LG G Watch R Review

by: Lanh NguyenOctober 26, 2014
1K

The Bottom Line

Exquisite craftmanship, stunning display, exceptional battery life

PROS
  • Fantastic build quality
  • Beautiful design
  • Vivid display
  • Great battery performance
CONS
  • May be too large for some
9.0
In the best implementation of Android Wear yet, the LG G Watch R offers nearly everything a potential smartwatch owner could want. Featuring a truly gorgeous design, fantastic build quality, smooth performance, a best in class P-OLED display, and most importantly, great battery life, there’s very little not to love about this smartwatch.

One of the biggest issues hindering the popularity and mass adoption of smartwatches is that these devices don’t look enough like a watch. Granted, Android Wear, and smartwatches in general, are still in their infancy, but the fact that a lot of current smartwatches tend to stick out like a sore thumb is a likely turn off for many. Things are changing with devices like the Moto 360 and the upcoming Asus ZenWatch, but one that we were all very excited about since its announcement was LG’s latest smartwatch offering. We find out exactly what this device has to offer in this comprehensive review of the LG G Watch R!

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Right off the bat, it has be to mentioned that the LG G Watch R is arguably the most beautifully designed smartwatch around, and has the most watch-like qualities that go beyond just having a round face. From its metal body to leather strap, this device is very elegantly crafted, and everything about the G Watch R screams quality, making it very easy to mistake it for a regular watch. While the original G Watch may have served as more of a reference device, LG takes things to a completely different level with their latest offering.

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LG’s attention to detail really shines through here, including elements like the watch lugs at the top and bottom that many normal watches have, and make it very easy to swap out the different colored bands. The watch face comes with a design that is identical to what you’d expect from a chronograph watch, albeit without the added functionality, and serves only to normalize the look. Continuing with this trend, the G Watch R also comes with a power button on the side that is designed to look like a winder, which not only looks great, but actually proves to be very useful.

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The genuine leather band is thick and a rigid cut of leather, that allows for it to hold its shape better and makes it less prone to wear and tear. Apart from the spot where the clasp goes, it’s very difficult to make any markings or indentations on this strap, which is always a good thing. Other smarwatch staples are all available with the LG G Watch R, including a pedometer and heart rate monitor for fitness tracking, along with the device being IP67 certified for protection against dust and water.

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While there’s very little, if any, fault that can be found with the design of the LG G Watch R, one aspect that had some people concerned following its announcement was with regards to size. The G Watch R is certainly the largest Android Wear smartwatch till date, but when comparing it to regular watches, its footprint is actually just above average. If you’re someone who is used to large watches like some Nixon watches or G-Shocks, the G Watch R will feel right at home on your wrist, while others may require some time to get used to it.

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When it comes to the display, the LG G Watch R features the first 1.3-inch full circle P-OLED display, with a resolution of 320 x 320. The display is used in its entirety, so you won’t be seeing any awkward black bars as you would on the Moto 360. The P-OLED display delivers on everything it promises, offering great looking colors, solid viewing angles, and easy visibility, even in bright sunlight. There is a slight bezel around the display, but it’s not very noticeable, and completely blends in if you use a dark watch face.

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In terms of performance, you get a processing package that is mostly standard across current smartwatches, with 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, along with 512 MB of RAM. While the processing power largely remains the same, Android Wear is improving with every update, and that is way the experience on the G Watch R has been the most smooth and seamless thus far on an Android Wear device. Scrolling through menus, selecting watch faces, swiping through cards, or waking up the device to get rid of a notification are all performed without any instances of lag. Everything is fast and responsive, and there isn’t much to complain about in terms of performance.

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On the software side of things, everything remains largely the same across the board, with the G Watch R also running Android Wear. Without any OEM customizations available just yet, the software experience is the same as what you’d get with any other Android Wear smartwatch currently available, except for the fact that everything is now circular. Usual Google Now cards that you can swipe through and interact with like weather, stocks, sports scores, and more are all there, along with the ability to select what kind of notifications you would like to receive on your smartwatch, including, but not limited to, texts and email.

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The main difference comes in the form of available watch face options. While some designs from the original G Watch make a return, a slew of new watch faces that take advantage of its circular design are available this time around, that all look really good. Some watch faces prove to be quite practical as well, offering additional features like showing your fitness data, useful hiking information like a compass and altitude, and even a world clock.

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When it comes to the battery, the LG G Watch R packs a 410 mAh unit, which is the largest battery with an Android Wear device thus far. With the slightly larger battery, I expected the battery life to be marginally better, but it did end up proving to be even more impressive.

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I first tested the battery while using the “screen always on” feature, that understandably resulted in a much faster drain of the battery, but still managed to stay on for at least a full day, and sometimes as long as a day and half. With that feature turned off, the battery life jumped to a full two days of use, and even longer with less than average activity. This battery performance is the best we’ve seen yet compared to all other Android Wear smartwatches, and it always helps when you don’t have to keep remembering to charge a watch that often.

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Speaking of charging, the implementation remains the same as it was with the original G Watch, using the pogo pins on the back of the device to charge it by placing it on a now round charger. A magnet lets you easily align the watch, and holds it in place while it is charging.

Editor's-Choice-4.5-starsThe LG G Watch R is expected to rollout to consumers in November, beginning with Europe, followed by key markets in North America and Asia. The official price in these various markets is still unknown, but the G Watch R is up for pre-order in the UK with a hefty price tag of £219.99, which is more than what the Moto 360 is available for there, making the G Watch R most expensive of the lot.

So, there you  have it – a closer look at the LG G Watch R! The G Watch R is an elegantly-crafted smartwatch with a beautiful design, excellent display, fantastic performance, and very impressive battery life, making this smartwatch the best of the best in the Android Wear world for now. The higher price tag may be a turn off, but is completely worth it for the quality you get. If you are someone who was hesitant to jump into the smartwatch game because of design, you can put those fears to rest with the LG G Watch R. This is definitely one of the contenders for the best smartwatch of the year, and it certainly has my vote.

  • Ron

    Really have to hand it to LG. The display is readable in sunlight, the battery life is amazing, the P-OLED display is first of its kind, it actually has a round face! I’m thinking you guys are right, probably the best smartwatch to date. Pricing will be crucial, but regardless, I’ll definitely be picking one up! Also, great video AA!

  • payaxy

    Looks very nice, but I still feel that smart watches are solution in search of a problem… Besides, last thing I need is another gadget that needs constant charging. Let me know when you have 1 week of battery life or more ;-)

    • Daniel DS

      Nicely said

    • jesus

      To be fair, no one is forcing you to buy one.

      • John A

        And that, is it summed up in one sentence, to all the nay sayers of smartwatches.

    • Pebble.

  • The Doom Master

    how can i get this watch without the leather strips..??

    • Jakob West

      Buy different straps. They are standard size.

      • The Doom Master

        is that possible to buy it from Google Store and not seperate buy meaning i want the strips from orignal box and not to replace them later.

        • Jakob West

          I doubt it, sorry.

  • ShockWave

    The G Watch R is a piece of art itself, they really really nailed it with that great circular design and it’s kinda priced well for its specs and with taking in consideration what the competition has to offer the G Watch R is probably the best smartwatch to get right now.

    • John A

      Funny, but to me the 360 is a much nicer looking watch. Just a shame that Motorola got it so wrong with the rest.

      • Michael Bourke

        John, Can I ask what you believe is wrong with the Motorola 360? I have been wearing mine for 6 weeks and believe the bugs are now ironed out.

        • Rickrau5

          Battery life?

          • Michael Bourke

            Been off the charger since 8am, it’s now 3.06 pm and I have 74% battery life after medium to heavy access :)

        • John A

          Battery life! That’s the deal breaker! I want to be able to get at least 24 hours without having to turn the screen off to do that. I tried screen off for a few days with my G Watch to see if I could get used to it, but hated it.

          Higher res display to match the LG or Samsung watches. An oled display for deeper blacks. And not to have a piece missing at the bottom. It’s a minor thing, yet it’s annoyingly noticeable.

          I would say the lag issue too, but that seems to have improved, although I doubt it will ever be as smooth as the other watches.

          And just to be really picky, they should give the choice of the black strap with the silver version.

          • Michael Bourke

            Hiya John,
            1. Battery Life – I am happy to report I get close to 2 full days now. I don’t leave the screen on, as I do not need it. Every time I get a notification or need to check the time it’s on :) Which is perfect.

            2. Higher Res Screen – Unless you look and I mean really look, the pixels are almost non existent. I have loved my screen so much and can see it clearly in direct sunlight (and that is with only half brightness set) – the little wedge missing from the bottom? Don’t notice it as much as I thought I would, in fact, I almost don’t see it at all.

            3. Lag – Really I don’t see it or experience it. I whip though notifications with ease, and find it smooth as butter.

            4. The black or sliver watchbands for the Pebble Steel ($19.00 on Amazon) are amazing on the Moto 360

        • Kevin Tompkins

          Question for you, Michael. Is it possible to use the watch without the phone being paired to it? Even if it will display the time, that is better than nothing. I wouldn’t be asking if it wasn’t for the Nexus 5’s awful battery..

          • Michael Bourke

            Yes, it does. I am not sure how, but it does. I have had my phone off and I still have accurate time

      • You are totally wrong, according to me it depends on public choice. What they want ,they want to buy either it is LG, Samsung or many more..

  • Marty

    “Exquisite craftmanship, stunning display, exceptional battery life”

    Told ya. The OLED display makes all the difference, unlike what proponents of the Moto360 believe. A round smartwatch depends on an OLED display – preferably a very high resolution one – to replicate an analog watch face acceptably because of the perfect blacks OLED can produce.

    No matter how good the LCD tech is, it cannot produce the visual quality of an OLED on a watch because of not being able to produce perfect blacks.

    • You’re right Marty, and this is where LG has a great advantage. Their expertise in displays, and in particular, in the OLED segment means that they have a serious advantage over all competitors. And they are also supplying Apple displays for the upcoming Watch as well. Regardless, I expect to see great things from them in this regard. Would LOVE to see more advanced OLEd panels on their smartphones and tablets too!

      • LavinasJoe

        LG have really stepped up there game and as Darcy stated this is definitely going to be the king of Smart watches. Moto 360 step aside and let the king take his rightful place for now.

    • J.J.

      i do wish moto went with the oled

  • Παντελής

    Excellent review, guys. I have serious objections regarding the “Great battery performance” con, since it remains a watch, after all, and (almost) two days duration is unacceptable even if it is the longest between all the other smartwatches. It’s a general problem concerning the design of various small and portable devices and I expect to affect the IoT deployment, too. If the battery technology won’t change dramatically, I do not expect a success story for smartwatches. I hope not to conclude to a short-term bubble, because of that.

    • Sibo1

      Well considering that a mechanical watch “only” lasts around 2-4 days, this is pretty much spot on for such a watch. Of course there a re quartz watches that lasts for years, but “charging” a watch every few days isn’t that rare nor problematic.

  • ack

    Well, 2 day battery life is better than 1, I suppose. But so far, this is the smartwatch to beat. That said, I’m still waiting for Android to fully decouple the watch from the phone, so the phone augments the watch, rather than be a requirement. Then a smartwatch is really useful.

  • Camille Raquin

    I find it interesting how many of the “smart watch ” critics are Apple fans, watch critics or just can’t tell time. Let me lay it out …say like Gene Simmons. These isn’t a fancy show your friends , “Oh , I got married wedding ring”…it is a watch. Like the difference between staying at a super high end hotel and never being able to get work down , this is the executive king with a two sided desk, coffee maker, iron and an empty fridge to put what you want to in it. For the price. It will be hard to beat.

  • John A

    And that, Motorola, is how to make a perfectly functioning AW watch.

    I still prefer the look of the 360, but it obviously can’t compete with this watch for overall functionality and I think I shall now refrain from getting the 360.

    • Michael Bourke

      John, as per my last question to you. I can tell you, since the software updates, my Moto 360 is getting close to 2 full days. I would be careful basing your decision on this review alone. Android Authority seem to have some affinity with LG and I suspect bias. My Moto 360 has been off my charger now, since 8am it is now 2.30pm here in Sydney and I have been using it medium to heavy all day :) – Just saying

      • John A

        Oh I’m not. I probably read too many reviews for my own good!

        • Michael Bourke

          Again, I would need you to reconsider the always on feature on any smart watch. Unless your looking at your watch constantly, then this feature is almost redundant. AND I should say, the ALWAYS ON is deceptive. You see both the LG G Watch R and Moto 360’s always on feature dims the screen rather than leaves it at a readable brightness.

          • John A

            Like I said Michael, I tried the ambient mode off for a few days and I hated it. I’m used of being able to quickly glance at my watch to check the time without having to twist my wrist everytime. I already have two smartwatches that I take that feature for granted; Sony Smartwatch 2 and LG G Watch, so to me it would be a step backwords to have a black screen on my wrist.

            But it sounds like you’re enjoying your watch anyway and have managed to overcome it’s flaws. And it is a beautiful looking watch.

          • Michael Bourke

            OK, tomorrow ambient on all day. Shall update

          • John A

            I shall be interested to hear how you get on….

          • Michael Bourke

            Can I ask where in the world you are?

          • John A

            I’m from Ireland. Going by your name, either you are too, or else your ancestors definitely were.

          • Michael Bourke

            To be sure!! (Aussie here) I hope you get the G Watch R and we can compare.

          • John A

            How did you get on with the ambient mode left on???

          • Michael Bourke

            24 hours, Ambient on, final hour 30% left..we did good ;)

          • JohnA

            Seriously? You actually got 24 hours with ambient mode on? Now that could have just rekindled my interest in getting that watch. I could live with that.

          • Michael Bourke

            tee hee hee, you are like a dog with a bone John. No, I turned it off, I tend to go from the office to other events and enjoy the nearly 2 day battery life with it off :)

          • JohnA

            I sure am like a dog with a bone……when it comes to spending my hard earned cash!!!
            And I’ve been doing alot of researching on that watch since you told me that you got 24 hours using the watch with ambient mode on. Not one person has gotten even close to that. Half that seems to be the norm. That’s 12 hours Michael, 12 hours. So either you’ve got a solar powered 360 or else you are fibbing me.

            I think I know now why you are still using it with ambient mode off. :-/

          • Michael Bourke

            Hah!!! you frustrating Irishman!!! :-) I can assure you it was on for 24 hours. Ambient and everything. Off the charger at 8am, a full day in the office and I did not put it back on the charger again till 8am the following day. Definitely not solar powered I assure you.. I think you might be best with the LG G Watch R though, it has a bigger battery, but is damned ugly (in my opinion)

        • Michael Bourke

          In summary as an extension of your smartphone, the smart watch (whichever you choose) is awesome. I have a G3 as my daily driver and during the day I rarely need to pull out my phone at all.

      • Tattude

        yeah but not everyone wants to have the screen settings on always off… i would fcking hate that. i want to read the time whenever i look on my watch, and dont wanna either have to touch the screen or hold my wrist in an awkward position in front of my head so it turns on…

  • M3D1T8R

    Is it true that this has a sapphire display? Thought I saw something about that a while ago when it was announced, bit nothing in the review or other unboxings.
    Too bad it doesn’t have qi charging. I guess I could live with the charging plate. The non-optional leather strap is the deal killer for me. Makes the Sony likely the best option for now. Too bad, this display and battery life seems so good.

  • Michael Bourke

    I am a little concerned. This is an obviously BIAS review and again, of an LG product. You mention this watch, you talk about style and ROUND face, and never mention the Motorola 360. You say it was the most anticipated watch of this year? Really? It was only announced midway through the year, I would suggest the Moto 360 is the watch you were referring to. Also, it’s a PLASTIC screen, not glass, as you mentioned twice. Are we now to expect another 50 LG G Watch R videos, like we did with the LG G3? I understand blogs and sites need sponsors and partners in an effort to raise revenue, but maybe avoid Mobile Phone companies, the bias is unpalatable.

    Oh, I am not an LG hater, I use the LG G3, have an LG TV. But Android Authority are starting to lose some of it’s credibility with it’s paid for advertising.

    And as a purely subjective opinion, the bumps at either end of the round face are not that pleasant to look at, add e level of CLUNK to the look and feel, also, not really designed for women. I think too, it is fair to say after the latest round of updates to Android Wear, we are headed to a lag free environment on all smart watches. My bias, if you can call it that is towards the Moto 360, as I have been wearing one for a month, yes, I love it, everything about it, including it’s perceived faults. It is true quality with glass and metal, and with my metal watchband, yes, it look like a real watch..just my thoughts..

    • irishrally

      The screen has a glass face. Plastic OLED is the name of the screen technology.

    • Tattude

      i think a review of a product shouldnt have any comparison to other products… i dont care about other products, if i want to inform myself about the LG G WATCH R, i dont wanna read things about the M360 or whatever…

  • dave

    for size reference- what size is the reviewers wrist? from the vid it looked like the first or second hole, so smaller wrist,

    guessing 6 to 6.5″ maybe?

    OR how big is the watch without crown?

    • dave

      on the LG site- 46.4mm

      this is freaking huge like larger than a Panerai, like this would look big on Arnold Schwarzenegger

      call me when a smrt watch hits 42-43mm

  • N4J4
    • Michael Bourke

      Thank you so much for posting this comparison. Tacky vs stylish

    • iamajimm

      I like both; gonna be tough telling Santa which one to bring-lol.

    • The screen is slightly smaller, but atleast it’s completely round. I’ll take that over an awkward cutoff at the bottom

  • gecgin

    I am not convinced yet by smartwatch concept. You pay lot of money, you have to care it like your baby, charge it everyday in the end what it does best is showing the time as the regular watches does. I am afraid there will be soon hightech branded socks,shoes and hats. Isock, LG Sock, Motorola Hat… They will do the same thing what a regular one does, but you have to pay hundreds of dollars and you had to charge every day.

    • J.J.

      they are expensive, and battery life on wear devices are not great(i would be happy with 3 days), but as a family man who was on his phone way too much, they are great at keeping you in tune to the humans around you. thats why i bought it. when at dinner with the wife/friends or get togethers i can see a notification quickly,dismiss or respond quickly and get back to enjoying my company. i love it.

  • PeerlessPaw

    This is looking to be a very good smartwatch! Thanks for reviewing guys!

  • Piotr Ch.

    It looks childish, the concave ring resembles some tacky, clunky tech watches (G-shock or sth). Moreover, it’s not a circle either – there’s an additional shape in form of strap handles extending from upper and lower sides forming these angular edges. For a minimalist like me it’s painful to look at – unlike Moto G.

  • abqnm

    I keep seeing reference to the plastic OLED display, but can’t seem to find out what is covering it. Any idea on the material used on top of the display? Gorilla Glass? Sapphire crystal? Mineral crystal? The bezel material is and always has been a deciding factor in all my watch purchases. I will only buy sapphire crystal watches, (maybe Gorilla Glass if it is a smart watch, but that would be the exception). Mineral crystal or any sort of sapphire coated hybrid crystal design immediately removes it from my purchase list as I always somehow manage to scratch anything else.

  • J.J.

    i definitely cant get 2 days on my 360(16-20hrs screen off). i obviously have not worn this device but from pics to me it looks too much like standard watch. i understand that will be the appeal for others but i love the simplistic/classy/futuristic styling of the 360.

  • Colin Miller

    It would be helpful to have a person who knows something about watches review Android smart watches.

  • Alexandr Slobodchikov

    Hello everybody!
    Let me introduce my new app for Android Wear – Watch phone.
    This is just another dialer but with perfect design recognized by many users.
    Proof on xda-developers: http://forum.xda-developers.com/android-wear/general/wear-dialer-t3048300
    Link on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.psksoft.watchphone
    Thank you for attention!

  • Magic Watchface

    Perfect round watch face for G Watch R, Ticker, an analog watch face which can show your steps and local weather https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.magicwatchface.ticker