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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.