The new Android Wear smartwatch from LG, the G Watch R has a fully circular face and looks more like a chunky man’s watch than a gadget.
The G Watch R runs Android’s Wear software, which is designed specifically for smartwatches, and acts as a second screen for an Android smartphone. It connects to a phone via Bluetooth and will display notifications for anything for calls, emails, calendar entries and any other app that can send notifications. It has no data connectivity of its own, relying on the smartphone for internet access.
Users can also use Google search via voice from the watch, and connect it to a Bluetooth pair of headphones to play music stored on its internal 4GB memory without a smartphone.
Round and chunky
The G Watch R is fairly large – bigger than most other Android smartwatches – and is about the size of a chunky man’s watch at 46.4 by 53.6mm. That said, it’s smaller than the super-size watches often seen adorning the wrists of sports stars.
The circular 1.3in OLED screen is bright and vivid, although not as crisp and sharp as a typical smartphone screen and does not have automatic brightness control. It is also the first fully circular smartwatch screen as the Moto 360 has a flat-tyre shape.
The G Watch R comes with a small magnetic charging dock, which powers the watch using small metal pins. A complete charge takes about an hour and can be charged with the screen off at night, which others, like the Motorola Moto 360, can’t.
Unlike the Moto 360’s “ambient display” mode, which only keeps the screen on for a short while when moving the wrist, Watch R has the option to have the display lit in a low-power mode all the time, which allows quick glances at the time before lighting the screen fully when moving the wrist to see the screen.
With the screen on all the time, the Watch R will last two days without needing a charge, but if the screen’s off it will last longer by around another day. Pressing the button or tapping the screen turns it on.
Heart rate monitor
An optical heart rate monitor under the body of the watch will measure heart rate on demand, feeding the information along with activity and steps into Google Fit for review on the Watch R or the Google Fit app on a smartphone.
The LG G Watch R costs £225, which makes it the most expensive Android Wear smartwatch on the market. The square LG G Watch costs £159, the Samsung Gear Live £169 and the Motorola Moto 360 £200.
The LG G Watch R is a big, chunky watch and as such, may look silly on smaller wrists. It’s also very masculine, which makes it much less appealing to some.
The round screen is excellent and the battery life is solid. Compared to the Moto 360 it is much faster and snappier and will last over twice as long, even with the screen on all the time. It isn’t as comfortable to wear and is more obvious on the wrist, however.
Google’s Android Wear has been updated recently with more smartphone-independent functions like music playback, and the app selection is expanding with interesting apps being added all the time.
The G Watch R is certainly one of the best Android Wear watches available. Whether a smartwatch is worth buying depends on how many notifications, calls and emails you get through the day. Having them appear on the wrist is less intrusive and saves having to pull the smartphone out of a pocket every time even is they’re not important.
Pros: solid two-day battery life with everything turned on, always-on round screen, heart rate monitor, waterproof
Cons: big, bulky design, strap is very stiff, most watch faces unattractive, pricy
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