus or options.

Battery life

This is one of the few clear-cut advantages Pebble Time has over the Apple Watch, as it can last up to about a week on a single charge.

Voice control

Pebble added a microphone, so Time lets you dictate notes or quick replies to messages. The Apple Watch has a full voice assistant (perhaps you've heard of Siri?) along with dictation options.

Reminders

You can't, however, set reminders with Pebble Time. We also weren't able to receive Google Now reminders on Pebble Time, when paired with an Android phone.

The Apple Watch has no problem here, letting you create and receive reminders with ease.

Alert type

Pebble Time's alert is a buzzy vibration, which will be familiar to anyone who's used an older Pebble. The Apple Watch's alerts are similar, but thanks to its "Taptic Engine," feel more like a tap than a motor.

Heart rate monitor

Pebble Time will eventually get external heart rate monitors through the company's modular Smartstraps program, but there's nothing built-in like you'll find on the Apple Watch.

Apart from battery life, though, it's a bit hard to see why you'd want to buy a more basic smartwatch like Pebble Time, only to add extra Smartstrap accessories just to get features that most other smartwatches already have built-in.

Mobile payments

The Apple Watch works with Apple Pay, to let you pay at participating retailers without whipping out a credit card. This is another area, though, that Pebble Time can eventually handle, courtesy of Smartstraps.

Fitness apps

Pebble lets you install third-party fitness apps, but its store doesn't make it clear which ones can track you in the background and which need to replace your clock face to do their thing.

The Apple Watch has both native tracking and third-party options.

Software

Both watches run their own respective proprietary software: Pebble OS and Apple's iOS-based watchOS.

Timeline UI

If you rely heavily on your smartphone's calendar, then Pebble's timeline UI might be convenient for you. From the main clock face, the up and down buttons scroll through your past and future events.

The Apple Watch doesn't have something like this integrated into its main screen right now, but it will when watchOS 2 launches later this year. Any variables (things like weather, calendar events or even moon phases) that live on your chosen clock face will scroll when you twist the Watch's Digital Crown.

Release

Pebble Time has already shipped to its (many) Kickstarter backers, and is hitting retail this month (Best Buy is taking orders, which its website now says will ship within a day or two).

Starting price

Pebble Time would be a lot easier to recommend in the US$100-150 range, but at $200 it's bumping up against some great Android Wear watches, and only $150 away from the entry-level Apple Watch Sport (38 mm). All of those watches do much more than Pebble does, and some have much higher-end builds.

For more, you can read Gizmag's full reviews of Pebble Time and the Apple Watch.

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