Android Wear is now amongst us. The first two devices
rocking Google’s smartwatch OS are available on the Google Play store and it’s
the cheaper of the two that we’re focusing on here – the LG G Watch.
At £159, LG’s debut Android Wear smartphone comes in just £10
cheaper than Samsung’s Gear Live and for that meagre saving you make a couple
of sacrifices. Read on to see if the small saving is worth the compromise.
LG G Watch: Design and
At Wareable we’re obviously excited by the wearable tech
revolution and it’s a given that Android Wear is going to be an incredibly
important driver for the emerging smartwatch genre.
But that doesn’t mean that we’re going to be viewing
exciting new flagship products with rose tinted smartglasses. So if we think
something looks a bit naff, we’re going to tell you straight. You can see where
we’re going with this, right?
Yep, the LG G Watch looks pretty naff. With its dull,
heavy-set bezel design and chunky frame, it sits atop your wrist like an
obelisk of mass produced plastic, and one glance is enough to decide we’re
certainly not dealing with the best looking smartwatch on the market. In terms
of size it’s a smidgen thicker than Samsung’s Gear Live: weighing in at 63g,
it’s 4g heavier than its Korean compatriot.
Negatives aside, the G Watch is certainly well-built, with
the smooth polished plastic edges merging seamlessly with the display and the
rubber strap sits comfortably on the wrist. The strap on the LG is the standard
22mm watch one, meaning that you can customise to your heart’s content – a nice
touch given that the only two colour options officially available are black and
Unlike the Gear Live, there are no physical buttons on the
LG G Watch – in fact the only physical input is the reset button on the back,
which you’ll need a pin or pen-nib to operate. You’ll also need to use this
button to turn the watch back on if you’ve chosen to power it down (or the
battery has died). We know that Android Wear is supposed to be an always-on
experience but having to locate fiddle around with an awkward button like this isn’t
a great user experience.
LG G Watch: Fitness tracking
There’s no heart rate monitor on the LG G Watch, which means
the only fitness aspect on board is the standard Android Wear step counter;
which is nowhere near as accurate as a dedicated activity tracker such as the Misfit Shine or the Jawbone UP24.
The G Watch is IP67 certified meaning it’s dust and water
resistant. That’s resistant, not proof – so no swimming or bathing with your
new smartwatch strapped on, although it should be alright in the shower.
See also: LG G Watch v Samsung Gear Live: what are the differences?
It packs a 9-axis sensor containing an accelerometer, a
compass and a gyro. There’s no built in GPS so navigation is powered by your smartphone.
We found that it often took a while for the LG G Watch to realise what direction
we were facing and the turn-by-turn instructions often came late.
LG G Watch: Display
The display on the LG G watch is a 1.65-inch, 280 x 280 IPS
LCD one. That’s 240ppi, and not as strong as the offering from Samsung (320 x
320, 1.63-inch, Super AMOLED) although you’d be hard pushed to really decipher
a noticeable difference when looking at the two side by side.
Text on the display looks crisp enough although the colours
do look a bit faded and washed out – especially in direct sunlight where the display
Also, prepare yourself for having one of the grubbiest
looking watches in your gang after some heavy usage – the LG G Watch display
picks up fingerprints and smudges like nobody’s business.
One thing the G Watch does beat the Gear Live on is the
amount of watch faces to choose from. We counted 25 on our G Watch, almost
double what Samsung’s smartwatch has on offer.
LG G Watch: Hardware
Hardware-wise you won’t find a lot of differences, if any,
between the two Korean Android Wear debutants. The LG G Watch, like the Gear
Live, is powered by a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, backed up with
512MB of RAM.
That’s the sort of processing power you’d expect from a very
low-end smartphone nowadays but it seems to be plenty of grunt for a seamless
Android Wear experience. We experienced no lag when flicking through
notifications and we didn’t find an Android Wear compatible app that caused it
There’s 4GB of storage on board, which doesn’t sound much,
but you’re hardly likely to fill it as most apps are predominantly run via your
smartphone with only small files directly installed onto your smartwatch.
LG G Watch: Android
For a full breakdown of Android Wear check out our comprehensive Android Wear guide – but we can hardly review a device without
telling you what it does. And what it does is Android Wear.
Notifications and updates are a big part of the Android Wear
experience and, on the LG G Watch, you’ll get notified about incoming texts,
WhatsApp messages, tweets, Facebook updates, emails and more. You can manage
your notification settings through the companion app or on the device itself.
We had our G Watch paired with a Samsung Galaxy S5 (Android Wear is
manufacturer agnostic, meaning it works on all Android mobile devices) and the
notifications were presented quickly and accurately.
Your smartphone-delivered updates are presented in card
style, with notifications from the same app nicely stacked. You simply swipe up
and down to go through them and left and right for more information, to open up
the relevant app on your smartphone, or to delete the stack. Again, this was a
seamless affair on the LG G Watch, we had no issues with the swipe gestures at
Google Now powers Android Wear’s other notification aspects
and you’ve used the service on an Android smartphone, you already know what to
expect: traffic updates, sports scores, meeting reminders, weather forecasts
and so on. At the moment, in this first version of Android Wear, these
notification updates can seem a little random but this is not an issue unique
to the G Watch – the same randomness of updates is also something we noticed on
the Gear Live as well.
LG G Watch: Voice
A massive part of the Android Wear experience is driven by
you saying, “Ok Google,” followed by an instruction. “Remind me….take a
note….send a text….navigate to,” and so on.
With the G Watch we found the voice recognition to be pretty
much on the money every time, with only the odd mistake. However, we did find
that it’s best to use full words rather than hyphenated ones.
With no physical button on the G Watch, the method to
activate the display and effectively get your smartwatch to listen to you is to
lift your arm as if you were looking at the time. This was fairly hit and miss
with the G Watch, however: we often had to make a much more elaborated movement
to get the screen to light up.
LG G Watch: Battery
The LG G Watch packs a 400mAh battery, which is not very
much at all – although it does beat the Gear Live by 100mAh. You can expect a
maximum life cycle of around 36 hours although even moderate usage will mean
you’ll be charging your new smartwatch up every night.
Charging is done with the use of a magnetic adaptor that
marries up to the watch’s pogo pins, which is powered by a Micro USB port.
While it’s not ideal for you to have to carry round yet another charging
accessory for your ever growing tech arsenal, we have to say that LG’s
smartwatch approach is favourable to Samsung’s fiddly attachment.
Your best bet is to leave your magnetic charger on your
bedside table and simply lay the G Watch on top of it when it’s time for bed.
LG G Watch
Like the first Android smartphones, the LG G Watch feels more like a taster of what’s to come rather than a game-changing device in itself. Sure, it’s well made and works efficiently but it’s also pretty dull looking and Android Wear features feel a bit like a work in progress. Ultimately for an extra tenner you could get a better design, display and more features with the Gear Live so, in the first round of the battle for Android Wear supremacy, LG loses out to its Korean rival.
- Decent price
- Voice command work well
- Feels comfortable
- Early adopter geek points
- Uninspiring design
- Bad battery life
- No heart rate monitor
- Washed out display