LG's Watch Urbane LTE gains 4G and mobile payments – but loses Android Wear
Life moves quickly in the world of smartwatches. Less than two weeks after announcing the Android Wear-running LG Watch Urbane, LG is back with a variant that drops Wear and adds standalone 4G LTE.
The LG Watch Urbane LTE has the same stylish, all-metal design from the standard Watch Urbane. We haven't gotten our paws on it yet, but in press shots it looks like it's easily in contention for the title of "best-looking smartwatch," alongside the Moto 360 and Pebble Steel.
Unlike those watches, though, the Watch Urbane LTE has its own 4G cellular connection, letting you make calls and perform other smartphone-like features without your phone around. Standalone wireless isn't new, but this is the first we've seen that uses speedy LTE data. The standalone watches we've seen to this point have also been bulky, gadgety-looking affairs, and this one appears to have a great combination of looks and smarts.
On the other hand, the watch's software may be taking a step backwards, dropping Android Wear for LG's proprietary software (offically, it's the "LG Wearable Platform"). All wearable platforms are in their early stages, but it's going to be tough for LG to make software that rivals Android Wear. If for no other reason, Google Now voice control and tight integration with Android phone notifications will be nearly impossible to replace.
Otherwise the watch's specs appear to be in line with the non-LTE Urbane. That includes a 1.3-in fully round, P-OLED display, Snapdragon 400 processor and IP67 water and dust resistance. Its battery is, of course, larger (700 mAh vs. 410 mAh in the Wear version) – to help power those LTE radios.
The new variant does have three physical buttons on its right side (similar to Pebble watches), for navigating some of its more smartphone-like features. Another thing to note is that LG didn't announce the dimensions for the new watch: it's hard to imagine LTE radios not making this model a little thicker than the Wear version.
The last big addition is NFC. LG is pitching the Watch Urbane LTE for mobile payments (in an obvious attempt to counter the Apple Watch's Apple Pay), though it isn't yet clear what virtual wallet platform it will be using.
LG hasn't announced any pricing or release info for the Watch Urbane LTE (or, for that matter, the non-LTE version). We do know that the company will be showing off both watches at Mobile World Congress next week, where we'll be on the ground.