The LG Watch Urbane is the Korean company’s third smartwatch in under a year, a shiny, metal-covered, round Android Wear watch to compete with Apple’s Watch – and with a price tag to match.
The Urbane is a follow-up to the chunky G Watch R and LG’s second round smartwatch to use its 1.3in plastic OLED screen.
It is the first watch to ship with Google’s new Android Wear 5.1, which is a big step forward for the wearable operating system.
Big and shiny
Big. Chunky. Shiny. Gaudy. These are all adjectives that can be thrown at the Urbane. It is the largest Android Wear smartwatch I’ve had the pleasure to use, even though its screen is actually smaller than the 1.6in Moto 360.
The frame surrounding the watch is shiny stainless steel, in a choice of pink gold or grey. I’ve been testing the pink gold version for a week. To say that it stands out is an understatement.
The Urbane is not unlike in size to many men’s watches, which tend to be big.
However, it’s too plain for a watch, with a lack of detail in the body that makes it look bulky and featureless. The block pink gold could be considered a bit gaudy, but while I wouldn’t have chosen it, I have grown used to it.
The round screen is clear, bright and can be read outside without problems. It isn’t as sharp as a smartphone screen, but rivals the best currently available on a smartwatch. It does not have an ambient light sensor, however.
The button on the side lights the screen or puts it to sleep. Double press it to trigger cinema mode and stop the screen from lighting. Holding it down brings up the settings menu.
The Urbane is IP67 rated, which means it’s waterproof to a depth of 1.5m for 30 minutes. The leather strap prohibits getting it wet, however, but you can easily change the strap for a metal or rubber one. The supplied strap is stiff and requires a week to break in, but feels well made.
With the screen on all the time, the Urbane lasted around a day and a half per charge. Without the screen always on, it lasted a lot longer, well into the third day.
You need a little magnetic dock to charge it, which is another thing to lose, but the watch charges at about 1.7% a minute, which means a full charge takes under an hour.
Wi-Fi and heart rate
Above and beyond the features standard to Android Wear 5.1, the Urbane includes Wi-Fi for connecting remotely to your smartphone and a heart rate monitor, which must be manually activated.
The heart rate monitor proved about as accurate as most other smartwatches, although it frequently rated my pulse slightly higher than dedicated heart rate monitors.
LG includes several apps that duplicate functionality with the standard Android Wear apps. LG Pulse takes heart rate readings and displays a live beats per minute, which works better than the built-in Google Fit one.
LG Call also allows users to trigger phone calls on the connected smartphone if they download a separate app on their phone and connect Bluetooth headphones. Given Android Wear 5.1 now includes a contact list that you can use to make calls, send text messages or emails, I’m not sure why it bothered.
The Urbane also includes Android Wear’s new lockscreen, but I could not get it to show up when the watch was taken off, and only occasionally when the watch was charging.
The LG Watch Urbane is the most expensive Android Wear watch yet, costing £260. This is £60 more than the Moto 360 and Asus Zenwatch and £35 more than the G Watch R. The Urbane is £40 cheaper than the lowest-priced Apple Watch, however.
The Watch Urbane is the best smartwatch LG has made to date, but it’s also the most expensive and its styling isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – it certainly suits a larger wrist. One to try before you buy.
Its battery life could also be better. A full two days would make weekend getaways easier.
But it is fast, Android Wear 5.1 is great, the always-on screen is decent and the strap can be replaced for any standard 22mm watch strap.
Pros: Fast, always-on screen, latest Android Wear, heart rate monitor, Wi-Fi, quality leather watch strap.
Cons: Really big, styling is divisive, less than two-day battery, no ambient light sensor, expensive.
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