LG Watch Style early impressions: The sleeker, subtler Android Wear 2.0 watchView gallery - 4 images
Android Wear 2.0 is a big improvement over the earlier, more simplistic versions of Google's smartwatch software. Today we got our hands on the smaller of the two flagship watches to launch alongside Wear 2, the LG Watch Style.
If the larger of the two new watches, the LG Watch Sport, gave us pause because of its hulking, tank-like size, the Watch Style falls on the opposite end of the spectrum. This is the most Apple Watch-like Android smartwatch to date, meaning it's small, sleek and minimalistic.
Google and LG don't specifically say the LG Watch Style is a women's watch, but Google's product page does only picture women wearing it in lifestyle shots. With its narrow (18-mm) band and more compact design, it is among the more lady-friendly smartwatches. With that said, I think this titanium-gray model looks fine on my decidedly male wrist: Consider it a unisex model, and a tamer alternative to the monstrous Watch Sport.
What it adds in subtlety, it loses in standalone functionality: Unlike the LG Watch Sport, the Style is a standard Bluetooth watch (like the Apple Watch and most smartwatches) without its own cellular data or GPS connections. While the idea of using your watch without a phone might be appealing to a tech enthusiast, it's such a niche use case for most people (mostly joggers and gym rats) that we don't think the majority of people will miss much by going with the cheaper Style.
Another thing it loses, though, is a heart-rate sensor. Considering you can find this feature in quality fitness trackers like the US$150 Fitbit Charge 2, it's disappointing to see this $250 smartwatch skip that fitness fundamental. Ideally, a smartwatch will duplicate everything a fitness tracker does, while adding enough extra incentives to justify its higher cost.
While it's an unabashed ripoff of the Apple Watch's Digital Crown, I enjoy having the "rotating power button" on these two first Android Wear 2.0 watches. It makes scrolling through lists, notifications and messages simple and fun, eliminating the need to repeatedly swipe your finger across a tiny display.
While the Style has a lower-resolution screen than the Sport, its 299-PPI pixel density still looks very sharp. The 1.2-in display size is also nice, while allowing the watch itself to be much smaller than its bulky sibling.
Of course you also get Google's advanced AI, Google Assistant (previously only available in the Pixel phones). For the things I've used it for, it isn't much different from its predecessor (Google Now), but its long-term ceiling is higher. If you don't mind talking to your watch like Dick Tracy, you can get answers to many, many questions without pulling out your phone.
We'll have more on the Watch Style in our full review, but if you're like me, you may prefer this minimal and wafery watch over the huge Sport. Unless you're a runner, it's quite possible sleek and small will win out over standalone.
The LG Watch Style is available now for $250.