Smartwatches

Samsung Gear S and Pebble Steel: Smartwatch polar opposites, in pictures

Samsung Gear S and Pebble Stee...
Gizmag takes a quick look at the radically different approaches we're seeing in the smartwatch space, with the Gear S (left) and Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Gizmag takes a quick look at the radically different approaches we're seeing in the smartwatch space, with the Gear S (left) and Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
View 24 Images
Gizmag takes a quick look at the radically different approaches we're seeing in the smartwatch space, with the Gear S (left) and Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Gizmag takes a quick look at the radically different approaches we're seeing in the smartwatch space, with the Gear S (left) and Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Sides of the Gear S (left) and Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Sides of the Gear S (left) and Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
We're handling the Pebble Steel with steel band, but it also ships with a leather one (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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We're handling the Pebble Steel with steel band, but it also ships with a leather one (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Same weather, two very different screens (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Same weather, two very different screens (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Both have fitness tracking, though only the Gear S includes a heart rate sensor (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Both have fitness tracking, though only the Gear S includes a heart rate sensor (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The Gear S has a 2-in curved screen (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The Gear S has a 2-in curved screen (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Another look at the curved Gear S (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Another look at the curved Gear S (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
You can even install a web browser (Opera Mini) on the Gear S (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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You can even install a web browser (Opera Mini) on the Gear S (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The Gear S has a SIM card, for standalone wireless data (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The Gear S has a SIM card, for standalone wireless data (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The Gear S has a virtual keyboard onboard, much like you'd find on a smartphone (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The Gear S has a virtual keyboard onboard, much like you'd find on a smartphone (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Gear S (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Gear S (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Fitness tracking on the Gear S (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Fitness tracking on the Gear S (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
For some bizarre reason, the Gear S doesn't let you set reminders or create calendar events (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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For some bizarre reason, the Gear S doesn't let you set reminders or create calendar events (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The ESPN app lets you quickly check sports scores on the more stylish Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The ESPN app lets you quickly check sports scores on the more stylish Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Pebble Steel doesn't have a touch screen, instead relying on physical buttons (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Pebble Steel doesn't have a touch screen, instead relying on physical buttons (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Pebble is much better in direct sunlight (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Pebble is much better in direct sunlight (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The size difference here is enormous (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The size difference here is enormous (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The difference is no less profound in profile (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The difference is no less profound in profile (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Another look at the sharp, but more limited, Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Another look at the sharp, but more limited, Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Pebble Steel starts at US$200, with only a leather band – and an extra $20 for the steel band pictured here (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Pebble Steel starts at US$200, with only a leather band – and an extra $20 for the steel band pictured here (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Side of the Gear S (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Side of the Gear S (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Side of Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Side of Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
View gallery - 24 images

If smartwatches ever go mainstream, will they look more like designer watches or tiny smartphones? Let's take a quick look at the best examples of those two extremes – the fashionable Pebble Steel and futuristic Samsung Gear S – to compare the two approaches.

Pebble Steel embodies understated tech and classic style, making no attempt to be like – much less replace – your smartphone. The Samsung Gear S, on the other hand, is the answer to "wouldn't it be cool to have a smartphone on your wrist?"

The size difference here is enormous (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The size difference here is enormous (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

Their strengths and weaknesses are perfect opposites:

Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Pebble Steel (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

Pebble Steel is small, premium and tailor-made for receiving quick, glanceable info. It's a great notification terminal, but you'll still need to whip out your phone for anything more than that.

Gear S (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Gear S (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

The Gear S, meanwhile, has its own 3G data, virtual keyboard and curved touch screen. It lets you make calls, send texts and reply to emails – even when your phone isn't around. But that brings its own tradeoffs. It's close enough to replacing your phone that the things that it can't do (setting reminders, using apps for many popular third-party services) stick out like a sore thumb. Oh, and it's also enormous – looking a bit like something George Jetson would wear.

Pebble Steel is two parts fashion, one part tech. The Gear S is more like 97 parts tech, one part Dick Tracy-inspired fashion. Can we get a yellow raincoat up in here?

Same weather, two very different screens (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Same weather, two very different screens (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

So which approach will win in the end? Only time will tell, but I wouldn't be surprised if the watches that best blend these two extremes will be the ones we end up wearing (the Apple Watch, Moto 360 and Asus ZenWatch, for example, all fall somewhere in between). But hey, in the meantime, at least customers have one hell of a wide variety to choose from.

Feel free to browse our image gallery for a closer look at these two radically different approaches to the smartwatch. And if you're trying to decide between these two, then you can get deeper dives from our full reviews of the Gear S and Pebble Steel.

View gallery - 24 images
2 comments
Jason LeGris
Not sure if there's any watch aficionados there, but very oversized watches are in fact the style. Have been for almost 10 years, and they keep getting larger. Check out a Panerai, rolex deep sea, breitlings, tags, etc in person - they're monsters and of substantial heft. The gear s is the only smartwartch that isnt "boy" size, and doesn't feel like some featherlight chintzy little department store watch.
wando77
People keep saying the gear s is too big. They said the same about the 5.3" galaxy note 1.........