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The new face of smartwatches

The fast-growing smartwatch market may finally begin to appeal to the mainstream public ... and that appeal might be because it doesn't really look like much of a smartwatch.

The Pebble Steel has a metal band, giving it a more fashionable look than the original Pebble released one year ago as well as its rival smartwatches that have a bulky, techie look.

But that's not the main thing that pushes them forward in the smartwatch market, according to Michael Prospero, reviews editor at Tom's Guide.

"The real reason why the Steel is better than other smartwatches is its app store," he said. "There are nearly 1,000 apps available, compared to 300 for the Sony SmartWatch and 75 for the Galaxy Gear."

Pebble Steel smartwatches.
Source: Pebble
Pebble Steel smartwatches.

The developer community includes apps such as Yelp, Pandora, ESPN and Foursquare.

It has a $249 price tag, which is about $100 more than the original Pebble, but it's $100 less than the Samsung Galaxy Gear.

"I think the mainstream is still maybe a little ways off, maybe a year off, but this is definitely going to push it a lot further along in that direction. I think you're going to see a lot more adoption of the Steel than you will than other smartwatches," said Prospero.

"The Pebble Steel is the only smartwatch worth buying right now, because it's not trying to be too smart—it's just a useful extension of the phone you already have in your pocket," said Nilay Patel, managing editor of The Verge. "But if you're not interested in a smartwatch right this second, it's worth waiting for things to develop farther."

Each Steel also comes with a leather band. Shipments began Jan. 28.

—By CNBC's Christina Medici Scolaro.

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