LG’s second rounded smartwatch is all about style thanks to an all-metal trim and genuine leather strap. The LG Watch Urbane is probably the first smartwatch to take the need for high-end style seriously, but can succeed in achieving supremacy? Here’s WT VOX LG Watch Urbane review.
LG Watch Urbane Review: Round Is Still Right For A Smartwatch
The LG Watch Urbane is the first watch to run Android 5.1.1, which definitely adds a new spin to the software experience, though it doesn’t start from scratch.
With its metal body and stitched leather strap, the LG Watch Urbane clearly hopes to be to Android users what the Apple Watch is to iPhone users. It has a premium feel and thanks to the latest Android Wear software release, it is has many of the same features as the Apple Watch – including hands-free actions, always-on apps, WiFi support and an emoji recogniser.
However, unlike the Apple Watch, the LG Watch Urbane is bold and distinctive. It imitates traditional watch design and bears more than a passing resemblance to some Michael Kors products – a brand that divides critics. This is not a safe crowdpleaser, it is a distinctive fashion item that customers will either love or loathe.
That set the tone for the Watch Urbane; people either loved it or hated it. I’m sure there are designers who consider that a good thing, as any reaction must be preferable to no reaction at all. But the Watch Urbane is more than a simple style update — It has a few new features to go along with the new body. Here’s what it was like to wear the Urbane for a week.
LG Watch Urbane Review: Design And Features
Looking very much like its predecessor, the LG Watch Urbane has been upgraded to a full metal casing which will be available in a nice silver option and a more blingtastic gold. You’d think that the LTE model is the same but with added mobile connectivity, but it’s actually quite different. We’ll review it separately when we can get hold of a sample so stay tuned on that front.
The LG Watch Urbane is large and very big, with a strap so inflexible that it would have had more flex to it, if it were made out of concrete. It’s more comfortable now that the strap has loosened up a bit, but it still has some way to go.
I’ve finally found a watch face that I really like, which helps soften the looks. The Watch Urbane takes a while to get used to — the rose gold is very ‘look at me’ and it really stands out on the wrist — but I’m definitely more positive about the design now than I was at first.
A watch like this is supposed to be big and heavy so be warned – if that’s what you’re looking for then great but some may find this device too bulky and unwieldy for their wrist. It’s 67g and 10.9m which is hardly svelte – although thinner than the G Watch R because it doesn’t have the dished bezel around the screen.
The real problem isn’t the thickness, but the lugs — the sections above and below the watch that the straps connect to. The lugs are unnecessarily bulky, making it’s virtually impossible for the Urbane to remain strapped to your wrist; there’s always some kind of gap in between.
The Urbane has a 1.3-inch P-OLED display. Same as the G Watch R and it’s just as good, as you’d expect. In fact, we’ve yet to see a smartwatch with a display as good as what LG’s done. And because we’re dealing with a round display, we retain the sense that we’re interacting with a watch and not a tiny smart-thing on our wrist. That goes a long way toward a better user experience.
There are two new faces, Chairman and Chronos, which come in either silver or gold to match the watch. I found the Urbane to be far more sensitive to the watch face design than other smartwatches. It takes a while to find one that suits both its look and your own tastes.
The rose gold colour on the LG Watch Urbane isn’t subtle. It stands out from a mile away and although the leather strap contrasts well in brown, the Urbane is crying out for a metal link strap. Yes, it’ll make it even more noticeable, but the supplied strap is too dinky. It just accentuates the size of the face.
The silver model comes with a black leather strap while the gold is paired with a brown strap. You can swap them out for any strap with 22mm pins which is a handy option to have. As expected, the leather is stiff at first but softens over time making it more comfortable.
LG Watch Urbane Review: Specs And Performance
The design is the big change here when comparing the LG Watch Urbane to the LG G Watch R. The hardware and specs remain the same so here you’ll still get a 1.3in P-OLED screen (320 x 320), a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage.
The Urbane carries an IP67 rating, meaning it’s dust resistant and water resistant in water up to three feet deep for up to 30 minutes. There’s a heart-rate sensor on the underside of the watch, but it’s no different than on any other smartwatch; you have to be incredibly still and it takes a couple of seconds before you get a reading.
The screen is crisp and has decent brightness so you can read it easily indoors and out. However, you’ll probably want to switch the always on feature to save battery since there’s no ambient light sensor for automatically adjusting brightness.
The screen shows Android Wear and the Urbane is the first to use version 5.1.1. It’s not massively different from previous versions and anyone who is used to an older Android Wear smartwatch is still going to feel right at home.
The same swipe and tap navigation system remains, notifications appear from the bottom part of the display and there’s an information screen pulled down from the top. The screens have been augmented with some wrist gestures, which quickly fit in with everyday use.
A big new addition is built-in Wi-Fi which means you can still use the LG Watch Urbane even without having it connected to a companion device – minus any phone specific notifications such as calls and txt messages, of course. You can select this option when setting up the watch with the Android Wear app.
A couple other new software features include the ability to draw an emoji when replying to a text message. Of course if you have the time to do that you probably have time to whip out your phone and actually craft a real reply.
Android 5.1.1 also adds “always-on” versions of apps (like the less graphically intensive and battery-hungry watch faces), but I haven’t really run into too much need for them. The new wrist flick to more through notifications also works nicely for when you don’t have both hands free. It’s a specific but well-done feature.
One app that’s specific to the Urbane is LG Call, a phone dialler that borrows design cues from an old rotary phone. You can dial phone numbers, peruse your favourite contacts and check your recent calls, but unfortunately, you can’t make or receive calls with the Urbane.
It kicks you over to your smartphone after you’ve dialled a number. So much for the Dick Tracy dream. For that you’ll have to get an Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Gear/Gear 2 or Gear S.
LG Watch Urbane Review: Battery Life And Price
The processor, screen and battery may all be the same as the G Watch R, but the usage time from the 410mAh cell did vary a little more than the older watch. Two days should be considered achievable, even when using LG Pulse for a short jog.
Seven days in, and it has visited the charger four times. Incidentally, it doesn’t fit the G Watch R’s charging dock, or vice versa, despite looking almost the same. Obviously, if you’re using it constantly to control your music and track your fitness, it’s going to die out much quicker.
Value for money is a bit of a tricky one with the LG Watch Urbane. It’ll set you back £260(or £215 with a special promotion from Amazon) when LG’s earlier G Watch R is only £170 – and the two are very similar in terms of performance if not looks.
It’s hard to justify the extra cost when the two are straight up compared. The G Watch R is still attractive and gets the job done. The Urbane looks more classy sat next to the G Watch R and it’s sure to appeal to those who dislike the latter’s sportier body.
Yes, there are cheaper Android Wear watches, and the Moto 360 is tempting, but none quite match the combination of build quality, design and technical ability seen in the LG Watch pair. Ultimately, you should go out and try both LG watches on. Judging by my own basic research, it’s highly likely you’ll love one more than the other. The good news is you won’t be disappointed if it’s the Urbane that better fits in with your own personal style.
LG Watch Urbane Review: Conclusion And Verdict
If you want to buy an Android-based smartwatch then this is the gadget to go for. It’s not going to be immune from the lightning-fast progress of this section of the technology market, but at least it’ll look the part.
If you want an Android Wear smartwatch that actually looks like a watch, the Urbane fits that bill. It looks like it’s trying a little too hard to be a high-end watch, perhaps, but it’s also the best we’ve currently got. It doesn’t look bad at all, it’s just not quite as detailed as what you’re used to seeing in a watch of this price range.
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