LG G Watch R Review: A Potential Rival to Moto 360 and Other Smartwatches?

( [email protected] ) Feb 05, 2015 01:08 PM EST
LG G Watch R
LG G Watch R (Photo: Digital Trends)

Electronic manufacturers are betting that the next big trend in technology will focus on smartwatches. The latest entry in this burgeoning field comes from the LG G Watch R.

LG's latest smartwatch, which was announced and released by the South Korean manufacturer and Google back in October 2014, is the second round-faced smartwatch after the Motorola Moto 360. According to a review written by Chris Burns of SlashGear, it is the best Android Wear watch in its class.

"LG G Watch R's body is unique - not as universally appealing as the stark, cut-back body of the Motorola Moto 360, and not as heavy-hitting as the Samsung Gear S," Burns wrote. "Instead, we've got LG doing what LG does best - making a device that stands out amongst its peers and sits comfortably on your person."

Burns then turned his focus on the software. Unlike existing and proposed smartwatches from Pebble and Apple, which use their own systems, LG's watch relied on the use of Android Wear.

"At the moment, Android Wear is pretty much the same software no matter which smart device you get it on," Burns wrote. "The LG G Watch R runs Android Wear swiftly and without hitches, especially now that we've got the newest software, brought on with the dawn of Android 5.0 Lollipop for smartphones."

According to specifications listed on the LG G Watch R website, the smartwatch is powered by a 1.2 GHz CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor. Burns reported that the same processor was used in such devices such as LG G Pad 10.1, LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live, Samsung Galaxy Tab Active and Asus ZenWatch.

Burns then elaborated on the hardware of G Watch R.

"The LG G Watch R works with a 1.3-inch full circle P-OLED," Burns wrote. "You'll notice LG making a point of offering a 'full circle' display as the first circular display on the market for an Android Wear watch wasn't actually fully circular. That's the Moto 360, complete with a bit of a notch."

LG listed the dimensions of its smartwatch as 46.4 x 53.6 x 9.7 mm. It also had a 410 mAh battery and weighed only 62 grams.

The only real criticism Burns had on the LG G Watch R was focused on the wristband that came with it. Although he thought the watch band was "not premium" quality, he mentioned that it "can be changed out easily with any other 22 mm watch strap."

"It's a surprisingly general-feeling quality, in fact, so much so that I was surprised LG would leave such a detail intact," Burns wrote. "The watchband is made of calfskin leather, too - it's not going to break on you any time soon, but it was certainly made of an animal."

LG specs indicated that the watch had a dust and water resistance rating of IP67. The manufacturer elaborated on the meaning of that rating.

"The IP67 rating means that the product will maintain its operability even if it is gently submerged in a tank of still tap water at room temperature for about 30 minutes, up to a depth of 1 meter," LG wrote.

However, Burns cautioned that the touchscreen would not work underwater; only the home button would have any function in those conditions.

"This inoperability of the touchscreen under water is standard for every touchscreen on the market today," Burns wrote. "Your device may be water resistant - that doesn't mean it's going to work the same as it would on dry land."

According to the manufacturer, the LG G Watch R also had several sensors to take it to the next level. These sensors included a PPG heart rate monitor, a barometer and a 9-Axis that includes a gyro, accelerometer and compass.

Overall, Burns thought that the LG G Watch R was "easily one of the finest wearable smartwatches on the market today." However, Brent Rose of Wired challenged that notion in his review, comparing it alongside Motorola's Moto 360.

"Both watches are made of stainless steel, and both feel very solid," Rose wrote. "The 360 has a very thin bezel (which comes in silver or dark gray), whereas the G Watch R is thicker, and has some numbers permanently etched into the rim. This looks pretty good if you choose a watch face with analog hands, but it seems superfluous and out of place if you have a digital clock."

Rose also made a big deal out of the weight, noting that the G Watch R was "44 percent heavier" compared to Moto 360, which clocked in at 43 grams.

"It's definitely a difference you can feel on your wrist," Rose wrote in regards to G Watch R. "It feels more like a heavy-duty GPS-laden triathlon watch."

When it came to battery power though, Rose noted that the larger battery of the G Watch R made a big difference, especially when it comes to charging times.

"The Moto 360 generally makes it to the end of the day if you have it set to the mode where the screen is always on (called "ambient mode"). If you want to stretch it to 24 hours, you'll have to turn ambient mode off and manually wake up the screen with a tap or a gesture," Rose wrote. "In contrast, the G Watch R generally makes it 40+ hours before it needs a charge, and that's with ambient mode on!"

Rose did elaborate on the similarities both smartwatches shared.

"Both have 4GB of storage, both are water resistant (i.e., fine for the shower, but don't go swimming), both have optical heart rate sensors, and neither have built-in GPS or standalone wireless connectivity," Rose wrote.

In the end, Rose decided to go with the Moto 360 over the G Watch R. He did not base his decision on price alone.

"At $250, the Moto 360 is fifty bucks cheaper than the $300 G Watch R. Even if they were both $250 I think I still might go with the 360 here," Rose wrote. "The Moto 360 is just far more comfortable to wear, and it's better-looking."

However, Rose admitted that the LG G Watch R had a superior battery life, was a little bit quicker (but not by much in his opinion), and had a better quality screen. Based on those features, he gave it 7 out of 10 on Wired's rating scale, which meant that the watch was "very good, but not quite great."

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