LG Watch Urbane: ready for your fancy suit. (LG)
LG's latest smartwatch has gone for a fancy look, but still runs Android Wear. Is that enough to get it past the post?
The LG G Watch R, unveiled last year, was one of a handful of round-faced Android Wear watches. It looked like a regular sports watch. It was also one of CNET's favorites.
LG's new version has just been announced: the slightly weirdly named LG Watch Urbane
, which takes that same vivid, fully-round P-OLED display and sticks it in a polished silver- or gold-finished steel body. It has a stitched leather strap, which can be swapped out for standard 22mm watch bands.
One good thing about LG's new watch name: it ditches the extra "G" that popped up in the LG G Watch
and LG G Watch R.
LG's early announcement of this new watch comes a couple of weeks before Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, aiming to get a head start on what's bound to be a lot of new smartwatch news.
It's also clear that this new polish on LG's watch is timed to go against the imminent Apple Watch. The pair of releases seem to be triggering a new trend: higher-end smartwatch design.
The LG Watch Urbane's features seem largely the same as the LG G Watch R: a 1.3-inch 320x320 OLED display at 245 pixels per inch, and a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor.
There's also a heart rate monitor for workouts plus a barometer for elevation, and the Android Wear-standard 4GB of storage and 512MB of RAM.
The LG Watch Urbane has a 410 mAh battery. It's IP67 dust and water resistant, but isn't meant for showering or swimming. It doesn't incorporate on-board GPS, like Sony's SmartWatch 3.
The LG Watch Urbane looks good in the few photos seen here, even if it's not all that much different from the G Watch R under the hood.
Once again, it looks nearly indistinguishable from a regular watch, but it is flashier and sleeker. The side bezels are smaller this time around, and the overall polish and finish feel similar to the higher-end tone of the Asus ZenWatch. Price and availability, however, remain unknown.
"LG Watch Urbane is an important part of our strategy to develop wearable devices that are worn and viewed as everyday accessories, not electronic gadgets," Juno Cho, LG CEO and President, said in the LG Watch Urbane's press release.
This might be the best-looking Android Wear watch yet, but until Android Wear makes deeper changes allowing for additional hardware features, the Urbane looks like a fancier skin on the same Android Wear experience. It's clearly well-timed to go up against Apple Watch, and it might indicate other smartwatch-makers are about to start trying for higher-style redesigns, too.
We'll see more at Mobile World Congress in a few weeks.
Sport: Fitness and wellness
Proficiency level: Expert/Intermediate