With the announcement of LG’s new smartwatches and Google’s new smartwatch OS, Android Wear 2.0, comes a stronger-than-ever wave of excitement about wearables. For the past year, many people who might have wanted a wearable didn’t know which one to get or couldn’t find one they liked enough. These new watches will refuel the fire and yet again amp people up about a really cool category of device.
LG announced the Watch Sport and the Watch Style. Both models were “designed in collaboration with Google.” The Style is supposed to be “thin, light, beautiful to look at, and comfortable to wear.” Available in three colors (silver, gold (they call it rose gold but it’s just not), and titanium), the watch is definitely a bold new design, but one that I’m not sure all consumers will like. It is also compatible out-of-the-box with “snap-and-swap” 18mm leather and silicone bands. Personally, I have always adored the classy, analog look of my Huawei Watch, but others will certainly beg to differ, saying this new watch looks much nicer.
Sport, according to Google, is “Android Wear’s most powerful watch yet,” which may justify its $100 premium over the Style variant. It comes in titanium and dark blue, and I personally like the look of the titanium Sport best. It looks like a machine, ready for anything you are, and that design excites me. The watch includes LTE, NFC, GPS, and a heart rate sensor, which the Style does not. It also includes dedicated buttons for Google Fit and Android Pay, along with another more special button.
The rotating crown, which also acts as the watch’s power button, reminds me a lot of Apple Watch’s. Hopefully, it will also serve similar functions, so that constantly covering content with your finger will be a problem of the past. The watch also takes calls, which is definitely a welcome and necessary feature. My watch already does this, but it’s good to see universal support for this feature on new watches. It’s a really convenient feature that I actually use a lot, so I definitely appreciate it.
Another interesting tidbit about the crown is that it can be used to open the app launcher or Google Assistant. Since apps can be installed on smart watches separately from phones on Android Wear 2.0, I’m glad there is a button for the app launcher. Assistant, which is Google’s new voice helper, is also included, so every device from your phone to your Google Home, to your watch will have the same assistant.
Okay, spec people: The Style features a 1.2 inch OLED 360×360 display, while the Sport features a 1.38 inch OLED 480×480 display, which is a noticeable bump up from the Style. The Style has 512mb ram, the same as most current Android Wear watches, while the Sport has 768 which is a nice improvement. Both have the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset, WiFi, and Bluetooth. The Style has a 240 mAh battery, which is pretty disappointing, but the more expensive Sport has a 430 mAh battery which will likely be more than necessary. Specs for both of these watches were obtained here: Style and Sport.
Both watches will also “sport” wireless charging (get it?), a feature that a lot of Android Wear watches have had ever since the first Moto 360. The Style is IPX7 rated for water and dust resistance, while the Sport is rated at IP68. This means the Style has not been tested for dust resistance but that it can withstand at least 30 minutes in 3.3 feet of water. The Sport is fully dust-tight and watertight and can withstand almost anything thrown at it (or vice versa!).
There is one gaping problem with the Watch Sport, though. The band is non-replaceable. Rather than making the watch thicker, LG has opted to put almost all the antennas into the watch’s band. For a watch called the “Sport,” this is very disappointing. Watch bands can easily be sweated on, banged up, and broken, especially if their main use case is sports. This may be the deal breaker for many consumers, but there really was no other option. LTE is necessary for exercising without bringing a phone, GPS is important for tracking activity, NFC is a highly-requested paying feature, and any sport watch without a heart-rate sensor is bound to fail. So while I understand LG’s sacrifice to give the watch more features, it seems all for naught when your $349 watch is broken because the $20 band is the only problem.
Also, if not for the convenience and usability of being able to change the watch band, the style aspect certainly plays a role. Let’s say you own a Watch Sport and you are going to a party. Since you can’t really go to a party with a rubber watch, you want to make it a little more stylish. So you change your watch face from a digital face with complications to a snazzy face that looks like a Rolex. Then, you change your watch band to a nice dark leather. Wait! You can’t because the bands on your expensive watch are irreplaceable. It just seems like an oversight that I think many people won’t be able to overlook.
Okay, now for the TL;DR version: LG and Google announced two cool new watches that will be available tomorrow online, and they run Android Wear 2.0. The watches come with Google Assistant and Android Pay, and the Sport model doesn’t have replaceable bands. They look nice, but not everyone will like them. The Style run for $249 according to Cnet, and the Sport will be $349 on the Google Store, according to TechRadar.
If you don’t have a smartwatch or were waiting for the perfect new model, I’d say it’s a great time to buy. These watches are the newest offering, and they pack a ton of great features that are sure to make each day a little more convenient. If you like the design, just want something new, or are fed up with the lack of new models, these are the watches for you. Pick which one you like best or which one you can afford, and feel confident in your choice of a beautiful, highly functional timepiece that will look great on your wrist for a long time.
Are you planning on buying one of these watches or upgrading the software on your current Android Wear watch to 2.0 as soon as it’s available? Do you have an Apple Watch, a non-upgradeable Android Wear watch, a different smartwatch, or no smartwatch at all? Do you just want to rant about smartwatches and smartwatch operating systems? Leave a comment on this article and let us know!