Pebble Time vs Moto 360 – Which Smartwatch is Best in 2018?

Motorola 360 vs Pebble Time – Review & Comparison 

Looking for a lower priced but good quality smart watch is difficult with all the options on the market. The main problem is how to find a good price without sacrificing form and function. Today, I’m doing a head to head of the Motorola 360 and the Pebble time, two of the cheaper Smart Watches on the market, with the time running just $149 and the 360 $249.
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Update 2018:

You can currently take advantage of some reasonable large discounts on both models by using the following amazon links to automatically apply substantial coupon discounts:

Click here for the Moto 360 on Amazon with all discounts automatically applied


Click here for the Pebble Time on Amazon with all discounts automatically applied

Size

The Moto 360 is available in two sizes, 40.5mm x 37.5mm x 9.5mm and 46 x 46 x 11.5 mm. This does sound big, and on a smaller person’s wrist, it may be. But as a guy with average sized hands, it suited me absolutely fine. For testing, I used the 46mm exclusively, as I liked the size better.

The Pebble time is 41 x 38 x 95mm. Not a whole lot smaller, but you definitely can tell it’s not as wide as the Motorola. It feels a bit on the small side, more like a ladies watch due to the thinner screen.

Winner: Moto 360
The Moto 360 was closer to the size of a normal watch. The size alone gave it an edge on comfort in this round.
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Case

The Moto 360 is all steel, with a beautifully polished finish. It’s available in black, silver and gold finishes. While I liked the gold finish, it does come off as very gaudy. It wasn’t particularly to my tastes, but it does look close enough to gold to look like a real gold watch. I did like the silver and black versions. Both were perfectly colored, but very prone to finger prints. The build quality felt very solid. The smack test didn’t even scratch the housing on the Moto. Everyone has caught their watch on something at least a few times in their lives. Knowing it can take an accidental hit without breaking, despite being something filled with tiny electronics is a testament to Motorola’s design teams.

The Pebble time comes in two variations. A steel version for $50 more, or the standard plastic version. I’m probably one of the only people who will say this: I hated the plastic version. It looks and feels cheap, like something you’d get from a plastic egg in a vending machine. I get the look they were going for. Similar to Apple’s style or possibly 1950’s ideals of futuristic. The steel version sorted that out for the most part. It felt much better to me case wise. The Pebble time is available in red, black and silver.
I wanted to try the smack test on the Pebble, but to be honest I was afraid to. The casing is plastic. While it didn’t feel weak, I could tell with a good enough whack it would easily break or shatter. Leaving me with a broken watch and questions I didn’t want to answer. Also a slightly lighter wallet.

Winner: Moto 360
The Moto 360 was the easy winner here. It looked and felt more like a real watch. The case felt sturdier as well, and the fact that it doesn’t come in a cheap plastic body made me feel like they cared more for protecting the delicate internals than Pebble did.
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Screen & Inputs

The Moto 360 rocks a 1.56’ screen, where the entire area listed is actually touch sensitive screen. It looks beautiful with the native 320 x 290 x 205ppi resolution. This is a fully functioning IPS display, meaning it’s just like the ones in smart phones, just smaller. The Moto has a single button so as to remain reminiscent to people migrating from standard watches. The button is your home and settings button, giving you one of the functions depending on how hard you push. It’s a nice addition which lets the Moto retain the form factor that watches have had for generations.

The Pebble runs a 1.25in display, most of which is taken up by the bezels. It’s an E-paper display, similar to those used in kindles. The native resolution is 168 x 144 x 180ppi. This is obviously lower than the Moto’s display, but on e-paper that doesn’t really matter too much. I will say the screen was fairly underwhelming. In low light it was very dim, in bright light it was absolutely fine.

Winner: Moto 360
The Moto’s real screen won the fight here. I really liked the clarity on the pebble, everything was readable but the downside was it just felt and looked cheaper. It felt very similar to the tamagotchis of the late 90s, but strapped to my wrist with basic time keeping functions.

Bands

The Moto 360 comes with a great feeling leather band in brown or black. It felt and looked like the band from a much more expensive watch. It greatly helped improve the overall premium feel of the watch. There were optional steel bands as well. These felt very nice on the wrist with well-spaced links allowing a good range of breathability. While I wasn’t fond of having to buy another band with the watch, the look of the steel band on the Moto 360 is just too good. With the right facing on, it can mirror much more expensive watches and until they get closer, no one can tell the difference.
The Moto also accepts any standard watch band, so even if you need a quick replacement or a link replace, it can be done at home or at any jeweler that does watch repairs.

The Pebble ships with a standard plastic band. The band has both good and bad attributes. It feels soft and supple, smooth as butter without a single imperfection on the surface. But it doesn’t feel as nice as a leather or steel band. While I did like it, it absolutely felt much cheaper. I was also more concerned about breaking it. Leather and Steel are far more reliable than plastic, having to attach a piece of technology to my wrist with something that already felt cheap to me would make me incredibly paranoid and I’d always want to feel it and make sure it was still there. Pebble does allow you to swap in any 22mm band you choose, but the fact that I’d NEED to rather than want to purely for aesthetic reasons bothered me.

Winner: Moto 360
The fact that the standard band felt good enough to use was enough reason to let it win.

Software and features

The Moto 360 runs Motorola’s version of the Android Wear OS. This dedicated operating system comes with full access to quite a few apps as well as the ability to craft apps for yourself if you’re technically inclined.
A built in pair of microphones allows you to dictate messages, reply to existing ones, search google, set notification and more. Built in support for notifications allows the watch to remind you of dates on the calendar as well as see messages directly on the screen of the device. Built in google hangouts support allows you a fast and easy way of joining into group calls directly from your wrist. There is no NFC support but it does allow Bluetooth to any 4.0 compatible device. Music support and controls are support on the device, both natively and through apps. The Device even has a wifi feature, but I didn’t get a chance to test that feature. It would be nice though, it means it doesn’t necessarily have to be synched to your phone to receive notifications.

The display is partially controlled by an ambient sensor that attempts to track when you’re going to look at the watch face. This allows for better extension of battery by leaving the display “sleeping” and consuming less power when not actively being used.

The Moto is protected by a corning gorilla glass screen as well as an IP67 water resistance which means it could safely survive you washing your hands or even a brief dip in a pool.

The Pebble time runs Pebble OS, a custom interface designed by Pebble. Instead of being based off a menu, it’s based off of a timeline. Messages and past meetings are off of one button, present are in the center and the future meetings and events are in one more.  It has access to quite a few third party applications but none of them will stun you on the E-paper display. There’s also a notable lack of feature support with some apps, as they’ll shut off unexpectedly in the background without warning.

A massive downside to the pebble is there’s no native reminder support. Coupled with the inability to reply to old messages is a big strike against the Pebble. As someone who text’s frequently this was a concern for me, if I accidentally swipe off a message, then I need to pull out my phone to reply to it, removing the need for a smart watch in the first place. Voice dictation was clear and accurate despite that fact, and the messages it sent were about the same accuracy as your average dictated android device.

The Pebble is waterproof up to 30m, which means it’d be entirely safe to go into the pool with. While this isn’t the best feature, if you’re accident prone this could end up saving your bacon in a worst case scenario.

It’s also compatible with iPhones, being one of the very few non-apple watches that can say that.

Winner: Moto 360
The Moto takes it and runs in this category, out classing the pebble in every single feature. Better apps and support, more microphones for clearer audio and an overall better package of features just makes it the more appealing device.
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Battery

The Moto 360 lasts on average a day. Which, for a smart watch isn’t great. It’s the weakest point of the device. It does support wireless only charging which is both a good and a bad thing. If your watch dies while you’re at work or traveling, it’s dead until you can get it back to a dock. The market currently flooded with USB cables won’t help you in the least. It will absolutely need you to tweak it to see what you can do personally to extend battery. Many users are finding that turning off the ambient display and turning down the brightness have improved the battery significantly. But that’s a very disappointing thing to say.

The Pebble shines in this category, with the battery lasting up to a full week on a single charge. The Pebble also uses a much more sensible USB cable although unfortunately it is unique to the device. This is still an upside, because you can always keep a spare cord in your car or at your work, just in case.

Winner: Pebble
The Pebble’s physical charger and long battery life easily win it its first point in this match. It’s definitely superior in this aspect. Unfortunately, this left me asking if this was an intentional feature or it was just happenstance due to the low requirements of the device itself?
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Aesthetic

The Moto 360 looks and feels like a premium watch. Putting it on gave me the same burst of pleasure you get when you put on a brand new pair of shoes. I know that sounds weird, but it’s just something about putting on something that looks and feels expensive that gives you a nice burst of positive energy. The vibe it gives of is luxurious, which made me actually more interested in playing with it as the day progressed. In a generation or two, I can guarantee you I could see the Moto in the same case as the lower end Rolex models. It looks and feels that good.

When putting on the Pebble, it felt…strange. The overall look is all soft edges and plastic, like something out of the 1950s view of the future but not as cool. I wanted to like it, but it just felt like wearing something out of a cereal box. It didn’t have the look or style I was hoping for and honestly, that was the most disappointing part of the watch. It’s not a premium device by any means, it feels more like the type of device marketed to parents who need something kidproof. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not exactly a good thing either.

The Winner: Moto 360
Appearance is everything in this day and age. The Moto gives a premium, cool factor that the Pebble just doesn’t even touch. It’s a smart watch you can wear without it being obviously a smart device. The understated elegance of the Moto is refined enough that it can appeal to a much wider demographic than the pebble’s boxy square.

Should You Buy the Moto 360 or Pebble Time in 2017?

This was probably the easiest comparison for me. The Moto wins by a landslide. In every category, it feels like a much better product for the money. In a way, that’s not surprising as it costs $100 more minimum than the Pebble watch. That being said, part of me really wanted to like the Pebble watch, despite every flaw I found with it. I wanted to defend it because it’s new and different, and the people who made it should be encouraged to keep trying. The problem is, I wouldn’t tell you to buy it. I know if I had a choice, I would always pick the Moto over the Pebble without a second thought, for any of the reasons I stated above. It’s prettier, it’s got better functions, it’s smarter and it’s sturdier. It’s exactly what I wanted a smart watch to be. Does it have a few flaws? Sure, but this is still a really new technology. We’re only on generation two of Smart watches, so none of them are going to be perfect yet. Give them a few years though and they’ll exceed every expectation you could have.

Moto 360 Discount: You can click here to get the Apple Watch with all available discounts automatically applied.

Pebble Time Discount: You can click here to get the Pebble Time with all available discounts automatically applied.




4 COMMENTS

  1. This strikes me as quite a biased review. I have had the Moto 360, Pebbles, and now the Zenwatch 2. I keep coming back to the Pebble. Because it just works. It doesn’t try to be a smartphone on your wrist, and what it does (the things you actually want a smartwatch to do), it does very well. This description of the Pebble OS consisting mostly of the timeline is quite misleading. That is only one part of the OS.

    I find Android Wear to be very frustrating. Yes. It claims to do many things but, in practice, it only does them intermittently. Voice recognition is terrible. I was wearing my Android Wear watch yesterday while trying to have a text conversation during shopping. Between the disconnects, and it’s frustrating inability to understand what I was saying, I quickly switched to the Pebble and finished the text conversation with dictation.

    Consistent and sturdy operation, ten days’ battery life and easy operation without the endless swiping of a tiny screen, and the fact that I can operate it without even looking at it (while driving, for instance) makes the Pebble the obvious choice for my daily wear.

  2. The nice thing about current Smartwatch offerings is that there is a lot of choice with lots of options to suit many needs. I went from an LG G Watch to a Pebble Time, and have zero regrets.

    I love having a useful Smartwatch that provides essential information and notifications effectively and unobtrusively, and I love being able to measure battery life in days instead of hours.

    I also like the Timeline concept because it really makes sense. The lack of a touchscreen is really not missed, primarily because the physical buttons are used in a very intuitive and intelligent way.

    To each his own, but I find the Pebble Time to be an excellent mix of form and function that’s nicely affordable.

  3. That was an incredibly one-sided and biased review…

    You briefly mentioned the Pebble Time Steel (once!), but didn’t even mention the Pebble Time Round. Both of which are cheaper (depending on where you get them) than the Moto 360, and they both come with leather and/or metal watch bands, and both have quality metal bodies. Also, the Pebble Time Round looks fantastic – and looks a lot less “bulky smartwatch” than the Moto 360.

    If you were going for a fair review, you should have reviewed one of these – not the significantly cheaper Pebble Time. The results may have been different. 🙂

    If you can afford the Pebble Time, but not the Pebble Time Steel (for example), you won’t be able to afford the Moto 360 either… So maybe you needed a price category too. 🙂

    Oh btw, the battery life and charging cable are very intentional – it’s worrying that you think the one category in your “review” that the Pebble wins is an unintentional side affect of the device limitations???

    (P.s. I don’t work for Pebble… but I am an active Pebble app developer.)

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