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LG Watch Sport review: LG Watch Sport isn't good enough for phone or fitness

It can show real-time data for a variety of workouts, but customization options are limited. Why not have pace, distance, elapsed time and heart rate data visible on a single page when running? This wasn't possible with the Fit Workout app or any of the third-party apps we tested, like Strava and Runkeeper.

To make matters worse, the Watch Sport isn't swim-proof like the Apple Watch Series 2. The battery life is also a major concern. A 30-minute run with GPS took it down to 80 percent and after an hour there was only half remaining. It was even worse when streaming music over LTE.

The basic fitness feature may be fine for the occasional runner or biker, but a multisport watch from Garmin would deliver a much more enjoyable experience.

Stand-alone phone mode and other perks

Using GPS, Bluetooth for playing stored music on the watch, and built-in LTE takes its toll on battery life in a hurry. On most days, even in casual use, we burned through the Sport's battery in less than a day. I tweaked settings to get rid of always-on display mode and LTE, but even then, it's hard to get to two days of use.

The Sport also allows some nice stand-alone features, not just for runners but for anyone who wants to use a watch instead of a phone. Android Pay is enabled, and clicking the bottom button on the Sport lets anyone pay at any tap-to-pay Android Pay-enabled spot. It works well.

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Android Pay is easy.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Phone mode worked decently, but Bluetooth connections on the Sport didn't seem fantastic. Conversations and streamed music broke up and got stuttery whenever my arms were lowered, which doesn't happen as much on the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear S3.

Android Wear is better, though -- sometimes

The Sport's middle crown button spins like the Apple Watch's digital crown, making for easy navigation of apps or scrolling messages (Android Wear now supports spinning crowns). It's a useful addition, but pressing in on the crown also activates Google Assistant, Google's new spin on voice-powered AI. Assistant is better by far than Samsung's hobbled S-Voice on the Gear S3, but it only responds via text on the watch face. It's too easy to press the Assistant button accidentally during workouts.

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Finding apps is easier, especially with a spinning side-button crown.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Android Wear is less pushy about Google Now-style reminders, which is great. No more weird commute time cards, or other predictive suggestions. Android Wear 2.0 can access info faster, and launch apps better. But there are still bugs that need to be worked out. Apps that wouldn't launch and interfaces that were unresponsive were a common occurrence during our time with the watch. Even checking the time seemed to sometimes have a bit of lag.

Having a Google-connected smartwatch, for Android phone owners, is probably better than using something like the Gear S3 (which uses Samsung's proprietary Tizen operating system) in the long run. But the Gear S3 is a better product right now, with better hardware and a more polished experience. It just lacks the deeper Android functions and apps. In the end, that's a tough compromise.

As for the LG Watch Sport, it's not the all-in-one watch we were hoping it would be. It's not for hardcore runners, or those looking for the best watch-phone. It's way too big. And its battery isn't good enough.

Android Wear needs better heroes than this.

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