Review: LG G Watch R

Smartwatches started off square, but now they’re finally taking on a more watch-like design, with circles back in. Motorola got their first, but LG’s is totally circular with no part of the screen cut off, and that makes it the most circular smartwatch to date. Is it also the best?

Features

It hasn’t been long since LG’s G Watch was first released in Australia, and yet here we are with another, this time with a look more like that of the traditional wristwatch: circular.

Beyond the shape, technology-wise, LG’s G Watch R is very similar to the regular G Watch, with more or less identical technology under the hood.

You’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor clocked at 1.2GHz underneath, working alongside 4GB storage and 512MB RAM, with Google’s Android Wear running on this system.

With Google’s Android Wear used, a Google Android phone is required to use the G Watch R, connecting to the phone by way of Bluetooth.

Several sensors are included in the package, with a nine axis module supporting gyroscope, accelerometer, and compass, as well as a barometer. Depending on the watch face, these sensors can be used in the design to make the smartwatch look and respond more like a sports and adventurer watch.

A heart rate sensor has also been included in this smartwatch, utilising the green light optical technology seen on a few smartphones, which is apparently a photoplethymography sensor.

Resistance to the elements is also included, with IP67 certification, making it dust-proof and water resistant, generally up to a metre of liquid immersion.

The screen is where all the action happens, though, and here it’s a very different beast to the original G Watch, with a 1.3 inch plastic OLED display (P-OLED), cut into a circle and running a slightly higher resolution of 320×320.

Under everything is the battery, which is rated for 410mAh.

The strap is made of leather, and while there won’t be a metal band released by LG, we’re assured that the band connections are made to accommodate generic bands, and that you can therefore use whatever band you prefer.

Performance

When you set your eyes upon the G Watch R for the first time, it’s clear you’re not in Kansas anymore.

No longer do you have to settle for a square or rectangular screen, because the G Watch R is pretty much a circle, and one kept in place by a piece if metal. For this smartwatch, there’s an aluminium frame with numbers in place at each quarter and strokes in the remaining areas.

It’s a look reminiscent of slightly sporty and luxury watches, and it’s simple enough to work for LG, especially since you can load pretty much any face into a smartwatch and change it for a given day or activity.

Connecting this watch to your wrist is a piece of leather that is much thicker than we expected. It will take some time to break this in, that much we can tell you, and while it seems overly thick in the beginning, the strap grows on you.

We’d prefer an option for metal, but this is one LG won’t be supplying, with representatives for LG telling GadgetGuy that the company isn’t looking at supplying different bands at this time, but that the watch band in use was a standard measurement, and therefore could really be replaced by anyone.

Get to using the G Watch R and if you’ve ever tried an Android Wear device, you’ll be in familiar territory as very little has changed.

If you haven’t, it’s all new regardless, and you’ll want to get yourself used to gestures of swiping left, right, up and down as you move through the menus.

There aren’t many menus, mind you, so don’t get too fussed about this, as for the most part, you’ll be flicking up or down on the touchscreen with your finger as you scroll through the various notifications that pop up.

A new email comes up with a small preview: swipe one way to open it on your phone, or swipe the other and have it disappear from the notification queue.

If someone phones you, you can swipe in either direction — left or right again — to hang up or pick up, the latter of which will send the call to your phone, which is probably in your pocket and now should be out, in your hand, and ready to be used.

And you can always touch the screen in the top right to force Google to listen to you, speaking aloud your orders to the watch, which will communicate them to the phone, translate them, and maybe even do them.

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