When you hear the name Pebble you’ll usually be imagining an e-ink smartwatch with a mega-long battery life and compatibility with iOS and Android. However, with the new Pebble Core there’s no watch in sight… In fact, there’s not even a screen.
That’s because the Core is a standalone device that’s designed to let runners shed the phone and just run with a small wearable clipped about their person – and for a pretty cheap price too.
So is this the ultimate runners’ wearable, giving accurate location data and access to millions of tracks? Or is it another false dawn where too much functionality has been stripped out to hit a certain price point?
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A small, screen-less device packing GPS and Spotify playback
- When’s it out? January 2017, Kickstarter live now
- What will it cost? US$699 (£136, AU$277)
Pebble Core design
The Core comes in at 40x40mm in size, and 20mm in depth. It’s light at 50g too, and the whole thing is constructed out of polycarbonate and rubber.
It’s designed to be clipped onto a bag or clothing, or connected to a chain to be dangled around – or allow it recover lost bags or keys.
Let’s get right to it – what would make you buy this Pebble device over a dedicated running watch… Or even just using your phone? Well, the three key selling points are an inbuilt 3G modem, GPS tracking and the ability to play Spotify music on the go – which is pretty impressive, as that’s something a number of brands have been trying to do for years, so what’s Pebble managed that others haven’t?
The 3G connection is a nifty feature to have because it brings a new featureset to an otherwise dumb device. You can use this to send an emergency text message to a friend on the go if you’re having an issue, or use the single button option to set up a dedicated command – ordering an Uber, for instance.
However, there are some question marks hanging here: what happens if you accidentally sit on the button when out of range of a phone and an Uber turns up? Also, having to pay for a separate 3G connection through another SIM card is a hassle, especially when so few countries support multiple SIMs on the same account.
Spotify integration is the big one here though – access to all your tunes on the go, and with 4GB of inbuilt storage you’re able to play music locally or stream it on the go, depending on your preference. Again, we’re left with some questions here: how can you decide what to play on Spotify without a screen? Will you be able to save files offline to the internal storage, or is it streaming only – taking up your valuable 3G data?
And when it comes to tracking, that’s where things are really clear: it’s got GPS tracking, and without music the Pebble Core will last for 20 hours before needing a charge (9 hours with internal playback and 4 hours if you’re streaming over Spotify).
The Pebble Core can therefore track you easily wherever you are (again, how will you know when you’ve got a GPS connection? Running watches can bleep to let you know they’ve acquired a fix, but what will need to be done here?) and then share that data with a variety of services. These currently are: Google Fit, Strava, Under Armour Record, Runtastic and MapMyRun.
Presumably you’ll be able to download your GPS files to use on other platform as well – but that remains to be seen.
You can also record voice notes too – great for both inspiration striking mid run, or if you’re trapped somewhere and need to record some last words.
Intriguingly, Pebble has decided to use a form of the Android OS on the Pebble Core, as well as packing in Wi-Fi connectivity (both things not seen on the Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2.