Pebble Time Steel vs Pebble Time: Worth the Premium?

Pebble just opened up preorders for its premium smartwatch, the Pebble Time Steel, which starts at $249. That's only $50 more than the Pebble Time, but there are some major differences you should know before you pull the trigger.

The Pebble Time Steel comes in two options: one with a leather strap for $249 and one with a stainless steel strap for $299. Both versions have a metal body, a major upgrade in style from the plastic Time, but only the metal band makes the Steel look like it's in a different class. You can take your pick of three steel finishes: gunmetal black, silver and gold.

The all-metal Steel is actually slightly thicker than the Time, due to the larger battery Pebble put in the Time Steel, which should give users up to 10 days of power. The regular Time is rated for up to 7 days of battery life.

MORE: Pebble Time Review

Both the Time and the Time Steel offer the same user experience with Pebble's timeline interface, which breaks down your day into past, present and future events. In our review, we found this UI an intuitive method for passively using the smartwatch. Both can be programmed to remind you of upcoming events and alarms, and you can use the buttons on the side to revisit alerts that you may have missed earlier in the day.

Both smartwatches also have access to the over 8,000 apps in the Pebble store, including ones like Uber and ESPN. In our review of the Pebble Time, we appreciated the always-on display and long battery life, but didn't like that the microphone was so limited; it works with Gmail replies and texts only, and only for Android and not iOS.

Deciding between a Pebble Time and a Time Steelboils down to style. While you'll get the same software and interface from both smartwatches, the Time Steel feels significantly more like a watch rather than a new-age toy. The $299 all-metal Time Steel is the one we'd pick, but that's a steep price to pay for a relatively basic smartwatch compared to the Apple Watch, which offers heart rate monitoring, mobile payments and Siri integration. 

Valentina Palladino is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Follow her at @valentinalucia. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.

Valentina Palladino

Valentina is Commerce Editor at Engadget and has covered consumer electronics for a number of publications including Tom's Guide, Wired, Laptop Mag and Ars Technica, with a particular focus on wearables, PCs and other mobile tech.