Google has finally revealed its latest Android Wear 2.0 operating system to all, and with it comes two new watches to show it off to its fullest: The LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style.
Both offer the latest design and specs to display the OS at its best. With variations in price and sensors, LG is giving you the option of a design-focused smartwatch or a more tech-heavy, sports-focused wearable.
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When it comes to design, as the name suggests, the LG Watch Style is the one to go for. This is the smallest Android Wear watch yet, which means it feels good on the wrist. Slipping it under a sleeve and back out is a doddle, making it a genuine wear-all-day kind of watch.
LG Watch Style in its three different finishes
The LG Watch Style looks attractive: it has a brushed metal frame finish and a new 1.2-inch 360 x 360 P-OLED display that makes the bezels fall away. Designed specifically to show off the Android Wear 2.0 operating system, it uses that entire face to offer maximum use of space for information delivery, without compromising on the aesthetics.
The Watch Style is available in three colours: silver with natural leather, rose gold with cream leather, or black on black. Thanks to quick-release straps, combinations can be mixed and new straps are likely incoming.
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The LG Watch Sport has two extra side buttons and a larger display
The LG Watch Sport is also a well-designed bit of kit, featuring the same P-OLED display. But here it's larger at 1.38 inches and higher resolution at 480 x 480, and crams in more sensors. As such, its sits at 14.8mm tall, which is understandable when you consider all this watch does. LG has managed to keep its size under control by squeezing the antennas into the bands.
It also features extra side buttons that are nestled into the watch so they don't protrude too much, meaning you’re left with a comfy fit that I’d imagine remains so even when running, but will require a longer period of time testing.
The Watch Sport will be available in titanium and dark blue options that are exclusive to the Google Store.
Both watches feature rotating crown buttons that allow for easy access to apps, while also keeping fingerprints away from the watch faces. A similar interaction method to the Apple Watch.
Both the Sport and Style use Qualcomm's 1.1GHz Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor. Their specs differ when it comes to RAM, however, with the Sport packing in 768MB and the Style making do with 512MB. Both models come with 4GB of storage on board, which is common for Android Wear devices.
Differences also arise when it comes to batteries, though. The Sport has a large 430mAh battery, while the Style's is only 240mAh. This makes sense considering the Sport has so many more sensors. Both watches will supposedly get you through a day of use.
The LG Watch Style is all about about the look and therefore includes more basic sensor capabilities with step counting about the extent of what you’ll get without being connected to a phone when it comes to fitness.
The LG Watch Sport, however, is crammed full of tech. It features GPS, NFC with Android Pay, an optical heart rate monitor and antennas built into the band for LTE network connectivity. This means, alongside the improvements with Android Wear 2.0, there's far less dependency on your connected smartphone.
So you can go out for a run and track it using GPS, pair wireless headphones using Bluetooth, keep tabs on your heart rate, and even stream Spotify music using the built-in LTE modem. You can even make payments using NFC – so no need for your wallet, either.
Despite all that, it should still offer all-day battery life – the same as the Watch Style model – but this will require more time being spent with the watch to test. We’ll have to wait for a review unit to decide just how accurate that heart rate monitor is, too.
Google has released a whole host of updates for its new mobile wearable OS and the LG Watch designs are all about showing off those features.
The new watch face personalisation means everything can be far more accessible from the watch face.
Now you can set third-party app data to appear, resulting in at-a-glance information beyond just time, date and perhaps battery or steps. You'll be more easily able to view the time of your next meeting, how far away your Uber is, quickly call a contact, and more – the options are plentiful and exciting.
Related: Android Wear 2.0 Guide
The new interface is minimal, drawing on Google's Material Design aesthetic, but with greater information available. It looks super-impressive and will likely make the watch a viable alternative to taking your phone out, saving both battery and hassle.
For the LG Watch Sport, Google Fit has been improved and even has a dedicated quick-start button. You can track your running pace, speed, time, heart rate and more while running or cycling, but you can even measure weight training reps at the gym. Android Wear 2.0 can potentially track press-ups, deadlifts, chin-ups, bicep curls – the whole package.
Google Fit also plays nice with other apps, so you should be able to share data with likes of MapMyFitness more easily.
Android Wear 2.0 is built for network connectivity, so you can use the watch for training or similar, while still being alerted to calls and messages – minus a connected phone. It won’t matter if you have an iPhone or Android phone, either, with greater cross-compatibility.
Responding to messages should be simple, too, thanks to voice dictation, typing and handwriting recognition options. All work well. Which you choose to use will come down to personal preference and, perhaps, the situation you’re in at the time.
As ever, even in noisy environments, the Google Assistant voice recognition is excellent and, thanks to network connectivity, should remain that way even without a phone. So controlling everything using your voice is a reality now, one that will only get better as the Assistant builds greater familiarity. To access the Assistant, just hold the side button or say “OK Google” and you’re good to go.
With regards to the availability of the watches in the UK, LG has stated that “they will be available in the coming weeks”. US details are at least more concrete: the LG Watch Style will cost $249, while the LG Watch Sport will cost $349. Both watches will be released on 10 February – which is very soon indeed.
The LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style really could spell the beginning of properly useful smartwatches, which take away the need for always carrying your phone.
Both watches have so far shown themselves as excellent showcases for Android Wear 2.0's big new features. Of course, which watch will be for you will depend on whether you need the extra sports functionality of the more expensive watch. It's still a shame that NFC hasn't made it to the cheaper Watch Style model, as it therefore misses out on the convenience of Android Pay.
Be sure to check back for a full review as soon as we're able to test out both watches on our wrists.