My love-hate relationship with Pebble


#1

I would like to write my story of owning a Pebble. My hope is to see how the average Pebble user compares and possibly to warn people about some of the Pebble issues.

So let’s begin.

My first Pebble

I bought my first Pebble (original, Jet black) around July 2014. I started using it and every new day with my Pebble was a new, exciting experience. I loved it!

After a while, the excitement of new things faded, but still, I really loved my Pebble and I was really glad I took the risk of buying it (I’m financially in a situation where I can treat myself to a new “toy” every once in a while, but I can’t buy the newest “toys” as they come out, I can’t buy multiple “toys” soon one after another, etc.).

I was in love with my Pebble and I couldn’t imagine life without it.

Then came the first problem… The dreaded screen issues:

I contacted Pebble and they RMA’d it.

My second Pebble

In January 2015 I got my replacement Pebble and I thought I just got a bad one, but Pebble was great and they sent me a replacement one and told me to dispose of the defective one. So everything was back to normal. Sort-of… While I’d hoped the screen problems were not that common and my replacement Pebble would be a-ok, I did have a nagging feeling this wasn’t the end of the story…

Unfortunately, indeed, it wasn’t. The replacement Pebble had started showing the same screen problems, too. So, once again, I turned to Pebble and they were great and once again RMA’d it.

My third Pebble

Around September 2015 I got yet another replacement Pebble. This time I had a much worse feeling, as I was now almost expecting the screen problems to appear on this device, too. Just in case, I decided to hold on to the previous watch (thankfully).

This one didn’t last that long before it, too, started showing signs of the same graphical distortion. Time to contact Pebble again. This was in March 2016. I was now already experienced with the RMA process and sent the photos as proof and everything like I did the previous two times, expecting to just go through the RMA process yet again with an even more bitter taste. Alas, that bitterness was not the worst part… The reply I got from Pebble said that they could not replace my watch since the warranty has expired. Indeed, I looked at the dates, I looked at the policy (1 year from original or 90 days from replacement, whichever lasts longer) and the warranty had gone.

At this point, I was really disappointed, considering I couldn’t live without my Pebble, but I didn’t really have money to buy a new one and, while the warranty has expired, being a recognized issue I thought Pebble could have sent a replacement watch even though the warranty had expired. But fair’s fair, they did send me three watches in total when I only paid for the original one so I am grateful for that (even though it was Pebble’s fault for making a bad hardware design that often leads to these screen problems).

So, now that I couldn’t get a new Pebble and I couldn’t live without one I turned to the internet to see if someone has found some kind of a fix to the problem and lo and behold, they have.

My Pebble 3.1

I found that if you unscrew the screws on the back of your Pebble, gently pry off the back (so as not to rip out the wires for the vibrator motor) there was a part of the watch where you could put something, like toilet paper or something less… toilety :slight_smile: and after putting the back cover in place again and securing it with the screws you would fix the screen issues and you would have a fixed Pebble.

I opened up my Pebble thinking I had nothing to lose and I actually managed to do what “the internet” said. I got my “replacement” watch. I was really happy to be rockin’ a Pebble yet again.

After a while, though, the screen problems started creeping back slowly. I decided to open the watch up again and try to find the exact place where the contact is loose and make a better, more permanent fix. So what I did was keep the watch one for the shortest duration I could just to see what happens when I move stuff around to see where the problematic contact actually is. But, I didn’t disconnect the watch and, of course, I got a call right as my Pebble was lying on my table, with the back open. When the vibrator motor started vibrating it managed to jump out of the watch and tug itself just hard enough to lose the connection and therefore stop vibrating :pensive:

As I said, thankfully I kept my old watch so…

My Pebble 3.2

… I took my old watch and did the same fix I did with the other one, being careful to not make the same mistake (and just quickly fix it, instead of trying to find the exact cause). I fixed my watch and, while I have started getting ever so slight signs of the screen problems again by now, they are extremely subtle so far and it looks like this time it will take more time for the screen problems to get worse.

I was happy I had my Pebble again, 99,5% working. I decided I’d rather do “the fix” every once in a while again and have it work for some time than try more “funny stuff” and end up without a Pebble which would be dreadful for me.

Alas, my relationship with Pebble had not passed all the rocky parts of the path, although it did took a more interesting turn this time. Before writing this post I was sitting with my Pebble on my wrist when suddenly - my Pebble fell on the floor. Puzzled as to how that happened I picked it up and saw that the strap decided to commit suicide:

While it’s not a random place on the strap (i.e. it’s a part that is under more pressure than any random part), I wouldn’t dream of it cutting itself like this (there was no excessive pressure, no heat, no cutting, …).

My Pebble 3.3

So once again, I was thankful I have another Pebble lying around (still had the one where my vibrator motor isn’t working) so I took the strap off of that one and put it on this one and now I have a functional Pebble yet again.

Conclusion

I love my Pebble and can’t see myself living without it! I was trying to find a place in my budget for a Pebble Time even! But after all that happened to me with Pebble I’m reluctant to spend any more money since I clearly have “bad mojo” :confused:.

I’d love to hear other Pebble owners’ experience. Have you had problems with your Pebble? Which Pebble do you own? Have you owned more the on Pebble? Have there been any problems with your Pebble(s)?

note that I’m not trying to bash Pebble, I love my Pebble and no matter how much I look at the competition I can’t find a single smartwatch that would replace Pebble for me, I just wanted to write my story


#2

I have an origional Kickstarter red pebble that is still working fine as well as a pebble steel that I bought in 2014. I backed the second Kickstarter campaign and received my pebble time steel in 2015. All of my watches are still operating well and I have never had to ask for a replacement. I have also backed the campaign for the pebble steel 2. I guess I have been lucky. I feel your pain. I usually am the one to have bad luck.

Sorry you had problems and I hope your current pebble gives you years more of use.


#3

Thank you for sharing and for the simpathy!
Glad to hear you’re not having any problems, hopefully that will continue indefinitely :wink:
Hopefully my luck will change, too, and I’ll buy Pebble Time or perhaps even some newer Pebble in the future and have a pure love relationship instead of a love-hate one :slight_smile:


#4

The Pebble Time was my first experience with Pebble, and it’s been great. I currently have a PTS and a PTR (I gave the PT away when I got the PTR). The watches have performed excellently. I had two unrelated issues, but Pebble responded quickly to resolve both of them.

I’m backing the latest KS for the PT2. I have no experience with the original pebble and pebble steel, so can only offer second hand stories. But for the current generation, I’ve recommend the PT/PTS/and PTR to many people. The PTR practically sells itself to just about everyone who’s seen mine.

PTR with brown crocodile leather band.


#5

Great to hear such good experiences! Makes me hope my next Pebble (PT2? :slight_smile:) will be much better :slight_smile:
Btw, Craig, your link is broken. On the other hand, it shows imgur 404 page which is the creepiest 404 page I’ve ever seen so thanks for that :smiley:


#6

That’s funny. Anyway, the link should now work properly.


#7

I had original pebble black , I had screen issue, shoot the support and they did replaced it but it was not only the screen, the moto also stopped working as I had an alarm setup for working days wake up and one day I stayed home sick and toke off the watch before sleeping and second day I was still sick so i did not leave my bed and the alarm kept vibrating until its burned.
I got the replacmenet watch and its working until now for more than 1 year , what I noticed , some faces do generate this graphic issues, some simple faces are not so until I recive the PT2 I am planning to keep sinple faces to avoid having it damaged


#8

I also have an original Kickstarter pebble - black. Will admit I don’t wear it every day – just when I need a watch,

Never had a screen issue like some of you did, screen is still perfect.

The only problem I had was screen was very easily scratched. Apparently I’m pretty rough on my wrists. Found some ideas of how to polish it and got a screen cover for it. That fixed it,

Watchband was uncomfortable, so I bought a metal bracelet-type band in black, adjusted it to fit me, and I absolutely love it.

While I like the txt messages and caller ID of who’s calling on my phone without having to pull it out of my purse or pocket, I like it most of all just for being a very easy to read watch with the day and full date I can READ. All the rest is gravy, I’d love one of the newer ones that isn’t so thick and clunky, but not enough to pay for one (grin), so I’ll keep my original pebble until it breaks!


#9

My first Pebble (original, red) had the screen problem, but the replacement is fine.


#10

So I also have an intermittent screen problem, exactly as you describe, on my original PT. Long out of warranty, but it does clearly seem to be design problem. It seems Pebble should acknowledge this and offer a fix.


#11

I think certain graphics do tend to show the graphical glitches more, but I don’t know if they could actually cause them. They might if the problem is in the screen itself and not the contact with the screen, but putting more pressure on it seems to make the problems go away or at least make them less obvious, but I’m not sure if it’s the pressure on the contact or on the screen so it could be that it’s a problem with (those) ePaper displays when a specific graphic (or change of graphic) is shown.
Considering that this problem seems to still happen on Pebble Time, I’d love to see some debug options in the Pebble firmware, including a debug option that flashes through full white screen and full black screen before every screen change in order to clear the screen and possibly a memory buffer, if it has one, before changing anything on the screen to see if a flush gets rid of the problem (which would mean it’s either ghosting, or possibly if there’s a memory buffer a problem with the memory giving out false information to the screen). Of course, this would be terrible for daily usage since the screen would flicker like hell, but I’m sure people would endure a few days of flickering to help investigate the cause of the problem so Pebble could actually fix it. Unfortunately, I got the feeling Pebble has opted for the “we’ll just replace the Pebble if it’s faulty when under warranty and ignore the rest” way of dealing with this problem considering it’s still a minority of people that experience the issue and it’s probably better for them financially to just replace the units that exhibit the problem. This would be the hate part of my relationship with Pebble - ignoring the cause of the problem and just pushing new versions without fixing it. And, frankly speaking, while there have been a noticeable amount of improvements on the newer versions of Pebble (both hardware and software), I don’t think they are enough to justify new versions without fixing some existing problems… It seems like they’re going more down the Apple route - just put in a new gimmick in a new version so people will buy the new version and you get money for practically the same thing and that is certainly a bad thing.
With such a huge fan-base, especially with every Kickstarter getting millions of dollars, I do believe they should take a step back and see what problems have shown up until now and adress them, not just “innovate” (e.g. they put in the new Timeline which is great, but they haven’t fixed the problem with notifications being fairly limited, as supported by the wide use of Notification Center and other 3rd party notification software).
Don’t get me wrong, they do fix some things, I’m not saying they just innovate, but my personal opinion is that between innovation and fixing the existing things, they favour innovation too much at the expense of fixes. I would say that they can afford to just step on the brakes now and take the time to see what can be fixed with the existing hardware and software, not just put in new features like the Timeline and a microphone and skew the impressions of Pebble with shiny new things hiding the old problems.

Wow that was a long rant… Sorry :slight_smile: I will stop now, even though I could go on :slight_smile:

Thank you all for contributing! I really appreciate that! Knowing how people who actually have (various versions of) Pebble have experienced it is, in my opinion, a very good thing for consumers and, while in the short run it might be bad for Pebble, in the long run it means they have a platform for making the brand rock-solid with actually listening to the owners and not just doing what their R&D department comes up with, but going to their R&D with actual feedback from lots of users!


#12

Very similar situation and feelings of OP, but lingered too long watching (no pun intended) the tears become more frequent until it basically bricked.
Had multiple emails with support, eventually offering at 25% off new one (i had a ps). But, why would i want to pay for same potential issue again, and prices of models seemed to be falling.
Missed watch for about 2 months, untill i also found the tp fix, and have been using now for several months. (kind of funny how i used toilet paper to “wipe” the screen issue).
Researched and compared other brands, and was considering jumping, when the kickstarter came out. Seemed to be a reasonable cost for newest, similar to current ones, and better than other brands, so I’m in, hesitantly, for 2 (1 for my wife). It’s a mixed marriage, she’s ios, I’m andy.
It bothers me that they didnt at least offer this simple fix, through them for a minimal fee (they broke it, not something I did), or even tell the fix to do at my own risk (mine was totally a dead screen by then, not showing charging).


#13

@Steven_Bloom I love puns and you seem to be full of them :slight_smile:
Except for the part of buying 2, I’m basically in the same predicament… Buy another Pebble which will potentially have the same problems, but is much better in basically every respect that matters to me in a smart watch or buy another smart watch which might be less error-prone, but is not exactly what I want… With the original Pebble it was a no-brainer with it’s very low price point and other watches being (the few ones that existed) both much more expensive and much less feature-rich, but now that gap is closing more and more and, even though it’s still a relatively big gap, with these problems it kind of isn’t an easy choice anymore…
Hopefully Pebble will turn around and start fixing things instead of just “innovating” so we get a nice, polished product, and then they start innovating again… That’s how you grow, not just by innovating but by alternating between innovation and fixing phases.


#14

I did have a similar experience with my original Kickstarter Pebble showing signs of screen tearing after a (long) while. Since it was the Kickstarter edition, there were no screws to open it and try to fix it, so when this happened I was out of luck. I happened to be able to afford a new (smart)watch, and by the time I decided there was nothing I could do with the Pebble anymore, the Moto 360 (Android Wear) was just being released, so I bought one.

My Android Wear experience wasn’t very good, because after months using a waterproof Pebble, I forgot to remove the Moto from my wrist before swimming in a pool, and the Moto isn’t waterproof at all. I was still able to open it, dry it and make it work again (lucky me!) but I decided that the poor battery life of the Moto didn’t match with my use pattern anyway.

At this moment, I had read about Pebble handling the screen tearing issue with RMA (I live in France, so wasn’t reaaly expecting international support from Pebble), and decided to try that path. Despite my low expectations, Pebble quickly sent me a new Pebble and I was back in business for a while.

Sooner or later, good things have to end, and after a while the new Pebble also showed some screen tearing, but this time, with the screws available to open it, I was able to fix the issue with the help of DIY instructions found on the net (kudos to the community, this is really awesome!). Since that moment, the (new) Pebble didn’t show the problem again… yet.

Being a gadget addict, I backed the Pebble Time project, got a Time and a Time Steel that have been both working flawlessly. I even purchased a Pebble Time Round, but had some charging issues (poor contacts with the magnetic cable, I suspect). When I got in touch with Pebble they promptly replaced the Pebble Time Round, and the new one has been working also flawlessly since.

Bottom line is: are the Pebble products flawless? Nope.
Do Pebble offer a decent warranty support? Yes.
Do they improve over time? I would say so.

There are not many companies that still update their products when the new generation has been released, and Pebble is one of those.

Do they offer the most feature-rich smartwatches? Certainly not, but in my experience the feature/integration/usability combination makes their products both fun and useful, always-on display and decent battery life making the Pebble more than geek’s gadgets purchased for the wow factor only. Plus the community is great.

All in all, I’m sticking with Pebble for now! :slight_smile:


#15

@Patrick_Robbe That’s exactly why I’m still staying with Pebble, despite my bad luck with it :slight_smile: The always-on screen, waterproofing, much better battery life than any of the other smartwatches and a great community! With my luck with Pebble so far, those are actually the only reasons I’m still with Pebble :slight_smile:

I agree, they do offer decent warranty, they improve over time and they’re not that bad in general, certainly better than the competition in a lot of the aspects, but I kind of think of Pebble as a better category of smartwatches, not just another one in the smartwatch category so I feel it’s failing to stay in that category, hence my comments :slight_smile:


#16

I just received my 3rd Pebble Steel. #1 had the screen issues. #2 suddenly stopped taking a charge no matter what I did. We’ll see how long #3 lasts. Like you, I’m frustrated but I can’t live without the thing.


#17

I too experienced the screen issue and it does seem common owth the original pebble…

Initially it was very intermittent and so I didn’t do anything until it was too late.

It is indeed a physical connection issue but I’ll not try opening things up I don’t think. Some days it is continuous, then it won’t occur for months.
My Time 2 should be here in November and by all accounts this is no longer an issue.

The issue with the strap is not a pebble issue but one with any resin strap. I have not had a single strap of that material that hasn’t split in exactly that place.
Possibly the way I tighten it contributes but I know of others experience the same thing. My left shoe lace breaks twice per pair of shoes but the right one is fine.
I’ll stick to black metal link straps from now on.


#18

The last time I wore a watch before the Pebble was I think before the invention of cellphones :slight_smile: So I haven’t had experience with that, but a few days after posting this I did think about it and it does make sense, it’s a material that is sensitive to heat and your body heats up a bit when doing physical excercise, you occasionally put the Pebble in a warmer part like next to your hot bowl of soup or something, etc… And the locking thingy puts just a little bit more pressure on that part of the strap so it does make sense for it to snap like that in time…


#19

I had the £1.99 casio watch as a kid, featured as the Dub 91 face shipped with the original pebble.
Went through 3 resin straps, a fabric and a leather one in the 20 year life of that watch (was a birthday present at the age of 11). The resin straps lasted 12-18 months max.

I don’t think it is temperature based but basically on repetative strain fatigue. The way it is pulled when tightened and the way the pin pulls on the hole. I probably bend them back too far while inserting the pin etc.

Note your break point. It is always the one the pin goes through.

My last buy for a metal strap was very cheap (~£3 free dellivery - chinese ebay shop) but it did also need to be replaced after 2 years due to the clip knobble brealing off.

Thinking of this one for the Time 2:

OK, so it lies about the time steel as that had a non standard strap interface but the 2s are all standard 22mm


#20

Your Pebble Round is amazing - good setup!