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Hands-on: LG G Watch R is a smartwatch in disguise at IFA 2014

We go hands-on or rather, wrist-on with a smartwatch that look surprisingly like an actual watch, but doesn’t skimp to the smart features; the new LG G Watch R.

We saw it from a mile off, IFA 2014 was going to feature more wearables than you can shake a stick at. With Apple’s hotly anticipated iWatch just days away from supposedly making an appearance in California, rival manufacturers wanted to get their latest technological timepieces out on show and into the minds of potential consumers in the coming months. Many expect Apple will be the one to open the door to mainstream adoption of the smartwatch and its rivals, LG included, want to be ready.

LG G Watch R on a plinth at IFA 2014

LG was, along with Samsung, one of the first to actually put an Android Wear-based smartwatch out on sale. The LG G Watch was our first taste of Google’s new wearable-centric operating system and in essence was a proof of concept that made it all the way to retail. Whilst we have to thank LG for offering up Android Wear in a compact, and reasonably priced little package, the original G Watch was, and still is the ugly duckling of the bunch with its featureless black plastic body.

  LG G Watch Samsung Gear Live Motorola Moto 360 Sony SmartWatch 3 LG G Watch R
Design Squared Squared Rounded Squared Rounded
Screen

1.65-inch IPS LCD (280×280 pixels)

1.63-inch SuperAMOLED (320×320 pixels)

1.56-inch LCD (320×290 pixels)

1.6-inch LCD (320×320 pixels)

1.3-inch P-OLED (320×320 pixels)

Processor 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400

1.2GHz quad-core

TI OMAP 3

1.2GHz quad-core

1.2GHz Snapdragon 400
RAM 512MB 512MB 512MB 512MB 512MB
Storage 4GB 4GB 4GB 4GB 4GB
Battery 400mAh 300mAh 320mAh 420mAh 410mAh
Changable straps Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Price £159.00 £169.00 £199.00 €229 (UK price unknown) €299 (UK price unknown)

Whilst being first clearly mattered so much that LG were willing to skimp on design, now the company has its foot in the door it’s ready to get serious and try to appeal to everyone, not just the die-hard tech heads, but those on the market for a more conventional watch, who might enticed to the dark side of wearable technology with its latest offering, the LG G Watch R.

It’s not until you’re up close that you can tell the G Watch R is actually a smart watch. Its classic watch design features a dark stainless steel body, a black calves leather strap and a circular face. LG’s taking the fight to the Motorola Moto 360 with the G Watch R as the second Android Wear device to boast a round display, and this time it’s completely circular, no cut-out at the bottom for the display drivers.

LG G Watch R and logo LG G Watch R screen

LG opted for a thicker bezel detailed with numbering to appear more like your conventional men’s wristwatch and in doing so, could conceal all the display drivers around the edge, allowing for a completely uninterrupted 1.3-inch circular P-OLED display. The ‘P’ stands for plastic and is a newer breed of screen tech that LG says can push out impressive brightness and clarity without sapping power from the smartwatch’s 410mAh battery.

Speaking of battery, the cell inside the G Watch R should supposedly cover usage for a day more comfortably than the original G Watch. It sports the largest sized battery of any of the current Android Wear range right now (save for Sony’s new SmartWatch 3) and the smallest screen, so theoretically it should offer some of the best longevity of the bunch, but we’ll tell you for certain when it hits review.

LG G Watch R on table LG G Watch R leather strap LG G Watch R back

Actually wearing the G Watch R is for the most part comfortable. The leather strap will need wearing in, as it was exceptionally stiff and the edges felt sharp against the wrist. Thankfully the more conventional watch design means that you can easily swap out the strap for another and LG had a number of alternatives on show at the G Watch R stand.

On the underside of the watch face is a heart rate sensor and terminal points for the charging cradle, which follows a similar design to the original g Watch. Glance to the right and you’ll notice a crown, typically where you’d wind a traditional watch, but in this instance it’s simply a sleep/wake button, much like Motorola’s design.

In addition to being able to swap out the straps, the standard Android Wear experience is bolstered by a few additional watch faces supplied by LG, so you can quickly change the look of the G Watch R’s default circular display with a few simple taps and swipes.

LG G Watch R on wrist

Our time with the LG G Watch R was fleeting at IFA 2014, but we’re itching to spend some more time with one on our wrist and to be able to see how it stands up to the poster boy of Android Wear, the Moto 360.

Are you tempted by any of the growing number of wearables yet and if so, which one are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments below.

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