LG G Watch R Review



While LG was quick to jump into the Android Wear ecosystem with the original G Watch, the G Watch R feels more like their first true attempt at an Android smartwatch. It refines much of what was introduced with the G Watch while opting for a circular form factor that serves to merge the traditional with the futuristic. Albeit for a few flaws inherent in nearly all Android Wear devices, the G Watch R is about as good as it gets for a smartwatch.



The LG G Watch R is the first piece of Android Wear hardware that, at least in terms of designs, recognizes it is a watch first and a smart computing device second. A lot of attention has been paid to the details of the design, from an analog-inspired bezel that serves to mask the issue of bulky screen-edge electronics to a genuine leather 22mm strap. If the latter doesn’t suit your taste, it can be swapped out for a nearly endless selection of watchbands currently available for your more run-of-the-mill (i.e. non-smart) watch offerings. A mock crown serves as a screen on/off switch and can also be used to power down the device or access system menus.

Going back to the bezel, it is one of the few instances where an Android Wear watch pays service to the more traditional form factor, but it also showcases a unique integration between hardware and software that hasn’t been explored with previous smartwatch offerings. The hands of the virtual watch faces sync up seamlessly with the physical markings on the bezel to great effect.

While the Moto 360 has won over plenty of fans with its round design, the G Watch R exploits the form factor to create perhaps the most complete Android Wear device to date. Its mix of flat black accents and quality leather for the strap imbue a refined classiness. This is a watch that looks sharp with any outfit, including a suit. On that note, the design of the watch is decidedly masculine, a trend all too common with the first crop of Android Wear devices. One can’t help but feel like the bulky, stark looks of many Android Wear devices completely ignore the female segment of the market.

And the G Watch R is indeed bulky, a chief complaint levied against the device in most early reviews. We would counter that at 46.4 x 53.6 mm, it is not quite as bulky as some would have us believe, but we can see how those with smaller wrists or an affinity toward a more subtle fashion might find it a turn off. In defense of LG, they did manage to cram quite a bit of hardware within, so we can be a bit forgiving of the watch’s girth.


The focal point of the G Watch R experience is a circular OLED display measuring 1.3 inches in diameter. It’s 320×320 resolution is far from HD (and at times noticeably grainy), but it does not lack for visibility in nearly any lighting condition. In fact, at higher brightness settings the light from the watch face has a tendency to drown out the physical markings on the bezel, making them difficult to read in some lighting conditions. It’s a minor annoyance that can be avoided by choosing a proper brightness setting, but one worth mentioning.

The G Watch R is one of the more powerful Android Wear devices on the market with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC clocked at 1.2GHz and 512MB of on board RAM. The watch features 4GB of built-in storage, though since the device must be constantly synced with a a smartphone where much of its data will be streamed from it’s hard to imagine a case where all of that storage space will be needed.


Rounding out the hardware are features like IP67 resistance to dust and water and a built-in heart rate sensor position on the underside of the watch. As with much of the heart rate sensing technology that has made its way to mobile devices in recent months, it is not always the most cooperative, but it comes as a nice bonus for those planning to use their G Watch R to monitor fitness-related activities.



We’ve already mentioned how the G Watch R’s watch faces integrate nicely with the physical bezel of the device, and we won’t delve too deeply into the intricacies of Android Wear. For that, you might want to check out our Moto 360 review or our look at seven things we hated about Android Wear. It’s worth noting that Android Wear is a developing platform and looks to only get better with time; a Lollipop update that apparently addresses many of our concerns should arrive soon

Back to the G Watch R. While Google has promoted the circular watch face option alongside the more common square form factor found in watches like the original G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, the Android Wear software does not seem to support both equally. Info cards are cut off by the curving lower edges of the display, greatly reducing the amount of visible content when using the G Watch R. This is perhaps its biggest flaw. As a device designed for at-a-glance info, these display issues are a major hinderance to usability.

As with other Android Wear devices, the software experience is designed to act as a companion to and compliment an Android smartphone (we should point out that Android Wear devices are as of now only compatible with Android and not iOS or Windows Phone handsets). While the benefit of this is a platform that doesn’t attempt to do more than truly fits its form factor, it also amplifies its limitations. Far too often the Android Wear interface prompts the use to complete an action on their smartphone. Certain actions — music playback controls come to mind — possible through Android Wear end up feeling redundant.

We chalk most of this up to a platform still in its infancy. Some will argue that Android Wear launched before it was ready, and we can’t really say there isn’t some truth to that. How Android Wear matures will greatly influence the usefulness and longevity of devices like the G Watch R.

Battery Life

One thing the G Watch R has going for it is battery life. Depending on how you have your device set up (brightness, watch face always on, etc.), you can expect anywhere from a full day of use on a single charge to closer to two days. It features one of the larger power cells an Android Wear device has seen at 410mAh to help it achieve this goal (and a bit of additional design bulk).

Two days is impressive for an Android Wear watch, but it’s far from what many expect of such a device. Until manufacturers can replicate battery times of traditional watches on their smart counterparts, those looking for a truly watch-like experience will always be disappointed in the final result.

We’re not sure this a truly fair comparison given everything the G Watch R does beyond simply tell time, but it’s understandable that folks don’t want yet another device to charge at the very least every other day. Still, as we said the battery time is impressive for an Android Wear device of this class, especially considering its fairly powerful hardware.

The Bottom Line


The G Watch R gets so much right in terms of design and hardware that it’s hard not to call it the best Android Wear device on the market. It’s bulkiness won’t be for everybody, but aside from faltering in the software department slightly, which falls more on the side of Google, it is a well-rounded (no pun intended) smartwatch that provides an experience that melds our expectations of a traditional watch with the forward-thinking capabilities of wearable tech.

The Good

  • Sleek design integrates hardware with software
  • Top-notch hardware
  • Battery life among the best for Android Wear devices

The Bad

  • Software experience still needs refinement
  • Bulkiness might be a deal breaker for some

Overall: 3.5/5

Kevin Krause
Pretty soon you'll know a lot about Kevin because his biography will actually be filled in!

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  1. Hmm, “it’s hard not to call it the best android wear device” yet the overall score is lower than the 360. So which is better?!

    1. Even just comparing battery life, I have to charge my 360 like twice a day. Watches, as a rule, shouldn’t work that way. I think this one is your best bet and that the author was just in a hurry to get the article out so he probably wasn’t paying attention to the wording.

      1. I don’t think those rules apply in the tech world. I don’t even like to call them watches, I just call them android wear, a true watch last for years before dying…maybe one day in the distant future they’ll bring nuclear powered batteries that can last a two year contract lol

      2. What do you do on your 360 to have to charge it that much? I can go about a day and a half without the need to charge

      3. My 360 can last two days, there’s an app or a face that’s killing yours. I had a ‘live’ dial that was draining my battery making it only last 1 day. Otherwise, you’re using it too much and have to recall it’s a quick notification peripheral and your phone should be your go to for heavy use.

        1. It’s just use. I have my phone in my pocket, so why buy something that needs to pair with it anyway and not use it for everything? Constant texting/emailing and fitness use burns battery. I also work in mobile development so I opt in for beta testing on other apps etc. Some of the apps that are coming use a lot of battery life, which I attribute to memory leaks for the most part at the moment.

  2. Dear Everyone asking for this. It’s here. You’re welcome.

  3. The score does not make much sense to me after reading the article. But the author probably didn’t take much time considering all of the factors. Nice looking watch though…

    1. Seems like something fishy is going on. Like it took us begging for a review for this watch, debatably the most exciting android wear watch yet, but there are probably 100 360 articles.

  4. The syncing that is done from the watch, would be counted as tethering or just cellular data?

    I’m on T-Mobile, so it matters to me, as my phones are our home internet and we are on an unlimited 3GB tethering plan.

    1. It’s strictly tethering via Bluetooth. Any data retrieval comes from the phone and is displayed on the watch. So if you have unlimited data it doesn’t count against your tethering.

      Edit: To clarify this is cellular data it is pulling from the phone and displayed on watch.

    2. It will work as mobile data because your phone gives it everything directly.

      On that note, I just checked my data stats on my phone and I have Android Wear 20mb, Moto Connect at less than 1mb. I don’t know if that’s how it’s tracked, but I’m sure it’s minimal usage regardless. That’s about a week of use.

  5. “The G Watch R is one of the more powerful Android Wear devices on the market”. Isn’t it using the same processor as most first gen Android Wears? Besides moto 360 (TI), I thought most of the others were sporting the same QS 400 @1.2ghz? Maybe that’s just an oversight. Still, looks like a nice watch. I hope they drop the lg g watch back down to $99 soon.

    1. Right, so it’s one of the more powerful of what is currently available. The 360 is not one of the more powerful currently available.

      1. Ok….so what else besides these two processors is available? I only mention the 360 because its the only Android wear not using this processor unless I’m missing something? So this watch is “one of the 5 or 6 more powerful Android Wear devices on the market when compared to the seventh option”?? You’re right, doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

      2. Not really Android Wear is more cpu heavy than gpu. The 360’s omap 3 has a single core cortex A8, possibly the first revision considering it’s most likely a unused Droid x omap soc. The snapdragon 400 used in the competing watches is comprised of 4 cortex A7’s with 3 of the cores disabled. Being a much more modern soc, it’s probably a revision 2 or 3 cortex A7. So on the raw cpu power side of things the Moto 360 should be roughly equal. Albeit much more inefficent considering it’s built on a older manufacturing process. Since the omap 3 is draining so much more power than the snapdragon 400 it’s most likely being throttled leading to the more stuttery performance compared to the snapdragon 400 based watches. But you were talking about power, in terms of power the 360 is about equal to slightly more powerful on the cpu side of things, so technically it is one of the most powerful, it’s just ridiculously inefficient. Considering all of this it would have made more sense for these OEM’s to procure some dual core Krait 300 based Snapdragon 400’s. They’d be just as effecient if not more so than their quad core variants, even with 1 of the cores being disabled it would perform at higher level than the quad core variant being utilized by existing watches.

        1. So a throttled OMAP 3 is less “powerful” than a 400.

  6. “The watch features 4GB of built-in storage, though… it’s hard to imagine a case where all of that storage space will be needed.”

    Umm, Google already said we can load up some music onto our Wears and be able to listen to it through BT headphones.

    “Certain actions — music playback controls come to mind — possible through Android Wear end up feeling redundant.”

    Once again, BT headphones work great with this. I can leave my phablet in my pocket or on the side, I flick my wrist up and I can control Google Play Musix, with pause/play, skip, volume, AND thumbs up/down (something lockscreen doesn’t offer.)

    I blame the apps mostly for any issues, as Google apps work great on Wear. My only flaws with Wear are the scripted responses for texts should be customizable. I speak many languages and slang so the basic given ones aren’t enough.

  7. The idea that potential customers wish the device would come closer to real watches in terms of battery life is foolish.

    Take my Movado which has a typical 3-5 year battery. Or my wife’s that is solar powered and capable of about a month with no light….

    Now the idea of asking for more than a few days is foolish. I’d be thrilled with a week.

    I’m more anticipating a self sustained watch. Meaning I would love to go run my dog with my Bluetooth headphones, stream my music while running. Add on gps tracking for my fitness app and add the heart rate option. I don’t want to lug my Note 3 with me.

    All this needs to be commanded by “ok Google” options. Including song pause, skip, next station, etc….all voice controlled. Time to impress us

  8. Finally! Something to look at. I hate the hockey puck design and im glad LG took command and decided to make a watch looking smart watch.

  9. I’m very happy with mine, though I DO NOT EVER get two days battery life out of it. Not getting a lot of notifications and when I turn it off over night, it will die around 5 the next day.

  10. But here is the real question, would you trade your 360 for it?

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