Pebble has announced its third smartwatch this year, and this time it’s aimed squarely at smaller wrists. The Pebble Time Round is the company’s first smartwatch with a circular display, joining Samsung’s Gear S2 and several Android Wear watches in the round-screen party.
The rose gold Pebble Time Round with a 14 mm strap. Credit: Pebble
But what really makes it unique is its size. At 7.5 mm thick, the Pebble Time Round is 33 percent thinner than an Apple Watch. It’s also considerably lighter at 29 grams, and offers narrower wrist band options of 20 mm and 14 mm.
“We recognized that there’s actually a massive part of the community that we haven’t been able to really get on the wrist of yet,” Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky said in an interview. “That’s people with smaller wrists, women, people who have a different sense of style, and want to see something that’s a little more classic on the wrist.”
The story behind the story: Existing smartwatches skew toward men and people with larger wrists. To some degree it’s by necessity, as device makers pack their timepieces with powerful displays that require massive batteries. But Pebble has a different approach. By using a low-power e-paper display, Pebble doesn’t need a huge battery, and can offer a more svelte smartwatch as a result.
Making the round watch work
In terms of technology, the Pebble Time Round is similar to its predecessors, with an always-on display that’s easy to read in sunlight (but requires backlighting to read in the dark). Users can launch lightweight watch apps, or view a “Timeline” that shows past and future events, such as sports scores and calendar appointments. Developers will have to tweak their apps and watchfaces to support the round display, Migicovsky said, though Timeline events should work with no modifications at all.
As with the existing Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel, the round version pairs with either an iPhone or Android phone for receiving notifications and connecting to the Internet. Android users can also take action on notifications, for instance by deleting an email or sending a canned text message response. (Migicovsky hinted at a similar solution for iPhone users in a couple months. “We’re working on a way to make it happen regardless of what Apple thinks,” he said.)
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.