LG's latest smartwatch has gone for a fancy look, but still runs Android Wear. Is that enough to get it past the post? I tried one on in Barcelona for myself.
The LG G Watch R, unveiled last year, was one of a handful of round-faced Android Wear watches. It looked like a regular sports watch. It was also one of CNET's favorites.
LG's new version, the slightly weirdly named LG Watch Urbane, takes that same vivid, fully-round P-OLED display and sticks it in a polished silver or gold finished steel body. It has a stitched leather strap, which can be swapped out for standard 22mm watch bands.
Even though it sounds similar to the LG Watch Urbane LTE, it's a very different watch: the LTE version is larger and runs its own separate operating system plus phone and wallet functions, while the non-LTE Urbane seen here is...well, familiar old Android Wear.
It's now available for pre-order on the Google Store where it'll set you back $359, shipping on May 8. In Australia that's AU$459 and May 11, while the UK are looking to pay £259.99.
The LG Watch Urbane's features seem largely the same as the LG G Watch R: a 1.3-inch 320x320 OLED display at 245 pixels per inch, and a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor. There's also a heart rate monitor for workouts plus a barometer for elevation, plus the Android Wear-standard 4GB of storage and 512MB of RAM.
The LG Watch Urbane has a 410 mAh battery. It's IP67 dust and water resistant, but isn't meant for showering or swimming. It doesn't incorporate on-board GPS, like Sony's SmartWatch 3.
Once again, it looks nearly indistinguishable from a regular watch, but it is flashier and sleeker. The overall polish and finish feel similar to the higher-end tone of the Asus ZenWatch. Price and availability, however, remain unknown.
Hands-on: dress-up Android Wear
It's clear after trying on the re-named LG Watch Urbane, that it's basically the LG Watch R with a fresh coat of paint. The LG Watch R was already metal, but the Urbane's gold or silver-toned steel body shows off the metal more, looking fancier. The watch body's redesigned a bit, making the bezel look less bulky. The OLED display is less sunken into the face, too, making swiping and touching easier.
Both gold and silver models looked good on my wrist, giving off a slightly more elegant dress-up look than the big, bold LG Watch Urbane LTE. The leather band feels different to the previous LG G Watch R, too, but that doesn't really matter: the band's swappable with any 22mm one.
On my wrist, I preferred silver. It's a good-looking Android Wear watch, and one of the dressiest. It also shows up the Moto 360 once again, proving that you can create a fully round display on a normal-looking watch without that annoying black bar. But this is a cosmetic touch-up, not a truly new product.
This might be the best-looking Android Wear watch yet, but until Android Wear makes deeper changes allowing for additional hardware features, the Urbane looks like a fancier skin on the same Android Wear experience. It's clearly well-timed to go up against Apple Watch, and it might indicate other smartwatch-makers are about to start trying for higher-style redesigns, too.
We'll see more during Mobile World Congress.