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Friday, January 10, 2014, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Hands-on: Pebble's new high-end Steel smart watch for iPhone

Ahead of its launch later this month, the new Pebble Steel smart watch is on display at this week's Consumer Electronics Show, and AppleInsider went hands-on with the highly anticipated new wrist-worn iPhone accessory.

Pebble


Just announced this week, the new $250 Pebble Steel aims for the higher end of the smart watch market, sporting a more premium metal look than its predecessor, and gaining a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass face. Both Pebble Steel and classic Pebble owners will also gain access to the all-new Pebble appstore, which will serve up new wrist watch functions for users.

In our time with the new Pebble Steel, we found that the screen feels much clearer through the Gorilla Glass than it does on our own plastic version. However, representatives with Pebble told us that underneath the glass, the screen is identical on both models.

The bracelet on the Steel feels light and comfortable. However, we're still bothered by the large "Pebble" logo on the glass below the screen — in our view, the product could have been much more subtle had they not included their name on the front.

Pebble


The Pebble team are big believers in the product, and also in the philosophy that this is the second step in a long road for their company. Specifically, they believe the wrist is an integral part of a sort of "personal network" of devices.

It's interesting to note that Pebble shared a CES 2014 booth at the Venetian Suite in Las Vegas, Nev., with Lockitron, a keyless home entry device that sits on top of an existing home deadbolt lock switch. Lockitron is a perfect example of the Pebble philosophy and growing ecosystem, as the company added support for the Pebble smart watch last fall, allowing users to lock or unlock their door using their watch.

Pebble


Other recently announced Pebble partnerships include Mercedes Benz, ESPN, Yelp, GoPro, Foursquare, Pandora, and iControl. And a new Pebble Canvas app will allow users to make custom watch faces without the need to create them on a computer.

Preorders for the Pebble Steel are set to ship Jan. 28, while the Pebble appstore and new 2.0 firmware should launch for classic Pebble users around the same time.