We recently took a look at two of the most stylish smartwatches around, the Moto 360 and Asus ZenWatch, but there's one more to add to that list. Read on, as we review LG's second stab at Android Wear, the round-faced G Watch R.
The G Watch R is a smartwatch with a very specific design theme. Like the Moto 360, it has a round display, but here that screen is surrounded by a large bezel with clock markings. It looks like LG was mimicking classic diving watches, like the Rolex Submariner.
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That body is made of black stainless steel, and ships with a matching black leather band (if you don't like it, you can swap it with any standard 22 mm strap). Watch and band both feel high-end, light and comfortable on my wrist. And at 9.7 mm (0.38-in) thick, the G Watch R is one of the thinner smartwatches we've seen.
Though the Moto 360's screen is almost round, the G Watch R is the first Android Wear watch with a fully circular display (the Moto's has a small sliver cut out at the bottom). The G Watch's screen isn't the biggest, but it looks great. And some of LG's clock faces, which complement the diver face, help to unify hardware and software.
The round display is also fairly sharp (246 pixels per inch), and appears to gets brighter than other Wear watches (it gives you six brightness levels to choose from, and all but "1" are pretty bright).
The G Watch R's software is exactly what you'll find on other Android Wear watches, and LG didn't add any companion apps with unique add-ons (like Motorola and Asus did). If you aren't already acquainted with what Wear watches can do, you can hit up Gizmag's Android Wear review from earlier this year.
Battery life is good: better than the Moto 360, but not quite as long-lasting as the ZenWatch.
With brightness set to "2" or "3," with typical use and always-on display, mine dropped between 5-6 percent per hour. With the always-on setting off (which pretty much kills its aesthetic), it only dipped around 3-4 percent per hour. For appearance's sake, I'd recommend using the always-on clock face and charging every night, but either way you're good to go: this is an all-day watch with room to spare.
Like most big-ticket smartwatches, the G Watch R gives you IP67 water resistance. Though it may look like a diver's watch, you won't want to take it diving in anything deeper than a 3-ft. kiddie pool.
If smartwatches ever really take off, we might eventually have hundreds of Android Wear watches to choose from – all running the same software, and only differentiated by design. But this holiday season, we're left with just three that hit a sweet spot between tech and fashion: the Moto 360, Asus ZenWatch and the G Watch R.
The G Watch R is worth a look next to its two peers. The diving watch design is going to be a little love-it-or-hate-it but, after the original gadgety-looking G Watch (no "R" because it wasn't round), the G Watch R is a big step in the right direction for LG. This is a classy-looking timepiece with good battery life, the best smartwatch software available today, and no yellow or red flags to watch out for.
One of the biggest advantages for the other two is the G Watch R's price. At US$300, it costs $50 more than the Moto 360 and $100 more than the ZenWatch. You could make a strong argument for any of them as the best smartwatch you can buy today, so it's simply going to come down to how much you fancy that unique design and fully-round screen.
The LG G Watch R is available now for $300. For a closer look at its design, you can hit up our image gallery.
Product page: LGView gallery - 21 images