Hands-on with the LG G Watch R

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The device feels comfortable on the wrist (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag.com)

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LG’s G Watch R follows closely in the footsteps of the Moto 360, opting for a more traditional, circular look rather than the square-faced designs we’ve seen in other early Android Wear smartwatches. The wearable is at the forefront of LG’s offering at IFA, and we took the opportunity to take a closer, hands-on look at the hotly anticipated smartwatch.

We put LG’s existing wearable, the G Watch, next to the new G Watch R, and while they share a title, they’re very different devices. In a nutshell – when using traditional, circular watch faces, the original G Watch looks like a digital watch that’s trying to be analogue, while the newer G Watch R looks like an analogue watch.

It also feels like one. While the device is still lightweight, its circular natures makes it a little bulkier than square-faced devices. This may sound like a negative, but it’s actually something that will likely make the device more appealing to traditional watch lovers, with many analogue time pieces fitting a similar design template.

The G Watch R is made from a combination of stainless steel and aluminium, with a plastic back. While the build feels more solid than luxurious, the design is the closest thing we've seen to a traditional watch, and even includes a numbered bezel around the outside of the circular display. Unlike the company's first Android Wear device, the G Watch R features a physical button on the side, which can be long pressed to open the settings menu.

The black strap that will ship with the G Watch R as standard feels a little cheap compared to stitched Italian leather effort on Asus’ ZenWatch, but is significantly more premium than the standard G Watch’s rubber offering.

Like the original G Watch, the circular model is fitted with a standard 22 mm strap, meaning you can easily swap it out for something more premium, or something that better fits your personal tastes. The wearable looked great fitted with a range of different straps in LG’s booth at IFA.

LG was keen to emphasize that the G Watch R is in no way a replacement of the G Watch, but rather the two devices are designed to exist alongside one another, catering for different tastes in the same way that consumers have a preference for analogue or digital time pieces.

We weren’t able to see much of the device’s software, with the company claiming that the circular version of Android Wear isn’t yet ready for prime time. Considering today’s launch of the Moto 360, this is a little surprising. At any rate, it’s clear that LG hasn’t ironed out the kinks in its own circular wearable, so we’ll have to wait a little longer to judge the device’s software offering.

While we weren’t able to dig into the software, we did get a good look at the many different watch faces available on the G Watch R. Overall, they’re a big improvement over what’s available on the original G Watch, and, like the rest of the smartwatch, they mirror traditional watches. The 1.3-inch display itself, with a resolution of 320 x 320, looks sharp and bright, and it’s easy to mistake the device for an analogue watch from just a short distance away.

Overall, the G Watch R packs a solid, quality build and great, traditional time piece looks. It’s doesn’t quite match the premium feel of Asus’ ZenWatch, but the circular design is makes it feel a little less geeky and a little more stylish. If nothing else, it's enough to make potential Moto 360 buyers think twice.

We’ll have more on the LG G Watch R as it heads towards its (as of yet undisclosed) launch date. For now you can head to the gallery to check out more photos of the G Watch R, including a look at a range of different straps and watch faces.

Fore more on the big smartwatches previewed this week, you can check out our hands-ons with the Asus ZenWatch and Samsung Gear S. And our full Moto 360 review is now live.

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