Product Profile: The Pebble Smartwatch

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Smartwatches are all the rage, and with the upcoming release of the highly anticipated Apple Watch, you may be seriously considering if you should jump in on this style-meets-function trend.

But should you wait until April to make a purchase? Find out if a smartphone-compatible wrist accessory that’s already on the market — the Pebble Smartwatch — is a fit for you.

What is it?

The Pebble Smartwatch is a cross between a watch, an activity tracker and a mobile phone accessory. It uses Bluetooth 4.0 technology to connect your phone to your timepiece, all while bringing you access to tons of apps.

Take a look at some of the product specs:

  • Price: $99 from Pebble ($99.99 from Amazon); the Pebble Steel is $199
  • Compatibility: Apple (iOS 6 and higher) and Android (OS 4.0 and higher) devices
  • Colors: Orange, arctic white, jet black, cherry red, gray
  • Battery: Rechargeable, up to seven days of battery life
  • Water resistance: Up to 50 meters
  • Accessories: USB charging cable, TPU rubber strap

What does it do?

So what do all of these fancy features and sophisticated specs actually mean? Forget using a watch just to find out the time of day. With nothing more than a quick look at their wrist, Pebble wearers can check call, text, email or social media notifications.

Then, when it’s time to hit the gym, users have the ability to download a variety of fitness-tracking apps to measure their progress. Music apps — including iTunes, Spotify and Pandora — bring an added sweet-sounding element to your workout routine, and the watch’s water-resistance means you can even wear it during your swim.

For the customization-minded user, the Pebble allows you to download an assortment of watch faces as well as purchase different watchbands (sold separately) for unique looks.

Who needs it?

With its combination of social media notifications and fitness-tracking capabilities, this smartwatch suits those who want their newest accessory to satisfy the needs of both their social life and their active life.

Available for just under $100, this Pebble product delivers many coveted smartwatch features at a relatively affordable price. Plus, it’s compatible with select Apple and Android devices, rather than just one or the other.

What about Apple?

But wait, not so fast. There’s nothing worse than buying a tech item only to have your product replaced by the latest and greatest model to hit the market shortly after you make your purchase.

So before you jump for the Pebble, there’s one more thing to keep in mind: Apple. Available beginning April 24, the Apple Watch promises to be the technology giant’s “most personal device yet.”

This upcoming smartwatch — which starts at $349 — will have a touch-screen display, texting and calling capabilities, fitness tracking and Apple Pay compatibility.

The device, which is compatible with iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, will be sold in a variety of styles and colors. But with up to 18 hours of battery life, it’ll likely need to be charged more frequently than the Pebble. Pebble says its watch can last about a week.

Bottom line: If you’re a first-time smartwatch buyer and don’t want to be tied to Apple’s iOS ecosystem, the Pebble’s features and price make it an ideal accessory for you.

But if you’re an iPhone user who’s looking to get a whole lot more out of your wrist accessory — and are willing to pay more to get it — you’d be best off waiting until the Apple Watch is available for purchase next month.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @CourtneyNerd and on Google+.


Image via Pebble.