LG Watch Style review: Compact and compromised
If you're looking for a smartwatch that isn't overly huge, Google and LG recently launched one that runs the new Android Wear 2.0 platform. Read on, as New Atlas reviews the LG Watch Style.
The LG Watch Style is small enough that it can compete with the Apple Watch as a unisex watch that can work equally well for men and women. (It's worth noting that Google's product page shows women exclusively in lifestyle shots.) The round, wafery design makes for a subtle and compact watch that avoids the bulky and masculine appearance of the LG Watch Sport and Samsung Gear S3.
Unfortunately, the LG Watch Style also loses a few smartwatch foundations in the process of shrinking down to such a manageable size. There's no heart-rate sensor or NFC for mobile payments, not to mention standalone cellular or GPS. Today's tech requires a fairly large watch to tick all of the above boxes. (The Apple Watch, though, manages to hit three of four.)
Without those extras, it would have been nice to see the Style come in a bit cheaper, perhaps at US$200. At $250, it's still not overly pricey – especially considering it has Qualcomm's latest and fastest smartwatch processor, for zippy speeds. But incomplete fitness tracking and the lack of mobile payments tell us this should be a budget option: If a $150 Fitbit can monitor your pulse, why can't a $100-more-expensive smartwatch? Ideally a smartwatch will duplicate everything a cheap fitness tracker does, and then some.
One of the main arguments for buying the LG Watch Style would be getting the new Android Wear 2.0 operating system in a smaller/cheaper package than its bulky Watch Sport sibling. But with a slew of 2015-era Android Wear watches set to receive the update soon, and with more Wear 2 watches expected to be unveiled next week at Mobile World Congress, that argument might not be overly convincing.
Battery life appears to have taken a hit to make the watch so compact. With the always-on display option turned on, it lost too much to last a full day; with the option turned off, it still dropped around 5-7 percent per hour. (Another small watch, the Apple Watch, doesn't even offer an always-on option.)
The Watch Style has a smaller and lower-resolution screen that the larger Sport, but neither is any cause for concern. And its round screen combined with an Apple Watch-like size is something of a first in the smartwatch world.
Like the Watch Sport, the Style rips off the Apple Watch's Digital Crown, with its own "rotating power button." (How's that for ultra-literal branding?) Though it lacks originality, it adds to the Android Wear experience, eliminating the need to repeatedly swipe on the screen to scroll through messages, notifications or settings screens.
You also get Google Assistant, the company's new voice-controlled AI, which should get smarter over time. Trigger it with a long press of the power button.
The LG Watch Style isn't a bad option for women or men looking for a solid smartwatch that doesn't have hockey-puck-like proportions. Android Wear 2.0, the rotating power button and its thin-mint design make for a solid package. But without heart-rate tracking, mobile payments or GPS, and with its mediocre battery life, you may find better options if you can hold off a while.
The Watch Style is available now from Google, Best Buy and B&H Photo. It costs $250.
For more on its bigger and more masculine-looking sibling, you can check out New Atlas' LG Watch Sport review.