Adding to the already mountainous amount of pre-MWC hype, LG has just revealed its plans to launch the world’s first 4G LTE-enabled smartwatch at Mobile World Congress.
The LG Watch Urbane LTE as its name suggests is a 4G-packing alternative to the recently announced LG Watch Urbane. Despite almost identical naming however, the LTE functionality highlights the fact that this newer Urbane isn’t an Android Wear device at all.
Whilst underlying hardware looks similar to the current Android Wear crop, like its 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip or the 1.3-inch P-OLED display it shares with the G Watch R and the vanilla Urbane, the rest of the spec sheet is more akin to an affordable Android smartphone.
Alongside Bluetooth, connectivity is bolstered by WiFi, 4G LTE (naturally), NFC and GPS as well as 1GB of RAM, 4GB of inbuilt storage and a 700mAh cell, a larger capacity battery than any other smartwatch on the market right now. For added resilience the Urbane LTE (like the Urbane) packs IP67 water and dust resistance too.
The closest product in the Korean rival’s camp is the Samsung Gear S, a SIM-laden curved smart wearable that’s based on Android and supports apps, makes and takes calls and lets you browse the web. It’s a smartphone first, wristwatch second approach, something LG has reversed with the Urbane LTE.
Whilst the Gear S requires a smartphone pairing to utilise certain features like installing additional applications, it sounds like LG is trying to make the Urbane LTE more of a standalone experience. You’ll be able to make and take calls, use Push-To-Talk and send or receive text messages.
In place of Android Wear, this smartwatch packs LG’s own Wearable Platform, which we suspect is the same interface that appeared on Audi’s bespoke wearable at CES earlier this year. Interaction will likely predominantly take place via the watch’s circular touchscreen, however there are also three hardware buttons on the right side of the Urbane LTE’s metal body: the top button brings up a quick settings menu for checking the battery or changing the brightness, the middle button opens up the apps drawer and the bottom button serves as a back key or can be configured to call an emergency contact when long-pressed.
The other angle that LG wants to take the Urbane LTE is with its mobile payment capabilities, ‘Users can make payments for meals, movie tickets and even transit fares faster and easier with their LG Watch Urbane LTE without ever taking out their wallets.’ It feels like the Urbane LTE is serving as the company’s first response to the increasing talk of Apple Pay and the Apple Watch.
Like the Android Wear-powered Urbane, this new model will make its debut at Mobile World Congress, which kicks off this weekend. We’re still in the dark about price and availability, but expect it to cost a pretty penny, particularly if LG bills it as a standalone wearable.