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

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The Good The LG Watch Sport has built-in LTE, GPS and NFC for mobile payments. It features an Apple-like rotating crown for easier navigation, and the Android Wear 2.0 software is more user-friendly than its predecessor.

The Bad It is big, bulky and uncomfortable to wear. The straps aren't interchangeable, and the battery doesn't last a full day. Water resistant but not swimproof.

The Bottom Line The LG Watch Sport has tons of features, but it isn't the great all-in-one Android Wear watch-phone we were hoping for.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.4 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Battery 5.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Software 7.0
  • Features 9.0

We don't need the entire world on our wrists. But that hasn't stopped some companies from trying.

The ongoing dream of the do-it-all megasmartwatch continues with the LG Watch Sport, an LTE-equipped, GPS-enabled smartwatch running Google's Android Wear 2.0. It's one of two LG watches that will get Google's new version of its watch software first. In that sense, the Watch Sport (and the far more pared-down LG Watch Style) are flagship watches, made by LG but "designed with our friends at Google."

The Sport, at $350, £350 (equivalent to AU$568, with Australian pricing and availability yet to be announced), is the same price as the LTE and GPS-enabled Samsung Gear S3, and has about as many features. The Gear S3 runs on Samsung's own separate app store for its watch, though, while LG's watch runs on Android Wear 2.0 and uses Google Play apps.

We've worn the LG Watch Sport for a couple of weeks, paired with a Google Pixel XL, and frequently on its own with AT&T service on its included LTE SIM card and antenna. Like the Samsung Gear S3 and LG's previous Watch Urbane LTE, it's one of the few rare smartwatches that's also a stand-alone phone. (Yes, you'll need to add another device to your monthly bill; in the US, AT&T charges $10 a month, T-Mobile $5 a month.) The Sport aims to be a better fitness watch, too, largely with its onboard GPS.

But who, really, is it for? That's the problem. It's not great as a fitness watch, or as a super-standalone cell phone watch. And it's not the type of hardware that Android Wear 2.0 desperately needs.

lg-watch-sport-04.jpg

Thickest watch I've seen.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Big, big watch

The Watch Sport is big. Really, really big. Its chunky design is bigger than the Samsung Gear S3, which seems slim in comparison -- and that's not a small watch. Its fixed rubberized wristband is designed in a permacurve, and feels like a gauntlet on almost any wrist. Seen head-on, it's clean-looking and industrial. But it really feels too large for most people to consider. The rubber wristband isn't swappable, either, so you're stuck with what you get. The Sport comes in blue or titanium gray. Our review model was the gray one.

LG Watch Style vs. Sport, compared

LG Watch Style LG Watch Sport
Display 1.2-inch full circle POLED 1.38-inch full cricle POLED
Resolution 360x360 (299 ppi) 480x480 (348 ppi)
Dimensions 42x46x11mm 45x51x14mm
Protection Gorilla Glass 3 Gorilla Glass 3
Strap size 18mm standard Integrated
Build Stainless steel, plastic back Stainless steel
Processor Snapdragon Wear 2100 Snapdragon Wear 2100
Memory 512MB 768MB
Storage 4GB 4GB
Battery 240mAh 430mAh
Operating system Android Wear 2.0 Android Wear 2.0
Scroll wheel Yes Yes
Microphone Yes Yes
Loudspeaker No Yes
Vibration Yes Yes
Wi-Fi Yes Yes
NFC No Yes
GPS No Yes
LTE No Yes
Heart-rate sensor No Yes
Ambient light sensor Yes Yes
Water-resistant IP67 IP68
US price $250 $350

To be sure, the Sport is designed for runners and for those who want a stand-alone watch for outdoor use. But the Sport seems big and clunky compared to the Apple Watch Series 2. Is it worth the size compromise to add the LTE phone functions?

lg-watch-sport47.jpg

Customized workout readouts via Google Fit.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Fitness: Not as deep as expected

The Sport tracks fitness and loads apps just like any other Android Wear 2.0 device, using Google Fit and other third-party apps. Many apps will download directly to the watch now, but during our time with Android Wear 2.0 we haven't found many great apps to try. Google Fit can be launched from one of three buttons on the Watch Sport: starting a walk, run or one of several other activities (biking, treadmill running, stationary biking, aerobics, stair climbing, strength training and "sit-up challenge" and "push-up challenge") is easy.

Google Fit shows three bits of data during a workout, which can be customized (heart rate, distance or elapsed time). But the interface seems clunky, and Google's daily goal metrics are basic: 10,000 steps, or another user-set goal, but nothing like Apple's three-ring motivational system.

The Sport has automatic activity tracking via Google Fit, but not on-watch, nor does it provide healthy reminders like the Samsung Gear S3 does with S-Health, or even like Apple Watch does with reminders to stand or breathe or meditate. It would be nice to get more awareness when going on a long walk or a brisk walk, and maybe some on-watch feedback. The added coaching challenges for sit-ups, push-ups or crunches are a nice plus, though, and stair-climbing recognition is onboard.

lg-watch-sport44.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

Is it really a sport watch?

LG has said the watch is "designed for those who enjoy dynamic, athletic lifestyles." But what does that actually mean? One of us doesn't run much, but the other (Graziano) is an avid runner, cyclist and frequent hiker. Neither of us would buy the LG Watch Sport.

On paper, it would appear more than adequate. The watch is equipped with a wide-range of sensors for measuring movement, altitude and heart rate. This includes an accelerometer, gyroscope, barometric altimeter, GPS and optical heart-rate sensor.

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