By Carlos Rebato
Smartwatches are still trying desperately to be cool. LG's latest attempt at pulling it off is the LG Watch Urbane. And it comes in two flavours: a basic model, and a luxury version with LTE. We tried them both here in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress and the results are, at first sight, interesting, but not quite exciting.
LG Watch Urbane
Let´s start with the basic model, the LG Watch Urbane. Let me put this bluntly: This thing is bulky. And that's a shame because otherwise it's a really great watch. But since it has exactly the same specs as its predecessor, the LG Watch R, I'd expected the new models to focus on really improving specs and design. The LG Watch Urbane does not do any of that and instead it tries to replicate the formula just with some external changes and slightly thinner unibody case.
The whole thing is powered by Android Wear, nothing new here, and we can find the same heart rate monitor on the back of the device. It packs a P-OLED 1.3-inch screen (320x320, 254dpi) and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 at 1.2 Ghz with a 410 mAh battery. LG says it promises up to 30 full hours of battery in normal use, but we´ll have to test that. The LG G Watch R had good battery life though, so I'd expect a solid days-worth at least.
It comes in two colours, silver and gold. The silver one is elegant, but the gold one is only for those who really like shiny-shiny watches. LG hasn't announced price and availability yet, but this will be the first model to hit the market globally, before the LTE edition.
LG Watch Urbane LTE
Along with the new LG Watch Urbane, LG has also unveiled a slightly different model: The LG Watch Urbane LTE. This one doesn't run Android Wear, but instead runs WebOS, which makes both watches very similar and oddly different at the same time.
It packs and amazing 700 mAh battery, a nice upgrade compared to the 410 mAh the Urbane has, but LG's word on battery life is actually about one day, a bit less than what it promises for the basic model. That 4G takes a toll on battery for sure. And why WebOS? LG says Android Wear was't well suited for NFC, payments, or LTE connectivity. Still, the Urbane LTE does work with most Android Wear apps (you can still download them from Google Play). Meanwhile LG has added also its own apps for calendar or sports-oriented apps like one measuring your swing while playing golf, another app for counting your steps or tracking your GPS position and calories burned while trekking.
The watch is slightly slimmer and more compact than the basic model. It's built in aluminium, with a standard rubber strap. The way to move around apps, with different bubbles, reminds actually to what we've seen so far from the Apple Watch. The interface though is fluid and intuitive.
It will be available first in South Korea and then in the rest of the world a few months later than the LG Watch Urbane. No word yet on pricing, but expect this one to be around or above the £300 mark. Then again the question is: Do you really need a phone in your wrist to make calls?