The Pebble and Samsung Galaxy Gear are probably two of the most innovative gadgets launched in recent times. This Techspirited article puts these two smartwatches through their paces and tells you how the the battle between the Pebble Smartwatch Vs. Samsung Galaxy Gear goes down.
Did You Know?
The Pebble runs on Pebble OS, a proprietary operating system, while the Samsung Galaxy Gear is powered by an Android-based operating system.
The smartphone segment seems a little too crowded with scores of capable handsets in the market, and with little to choose between them. The hardware on these phones is probably at a stage where having a more powerful processor would not necessarily translate into a huge improvement in performance. They are pretty much at a stage where it is more about evolution than innovation. This has prompted phone manufacturers to look at other avenues to rake in the money. One such avenue that has opened up of late is the smartwatch segment.
2013 has seen a sudden surge in the interest towards smartwatches, with each company looking to outsmart the other with their own version of the next-gen watch. The Korean giant Samsung has already released its version of the watch, the Galaxy Gear. In stark contrast though, a humble kickstarter project called the Pebble is what actually marked the dawn of the smartwatches. The Galaxy Gear and the Pebble are two amazing watches with their own bag of tricks. Here’s a look at how these watches match up to each other.
Processor: Up to 80 MHz ARM Cortex-M3
Screen: 1.26″ e-paper Display
Resolution: 144 x 168 pixels
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Compatibility: Android 4.0+ iOS 6.0+
Dimensions: 52 x 36 x 11.5 mm
Weight: 38 g
Battery Life: 5 – 7 days
SAMSUNG GALAXY Gear
Processor: 800 MHz Exynos
Screen: 1.63″ Super AMOLED
Resolution: 320 x 320 pixels
Camera: 1.9 MP
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Compatibility: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (at launch)
Dimensions: 56.6 x 36.8 x 11.1 mm
Weight: 73.8 g
Battery Life: 25+ hrs
Pebble over Samsung Galaxy Gear
- Changeable wrist strap
- Smaller footprint
- Display is always on
- Battery life of 5 – 7 days
- Compatible with both Android and iOS devices
- 5ATM water resistant
Samsung Galaxy Gear over Pebble
- Powerful processor
- Built-in camera
- In-built mic and speaker for voice calling
- Color display
- Voice command support
Design and Construction
The Pebble is reasonably light and small, and feels more or less like an ordinary watch. The front is taken up by the monochrome screen that has a curved plastic lens cover on it. The right side features three buttons―Up, Down, and Select―while the left side has the back button. The left also houses the magnetic pins that connect to a USB cable for charging. The entire watch has a 5ATM rating and can be used while swimming. You can use any standard 22 mm wrist strap to go with the Pebble. The watch also has a vibrating motor for notifications. The watch measures in at 52 x 36 x 11.5 mm, and weighs about 38 g. It is currently available in orange, red, black, gray, and white colors.
Samsung Galaxy Gear
The Gear resembles one of the many large, in-your-face kind of men’s watches. At first glance, you’re treated to a glossy glass screen encased in a metal frame, with screws that give it a premium, yet robust look. The only physical button on the watch is the power button on the right side. The back has 5 pogo pins that help charge the device using the Gear’s charging cradle. The polyurethane strap has a 1.9 MP camera hidden inside it, while the straps buckle packs two noise-cancellation microphones and a speaker. The strap itself is non user-replaceable because of the all the goodies it hides within it. The device is water-resistant and should be able to handle small accidental spills. The dimensions of the watch are 56.6 x 36.8 x 11.1 mm and weighs in at 73.8 g. The watch has a variety of wrist straps on offer in jet black, oatmeal beige, mocha gray, wild orange, and lime green. There is also an option to go in for rose gold color for the metal front of the Gear.
The watch employs what the company calls an e-paper display, which is very energy efficient and has great sunlight legibility. This is actually a 144 x 168 transreflective LCD protected by a shatterproof and scratch-resistant lens with an anti-glare optical coating on top. The good thing about the display is that it is always on, and also has a backlight to view it in the dark. On the downside, you are stuck with a monochrome display. You can scroll through the screens using the physical navigation buttons on its sides.
Samsung Galaxy Gear
The watch is graced by a 320 x 320 Super AMOLED touchscreen. The display is protected by a scratch-resistant sheet of glass. The watch comes with an outdoor mode which, when enabled, makes the screen a lot brighter for better legibility under direct sunlight. The display stays off, and only lights up on demand, or when there is a new notification. Navigation through the screens is handled by simple swipes on the capacitive touchscreen.
Don’t let the simple exterior and the humble monochrome display fool you, because the Pebble has a whole bag of tricks hidden inside it. The watch connects to your Android (v2.3+) or iOS (iPhone 4s, 5, and 5s) phone via a Bluetooth 4.0 LE connection. Once connected, it can display notifications from the connected device on its screen. For iOS, the watch displays almost all notifications from the phone, whereas on Android, it can only display the notifications supported by the Pebble app on the phone. There are plenty of watchfaces to choose from, and you can even create one of your own. You even get to read the first couple of lines of incoming text messages and emails on the Pebble. It even lets you control the music player on your phone. Apart from these, there is a plethora of apps to choose from for the Pebble, which can be installed via the Pebble app on the phone. All functions of the watch run smooth thanks to the ARM Cortex-M3 processor ticking at the heart of the device.
Samsung Galaxy Gear
Samsung has managed to cramp in most features of a full-sized smartphone into its smartwatch. With its 800MHz Exynos processor and 512 MB of RAM, the watch almost seems like an overkill for its many functions. The watch connects to a compatible Galaxy phone via a Bluetooth 4.0 LE connection. You can even connect to the phone using NFC. The Gear displays notifications from the phone, and even lets you read entire messages and emails on it if you choose to. You can make and receive phone calls as well using the built-in speaker. The smartwatch itself does not have a GSM unit, and acts more like a bluetooth headset. The voice quality is surprisingly good, and the loudspeaker too performs decently. The watch can also take photographs using the in-built 1.9 MP camera with a maximum resolution of 1392 x 1392 pixels. It can even shoot 720p videos with audio for up to 15 seconds. The on-board storage of 4 GB comes in handy to store these files, which can then be transferred on to the connected phone. The images look decent, but don’t expect to be wowed by it, especially in low-light conditions. The watch also has a large library of dedicated apps to choose from. The Gear also supports voice commands, which is extremely handy especially when sending across a message or taking down a note.
Powered by a 140 mAh battery, the Pebble easily outlasts all other smartwatches in the market today. It effortlessly makes it through 5 – 7 days of use on a single charge, promising to smile back at you each time you gaze at it, thanks to the always on e-paper display.
Samsung Galaxy Gear
The Gear counts on a 315 mAh battery to power it through the day. In reality though, the watch just about scrambles past the finish line after a day of moderate use, before you go hunting for a charging point. The powerful processor and the Super AMOLED screen takes a serious toll on the battery life of the watch.
The Gear with its many features and powerful processor puts up quite a dazzling display and gives us a glimpse into the future of wearable technology. The touchscreen and voice commands are rather useful and greatly enhance usability. We, however, are unfazed by all the fireworks, mainly because the whole point of a smartwatch is to be able to deliver as a standalone device. Sure, the Gear can take photographs and also answer your call like a faithful pet, but it seems crippled without support from the other Galaxy, and it would probably die on you before the end of day. Having said that though, it holds up rather well against the other smartwatches in the market. You can read our previous article about how the Samsung Galaxy Gear made short work of the Sony SmartWatch 2, here.
The Pebble, on the other hand, keeps things simple and focuses on functionality. Once you get over the monochrome shades, you would really appreciate the always-on screen and the many useful apps that are an absolute delight to work with. We also love the fact that you can go dancing in the rain for hours on end and not worry about the Pebble giving up on you. Don’t get us wrong here, the Gear beats the Pebble hands down when it comes to specs, but when it comes to actual practical use, the Pebble simple turns out to be the smartest of the lot. Also, priced at almost half the cost of the Samsung Galaxy Gear, the Pebble is undoubtedly, the best smartwatch available in the market today.
We are mighty impressed by how a small startup based in California has come up with a revolutionary product that has taken the world by storm. The feat is even more commendable considering that its humble offering has left even the stalwarts of the mobile industry biting the dust. These are welcome signs, as the coming year should see even more devices being launched in this highly lucrative segment, with both Google and Apple wanting a bite into the pie. For now though, this one Pebble seems to have created more than a just few ripples in the pool of wearable technology. Cheers.