LG Watch Sport Review Android Wear 2.0 Power

Wearables are the coolest gadgets of this decade and everyone seems to be building one, even though in many cases, new products are super-similar to the ones already on the market.

Following in the footsteps of Apple, Samsung, and others is LG, which wanted to secure its own share of the smartwatch business with the LG Watch Sport, a model whose name clearly suggests what it’s designed for.

The Watch Sport is not LG’s first smartwatch, but it is actually one of the first smartwatches launching with Android Wear 2. It also features LTE and Android Pay support for one of the most compelling feature lineups currently on the market, all for a price that makes it more affordable than many of its rivals: $249 with a 2-year contract with AT&T (for LTE support) or $349 for the unlocked version.

Before digging deeper into the details of the LG Watch Sport, let’s review the most important specs of the device to learn what this is all about.

DESIGN

The first thing you’ll notice about the LG Watch Sport is that it looks just like a watch. For better or worse, this is something that you don’t typically find on smartwatches these days, especially because manufacturers struggle to fit in as much technology as possible, and this doesn’t always allow a classic form factor.

Apple fanboys know this the best, as the Apple Watch looks more like a small iPhone than a watch, so for buyers who want a smartwatch with a more classic design, the LG Watch Sport is just perfect.

The device comes with what LG calls “Dynamic Design,” featuring a 480x480 circular screen with 348 pixels per inch and specifically optimized for bright conditions. This means that you’ll always be able to see what’s on the display even in direct sunlight and we can confirm this is indeed the case. Users coming from an Apple Watch or a Samsung Gear S3 will notice the difference in a second, as the clear view is obvious both in standby mode and with the display turned on.

People who value form more than function will definitely like the LG Watch Sport. The device is made of stainless steel 316L with brushed metal finish, which makes it look rugged and durable. Given its dimensions, the LG Watch Sport features a super-masculine approach, and this is both a good and a bad thing because while men could find it really good looking, women might actually consider it a gigantic can that has to be worn on their tiny wrists.

LG Watch Sport with no support for interchangeable bands> LG Watch Sport with no support for interchangeable bands

The classic watch design also includes a rotating side button, which is very similar to the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch, but without the actual feedback that you get when rotating it. It feels nice and easy to use all the time, mostly because it’s supposed to help navigate apps and menus by rotating it upside or downwards.

The 1.38-inch P-OLED display features Gorilla Glass 3 and it is directly connected to the rubber watch strap, which also includes the antenna. This is one of the reasons that on smaller wrists, the band does not follow the natural shape of the wrist, while also creating another important setback: you cannot change bands for the time being and third-party band support is out of the question.

And last but not least, the watch features two side buttons that you can configure to your liking, and this is where Google’s involvement in the project is first seen. LG makes it very clear from the very beginning that the Watch Sport was created “with our friends at Google,” so several specific features are there because the search company made them possible.

The customizable buttons are both part of this strategy, together with the circular UI that perfectly adapts to the display of the watch.

FEATURES

Let’s start with the specs. The LG Watch Sport comes with a 1.38-inch P-OLED display with 480x480 pixels resolution and 348 ppi and is powered by a 1.1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Quad-Core MSM8909w processor.

It features 768 MB RAM and 4GB storage, but only 2GB is usable because of the operating system and the pre-installed apps.

The watch comes with Bluetooth 4.2 LE and Wi-Fi support, but also with LTE support that’s available in the US via AT&T. It has a built-in microphone and speaker, so it rings and supports voice commands, which are available via Google Assistant.

Like most smartwatches, the LG Watch Sport can detect barometric pressure, track your activity using the gyroscope and the accelerometer and monitor heart rate with a dedicated sensor that’s placed just under the case.

Since it’s built with help from Google, the Watch Sport is first and foremost supposed to be used with Google Fit and there are several reasons why you should stick with this app and not a different app, such as the ones built by LG.

If Google Fit is not installed on the smartphone, the watch can track only a limited number of activities, such as biking and running, with super-limited support for indoor activities. Once you install Google Fit and set it up by creating a profile, the LG Watch Sport unlocks a series of other activities, including stationary bike, treadmill, and many others. This makes Google Fit a must-have for all LG Watch Sport owners, and this could be somewhat of a drawback, though it’s very clear from the beginning that some sort of Google integration is expected.

LG Watch Sport SIM support> LG Watch Sport SIM support

Thanks to Google Fit, the watch can automatically recognize the activity and offer real-time tracking, though we found this slightly inaccurate. The personalized coaching that the watch offers is much inferior to the one that comes with a Fitbit tracker, but we’ve heard many people telling us that such a comparison does not make sense at all given Fitbit’s know-how in the activity tracking market.

The stats you get most often align with what other smartwatches provide, with a bigger difference in the case of calories. For a 30-minute indoor cycling session, the LG Watch Sport estimated a total burned calorie count of 250, whereas the Apple Watch indicated 312. Samsung’s Gear Fit 2 was close to Apple’s device with 320 estimated burned calories.

The LG Watch Sport comes with A-GPS support and it works flawlessly. The GPS module is top notch and it connects in a second, as compared to older smartwatches that needed at least a couple of minutes to get signal and lock the connection. The GPS helps provide mapping data for your exercises, so for biking, for instance, you can check out the route and see what and where you need to improve.

Just like the Apple Watch, Fitbit Blaze, and the majority of other smartwatches and trackers, the LG Watch Sport can provide activity reminders, which are mostly useful for office workers who spend several hours sitting at the desk.

As for the smartwatch capabilities, the Watch Sport comes with LTE support, so you can insert a SIM by rotating the back cover using the dedicated tool included in the box. This does not affect waterproofing, as the watch comes with IP68 water resistance.

Thanks to this feature, you can make and receive calls and text straight from and to the watch, and this is quite a cool thing that’s missing on the majority of watches out there. Most manufacturers rely on the Bluetooth connection with the smartwatch for such capabilities, but very few can run and make calls on their own.

LG also wanted the watch to be a music player, so it supports FLAC, MP3, WAV and a handful of other formats. Only 2 GB of storage are available though, so you could very well use the more space available on your smartwatch to stream music, with dedicated playback controls also offered on the watch.

You obviously get notifications for any apps that’s installed and running, and this is where Google helped LG make the watch better than the Apple Watch, for example. You can configure complications, which are interactive widgets, for a plethora of apps, so you can personalize the watch face with any information you like, including but not limited to weather info (current temperature or real feel), mail info, and pretty much everything.

Google Fit is mandatory.

The smart reply feature is working really good and you get contextually relevant reply options for messaging. This is also powered by Google and is accompanied by other input methods, such as handwriting and keyboard.

Other than that, you get all kinds of neat features that are also worth mentioning, such as a strong vibration, but also nice sounds when ringing or receiving messaging. There’s also a find my phone feature to make your smartphone ring when you can’t find it, as well as reminders, alarms, timers, and stopwatch.

LG Watch Sport limited workout support without Google Fit> LG Watch Sport limited workout support without Google Fit

The two big features missing from the device are sleep tracking and swimming support. While the first kind of makes sense because nobody wants to sleep with such a big watch on their wrist, not the same thing can be said about the latter, especially because the watch is IP68 certified. LG, however, seems to be playing the safe card here, as it says that despite the rating, it only offers protection against water immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5 meters. So swimming is quite risky business given all of these.

BATTERY LIFE

The battery is the part where LG needs to concentrate more for the next generations. The Watch Sport comes with a non-removable 430 mAh battery which at first glance should be big enough to get you through the day.

And yet, we’ve experienced mixed performance, and user reviews posted online seem to confirm that the Watch Sport struggles in terms of autonomy.

The best we could get was a full 24-hour battery life, but with no activity tracking, while a 30-minute exercise session cuts autonomy by up to 4 hours. This means that on average, you should expect 20 hours per charge, but this is substantially reduced if you exercise more or receive more notifications.

It just struggles.

The ambient mode certainly helps preserve battery life, but optimizations need to be made in the sensor department. It’s a well-known thing that the GPS sensor is a battery killer, but this time battery life is dramatically impacted even if you exercise indoors without GPS.

Fortunately, it only takes some 70 minutes to charge the watch fully using the wireless charger in the box, and the best of all, it uses a USB-C connector, which in our case was super-handy because the test was made with a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus featuring the same port.

SOFTWARE

The LG Watch Sport is designed “with out friends at Google,” and part of the mix is Android Wear 2.0, the new version of the smartwatch OS that competes against Apple’s watchOS.

For someone who used the first iteration of Android Wear or Apple’s watchOS, Android Wear 2.0 is a dramatic makeover, and it’s amazing how much this wearable platform has evolved.

AW 2.0 looks and feels like home on the LG Watch Sport and it perfectly adapts to its circular display, while also bringing features that are specifically aimed at this device. For example, you can customize the two side buttons to quickly open certain features, such as activities or apps.

Android Wear 2.0 is also the one to praise for the calling capabilities that LG’s device is offering. LTE support makes it possible to start calls, send and receive messages with a SIM card, even though Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support is also offered.

Android Wear 2.0 power.

The new version comes with pretty much all the features you get on an Apple Watch, though we’ve found it to be substantially easier to use. The tutorial takes only a few seconds to complete, and it’s all because Android Wear was developed from the very beginning to be easy to use. You can browse apps and menus either with touch or the rotating button, dismiss notifications with a simple swipe, or have the watch enter ambient mode by rotating the wrist.

Another key thing that Android Wear has and which Apple users are only dreaming about is the power of customization. There are a million watch faces in the store and each of them can be further customized with different colors, custom styles, and complications, so there’s a good chance that you can create a theme that nobody else has. On Apple Watch, there’s just a handful of faces and most people stick with the modular one that looks 99 percent the same on all devices.

Android Wear is evolving, there’s no doubt about it, and if it weren’t for some of the hardware limitations of the LG Watch Sport, the platform could have offered a mix of features that nobody can beat right now. Not even Samsung or Apple.

LG Watch Sport sensors> LG Watch Sport sensors THE BOTTOM LINE

The LG Watch Sport was received with mixed reactions, not only by the press, but also by users who rushed to purchase it after the launch earlier this year.

While most people like the looks of the watch, though it’s very clear it’s not by any means aimed at women, there are many buyers out there who criticized battery life. And it’s happening for a good reason.

The LG Watch Sport provides lower than expected battery life, especially given that it comes equipped with a unit which exceeds 400 mAh. This is quite a hefty battery for a smartwatch, and even so, the LG watch struggles to get you through the day. Truth be told, it’s also a very capable device, and the LTE support and the GPS sensor brings it to its knees.

But even for lazy people like us who use a smartwatch primarily for notifications and less for activity tracking, the LG Watch Sport has a hard time reaching one full day of battery life.

Other than that, the biggest setback is the lack of support for interchangeable bands. This is because of the watch design, but LG could very well address it in the future by releasing its own genuine bands from a variety of materials, including metal and leather.

What we liked the most is definitely the look of the watch. It’s masculine, it’s rugged, it’s a watch. The power of customization brought by Android Wear certainly contributes, especially because you can choose from an insanely large collection of faces, so you’ll never get bored with the watch.

All in all, the LG Watch Sport isn’t necessarily worth buying, but it’s worth trying. It’s one of the first Android Wear 2.0 devices that reached the market and it’s very clear that right now, only sky is the limit for Google’s smartwatch platform.


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Source : http://news.softpedia.com/news/lg-watch-sport-review-516796.shtml

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