gear smart watchLet the smart watch war begin.  Now to be fair, the Pebble is not from a major player and thus does not have the money to fight a full fight, however, the Pebble is able to surprisingly hold its own from a use point of view.  So lets compare the Gear and the Pebble.  BTW, if you read the whole post and have suggestions for more use cases please let me know. (warning, first draft)

First off, the Gear is FAR more capable then the Pebble.  With a color touch screen, speakers and microphone, and a 1.9m camera, the Gear is many times capable over the Pebble.  However, its also a bit bigger, locked (it appears) to the cheap looking strap, also locked to Samsung phones with the required capabilities and updated OS, and finally only 24 hours of battery life.  (Not confirmed, I do not think its water proof)

Comparing the Smart Watches

So lets look at the pros and cons.  I found a great pro / con list on reddit /pebble so I will use it as a starting point with a few edits..

Pebble Advantages:

  • Battery Life (4-12 days)
  • Works with all Android and most iOS devices
  • Swap-able straps
  • Price ($150)
  • Answer/Decline phone calls (Gear may be able to, but not confirmed)
  • Clean simple design
  • Light 1.6oz

Galaxy Gear Advantages

  • Camera
  • Microphone and speakers
  • S-Voice
  • Shows previous notifications
  • 10 third-party apps (plus ones on it, I’m assuming)
  • Color selection
  • Pixels (320×320)
  • Colored Screen
  • Initiate and receive phone calls
  • Voice to text
  • Sync display from watch to phone.  Kinda.
  • Touch Screen
  • Android based, thus Android SDK(ish)??
  • More powerful CPU/ More memory

So from the read of the list, the Gear seems like a better buy.  More computer power, voice/sound, color touch screen, camera and as I would guess a long list of apps already waiting the wings created by their internal team.   HOWEVER, there is a price to pay for this.  Aside from the extra $150.

The watch is a bit bulkier and somewhat clumsy in design and heavier.  The battery life of only 24 hours assuming normal use, that means if you use it more then normal, however that is defined, you will have to charge is everyday (may have to anyway even with normal use).  And like a gremlin, keep it away from water.

So then, which is better? The Gear or the Pebble?  Well you already know the answer, it depends on how you use the watch. So lets focus on use case.

Gear Vs. Pebble use cases

I’ve had the pebble for I think over a month now and I’m mostly happy with it. I’m sure that if I had an Android device, I would be more happy, but the core use case is still there.  I get alerts when I need them.  I can see a time when I’m getting all my alerts, and way to filter alerts I do not want, and a useful http gateway that will allow me to hit outside services to get data.   That’s pretty good.  Really these are your base functions.  The only other base function missing is the ability to answer the phone, and that can be addressed as well by using a bluetooth headset.

However, with the Gear having near 70 apps and more to follow, it will be able to do more.  A LOT more.  but a lot more what?  You can answer the phone, that is pretty huge.  You can do voice commands.  Hmm, ok, that can be useful here and there, esp when you are driving unless you already have bluetooth set up in the car, which most new cars already have.  You can take pictures …. right..  But what else?  The phone really shines and a companion to your phone.  That means two things to me.  Give me quick information before I knew I needed it (alerts, incoming calls, sms, breaking news, etc..) or give me the ability to do something quick because I do not want to take the extra time to take my phone out of my pocket.

And there we have the key.

What is something you want to do that is not worth taking your phone out of your pocket?  Right off the bat, anything that alerts you to something.  Both phones do that.  So that is a tie.  If all you need is basic alerts, then you want the Pebble. Its 1/2 the price.  Anything beyond this use case, then we have to keep score.

The Pebble is 1/2 price.  ‘nough said.  +1 Pebble

Place or make a phone call?  It would be a very rare case where placing a call is not enough trouble to make, but too much trouble to take your phone out.  Plus you have to really question that call quality.  Answer a call?  Eh.. Maybe.  So you might want the Gear.

Look up information?  They both kind of do this.  I expect the Gear will have more apps faster then the pebble.  The Gear DOES have a nice six screen and color, so +1 for Gear.

Use the device, not be a slave to it:  We are already slaves to keeping the phone charged, now I have to worry about the watch dieing too?  That is a bit too much.  I like that with the Pebble the battery live is just short of a week. (I turn it off when home).  Nice.  +1 Pebble.

Water proof?  I never though I would care about this, but I like that when I wash my hands (which I do a few times a day) I do not worry about it getting wet.  +1 Pebble

Voice to text dictation.  I’m not sure about this,  but I can see it when walking, driving, crowded subway or anywhere where digging out the phone to send off a quick email or sms reply is needed.  +1 Gear

Camera.  Sorry, really I just cannot see this.  but I’ll give Gear a +1 because when the very first cameras showed up on phones, I was scratching my head the same way.

Large color touch screen.  I do want this.  its a shame they could not make this happen without the watch looking bulky to the point of ugly.  Perhaps V2 will address this, but having the flexibility to display deep information like a map can be nice. +1 Gear.

But.. I have an iphone or some other non Samsung device.  +1 Pebble

So far on this first draft I have Gear at 4, Pebble at 4.  Really, it just worked out that way, I was not trying to make it a tie.  But this is just the first draft. I may come up with more after lunch.

Basically unless you already have a Samsung device, this is a pointless exercise, get the Pebble or keep waiting.  However, I have been planning on moving away from iPhone and right now I’m thinking of getting a Samsung phone, so I may still be in the market.   But at $300, I’m not sure I really need it.  I was really hoping for a lower price point, perhaps 200, then I would get it.  Perhaps if Samsung dumped the camera and other ‘next generation electronics’ in the band, we can get it a bit cheaper.  Then I would run out and buy it and a phone.  For now, I think I’ll stick with my Pebble.


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