The LG G Watch is one of the first smartwatches to be powered by Android Wear — Google’s new operating system for wearables. The G Watch is yet to ship to the first group of buyers from India; however, it was on display at LG’s glittering G3 launch event in Mumbai, and we got some hands-on time with the smartwatch.
The G Watch is powered by Snapdragon™ 400 processor with 1.2GHz CPU, and connects with any Android smartphone running Android 4.3 or above via Bluetooth LE (Low Energy). It sports a 1.65” IPS LCD touchscreen display with 280×280 pixel resolution. It has a 9 Axis (Accelerometer/Compass/Gyro) sensor, but there’s no heart rate monitor.
The LG G Watch is not small by any means, but is reasonably slender given the kind of hardware it is packing inside. However, it’s hard to get excited about the design, especially with Moto 360 on the way. The watch-face is square and blocky, and the straps are rubberised. Unlike the Samsung Gear Live, the G Watch’s rear is completely flat, which makes the watch protrude awkwardly from the edges of your wrist. The Gear Live has a gentle curve, which makes it fit better on normal wrist sizes. The display is decent, but also of lower resolution than Samsung’s offering. However, at such small screen sizes, this will not be a major issue.
The G Watch doesn’t have any buttons, and is meant to be controlled solely through voice and the touchscreen. Tapping on the screen wakes up the device and you can either speak your commands, or you can select from a list of available activities. Alternatively you can also say ‘OK Google’ to directly jump into Google Now. Available activities include setting alarm, checking your calendar, starting stopwatch, checking your fitness data, and taking notes on Keep. You can extend this list by installing Android Wear compatible apps. You can scroll through the list and access any of the apps with a simple tap. You can scroll through various cards, and swipe to the left to bring up more options. You even do stuff like dictate replies to mail or a hangout. A swipe towards the right exits the current app and brings you to the homescreen. The homescreen displays the current time, along with notifications from Google Now. This can include information about upcoming events and meetings, flight information, and weather. There are also multiple watch faces that you can select from.
The G Watch is snappy, and I didn’t spot any lag. However, I did notice that the touchscreen sometimes failed to register my swipes, if I can’t careful. The 400 mAh battery is expected to last for about two days, which is more than some of the other products in the market, but hardly good enough for a watch. The G Watch is charged via a special cradle with magnetic plates that securely attaches with the watch. The charging dock itself is powered by a standard microUSB cable. The dock feels quite sturdy, however, if you manage to lose or break the dock, you might end up with an expensive brick on your hand, as replacement docks aren’t available for purchase at the moment.
The G Watch is meant to showcase Android Wear, and that’s what it does. However, it fails to make you go ‘wow’ with either style or functionality. Android Wear is a powerful platform and is capable of doing lots of cool stuff. However, both the platform and the hardware have quite a few shortcomings. The design is unappealing, the display is average, there are very few apps available at the moment, and the battery is not great. However, all of this is pretty much expected from a first generation device running on the very first version of an OS. The LG G Watch is meant to showcase Android Wear, and that’s exactly what it feels like – an early, unfinished device that offers a glimpse of the potential of the platform. The Android Wear platform is brand new, and there are plenty of usability issues that it needs to figure out. Even simple stuff like opening an app or chatting with someone via hangout can end up being a frustrating experience. The LG G Watch is priced at ₹ 14,999, and in its present avatar is not for everyone. Buy this only if you enjoy being an early adopter and want to be ahead of the curve.