Before the explosion of round smartwatches at CES 2015, the LG G watch R and the Motorola Moto 360 were the only smartwatches featuring a round display. However, as far as Android Wear devices go, the G Watch R and the Moto 360 are the only round smartwatches running the OS from Google. So how does the G Watch R fare as a smartwatch?
Unlike the Moto 360, the G Watch R looks much more masculine compared to the former’s minimalistic and rather techy design. Many would agree that the G Watch R can easily pass as a conventional watch in comparison to the Moto 360. However, as the G Watch R is a pretty big smartwatch, users with a smaller wrist may find it too bulky.
In terms of build quality, LG definitely hits the mark. The case of the GWR is made out of stainless steel that is anodised in black paint, giving it a solid, reassuring feel.
While the plastic bottom case might be a disappointment to some, it does feel pretty comfortable on the wrist. The charging pins are also visible here.
However, not all is right with LG’s choice of materials for the G Watch R. The band is rather stiff and cheap to the touch, although the company claimed that it is made from genuine leather.
Putting the watch on and off is also quite a chore due to the stiffness of the band. It’s possible that the leather band just needs to be broken into, but out of the box, the band isn’t going to win anyone over.
The G Watch R’s 1.3-inch circular P-OLED display is definitely a sight to behold. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a truly black colour on the OLED display.
As OLED displays essentially switch off individual pixels which are showing blacks, it makes a lot of sense to go with this display technology to maximise battery life in always-on mode (where the G Watch R will constantly display the time).
Hardware wise, the G Watch R is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz paired to 512MB of RAM. Other specifications include an IP67 rating, a heart rate monitor, 4GB of internal storage, and Android Wear 5.0.1 Lollipop. Needless to say, these specifications are pretty good for a smartwatch, even rivalling certain entry-level to even mid-range smartphones.
On the software side of things, Android Wear still leaves a lot to be desired. While the user interface is rather easy to navigate around, it still has rather limited functionality out of the box. Useful apps such as a calculator or a browser are not present, although third-party developers already got this covered.
While it is a rather good thing to have support from other app developers, it’s always better to have a dedicated app from Google or even LG themselves.
As far as first impressions go, the G Watch R is a promising device that is bogged down by a platform that is still in its infancy. I’ll be taking a closer look at LG’s premier smartwatch and spend a little more time with Android Wear – stay tuned for a full review to see if this was some RM850 well spent!