LG G Watch R: Less toy, more watch (hands-on)

LG announced its LG G Watch R smartwatch at IFA 2014 featuring Android Wear and a round face, taking on the Motorola Moto 360.

The circular design is great and offers a much more watch-like appearance than previous square designs. It looks a lot more like a watch than a toy, especially when the 1.3-inch plastic OLED 320 x 320 resolution display is set to a black watch face to blend in with the display's perimeter.

While it isn't a small device by any stretch of the imagination, it looks good and the design manages to be large but not bulky which is one of its strengths.

The watch-like feel is further supported by the genuine leather strap that comes in the box and the power button on the right-hand side, both of which add to the LG G Watch R's standard watch characteristics and it's great to have the ability to switch it on and off.

We also liked the numbered dial around the face, even though it doesn't move it brings something a little different to the smartwatch market while mimicking a diving style watch.

The leather strap pleased us when we saw it as there are numerous wearables available with plastic or rubber straps and these aren't always comfortable in warmer weather. But if you are a fan of the plastic strap you can change it to the standard strap, which also comes in the box.

LG has also introduced a heart rate monitor, which sits subtly on the underside of the watch. You'll be able to track a number of fitness regimes on this device, from hiking that will let you know what altitude you are at, to cycling.

The display itself looks sharp, detailed and full of colour, clearly displaying the information it presents at 300 nits of brightness, but this can be turned down if needed. The display uses up 100 per cent of the watch face, adopting a similar approach to the slim-bezelled LG G3 smartphone but taking it one step further.

The lack of bezel on the face is a nice touch and it sets this watch apart from the Moto 360 which features black bars touching the circumference. It is easy to swipe through as well and the diving-style dial doesn't get in the way at all.

One thing we did notice was how light the LG G Watch R felt when we picked it up. On first look at the design, you would expect it to be quite heavy as its premium look portray this, but in actual fact it's weight was quite the opposite, which we suspect will be a nice feature when you are wearing it all day.

The LG G Watch R runs on Android Wear and therefore the usual "Ok Google" command is at the centre of its universe. It responds to voice commands and you can do all sorts, from replying to text messages by telling it what you want to say to viewing cards that are relevant to you such as your flight status.

The interface is fluid, responds quickly and there didn't seem to be any lag when reacting to controls. Under the hood, LG claims the new device has the biggest battery capacity of any wearable device already on the market and at 410mAh, it is said to see you through two days. We would have liked a little longer but this seems to be the way with almost all smartwatches available so far. 

Similar to the Samsung Gear smartwatches, the LG G Watch R is charged via a cradle, which although is a little annoying, we would rather this than the device be made bulkier to accommodate a Micro-USB port.

There is a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of on board storage under the hood of the LG G Watch R, plus it is also IP67 rated so if it comes in the shower with you for 30 minutes or you go a metre underwater, it won't be a problem.

The LG G Watch R is a really great looking device and easily one of the nicest smartwatches so far. We are excited about trying out properly and putting it through its paces in the real world when we come to review it. It will be coming to key markets in the fourth quarter of 2014 but pricing and availability has yet to be detailed.



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