When the very convincing rumours came out that Fitbit was about to buy Pebble and kill the brand, Fear took over our emotional control panels. Since the confirmation of all the details and what it means for buyers and backers, Sadness and Anger have been squabbling over who gets to press our Feel buttons.
So is there any potential Joy in finding an alternative to the affordable, simple to use, long-lasting, geek chic smartwatch series?
Simply put, there’s nothing that we’ve seen so far that matches Pebble on every single one of its main plus points. In some ways the list really shows up what Pebble managed to get down. But before you turn away from the whole smartwatch idea in Disgust (sorry not sorry), consider the below Pebble alternatives and please do add your own in the comments.
Best affordable all-rounder
The second Ticwatch from Chinese company Mobvoi (part owned by Google) raised over $2 million on Kickstarter earlier this year. Not quite Pebble levels but still, it’s clearly onto something.
Read this: Ticwatch 2 first impressions review
Here’s what you get for $199: a slim, round smartwatch that looks (but doesn’t feel) like metal, a 400 x 400 OLED display, GPS, heart rate, a Tizen-style user interface and the clever capacitive Tickle strip for controlling the watch without covering the screen with your fingers.
It’s compatible with iOS and Android but the big downside here for Pebble fans is that battery life is only one day. Stick with us and see below for longer lasting options.
Best for indie appeal
If you want to support a startup with a bit of character, take a look at the CoWatch. It’s built by IMCO and runs Cronologics OS with a really nifty icon based smartwatch UI created by ex Android/Android Wear devs. Nice straps too.
A world away from Pebble displays, it has a 400 x 400 AMOLED display but it’s a better battery than you’d expect: 36 hours always on and three days in low power mode, according to IMCO. It also runs Alexa as a Siri alternative so using voice control on your wrist might save some screen time too. Look out for a CoWatch review asap.
See also Blocks which uses the same OS, though that crowdfunded, modular smartwatch is taking its sweet time to ship.
From $279, imcotechnology.com | Amazon
Best for battery life
Vector is by no means perfect but it does give you a battery life of up to 30 days. In our testing, it lasted a good three weeks. So if that was one of your main loves of Pebble, it’s worth considering. There’s a range of Luna and Meridian styles, both round and rectangular, in different sizes and finishes, though a Vector smartwatch will set you back a fair bit more than a basic Pebble.
Read this: Vector Luna smartwatch review
It’s a non-touch Memory LCD screen that isn’t the easiest to read but is simple to control via the three buttons. It does alerts, alarms, reminders and basic activity tracking and is a fairly business watch choice.
From $205.99, vectorwatch.com | Amazon
Still looking? Consider these
- The best hybrid smartwatches Helping you pick a traditional watch with added smarts
- The best budget smartwatches Smartwatches that won’t break the bank
- Patch is a $60 smartwatch in a strap with a three month battery life Not keen on smartwatch screens? Try this
Best for keeping things simple
Hugo Boss Smart Classic
Here’s a compromise – try a hybrid smart analogue watch that either uses vibrations for alerts and tracks activity with no digital screen or adds a small screen to the lower third of the watch face like the Hugo Boss Smart Classic and Guess Connect. It won’t be for everyone but there is an easy appeal to this kind of design and you can get 7 to 12 days out of the tiny ticker screen on one charge. If you’re on a budget, go for a Martian.
Read this: Hugo Boss Smart Classic in-depth review
Best for fitness
One for runners, the Amazfit Pace – from the tech company behind Xiaomi trackers – has built-in GPS, 2.4GB of storage for music and lasts up to 11 days on a single charge. With GPS and continuous heart rate tracking, that’s more like 36 hours but the option is there to go for the week plus battery life.
A few more pros, it’s IP67 water and dust resistant, it hooks up to Strava Run and it handles call, text, app and email alerts (though we’re not sure exactly how they appear yet). Compatible with both iPhone and Android, this is another smartwatch we haven’t tested yet but look out for a review on Wareable soon.
Let us know what you’re considering as a Pebble alternative, and what we’ve missed, in the comments below.