LG Watch Urbane -- yes, Urbane -- takes Android Wear upscale

LG attempts to go chic with its first all-metal round smartwatch, but will consumers care?

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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  • SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
Roger Cheng
3 min read

LG wants to hit the luxury market with the literal-sounding LG Watch Urbane .

LG is trying to go classier with the LG Watch Urbane. LG

The Korean electronics company hopes that its not-so-subtle reference to suave refinement isn't lost on consumers as it pitches its first all-metal smartwatch, which is powered by Google's Android Wear operating system. It will show off more of the watch at the Mobile World Congress trade show that kicks off next month.

It has yet to release pricing or availability details.

The Urbane is just the latest Android Wear smartwatch to hit an increasingly crowded market for wearable devices, underscoring device manufacturers' desire to kickstart a new category of products. But so far, the interest in wearable technology -- particularly Android Wear products -- is muted.

Six products running Google's operating system for wearables accounted for 720,000 units, or 15.6 percent of a total of 4.6 million wearable products shipped in 2014, according to research firm Canalys. Of the six, Motorola was the leader with its own metal-clad round Moto 360 smartwatch.

Interest in smartwatches could pick up with Apple releasing its Apple Watch later this year. The company is expected to release variants of its watch -- which is more rectangular than the Urbane or Moto 360, with rounded corners -- that will aim for a range of potential buyers, from the fitness guru to the fashionista.

LG was the second company to unveil a round smartwatch, the LG G Watch R , following up on the Moto 360. But where the Watch R was intended for more "active customers," the Urbane is designed for someone looking for a more chic look. The Urbane is constructed of stainless steel, and comes in a polished gold or silver finish.

The company's push for a more luxurious feel comes as more players attempt to address more sporty consumers, from the Apple Watch to a big push by fitness tracker makers such as Fitbit. It's also been the recipe for (relative) success for the Moto 360.

"LG Watch Urbane is an important part of our strategy to develop wearable devices that are worn and viewed as everyday accessories, not electronic gadgets," said Juno Cho, CEO of LG Electronics's mobile unit.

LG believes the Urbane rounds out its smartwatch portfolio. LG

LG, like Samsung, has seeded the market with a number of different smartwatches with the hope that one of them will start to gain steam. It's early days in the category, and the companies are eager to plant a flag.

LG is eager for a strong start to the smartwatch market as it hopes to avoid the early missteps in the smartphone business that set it back for years. Only with its recent lineup of flagship products, such as the G3 , does it have a strong footing in the mobile business.

The Urbane uses the same 1.3-inch circle plastic-organic light-emitting diode display as the Watch R, but has a narrower bezel. The band can be swapped out for any 22mm band. The watch works with any smartphone running on Android 4.3, also known as Jelly Bean, or later.

The watch also features an always-on ambient mode that displays the time on a dimmed screen, which conserves its battery life, the company said.

The Urbane runs on a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, has 4GB of memory, a 410 mAh battery, and an accelerometer, compass, barometer and heart sensor. It's also dust and water resistant.