LG G Watch R Hands-on Preview: Round and Round It Goes

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Amid the bountiful sea of smartwatches presented at IFA, the LG G Watch R, the other round Android Wear smartwatch, took the limelight. What makes it special at first glance is its design, which is reminiscent of the classic watch form factor. However, the display’s edge does have a dial inscribed around it, which seems rather pointless given that it takes up about 30% of the overall display space and cannot be used or rotated in practice.

LG G Watch R previewThe G Watch R looks larger than the average watch when you first put it on. The band is a standard size, meaning that the device can be worn with almost any replacement strap. The watch is also very light, despite its humongous body, because it’s primarily made of plastic, with the only glass coming on the display itself. All in all, the overall build and mass make the G Watch R comparable to most traditional timepieces.

Apart from its natural-looking design, the G Watch R’s display is also worthy of praise. The circular 1.3-inch POLED (or, plastic OLED) screen has a resolution of 320 x 320 pixels and leaves an outstanding impression. It’s quite sharp, with a relatively great pixel density (245 ppi) for the usual distance between someone and their watch, and color interpretation is exceptionally well saturated. Viewing angles are even more praiseworthy, as the watch maintains a high quality regardless of how you’re glancing down at your wrist. It also holds up well in under direct lighting.

LG G Watch R previewThe watch is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset and 512 MB of RAM, which should be plenty sufficient for running Android Wear and all of the options it offers fluidly. Everything we know about Android Wear applies to the LG G Watch R, meaning it will focus gathering notifications from connected phones, sending swift messages (though that can only be done through voice control), and compiling other standard information our smartphones usually provide for us. The device also has 4 GB of storage space, which should be plenty for such a tiny gadget.

Negative points are awarded for the 410mAh battery, however, which likely won’t last more than a day and a half given the demands of the display and chipset, if other recent smartwatches are any indication. It remains to be seen exactly how long the LG G Watch R can last in practice without recharging, but we’re probably looking at daily maintenance here.

LG G Watch R previewLG’s round smartwatch has just one control key, located on the right side of the rim. It can be pressed halfway and fully, and can shift you to the homescreen and access settings. Still, most functions rely on the usual swipes and taps. The watch correctly captured what kind of movement I performed with my finger across the display about eight out of every ten times, so the response accuracy seemed pretty average overall.

Finally, the G Watch R is also equipped with a heart-rate monitor on its back, allowing it to constantly contact the skin on your wrist and send that data to an accompanying app. When the applications are inactive, the device will show the time on its standard watchface after five seconds, with nine stock watchfaces available in total.

In the end, the G Watch R showed more any promise of timepiece presented at IFA (the Moto 360 wasn’t on hand, after all), and it’s poised to arrive as one of the most attractive smartwatches yet. LG says it’ll arrive in mid-October, though it hasn’t revealed exactly how much it’ll cost just yet.

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