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LG Watch Style Review: The best way in

4

The Good

  • Slim, elegant design
  • Smooth performance
  • Affordable

The Bad

  • Small screen
  • No NFC
  • No GPS

We review the LG Watch Style, one of two smartwatches developed in partnership with Google to debut Android Wear 2.0.

The LG Watch Sport is a no-compromise offering that comes with all the bells and whistles you could want on a smartwatch, plus a price tag to match (now around £250) whilst the LG Watch Style is a far more conservative effort that forgoes some of the Sport’s flashier components and instead focuses on offering a great user experience in a stylish package.

For as low as £160 in some places, the LG Watch Style has fast become one of the most approachable watches amidst the current competition, however, with the Android Wear 2.0 update now available to a whole host of older wearables as well, there’s suddenly a lot more choice out there for a decent price, including Asus’ ZenWatch 3 and the Fossil Q Marshal.

The real question is does the LG Watch Style still offer an enjoyable smartwatch experience despite missing the extras of its bigger brother, or is it simply a matter of Style over substance?

LG Watch Style Review: Design

Compared to LG’s previous Android Wear efforts this is the most subtle and elegant offering we’ve seen from the company so far; perhaps one of the most elegant Wearables to date, alongside the likes of the first-generation Huawei Watch. One of the Style’s most attractive qualities is that at 10.79mm, it’s the slimmest Android Wear smartwatch currently on the scene - an appealing reason to stick it on your shortlist if you haven’t yet been won over by any number of the other bulkier smartwatches out there.

LG Watch Style review: Front LG Watch Style review: Back

We trialled the Silver version, which most closely imitates the look of a more conventional timepiece but there’s also a Rose Gold option with an off-white strap and a Titanium colourway that features a dark grey case and a black strap.

The front of the 316L stainless steel case, surrounding the fully circular display, adopts a sandblasted satin finish across its face that stands as a clean contrast against its mirror-polished sides. The back of the watch’s body is comprised of a rounded plastic panel which, as there’s no heart-rate sensor, simply holds LG’s logo (along with holes for two concealed microphones) and serves as the contact surface for the included magnetic wireless charging dock, which conveniently, allows the watch to be placed in any orientation in order to charge.

Unlike previous Android Wear watches with physical controls, as the Style was made through the joint efforts of Google and LG it leverages one of the updated OS’s most prominent additions with regards to interaction. The knob on the case's right side twists akin to the Apple Watch’s digital crown, with the rotational input registering as a way to scroll through content.

The crown itself is thinner and protrudes more readily than Apple’s equivalent mechanism and its thin stalk does look as though it might make for one of the watch’s more delicate components, running the risk of snapping off were something to snag or catch against or around it.

LG Watch Style review: Latch

As for the straps, like Google’s own MODE line, LG has used an ingenious sliding latch mechanism that allows for quick and convenient removal or replacement of the watch’s bands. The Italian leather looks a little cheap fresh out the box but will hopefully age gracefully after extended wear and if it doesn’t, at least it’s easy enough to swap the standard straps out for any equivalent conventional 18mm band.

LG Watch Style review: Latch open

As for comfort, the Style’s size and form relative to the majority of its Android Wear siblings, twinned with the soft leather strap make this one of the most comfortable and unobtrusive smartwatches we’ve worn to date, alongside the Pebble Time Round.

What works?

Its attractive, slim, lightweight design will appeal to those put off by the bulk of most other equivalent wearables. Its straps are super easy to swap out too.

What doesn’t?

The rotating crown looks like the biggest potential point of failure as it could snag on clothing or catch on something and break off.

LG Watch Style Review: Screen

The 1.2-inch fully circular 360x360 P-OLED display is rather stunning. Not only does the resolution ensure that numbers and text appear pin-sharp and readily legible, despite appearing on one of the smallest displays in the Android Wear contingent but offering up true blacks means that with the Style’s always-on functionality the display boasts an almost bezelless appearance.

LG Watch Style review: Screen

Colours seem accurate and although contrast could be a little stronger the display also offers excellent viewing angles with minimal reflectivity, making glancing at the time or incoming notifications practically effortless.

Unlike your smartphone, which spends plenty of time tucked away safely in a pocket or bag, your smartwatch is always out and exposed to the elements, meaning that there’s a much greater chance of it catching on objects or against surfaces out in the world. Luckily, so far the Gorilla Glass 3 has proved impressively resilient meaning that our Style remains totally scratch-free.

What works?

A clear, sharp, accurately-coloured display, with a capable always-on mode protected by dependable Gorilla Glass.

What doesn’t?

Its size makes it tricky to navigate around compared to its rivals and its bezels could be thinner.

LG Watch Style Review: OS and features

Android Wear 2.0 is a significant departure from Google’s first-generation wearable operating system. There are certain elements that remain but for the most part, it’s undergone a significant metamorphosis, with the collective effect being an easier to navigate, more capable software experience.

Read next: Android Wear 2.0 - What's new?

From the moment you power the Style up you’ll spot thoughtful touches; like the fact that the time is displayed as part of the boot animation. The rotational input facilitated by the Style’s crown means less time obscuring the small display by having to swipe around (although you can if you want to), whilst long-pressing the crown also grants access to the Google Assistant which first debuted on Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL phones last year.

The assistant is a great way, and in some cases the only way, to pull-off certain actions, such as requesting directions to a specific location; in these situations it would have been nice to be able to achieve the same result from within each native app but it’s simply a quirk of the OS that takes a little getting used to. Alongside voice, you can also input text using an on-screen keyboard, which considering the Style’s diminutive size isn’t ideal, however, thanks to Android Wear’s robust text prediction engine actually works surprisingly well if using your voice isn’t suitable.

LG bestowed the Style with a concise but attractive array of watch faces, many of which allow for cosmetic customisations relating to accent colours or backgrounds, and as the watch runs Android Wear 2.0 you can easily swap out complications to display the likes of the weather, your daily activity goal or an alternate time zone, all at once. You also have the option to download additional watch faces and complications directly from the Style as you would any other app.

LG Watch Style review: On wrist

Read next: Best Android Wear 2.0 Apps (2017)

Speaking of apps, local app support is another notable addition to the Android Wear experience. You can navigate to the Play Store on your Wearable directly and peruse first and third-party offerings which you can then be downloaded instantly. This approach not only widens the functionality of Android Wear devices like the Style but also helps untether your watch and phone altogether.

Another key part of Google’s focus with Android Wear 2.0 was in placing a greater emphasis on fitness tracking. Despite some notable hardware omissions, if you want to keep tabs on your general step count or sleep activity then the Style has you covered. In fact, the native Google Fit app now offers expanded functionality to track all sorts of activities, including stationary workouts such as press-ups, sit-ups, weight training and treadmill running, and should those not fit the bill popular third-party apps like Strava and RunKeeper are also available.

What works?

Android Wear 2.0 is a huge improvement over the original operating system in a number of ways and the LG Watch Style shows off most of them well.

What doesn’t?

Some interface quirks will take getting used to and third-party app support is patchy.

LG Watch Style Review: Performance and Battery

Whilst the majority of first-generation Android Wearables were powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 SoC, the company spent a little more time creating something a more fit-for-purpose come the third generation of watches; with the Style being amongst the first to sport this new Snapdragon Wear-class processor.

It’s difficult to really find the fringes of chipset’s performance but with such a relative simply user experience to power the Style never seems to struggle, loading apps quickly and offering smooth visuals when navigating around the UI.

LG Watch Style review: Genuine leather

At 240mAh the Style’s small size also means it contains one of the smallest batteries amongst the Android Wear contingent and yet you can expect comparable battery life to many, bigger, more feature-laden wearables with either a full day (and night) of use for most users or even longer, depending on your display settings and app usage. A full charge takes place using the convenient wireless charging dock, refilling the watch in an hour and a quarter.

Read next: How to get better battery life with Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches

Part of the Styles respectable battery life may also come from the absence of key components found on the majority of other smartwatches, in the case of an optical heart-rate sensor, along with a lack of GPS or NFC, the latter of which means that despite serving as a launch device for Android Wear 2.0, this watch it unable to showcase one of its key features in Android Pay support.

What works?

You can expect smooth performance from the 1.1GHz quad-core Snapdragon 2100 processor and respectable battery life.

What doesn’t?

The Style lacks an optical heart-rate sensor, something almost every other current Android Wearable now boasts, as well as forgoing NFC meaning it’s unable to showcase one of Android Wear 2.0’s most powerful features.

LG Watch Style Review: Verdict

If you’re looking for a current-generation Android Wear device, the LG Watch Style is arguably one of the most basic offerings available. Whilst that means fitness fans looking for GPS and a heart-rate sensor will be better served by the likes of the Polar M600 or Huawei Watch 2 and there’s no NFC, simplicity does have its advantages.

LG Watch Style review: On wrist 2

As we mentioned at the other end of this review, within the realm of smartwatches, the Style is great value for money. It offers a clean, fluid and robust user experience, wrapped up one of the slimmest and sleekest Android Wear-based packages available, all for under £180.

Read next: Best Android Wear 2.0 Smartwatches (2017)

Key Specs

  • Smartwatch
  • 1.2-inches (circular)
  • 360x360
  • Android Wear 2.0
  • Android 4.3 (or newer), iOS 9 (or newer)
  • IP67-certification, always-on display, wireless charging, Google Assistant

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