LG was expected to be first out of the gates with a smartwatch based on Google’s (GOOG) new Android Wear operating system. Samsung (SSNLF) rained on that parade by introducing its own Android Wear device — the third round of wearables that company has released this year after the Gear 2 and Gear Fit — but it was the LG G Watch that snagged the pre-release hype and enjoyed the majority of the spotlight at Google’s I/O conference.
The G Watch is available now at Google Play and if you want to save some cash on a smartwatch and new Android smartphone combo, AT&T (T) started a promotion on July 8 offering a half-price G Watch with the purchase of an LG G3 or G Flex phone.
Is this Android Wear smartwatch worth paying $229 (or $115 if you go for that half-price deal), or should you wait for the next wave of devices like Apple’s (AAPL) highly anticipated “iWatch” to arrive?
Read our LG G Watch review to find out.
LG G Watch Review: Sleek Design
One of the big complaints about a smartwatch is its bulkiness. That’s tough to avoid — when you try to stuff a tiny PC, a handful of sensors, Bluetooth radio, microphone, vibration motor, a decent battery and a color display into something that fits on a wrist, it’s hard to compete with the slim wristwatches we’re accustomed to.
For example, Samsung’s original Galaxy Gear smartwatch (released less than a year ago) weighed 2.6 ounces and measured a chunky 1.45 x 2.23 x 0.44 inches. The G Watch is 1.49 x 1.83 x 0.39-inches and weighs 2.22 ounces. The G Watch is still larger than a typical wristwatch and still sports a rectangular display, but it has a much sleeker look than previous smartwatch offerings.
LG offers two color options: the traditional black and a white/gold case that should extend the device’s appeal across genders. The LG G Watch also uses a standard watch strap, so it can be easily customized to fit any look.
LG G Watch Review: Android Wear Showcase
The LG G Watch represents the first wave of wearable technology powered by Google’s new Android Wear software. The G Watch clocked plenty of time onstage at Google I/O because it’s a showcase for the new platform.
The microphone isn’t for making phone calls, it’s for voice commands using “OK Google.” There’s a vibration alert for silent notifications from a compatible Android smartphone. The “always on” screen leverages Android Wear’s contextual awareness to display useful information like the weather forecast for your current location, or traffic conditions that might affect an appointment.
LG G Watch Review: Specs
- 1.65-inch IPS LCD display at 280 x 280 resolution
- 1.45 x 2.23 x 0.44-inches, 2.22 oz
- 1.2 GHz Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon 400 quad-core CPU with 512MB RAM
- 4 GB built-in storage
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 9 Axis sensors (accelerometer/compass/gyro)
- 400 mAh battery
- Water and dust resistant
- Runs Android Wear
- Compatible with smartphones running Android 4.3+
- MSRP $229
LG G Watch Review: Conclusion
Smartwatches are getting better with every generation. That became very evident during the course of this LG G Watch review — the form factor is improving and, with Android Wear, the functionality is getting much better too.
The G Watch has its downsides. Battery life is a day-and-a-half at best, the LCD display is a little pixelated and gets washed out in sunlight, recharging requires placing the G Watch in a special dock, and the included watch strap is a pretty basic rubber number.
However, at a relatively affordable $229, offering the first access to Android Wear and providing a case that’s pretty stylish so far as these things go, the LG G Watch is a smartwatch worth considering.
As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.