Pebble 2 + Heart Rate Review Facts
The Pebble 2 + Heart Rate was released by Pebble, a new brand in the running watch market. They released one of the first successful smartwatches in 2013, the Pebble Smartwatch, to great success. The Pebble 2 was their next edition to hit stores, and was released in 2016. Unfortunately, the company went under shortly after the kickstarter for the Pebble 2, so many users did not receive the watch. Pebble was bought out by FitBit, a company that also makes good fitness watches. Despite this, the Pebble 2 can still found from some retailers, and this review will explore the positives and negatives of the watch.
Though the Pebble 2 features a heart rate tracker
, and more fitness related trackers than the original Pebble, the Pebble 2 is a bit disappointing when it comes to the activities that it tracks out of the box. The main activities it tracks are running and walking. This really shows, as the Pebble 2 is pretty much only equipped to provide quality data for running and walking. The third activity available is for general working out, and is pretty much a catch all for all other activities. It should be noted that other activities can be tracked in a better way, but it requires downloading third party apps onto a smartphone.
For basic features, the Pebble 2 is pretty well equipped, though it seems to be fleshed out in a more smartwatch way than fitness watch.
The Pebble 2, of course, offers standard date and time measurements. This includes things like setting alarms, stopwatches, and other features one would generally expect from a timekeeping device.
The Pebble 2 also syncs to smartphones, which is a pretty standard, but useful, feature of smartwatches. This allows it to sync information across and also allows for adjusting of settings in the watch.
For advanced features, the Pebble 2 offers a pretty wide range that are useful for both fitness and non fitness related features.
One really handy feature of the Pebble 2 is its ability to use third party apps via the Pebble app store for more advanced tracking or better interfaces. There is a huge selection of apps for a big range of uses, though some do require the app to also be installed on a smartphone. In addition to this, watch faces, or different layouts for the watch can be downloaded via the Pebble store. This is a very unique and cool feature, as it allows personalization in a way that many other smartwatches do not. Again, there are a ton of choices for faces, so one can really make the watch their own.
One major upgrade from the original Pebble is the addition of an optical heart rate sensor. Optical heart rate sensors use light flashes to determine heart rate, and don’t require the use of straps. The only real downside to this is inaccuracy, as optical heart rate sensors tend to have more issues with consistency than straps. Nevertheless, the optical heart rate sensor is a cool feature that provides some extra data for those who enjoy it.
Another handy feature is the integration with smartphones. One can view and respond to SMS messages, and also to many messaging apps with the push of a button. The choices are to respond with a pre-written message, and emoji, or use voice to respond. This is actually pretty advanced, and not too many smartwatches on the market offer these options, especially the voice response. The voice response is, of course, not perfect, but still very usable. In addition, the smartphone integration allows the user to change songs and skip around on the watch. This is nice for those who don’t want to pull out their phone while in the middle of an activity.
Finally, the Pebble 2 offers a new quick launch system. This allows the four buttons on the watch to all be assigned to a particular app, allowing apps to be quickly accessed. This is a small feature, but is definitely a very nice option for customization and preference.
When it comes to accuracy, the Pebble 2 is pretty good, though definitely is not perfect in every regard.
The general timekeeping related features of the watch function perfectly. This should come as no surprise, considering they are pretty simple, but still is something worth noting. Users should have no trouble with date, time, stopwatches, timers, or anything of that sort.
One area where the watch suffers a bit in accuracy is in the heart rate measurements, as touched upon above. The optical heart rate sensor gives a very solid baseline, and is often correct, but can sometimes veer off into incorrect readings. Some users reported rates that were much too high or much to low while doing activities. In general however, the readings will be correct, or very close to correct. However, for those that really prefer very accurate readings, getting a heart rate strap might be the preferred way to go.
The Pebble 2’s main form of connectivity is through bluetooth. The watch connects to smartphones via bluetooth, which is where a majority of important actions are taken. Through bluetooth connection one can view and respond to notifications, change music, sync apps between the Pebble app and watch, and change a variety of settings.
Apart from the bluetooth connection, the Pebble 2 doesn’t offer too much else. It does not contain a GPS sensor like a traditional running watch, and also is not Wi-Fi compatible.
Apps are where the Pebble 2 shines pretty well. The Pebble has an immense library of apps to choose from, available on the Pebble app store. These apps range from training plans, to additional activity logs, to aesthetic skins, and much more. Most of these apps are also all available on both major platforms, Android and IOS. The unfortunate tradeoff however is that some apps that are specifically designed for GPS watches
are not compatible with the Pebble 2. Luckily, some of these have been ported to the Pebble store, though it is worth noting that there are many popular apps that have not been.
When it comes to comfort, the Pebble 2 is pretty decent. The watch itself does a good job of being light, which is impressive considering the amount of features crammed into it. This paired with the face being relatively small, makes the watch a pretty comfortable fit. The band is made of silicone, which is relatively light and sits pretty well on the skin. It additionally isn’t affected by water, which is a nice plus towards comfort. The band is also replaceable, for those that have a particular preference in band.
Style is probably one of the weaker aspects of the Pebble 2. The watch definitely is not bad looking by any stretch, but its design doesn’t seem to be focused enough. It seems to fill an awkward niche between smartwatch
and fitness watch
, and looks a bit like both. This isn’t horrible, but it is always nice for a watch to have a more defined look. By falling in between, it loses the best parts of each side. That said, the overall look of the Pebble 2 is clean and it is offered in several colors, which is also nice. Overall, the Pebble 2 isn’t the most stylish watch, and might see some trouble for everyday use, but still isn’t awful and has a decently clean design.
Durability is fairly good in the Pebble 2. It probably will be a bit less durable than a traditional sports watch, but it still can hold its own pretty well. The face is pretty resistant to drops and scratches, though it is probably the most vulnerable part of this watch. For the most part, it should be fine, but extreme drops could definitely cause some issues with the screen. The band shouldn’t see many problems. It is fairly durable and also waterproof, so not much should faze it. The whole watch is actually waterproof as well, which is one less thing to worry about when using the watch in different environments.
The face of the Pebble 2 is actually pretty small compared to many smartwatches and sports watches. The plus of this is that the watch is more compact and lighter, with the negative being that the face can be harder to read at times. The face does have a backlight that automatically turns on when the wrist is raised however, making it a bit more visible. The face also is pretty unique in that it is customizable with different layouts and themes, all available on the Pebble store.
The band of the Pebble 2 is a pretty standard 22mm silicone design. Silicone is a very popular choice for bands, and it makes an appearance here as well. This is because silicone is pretty light and sits fairly comfortably on the skin. It also is not affected by water, and doesn’t become odorous like other materials. The band itself is also replaceable for other 22mm bands should one prefer a different type or style, which is good for customization.
The Pebble 2 is unfortunately not available in any other sizes. The face itself and the band are luckily not too big, so it should fit well on most people. The band is replaceable, but it still only accommodates 22mm lengths, so it still does not allow for different sizes. For most the watch size shouldn’t be an issue, though those that prefer bigger faces and bands might want to look elsewhere in this case.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is decent in the Pebble 2. There definitely is a bit of a learning curve, particularly in the Pebble exclusive features. Syncing to the Pebble app, and downloading apps from the Pebble store take a bit of getting used to, but after a while become very easy and straightforward. The guides also do a good job of explaining this. The other, more common smartwatch features, are all pretty simple to figure out, and shouldn’t cause too much trouble for users. Overall, the Pebble 2 is pretty easy to use, though there likely will be some adjustment to be had.
The battery of the Pebble 2 is projected to last about a week with little fitness use. With fitness, or other heavy use, the watch lasts about 5 to 6 days. This is pretty strong for a watch with the features of the Pebble 2. Many other smartwatches require charges every day or two, so this is a nice plus of the Pebble 2. The watch charges pretty normally via the cable that comes in the box.
Price is pretty low in the Pebble 2. This is partly due to the watch and company being discontinued, but that doesn’t stop it from still being a pretty good value. It is available from the 55 to 85 dollar range depending on the retailer, which is a great price for any watch with the features of the Pebble 2. Most smartwatches tend to run into the multiple hundreds.
There aren’t very many accessories that are specific to the Pebble 2. The major accessories that are available are straps and the apps. The strap, as mentioned before, is replaceable, and can be purchased from other retailers. The huge number of apps
and skins available on the Pebble store are exclusive to the Pebble 2, so in a way, these are custom accessories as well.
Pebble store apps
Built in heart rate monitoring
Unique customization options
Overall, the Pebble 2 is a pretty solid smartwatch overall, but a bit lacking in terms of fitness. The majority of its features are very useful for smartphone integration, but it falls a bit short of being a complete fitness watch, despite having the built in heart rate monitor. For those seeking a smartwatch with occasional fitness use, the Pebble 2 is a great choice. For those seeking a watch for more serious training, the Pebble 2 is probably not the way to go. Either way, the price is pretty good, however it should be noted that there is no longer any support or updates, as Pebble has closed down permanently.