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After some considerations about smart watches I finally decided to buy a Pebble this summer (some weeks before the price drop to 99$). It worked just fine and I finally got notifications for phone calls I cared about, emails, messages (thanks to Pebble and YaNC).

Everything worked until I start getting some weird behavior on my Pebble screen: random pixels, some white/black line. Changing the watch-face usually solved the issue, but it started getting worst to the extent the screen was no more readable. Getting a notification and being unable to read it was totally making my Pebble not usable. Even just reading time and date started to be odd.

     

 

I filed a RMA and Pebble, after a simple check and a few emails, sent me a new watch - without asking me back the faulty one (I suppose it's not money savvy for them to pay also the back shipment and try to refurbish it).

So on Monday I'll receive the replacement, while I still have the old one with the screen tearing problem. I already planned to tear it apart and try to fix it (actually it's completely unusable, as you can see in the pictures, but squeezing it was making the screen works good), and after reading a post in Pebble blog about a fix for the steel version (see the post here, thanks to Harry Teicher) I decided to give it a try without waiting for the RMA replacement.

If the fix was working for the steel, I supposed it could work also in the original Pebble, so I gave it a try. First you need the right tools. A Torx (6-point star-shaped pattern) screwdriver (I used a T5 Torx) and something (a plastic small knife) to help in opening it without leaving scratches.

Unscrew the four screws at the corners on Pebble's back (see picture 1). If you don't have screws you've a glued model - you can try to warm your watch and force it open, but from the video a saw on the net it usually result in a mess. Then gently push the plastic tool in the side slit and use it as leverage until you hear a "tick" and the plastic back pops out. Proceed along the slit and free one side, then do the same on the other. Be careful not to pull too much the back cover: there's a little round part (the vibrator I suppose) that's glued to the back too, and pulling the back will result in snapping the two tiny wires of the vibrator (picture 2). To proceed, use the plastic tool to detach the vibrator from the back before completely pull away the cover.

     

Here you can find the high resolution version of the above images.

Once done, I had a look at the space inside and I prepared two tiny pieces of polyethylene (the one you find in servers' packaging - I prefer Dell's polyethylene, but I'm sure IBM or HP will be good anyway ;-P) to fit the space (picture 4 - green part will go up touching the back cover once in place). The polyethylene, being pressed by the cover once screwed back, will apply pressure on the screen connector (that's the part that generate the problem - the pressure will keep the contacts always connected).

Put the cover back in place after putting some silicone grease on it (not necessary bur recommended - will keep your watch sealed and waterproof - anyway, Pebble already has a rubber seal on the back cover - see picture 3), push it and put the screws.

Now I've a working Pebble on my wrist. It's actually running without any issue - will see the next days if the fix is permanent or not. Considering it takes a few minutes and two pieces of polyethylene, I think trying this fix on a Pebble with the screen tearing problem is definitively worth it. All images are available at higher resolution here.

 

Comments

Grumpy
  • 0
    Thanks for sharing!! , How thick is the polyethylene?
    Emidio
  • 0
    Mine was about 1cm - depends on how soft it is - the softer, the thicker to apply enough pressure.
    Sancho
  • 0
    Thank you for your article! :) It helped me a lot this hotfix.
    jf
  • 0
    How's that fix holding up a few months later? Cheers and thanks for posting this!
    monkeyslut
  • 0
    Thanks so much for this guide! So, did it work? is the watch still working?
    Emidio
  • 0
    Actually it is still working. I wonder to know if during summer the foam will "soften" enough to make the connector loose again. In case I think I'll just open my Pebble again and replace the foam with rubber or else.
    jim
  • 0
    I used 2 see through double sided sticky pads, stick together and then cut to size, perfect :) thanks for this fix.
    superdad
  • 0
    Instead of polyethylene foam, I used two tiny pieces of polyisobutylene cut from a bicycle inner tube. Also, I put one of the pieces between the buzzer and the circuitry rather than between the buzzer and the back plate. So far, it's working perfectly. Thanks for the web page!
    Degsy
  • 0
    Thanks Emidio, I had the same screen tearing issue and lived with it for months. Following your tips on opening the pebble, I put a small cut section of a cable tie in between the vibrator and the pcb. It's been two days so far and not one screen tear! I'm happy. Cheers bud!
    Cory
  • 0
    Seems to have worked! thanks a million!!
    Rob
  • 0
    the pebble will remain water resistant? cuz mine has already started doing this. so far how has your pebble been doing sinsce this??
    Emidio
  • 0
    I cant tell you by personal experience 'coz I usually don't really put it under water (other than occasionally washing hands) but I don't see any reason why it should loose it if you close it correctly and put some grease. Past month I had to change the foam (got the screen tearing back) but I think it was due to I left it inside my car exposed to direct sunlight: probably the foam melted :) . Still working now.
    Josh
  • 0
    Great article!! Just fixed my pebble this way. Hopefully it will fix the screen tearing issue :)
    Dom
  • 0
    Thanks Emidio, I'm going to try this fix on my Pebble watches. Can you share what T-size of Torx screwdriver do you need, as I will need to buy one?
    Emidio
  • 0
    T5
    Miki
  • 0
    excellent, thank you, thank you, thank you, one more Pebble saved :)
    Miki
  • 0
    Just one more note. People who will proceed with that fix, please put inside reasonable amount of papertowel/electric tape/* coz you might end up with extreme battery drain, which happened to me. Battery couldnt survive half a day. I cant explain what went wrong but reducing pressure fixed it :)
    Sascha
  • 0
    Great article, just one question...same as Dom, can you tell us the size of the torx'screwdriver? Thx
    Emidio
  • 0
    Hello Sascha. It should be a T5 - as I can read on it, it is a REITOOL Art.165 - code 8032732412075. I got the info from their catalog here: www.reit.it/cataloghi/Catalogo-REIT-2016.pdf

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