UK network operator O2 announced earlier today that they will be selling the successful Pebble and Pebble Steel smartwatches “in October,” but we don’t yet know the exact date. The Pebble Steel will join the other smartwatches that O2 currently or are about to sell, most notable the Motorola Moto 360, Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Sony Smartwatch 2. O2 are the second largest carrier in the UK with 24% of market share (in 2013) compared with the market leader, EE, with 32% covered by their three brands (EE, Orange, T-Mobile). They operate a GSM network using 2G, 3G and 4G services using a range of frequencies, most notably they own a chunk of LTE spectrum at 800 MHz, which means their 4G network is longer ranged with better building penetration but is potentially slower than their main rival, EE, which currently operates much of its 4G network at the higher frequencies.
The original Pebble smartwatch was funded through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding organisation. It uses a monochrome black and white e-paper display complete with a LED backlight. The Pebble is built from polycarbonate and includes a vibrating motor, magnetometer, ambient light and accelerometer sensors. It’s controlled by four buttons and does not have a touch-sensitive display. The device is compatible with both iOS and Android devices, connecting via Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy and benefits from an app store with four thousand applications. It can handle notifications for text messages, emails, calls and notifications from social media. The Pebble is waterproof down to 50m and uses a magnetic USB charger port. It’s kept powered up by a 130 mAh battery, which Pebble claims will give a week of use for a typical user. The computer hardware is lightweight; the device has a Cortex M3 processor with 128 KB of RAM. Pebble OS is much lighter and less functional than Android Wear devices, but for some people this level of sophistication is exactly what they want from a smartwatch! O2 will be selling the Pebble smartwatch for £99. O2 also have the exclusive on the Cherry Red model.
The Pebble Steel is the second generation Pebble smartwatch, featuring a thinner body, Corning Gorilla Glass, an indicator LED and a standard black leather strap with optional steel bands (which just happen to fit the Moto 360). It’s otherwise similar to the original Pebble with the same features and specification, but in light of the different build the Steel is more expensive at £179. The pair of Pebble smartwatches arrive in time for the holiday season and the original model, especially, is an affordable and functional accessory. That it works with both Android and iPhone devices is handy and the red model will bring a dash of colour to the line up. What do you think to the carrier selling smartwatch accessories? Do you have a Pebble and would you recommend it? Let us know in the comments below.