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Pebble Steel in Black Matte: Unboxing, Initial Thoughts and Comparison

pebble steel-8

Our Pebble Steel (in black matte) is finally in house. And yes, we unboxed it.

Announced during press day at CES in January, the Steel is Pebble’s premium finished smartwatch, targeted at those looking for something a bit classier than the original plastic unit that took the smartwatch world by storm. The functionality here is identical to the original, so the focus then becomes on the materials used, appearance, and whether or not it’s worth the extra $100. 

I’ll likely put together a quick review in the coming weeks, but as you can imagine since the functionality is the same as the original, my thoughts about this new all-metal Pebble likely aren’t going to differ. I’ve had it on my wrist for a few hours now, and really, it’s just like the other Pebble only it’s made of metal. We are most definitely not talking Rolex nice (probably not even Michael Kors or Diesel or Burberry or insert-mid-range-watch-brand nice), but the metal band and squarer body are certainly welcomed changes.

I may get some heat for this, but this is not even close to being the most premium feeling metal watch I’ve ever worn. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either. The edges of the wrist-strap are far too sharp and the metal sounds cheap. Watch people will know what I mean by the sound. When you pick up an above average watch, and dangle the wrist-strap, they give off this soft, weighted jingle. It’s a beautiful noise that the Steel doesn’t reproduce.

You’ll see in the video, but the packaging is top notch and there are both leather and metal bands. I wouldn’t call the watch oversized, however, it’s also not tiny. Compared to something like the Qualcomm Toq, though, you could probably call it “tiny.”

So far, I think the story is about the design and materials used because the functionality matches the original to a T. I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed by what Pebble has released here, but it’s not making me jump for joy just yet. Let me spend some time with it and that may change.

More thoughts, plus a comparison to other smartwatches in the video below.

pebble steel-4 pebble steel-5 pebble steel-6 pebble steel-7 pebble steel-3

  • Hothfox

    Did anyone else have a hard time watching the video on mobile YouTube? I found the focus kept going to the background and/or Kellen’s hands, instead of the watch.

  • raj

    You can get other latest news and tips for android on androidcube.com

  • Lauren Gilbert

    PEBBLE HAS TERRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE. There’s no 1-800 number to speak with someone; you must wait until they decide to email you back (about a week).

    THEY LIE ABOUT WHEN THEIR PRODUCT WILL SHIP. I ordered the steel on Feb. 8th, and I was told it would ship mid-late February. Someone finally emailed me back yesterday stating that it’s “expected” to ship the week of April 7th. THAT IS 9-10 WEEKS AFTER THE ORDER DATE, despite the fact that your website still promises 6-8 weeks.

  • Milind Shah

    The types of ads on DL :P xD

  • Curtis

    Does anyone here collect watch pillows?

  • yummy

    Hey, can I borrow that when youre done with it?

  • SewWhat

    Ha.. watch pics and none of them actually on a wrist… hmmmm…

    Just thought it was amusing.

    • JMonkeYJ

      Yeah, all watch people know the HWS (hairy wrist shot) is obligatory…

  • teejaycard

    I had the Pebble, Sony Smarwatch 1 and 2, I’mWatch, and messed with the Galaxy Gear for 2 weeks before I returned it for a full refund. All in all the Smarwatch 2 worked the best for everything that I wanted the watch to do and how I wanted it to feel. But now that Samsung has fixed absolutely everything that was wrong with the Galaxy Gear in the new model, the Gear 2, I’ll be buying that and hopefully calling it quits on switching watches so much. That is until I see what Google comes out with haha.

  • oilfighter

    I think it’s too bad they moved away from the standard watch band size/connector. I would buy the Pebble Steel right away if I could swap my own titanium bands on it.

  • mcdonsco

    I have a pebble steel and my only complaint is no native email support for many android phones (I’m sure it works for Samsung’s, likely, but I dont have a Samsung).

    This is *supposed to be* a basic function for the watch and out of the box it doesn’t work.

    I have to use the 3rd party app pebble notifier to get email notifications and while it works, it doesn’t work as well as the regular pebble notifications and it adds a 2nd notifications storage location on the watch.

    Can’t believe its been a YEAR (longer?), and pebble STILL hasn’t figured this out.

    Irritating enough i almost returned it.

    • ERIFNOMI

      What doesn’t work about email? I used mine for notifications from my school email (which is through Microsoft, so I used the default email client on my phone) and it worked fine. I eventually disabled it because I was gettig so many useless emails a day.

      • mcdonsco

        I currently have an lg g2 and all it shows is new email arrived…zero detail about what the email is…useless.

        Previously I had Motorola droids and an original pebble, same problem (but at first it didn’t work at all, then they at least updated it to at least say a new email was received).

        Its pretty pointless to say “new email received” with no other information because the point, at least for me, to owning a pebble is to have to take my phone out of my pocket less…if I have no idea what the email is I have to take my phone out to see.

        Glad it works for you, but you are not everyone.

        • CoreRooted

          It actually has nothing to do with the Pebble. It’s LG’s stock email client. Switch to a 3rd party app (I use cloudmagic myself) and you’ll get full details when emails come in.

          • mcdonsco

            Apparently we’ll have to COMPLETELY agree to COMPLETELY disagree here…It has EVERYTHING to do with the Pebble. How can you say the majority of smart phone users out there should start using a 3rd party email app rather than the ones that come built in with all smartphones now to be able to have proper notifications coming from the Pebble? Sorry, but that is COMPLETELY asinine.

            I’m actually stunned that anyone would ever try to claim this has nothing to do with Pebble…that’s just, wrong.

            And by the way, I have switched to the STOCK AOSP Google email app from kit kat…still does not work.

            Your comment makes me want to return the pebble as I have a feeling pebble seems to think the same (backassward) way; hence they haven’t fixed it yet.

            Pebble keeps saying the reason apps like pebble notifier work is because they use the notifications coming from the notifications bar…and in response to Pebble I say THEN DO THAT!!!! until you can figure out how to do it the way you prefer it to work! Then at least it would WORK out of the box without a 3rd party app…

            It’s not rocket science folks.

        • ERIFNOMI

          “Glad it works for you, but you are not everyone.”
          Wow, you’re really coming across as a cunt about such a minor thing. I never said I was everyone. I asked what doesn’t work and you explode like I’m accusing you of something. Calm your ass down.

          Yes, mine only showed that there was a new email. Like I said, I disabled it because I don’t usually need to know whaty emails say throughout the day in an urgent matter. If I’m awaiting something important, I’m probably already in my email spamming refresh. But this is why I asked in what way does it not work for you. Replying that it doesn’t show you message contents would have sufficed.

  • burntcookie90

    By the way, I think they said they had doubled the RAM on the steel to 8mb.

    • Jeff

      I was about to post the same thing.

    • Maxim∑

      That’s the only hardware change….pebble really trying to innovate

  • Jeff

    I don’t like how they made the watch band connector deal have a section in the middle, as it then seriously reduces options for aftermarket watch bands that are generally standard to just have the watch band connected by a single bar.

  • David Ust

    I got my Matte Black Steel yesterday as well. I definitely agree about the feel – the metal band is disappointing in how it feels with the watch. A regular metal Fossil band feels more solid and nicer than the included Steel band – so I’m rocking the leather band for now which does feel quite nice, and is soft and flexible.

    One MAJOR upgrade that I see is how the screen looks underneath the gorilla glass vs. the original plastic Pebble. It’s exceptionally clear and doesn’t get that mura muddy effect anymore. Comparing them side by side, it’s enough to appear as if they upgraded the LCD, despite not doing so. I can’t stress this enough, watchfaces I hated using on the original pebble, like Modern (standard analog look) actually stand out and look great on this screen, especially in direct light.

    Also, the buttons are much more solid and have a very satisfactory feel to them when pressed.

    Overall – I definitely like it more than the original Pebble which I was a huge fan of. Hopefully now that they’ve put out the 3D printing specs for the bands, a 3rd party will make a truly solid metal band for it. Is it worth it? That’s relative I guess…if you have $250 to burn and like having new tech and liked the original Pebble, then probably.

  • muffnman

    Glad that Droid Life is finally upping their video game. Bravo you guys! #unchartedterritory

  • http://idle0095.com/ IDLE0095

    Hide that serial number or someone will use it for fraud.

  • droidify

    If you look at the band from the side profile it’s obvious why it feels cheap. The band isn’t solid Stainless. They call it rolled links in the watch world. Instead of machining the links from stainless bar stock they actually roll up pieces of SS over another piece of SS. This is often seen on really cheap walmart watches (like 19.99 cheap) to save on the CNC machine cost.

    • mcdonsco

      Agreed

  • Ryan N

    “Contest: Win a Pebble Steel!”

    *wink, wink*

  • crazed_z06

    I got the gear around Christmas after returning the OG Pebble and I’ve mentioned several times that the build quality is just horrendous. Havent seen the Pebble steel in person, but from the reviews, it still looks pretty chintzy. For all the hate the Gear gets for being a Samsung product, it actually has excellent build quality and a fairly sleek industrial design..

  • Jeff

    This Pebble Steel is what prompted me to start looking at wearing a watch again. After a bunch of looking around I decided there weren’t any Smart Watches I really liked so I opted for an Orient Black Ray Raven Automatic on a NATO strap instead. I just kinda think it’s neater to have a self winding watch on my wrist over an extension of the phone in my pocket. Thank you Pebble Steel, I love the watch that you inspired me to buy!

  • King

    Yea the video intro where he pans in is definitely a technique used a lot in the verge.

    • PuttsMoBilesiCit

      You mean, everyone that does reviews does it and has been for years.

  • http://epichippo.com/ Thand

    Looks like someone’s been taking pointers from The Verge.

    • James Monday

      Ha, totally. Not that I don’t appreciate the quality, but it’s a good thing there’s no patent on video style.

  • Guest

    why has the Sony smartwatch 2 not gotten any coverage?

    • Carlos Lopez

      If they don’t like it they don’t cover it, is basically how it works

      • Guest

        makes sense, they haven’t talked about a single Sony product other than the camera add on

    • Hothfox

      Probably weren’t sent one to review, nor were any of them personally interested enough in it to purchase it with their own money and use it.

      • Evan Knofsky

        So are we just ignoring the fact the video has a Sony Smartwatch 2 in it?

        • Hothfox

          I hadn’t watched the video, I was just supposing in reply to someone else’s comment about why they might not have reviewed a specific product.

    • mcdonsco

      I had the sw2…returned it because there was no way to get it to work with regular exchange email on my android (and I suspect most) phones…at least with the pebble there is a way to get it to work, still not ideal…but with Sony it didn’t work on sw1 or sw2…Sony didn’t seem committed to getting it to work either.

      But it was a decent watch, albeit a bit bigger than id care for.

  • Jeremy Alajajian

    Kellen, perhaps you can answer me this: I am thinking about getting a Pebble primarily for distance/time tracking while out on a run and keeping me out of my phone for mundane items. Is the Pebble worth it? Or should i wait for more info on Razr’s Nabu they intro’d at CES?

    • mcdonsco

      I can answer that…using run keeper it works great…BUT, I do not know if it requires taking your phone with you on the run or not, it may work without the phone (standalone) but with the phone I know for sure it works well.