Smartwatches

LG Watch Urbane: Early impressions

LG Watch Urbane: Early impress...
Before running our full review, Gizmag has some early impressions of the metal LG Watch Urbane (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Before running our full review, Gizmag has some early impressions of the metal LG Watch Urbane (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Retail packaging for the LG Watch Urbane (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Retail packaging for the LG Watch Urbane (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Cracking open the Watch Urbane's box (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Cracking open the Watch Urbane's box (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The Urbane's main body (pictured) has a cleaner aesthetic than its spiritual predecessor, the LG G Watch R (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The Urbane's main body (pictured) has a cleaner aesthetic than its spiritual predecessor, the LG G Watch R (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The LG Watch Urbane costs US$350 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The LG Watch Urbane costs US$350 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The Urbane ships with a leather band by default (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The Urbane ships with a leather band by default (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Before running our full review, Gizmag has some early impressions of the metal LG Watch Urbane (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Before running our full review, Gizmag has some early impressions of the metal LG Watch Urbane (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The Urbane runs the new version of Android Wear, which (among other things) lets you easily jump straight to your apps list (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The Urbane runs the new version of Android Wear, which (among other things) lets you easily jump straight to your apps list (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The LG Watch Urbane looks huge next to even the 42 mm Apple Watch (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The LG Watch Urbane looks huge next to even the 42 mm Apple Watch (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

How will the arrival of the Apple Watch affect Google's Android Wear? Well, we probably won't see evidence of that until later this year, but we do now at least have our hands on the first Wear watch to go on sale after the Apple Watch. Read on for our first impressions of the LG Watch Urbane (and the new version of Android Wear that it's running).

Update: No need for these early impressions, you can now read Gizmag's full LG Watch Urbane review.

In terms of specs, the LG Watch Urbane is pretty much the same device as the LG G Watch R, one of our favorite smartwatches of 2014. Its main body has the same basic shape, including fully round 1.3-inch display. The big difference is that, instead of the black stainless steel finish with diving watch-inspired dial markings that we saw on the G Watch R, the Urbane's stainless steel has a cleaner metallic look.

The Urbane's main body (pictured) has a cleaner aesthetic than its spiritual predecessor, the LG G Watch R (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The Urbane's main body (pictured) has a cleaner aesthetic than its spiritual predecessor, the LG G Watch R (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

It looks pretty spiffy in person, but it also looks humongous. That isn't, however, because it's bigger than the G Watch R (or unusually big compared to any other Android Wear watches). It's simply because we've spent the last week using the Apple Watch. Apple made an advanced wearable that's about the size of a regular timekeeping watch (will they one day be called "dumb watches?"), and the Urbane isn't keeping up in that respect.

Here's a look at how enormous the Watch Urbane looks next to the Apple Watch (and this is the bigger 42 mm Apple Watch we're using):

The LG Watch Urbane looks huge next to even the 42 mm Apple Watch (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The LG Watch Urbane looks huge next to even the 42 mm Apple Watch (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

The Watch Urbane is the first watch to run Google's latest version of Android Wear, which brings Wi-Fi connections and some hands-free gestures to the table. But our favorite change so far is the ability to jump straight to the Android Wear apps list by tapping on the screen or holding down the side button. The clunky process of firing up an individual app on Android Wear has long been a weakness, so it's nice to see Google address it.

The Urbane runs the new version of Android Wear, which (among other things) lets you easily jump straight to your apps list (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The Urbane runs the new version of Android Wear, which (among other things) lets you easily jump straight to your apps list (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

We'll have much more on the Watch Urbane and its new software in our full review, so stay tuned. Right now it looks like one of the snazzier-looking Wear watches, with snappy performance and the latest software ... but these Wear watches need to start slimming down quickly. Apple has raised the bar in that respect, and the Urbane is sized like a 2014 Android Wear watch that happens to be launching in early 2015. We want to see some new Wear gear for the post Apple Watch era – and we wouldn't be surprised to see some of those at Google I/O later this month.

The LG Watch Urbane is available now to order from Google, in either silver (pictured) or gold. It costs US$350.

Product pages: LG, Google

4 comments
Chas Newport
No mention of a WiFi antenna... if it doesn't have one none of the new cloud connectivity features will work.
ltdavis
Yes, the Apple Watch is smaller, but so is the battery which only gives you about 18 hours of run time - with an always off watchface, no less. Compare that to the LG G Watch R or Urbane with a 40 hour run time with always-on watchface and things start to make a little more sense in regareds to size. What kills me is when the Wear watches came out, everyone griped about the battery and run time. But with the Apple Watch's poor battery performance (yes, I dared to use "poor" and "Apple" in a sentence together), it's hailed as an "advanced wearable". Really? I don't think so.
PedroNuno
@ltdavis I don't get the problem with having 18 hours of batterie. You won't use it for that long. When go to sleep, put it to charge like you do with every electronic device. The watch is too big, the parts that "grab" the bracelet are too big and make the watch ugly. The new samsung watch with circular display looks pretty cool and has a smaller profile/body than this watch. The moto 360 has the same problem, too big of a body, looks like a clown watch.
PaulCRathjen
I had the Moto 360 Gen 1 for about 18 hours. Its garbage. It had nothing but connection issues. I literally tried for hours trouble shooting through forums, resetting the watch and phone 20 or more times. I even factory reset my phone, thinking perhaps I had some setting somewhere that was causing an issue. Nope. Never work. Its a very sharp minimalistic looking watch. The battery....heh the battery was a joke. I had to charge the 360 about 5 times during all of the sync attempts, downloads and resets. There is no way this watch would last all day with any kind of use, and doesn't have a usable "always on" mode. I sent the 360 back to Amazon. The Urbane worked instantly. Zero issues for days now. I've had it for 5 days, and its never below 50% after all day use with ambient mode set to on, with level 6 max brightness. No sync issues. No notification issues. No problems reconnected when phone comes in and out of range. It does have a wifi antenna which allows it to sync with your phone anywhere as long as both devices have wifi access and it doesn't have to be the same network. It feels great, and is much lighter than the moto, although the moto I had was a metal band where the Urbane is leather. Truth be told though the Urbane feels lighter without the band installed. I didn't notice a huge difference in screen resolution; however, since I never got the 360 to work, I can't really judge with any custom watch faces. I can't commend as to the apple watch other than to say, that I don't care for the looks, and it has a very unimpressive battery life. Anyone who actually wears and uses a smartwatch knows the battery life IS the life of the watch, and yes it would really be annoying to always have your watch sitting at 10% waiting to die at the end of the day. The urbane doesn't have that issue. I'm a huge apple fan, but I think the look and price of their watch doesn't live up to the apple that made iphone, and ipads the standards of their device types. It doesn't look cutting edge. It doesn't have as premium of a look or feel, doesn't look or feel like a premium watch, doesn't have a very impressive screen, and breaks the traditional round watch look. With the smooth curved edges and housing of the ipad and iphone, the iwatch gen 1 is pathetic afterthought to get something to market. Steve, wouldn't have let it through in its current form in my opinion. There is potential there for sure. If apple could come up with an ultra thin, ultra light watch with a good screen, it would do well even with a crappy battery life. As it sits, it doesn't look or do anything better than the Sony or Asus smartwatch.