Pebble Steel hands-on: the world's best smartwatch just got smarter

The Pebble's all-new metal incarnation adds a touch of class to the smartwatch. We wrap it around our wrist
Pebble Steel

We love the original Pebble smartwatch – but you can't deny that its looks are an acquired taste.

Sure, that bright plastic frame looks fine adorning the wrist of a Hoxton hipster or gadget geek, but it lacks something of the gravitas that a classic timepiece brings to your wardrobe.

Man of Steel

The Pebble Steel brings a more stylish design language to the smartwatch – although the internals are unchanged, you get a Gorilla Glass screen over the Pebble's E Ink display, plus a metal case in stainless steel or matte black finishes, and a choice of metal or leather bands.

But what's it like to wear?

Wrist candy

Pebble Steel
Pebble Steel
Pebble Steel

We wrapped the Pebble Steel around our wrist at CES 2014, and can report that it's very well-made indeed. The slightly curved watch face looks a lot more elegant than the Pebble's squared-off design, and the buttons are satisfyingly clicky.

The metal band's secured in place with a clasp that locks in place, disengaging with the press of a button, and the watch has a pleasing heft to it on the wrist.

Of course, much depends on which watch face you choose – the Steel's classic styling doesn't really lend itself to some of the more modern designs.

All in all, the Pebble Steel feels like a much more premium product than the original Pebble – so it's surprising that it comes in at an entirely wallet-friendly US$250 (RM822). 

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?

Pebble Steel with Mercedes-Benz Digital DriveStyle
Pebble Steel with Mercedes-Benz Digital DriveStyle
Pebble Steel with Mercedes-Benz Digital DriveStyle
Pebble Steel with Mercedes-Benz Digital DriveStyle

Pebble has also teamed up with Mercedes-Benz, integrating the smartwatch with Mercedes' Digital DriveStyle app.

You can use your Pebble as a second screen for the app, which lets you locate your car, monitor its fuel level and check whether the doors are locked from afar.

Plug your phone into your Merc, and the Pebble Digital DriveStyle app will automatically fire up, with three customisable buttons giving you access to features from the app including access to Siri, playing and pausing media and sending a traffic alert to the satnav.

The idea, Mercedes claims, is that when you've picked your favourite functions, you'll be able to access them without having to look at a screen, letting you keep your attention on the road.

In practice, while it's useful to have another way to access those features, it's as easy to simply reach out and tap the infotainment centre's touchscreen. Still, credit to Mercedes-Benz and Pebble for making the effort.

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