- Strong performance
- Great screen
- Two day battery life
- First for Android Wear 5.1.1
- Middling aesthetics
LG’s hitting its stride in the smartwatch space and the arrival of the LG Watch Urbane makes that abundantly clear. Here’s our review of LG’s latest Android Wear(able).
Design: Real steel
With the advent of the Apple Watch, aesthetics have become a key concern for many of Apple’s biggest rivals. LG was one of the first Android Wear OEMs to market with the original G Watch, then moved from a square to a round display with the G Watch R early last year and now the Urbane takes the principles behind the R and dresses them in a shiny new suit.
It’s certainly a more ostentatious smartwatch than its predecessor, particularly if you partake in the gold option. Whilst the bezel around the display features nice brushed detailing however, the rest of the watch’s body is finished with a mirrored polish. Paired to its rather bulky proportions at first glance the Urbane looks sophisticated, but on closer inspection, it’s not as finely crafted as we’d like.
The included strap complements the design of the Urbane well, but beyond the ‘real leather’ mark embossed on its underside, it certainly isn’t the nicest band around. Thankfully LG’s design team saw fit to use conventional watchstrap dimensions though, so it’s relatively easy to swap out should you choose to customise it.
Charging takes place via a magnetised cradle that looks almost identical to the one used by the G Watch R and the underside of the watch also houses an optical heart rate sensor.
Like its predecessor, the crown on the watch’s right side doesn’t twist, but it can sleep or wake the watch with a press or bring up the settings menu with a long press too.
Screen: Around about the same
The 1.3-inch P-OLED we met on the G Watch R has also made a reappearance, although this time overall brightness appears to have been improved, pushing for even greater legibility outdoors.
The 320×320 resolution also means LG retains the trophy for the sharpest smartwatch on the market right now and colour reproduction is also pretty solid too.
OS: New and improved
Arguably the most notable upgrade over the rest of the current Android Wear crowd is that the Urbane is the first of its kind to offer the newly released version of Google’s wearable OS.
In light of the Apple Watch’s take on a wearable experience, the Urbane has reorganised things on Android Wear without compromising on simplicity and ease of use. You still have familiar gestures like tap and tilt-to wake, but you can now scroll through Google Now cards and notifications with a flick of the wrist, giving you a degree of hands-free operation unavailable from the Urbane’s rivals.
Watch faces can now display colours when set to ‘always on’ and although the list of supported apps is still presently a little small, offerings like Google Keep can remain on-screen, even when the device is left to rest.
The interface also includes simpler profile switching, the apps menu is a swipe left from your chosen watch face and you have quick access to frequent contacts, letting you call, text and even draw emojis on your watch to send to them there and then (Google offers up multiple options, trying to judge which emoji you were aiming at with your doodle).
Performance: Tuned up
Alongside a more refined software experience, performance seems marginally better than its predecessor too. Interestingly the Urbane features almost identical hardware to the G Watch R, down to the Snapdragon 400 processor. As such we’re putting the slicker user experience and solid battery performance up to optimisations on the OS side – nicely done LG.
Speaking of battery, the Urbane comfortably hits two days of use on a single charge and can be juiced back up to full in an hour or so. With the exception of some of the earlier Android Wear watches out there, two days seems about the status quo. Naturally there are fitness trackers and other wearables like the Pebble Time and Time Steel that last even longer, but for such a powerful device with this rich a user experience, it seems about right.
The new version of Android Wear also lets you connect the Urbane up to a WiFi network directly, so provided you’re phones switched on, your watch can keep receiving notifications even when they’re not together.
Verdict: Well rounded
We’ve enjoyed wearing the LG Watch Urbane, particularly thanks to the more grown up look and feel of both the hardware and the Android Wear experience. The styling won’t be to everybody’s tastes, despite LG’s efforts and more importantly the price will raise eyebrows (silver version = £259, gold version = £299).
If you’re uncertain about the smartwatch trend, the Urbane isn’t going to be the device to change your mind, but right now those wanting some Android Wear in their life should seriously place the Urbane near the top of their short list.
|Screen size||1.3-inches (circular)|
|Compatibility||Android 4.3 (or newer), iOS 8.2 (or newer)|
|Bonus features||IP67 certified, WiFi support, heart rate sensor, 22mm watch strap support|