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Pebble Time Round review

The best-looking Pebble yet, but at a cost in terms of functionality

Pebble Time Round

Is the Pebble Time Round a case of style over substance? Not quite, but for those who don't care much about looks it does eat away at that traditional Pebble appeal.

We liked

The Pebble Time Round is ultra-comfortable because it's so slim, so light, and has such a malleable strap. You'll probably forget you're wearing it on occasion – I did.

Pebble can handle notifications pretty well these days, letting you dictate replies to emails and messages right from the watch thanks to an integrated mic. This is a big part of making the Time Round feel like a proper smartwatch, rather than a glorified pedometer.

The always-on screen is a big boost too, meaning you can be very casual about how you check your notifications, and even the time.

The very fast battery charging is also useful, although this is really down to the tiny size of the cell rather than the fast-charging tech we see in phones.

We disiked

The Time Round trades away the main appeal of previous Pebble watches, which is that they last much longer than the average. With just two days' use between charges it's no better than the longer-lasting Android Wear crowd.

It really doesn't feel like it's at the cutting edge of the smartwatch development either. The Pebble platform has a reasonable amount of apps, but most seem to be made by tiny dev teams or lone coders. And the Time Round is incompatible with an awful lot of existing software, including many important apps.

You get the feeling it can't do much beyond basic fitness tracking without a phone either. While this isn't necessarily a huge issue, it does mean the price is grating when it loses out on battery life too, compared to older Pebbles.

Final verdict

The Pebble Time Round is a very 'nice' smartwatch – and I mean that in both the positive sense of the word, and the meaning that comes with an ever-so-slight sneer.

It feels great, handles notifications just fine, and is so slight you could forget you're wearing it.

However, it doesn't work with a lot of existing Pebble apps, a situation that seems unlikely to be fully remedied. More important, it trades away the convenience of previous Pebbles for looks, with a battery that only lasts two days, or less with intensive use.

This takes away from the laid-back style worth appreciating in the Time Steel. But if you don't mind the sense you're charging it all the time, the Pebble Time Round is a very pleasant watch to live with.

First reviewed: February 2016