Pebble releases the Time Round, a stylish smartwatch with some compromises

Pebble, the makers of the popular Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel smartwatches, released the Pebble Time Round watch on Wednesday. The Pebble Time Round is the thinnest and lightest smartwatch out there, but its form comes at the cost of battery life.

Pebble
The Pebble Time Round is the thinnest and lightest smartwatch out there, but its battery life isn't as good as previous Pebble smartwatches.

It’s been a productive year for Pebble. The company announced the Pebble Time, a full-color smartwatch with week-long battery life, in March, and funded its production by raising $15.4 million on Kickstarter, making it the most-funded project in the site’s history. The Pebble Time was released May 24, followed in August by the Pebble Time Steel, a slightly dressier smartwatch with a steel chassis and ten days of battery life.

On Wednesday, the company announced the Pebble Time Round, a $249 smartwatch that’s thinner and lighter than either the Pebble Time or the Pebble Time Steel. True to the name, the Time Round has an elegant round face (all of Pebble’s previous smartwatches have been square) and will come with straps in both 14mm and 20mm widths. It has the same low-powered color e-paper display as the Pebble Time, and the same four buttons to navigate through the watch interface.

Pebble has taken a slightly different approach to smartwatches than Apple, Samsung, and other hardware makers. While the Apple Watch is a more or less fully-featured wrist computer with the ability to track fitness stats, display and send texts and emails, and run apps natively, the Pebble line of smartwatches are a little bit simpler. Pebble watches can display upcoming events and incoming messages, as well as weather and other information, but don’t have any built-in sensors beyond a microphone for voice dictation. (The company is relying on third parties to build “smartstraps” with built-in heart rate monitors and other sensors for the Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel.)

The upside to this simpler approach is that Pebble smartwatches use very little power and can last for a week or more in between charges. An Apple Watch or Android Wear smartwatch usually needs to be charged every night. Because the Time Round is so thin, though (7.5mm top to bottom), the company had to shrink the battery to fit in the case, so it only gets two days of battery. “This is like a real two-days – 48 hours, not like 18 hours,” Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky told Mashable’s Raymond Wong. And a 15-minute charge is enough to get a full day of battery life out of the Time Round.

Pebble says developers won’t have to rewrite their apps – which are designed to run on previous Pebble watches’ square faces – to run on the new round display. The Pebble’s user interface automatically displays app information in a way that makes sense for a circular screen. The watch body itself comes in black, silver, or rose gold finishes, with five different colored leather bands or metal bands to be released later this year.

The Time Round will cost a penny under $250, and will be available for preorder from Best Buy, Target, or Pebble itself on November 8.

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