Turns out the Pebble cleans up quite nicely. The Pebble Steel takes the smartwatch from Galaxy Blah to Apple-esque levels of refinement, with a solid steel case (in either brushed or matte finishes), Gorilla Glass screen, and both metal and leather wristbands. Our review unit came with a brushed steel finish and a supple, black leather band—I'm not much of a watch guy, but this thing looks sharp.
The Steel is noticeably heavier than the original (1.97 ounces with leather wristband vs 1.34 ounces), but it's physically smaller in every dimension (1.81 by 1.34 by 0.41 inches vs 2.05 by 1.42 by 0.45 inches). The 144-by-168-pixel e-paper display is identical, but the glass screen makes a big difference—clarity and contrast are noticeably better on the Steel. The metal case wraps around the screen, leaving a lip at the edges that already started accumulating some dust during the course of this review. Below the display is a new RGB LED that glows when charging, but can also be used by developers.
All four buttons are now metal and the three on the right side are packed closer together. Whereas the original Pebble's buttons felt mushy and indistinct, the Pebble Steel's buttons have good travel and feedback. The magnetic charging contacts on the left side have been redesigned with a more subtle, two-point design, but that means cables for the original Pebble will not work. The Steel carries the same 5ATM waterproof rating, meaning it can be submerged up to 165 feet and has been tested in both fresh and salt water, so you can shower or swim with the watch.
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