The announcement and release of the Apple Watch made me think a little harder about smart watches and what I like about them. I'm excited to see the Apple Watch and try it out in person, but I haven't purchased one yet. For now, I'm sticking with my original Pebble watch.
I was an original backer of the Pebble on Kickstarter and have worn mine nearly every day since receiving it in April of 2013. That's two full years of having a smart watch on my wrist. At first it was just a new idea, something different, and very much an experiment. I wasn't sure why I wanted one, or if it would be more annoying than useful. I worried about being over-connected. But it has definitively changed the way I interact with my phone and notifications in a positive way. I miss it when it isn't on my wrist.
The Pebble and the Apple Watch share lots of features that are valuable to me. I may write about those things in more detail in a separate post. But there are two main features of the Pebble that the Apple Watch doesn't match, and that's what's stopping me from ordering an Apple Watch.
My favorite thing about the Pebble is its durability. Not only is it waterproof, but it's tough as hell. I have swam in pools and the ocean, showered with it, washed cars and dishes, and knocked it against countless doorways and tables without ever having to worry about it. Sure, it has a few scuffs, but it still looks good. I don't want to baby my watch, and the peace of mind that comes with having such a durable device on my wrist is worth a lot to me. This difference is amplified by the fact that the baseline Apple Watch is 3.5x the price of the Pebble on my wrist. I feel comfortable with the durability of the Pebble and don't want to move backwards in durability if I'm moving so significantly upwards in price. Of course, I am just speculating about the durability of the Apple Watch in regards to dings and scratches, but the fact that it can't be submerged in water is the biggest problem for me.
My second favorite thing about the Pebble is that I only have to charge it once a week (I usually get between 7-9 days between charges). That's long enough that I forget about it. I can go on trips without bringing a charger, and when I get a low battery notification I can still finish out the day. I don't want another device that I have to charge nightly, and I certainly don't want a device that I have to meter my usage so that I can make it through a full day.
Wearing my Pebble for the past two years has made me an advocate for smart watches. Initially I was really excited about the Apple Watch, and probably would have clamored to be one of the first pre-orderers if it wasn't for those two concerns. I may still buy an Apple Watch, either as a development device or just for wearing, but I haven't yet. It may still be the better device; its extra capabilities and interactivity may end up trumping my concerns about durability and battery life. For now I'm going to keep the Pebble on my wrist.