LG G Watch R vs. Asus ZenWatch: In pictures
If you want a smartwatch that hits a nice balance between fashion and function, then we recommend these two, along with the Moto 360, as your best picks this year. We've already talked at length about these three, but we have a few more thoughts, as well as plenty of shots in our image gallery, about how these two specifically compare.
Both watches have luxury watch-inspired designs and could, from a distance, pass for standard timepieces. The G Watch R is still the only Android Wear watch you can buy with a fully round screen (the Moto 360 has a little sliver cut-out at the bottom), and it's one of the LG watch's biggest draws. The diving watch-inspired dial around its bezels might draw some polarizing reactions, but it's grown on me. It also helps that some of LG's clock faces are tailor-made to complement it.
Screen shape is a big part of your decision, but screen size shouldn't be. Though the watches have different diagonal measurements, never mind that: screen area, a more telling measurement, has them at pretty much the exact same size.
Both watches ship with leather bands, and are swappable with standard 22 mm bands. The G Watch R's default black band is more neutral, while the tan-colored band on the ZenWatch becomes a more eye-catching part of its aesthetic.
Apart from the stark contrast in styles, these two are very close to being the same watch. Both have long battery life, and you can leave their always-on clock face settings on and still last a full day with room to spare. Both have smooth performance, and run the exact same Android Wear software (you can check out Gizmag's Android Wear review for more on that).
Asus threw in a couple of optional companion apps that give you a few extra features. Most of these are easily duplicated by third-party Play Store apps, like a flashlight, compass and "leave my phone unlocked when the watch is near" feature (don't turn that on: it kills the ZenWatch's otherwise great battery life). The ZenWatch Wellness app does add a useful nudge feature, inspired by Jawbone trackers: you can set it to vibrate your wrist if you've been sitting still for too long.
The ZenWatch's heart rate sensor is also (oddly) located on its front bezels. The G Watch R measures your pulse using your wrist, so you don't have to do anything but try to hold still. On the ZenWatch, you have to put two fingers on the watch's bezels (like you're making a peace sign) to get a reading. The ZenWatch can also use your heart rate to assign a "relaxation score." I didn't find this to be any more useful than a straightforward heart rate measurement, but your mileage could vary.
The only other big difference is price. The G Watch R is going to cost you an extra US$100 (LG's watch costs $300, next to $200 for the ZenWatch), so even if you like the G Watch's look a little better, you'll want to ask yourself if you like it "$100 better."
For a closer look at these two, we invite you to thumb through our image gallery. And for more on the watches themselves, you can hit up Gizmag's individual reviews of the G Watch R and Asus ZenWatch.