UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
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.
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.
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.
The Apple Watch has a (roughly) 81 percent sharper screen than Pebble Time, based on pixel density.
Pebble's display is still non-touch.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Both watches play nicely with iPhones.
Pebble plays for both teams, while the Apple Watch (naturally) doesn't work with Android handsets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Both watches run their own respective proprietary software: Pebble OS and Apple's iOS-based watchOS.
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.
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).
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.View gallery - 27 images