iFixit estimates 10-year lifespan for Pebble smartwatch

13 Mar 2013

Its creators call it the first watch built for the 21st century, but what did the tech repairs experts at iFixit make of the Pebble E-Paper Watch once they prised it open for a look inside?

Pebble smartwatches started shipping to the company’s 70,000 Kickstarter backers at the end of January. Having raised more than US$10m in crowdfunding, it’s expected that the watch will see general availability later this year.

The watch features a 144 x 168 E-Ink screen, like those found in e-readers, and connects to Android and iOS smartphones via Bluetooth. It can then alert the wearer to incoming calls, texts or emails through vibrations, and can also be used to track exercise or control music playback on other devices.

The Pebble tells the time, of course, and users can download different watchfaces to personalise the display. It’s also waterproof up to 50m so it can be worn through your daily activities without any worries, even when swimming or showering.

Pebble E-Paper Watch

The team at iFixit got their hands on a Kickstarter edition of the Pebble smartwatch and, as they are wont to do, tore the whole thing apart to see what was housed inside. Due to its meticulous waterproofing, disassembling the Pebble is not something that can be done to repair it as it’s impossible to separate the watch from its casing without damaging the display, so individual components can’t be replaced.

This includes the Pebble’s rechargeable battery, which claims to offer seven days of use on a single charge. The experts at iFixit deem this possible based on the device’s low-power display and, with a week between charges, they estimate the Pebble could last from six to 10 years before the battery gives out completely. They also contacted the developers to see what could be done once the smartwatch times out and it turns out they are working on establishing a recycling plan.

One thing that could boost the Pebble’s power performance would be if Bluetooth Low Energy functionality was enabled. But, while the folks at iFixit found a Panasonic RF module that supports this technology, the Texas Instruments chip that powers it is apparently incompatible.

The Pebble E-Paper Watch is available for pre-order at US$150 a pop.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.