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LG Watch Style review: Dismal battery life and not even Android Pay

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The LG Watch Style is a thin and light smartwatch built in collaboration with Google. It's also one of the first watches to run Android Wear 2.0, Google's revamped smartwatch operating system. Android Wear 2.0 will arrive on a handful of other watches soon, but the Style and its sibling the LG Watch Sport will be the first watches to get the update.

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6.4

LG Watch Style

The Good

The LG Watch Style is slim and has an Apple-like rotating crown for easier navigation. Its Android Wear 2.0 software is more user-friendly than its predecessor.

The Bad

Its tiny battery doesn't last a full day. There's a limited number of useful apps, no NFC for mobile payments, no speaker, no heart-rate sensor and no GPS.

The Bottom Line

There are better (and longer-lasting) smartwatches available to go with both Android and iPhones.

Android Wear 2.0 makes for a better smartwatch than Google's last efforts, but LG's basic smartwatch isn't the best watch to take advantage of the improvements. There's no heart-rate sensor, no speaker for answering calls and no NFC for mobile payments. Its best feature is an Apple Watch-like rotating digital crown. That shows just how basic this watch really is. If you want a smarter smartwatch, you might consider the LG Watch Sport... but that costs more, and is a lot larger.

The LG Watch Style is available now in silver, rose gold and titanium for $249 or £249 (which converts to about AU$400, although LG hasn't announced Australian pricing or availability yet). I've been wearing it for the past two weeks and look forward to taking it off.

Don't forget your charger

The Style is comfortable on my wrist, but the lack of heft and plastic back give it a cheap feel. I definitely prefer the design of the Huawei Watch and Asus ZenWatch 3, which I find more stylish.

It's thin, which I appreciate, but this comes with a major sacrifice. The Style has one of the smallest batteries of any smartwatch at only 240mAh. I consistently saw about 20 hours paired to a Samsung Galaxy S7. Believe it or not, it was even worse on the iPhone (about 15 hours). The watch will barely last an entire day, which is simply unacceptable in today's smartwatch market and the Style's greatest drawback.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The digital crown is key

The highlight feature is one that LG copied from Apple. The crown on the side of the watch can actually rotate and be used to navigate the interface. It's a lot smoother than using a finger, and helpful for scrolling through notifications when wearing gloves.

A single press on the crown will bring you to the app drawer. Android Wear 2.0 adds an on-watch Play Store for downloading apps. I didn't find many useful ones, but it's still early and that could change down the road.

A long press on the crown will open the Google Assistant. The Style doesn't have a loudspeaker, which means you can't answer calls with it and the Assistant won't speak to you -- it can only show information on the screen. It was easier to scroll around and find what I was looking for myself.

This isn't the only feature the watch is missing. While Android Wear 2.0 supports mobile payments through Android Pay, the Style can't do this because it lacks near-field communication (NFC). While Android Wear 2.0 adds new workout and fitness features, there's no heart-rate sensor or GPS. The Style connects via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to your phone, while the step-up (and much larger) Watch Sport adds LTE for a full stand-alone phone connection.

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The LG Watch Sport (left) next to the Style.

Sarah Tew/CNET

LG Watch Style: Should I buy it?

Android Wear 2.0 fixes a lot of what I didn't like about Android Wear watches. No longer do random Google cards about stocks or traffic fill the screen, and instead I receive useful notifications for emails and text messages. But there's still no real reason to buy a smartwatch. They're still just a luxury.

The Style is one of the first watches to run the new software, but it won't be alone. Existing Android Wear watches will see an update in the coming weeks, which makes the Style a hard sell. Between the terrible battery life, cheap feel and limited features, you're better off with a different watch.

For iPhone users, it's the Apple Watch Series 1 or Series 2, while Android users should check out the Huawei Watch (which you can usually find on sale), Asus ZenWatch 3 or Samsung Gear S3. We haven't updated the Huawei or Asus to Android Wear 2.0 yet, but stay tuned as we test other models with the update.

As for the Style, it isn't the Android Wear watch I would pick out of the bunch... although I do like that spinning crown.

Specs

LG Watch StyleHuawei WatchAsus ZenWatch 3Samsung Gear S3
Display 1.2-inch full circle POLED1.4-inch full circle AMOLED1.39-inch full circle AMOLED1.3-inch full circle Super AMOLED
Resolution 360x360 (299 ppi)400x400 (286 ppi)400x400 (287 ppi)360x360 (278 ppi)
Dimensions 42x11mm42x11mm45x11mm46x13mm
Protection Gorila Glass 3Sapphire crystal glassGorilla Glass 3Gorilla Glass SR+
Strap size 18mm standard18mm standard18mm proprietary22mm standard
Build Stainless steel, plastic backStainless steelStainless steelStainless steel
Processor Snapdragon Wear 2100Snapdragon 400Snapdragon Wear 2100Exynos 7270
Memory 512MB512MB512MB768MB
Storage 4GB4GB4GB4GB
Battery 240mAh300mAh341mAh380mAh
Operating system Android Wear 2.0Android Wear (upgrade to 2.0 coming later)Android Wear (upgrade to 2.0 coming later)Tizen
Scroll wheel YesNoNoYes; Rotating bezel
Microphone YesYesYesYes
Loudspeaker NoYesYesYes
Vibration YesYesYesYes
Wi-Fi YesYesYesYes
NFC NoNoNoYes
GPS NoNoNoYes
Heart-rate sensor NoYesNoYes
Ambient light sensor YesNoYesYes
Water-resistant IP67IP67IP67IP68
US price $250$350$230$350 ($400 with LTE)
lg-watch-style-03.jpg
6.4

LG Watch Style

Score Breakdown

Design 7Battery 5Performance 7Software 7Features 6