Apple Watch Series 5, $500, or Linux PineTime smartwatch, $25?

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Apple, the dominant player in the smartwatch business, just launched the Series 5 Apple Watch with cellular for $499

The Apple Watch has some health features that make Apple CEO Tim Cook’s “heart sing”. But for the more budget-conscious who prefer Linux flavors there could soon be a $25 smartwatch called the PineTime

PineTime is under development from the team behind the Pine64 Linux-based single-board computer, a rival to the computer that defines this category in computing, the Raspberry Pi. 

According to Pine64, the PineTime will cost about $25 and comes with a “nice” charging dock, a heart-rate monitor, and is made from zinc alloy and plastic. It also comes with a battery that lasts several days.

But the PineTime isn’t quite a reality yet. Pine64 said it is still “waiting for some love from developers” and that for now it is a side project, similar to the Pine64 CUBE, an open-source IoT camera.    

Besides Apple, no Android smartphone maker besides perhaps Xiaomi has been able to carve out a dominant position in the smartwatch category. 

The cheapest decent smartwatches today can be found generally for about $40, so Pine64’s promise of a smartwatch that looks similar to the Apple Watch for $25 does sound interesting. And it runs on Arm MBed or FreeTOS, a sure selling point for those who want to avoid the mainstream. 

The smartwatch announcement follows Pine64’s plans to launch the PinePhone, a follow-up to its cheap Pinebook Pro laptops and its Raspberry Pi rival boards. 

Pine64 is taking limited pre-orders for the developer prototype of the Linux PinePhone this month and it is taking pre-orders for a subsequent ‘brave heart’ batch in October, with production scheduled for November 15. 

Given the smartwatch’s low price, it’s not surprising that Pine64 is utilizing commodity components.  

“Since there were questions regarding the body of the watch; yes, the watch body exists and is used by other manufacturers. We decide the internals + and customize the specs. Actual unit in picture below. Hope this clears things up,” it said in a tweet

The project is also steering away from round watch faces for now because they make “development tricky”. 

During development Pine64 is using Nordic Semiconductor nRF52832 Arm Cortex-M4 processor, though it may opt for a different platform in future. 

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