After spending the last week and a half with Android Wear on the Samsung Gear Live, we now have another Android Wear watch, the LG G Watch, in house as well. We'll spend a lot more time with it before publishing our full review, but you can read on for our early impressions.
First off, the G Watch and Gear Live run the exact same software, with no LG or Samsung skins in sight. It's "pure" Android Wear, as every smartwatch running Google's new wearable-focused OS is going to be. So, apart from the Gear Live's heart rate sensor capabilities (the G Watch lacks one), the only differences here are cosmetic.
Actually there is one software difference. The G Watch has some different watch faces from the Gear Live, and I actually prefer LG's selection. There are some clocks that ship with both watches, but LG offers a few extra analog watch faces, as well as some funky 70s-looking virtual timepieces. We'll soon start seeing third-party clock faces pop up in the Play Store, though, so I wouldn't base your decision on this.
My early take on the design is that the Gear Live (right) is the smarter-looking watch. The G Watch has a very generic-looking black body, with a cheap-feeling band (I believe it's made of rubber) wrapping around your wrist. If you want something a bit more stylish or premium-feeling, though, at least you can swap either watch's band for any standard 22 mm strap.
The screen is a mixed bag, but I'd give the edge to the Gear Live. The G Watch's screen is 2 percent bigger, which is nice. That doesn't sound like much of anything, though it is noticeable (if only barely). But the Gear Live has a sharper screen, with a 16 percent higher pixel density. When I look at both watches, one after the other, I can appreciate the extra pixels on the Gear more than the negligible size difference for the G Watch.
We're handling the white/gold model of the G Watch, and it's an ... interesting look. The white band on this model sticks out like a sore thumb, so if you're looking for a subtler look, you'll want to go with the black version. The G Watch's band is easier to adjust on your wrist than the Gear's, but, again, it also feels cheaper. It's rubbery, bendier than the Gear Live's band and looks like something you might find on a US$20 watch at your local Walmart.
The G Watch has a nice charging dock that the watch magnetically snaps onto. The token microUSB cable runs from your wall socket to the dock. I think it's an easier-to-use and more elegant solution than the tiny charging cradle you get with the Gear Live.
The G Watch uses a different type of vibration for its alerts. LG's watch has a buzzier vibration, similar to what you'd get on the Pebble, while the Gear's is more of a pulsing feeling. The fact that we're even mentioning the slightly different way that it vibrates on your wrist, though, illustrates how much we're splitting hairs here. Apart from hardware design, there's really very little to differentiate these two watches.
A lot of this, though, is going to come down to personal taste, and we're not going to pretend like we can tell you what you're looking for. But, from where I stand now, I'd say the Gear Live's sharper screen, heart rate monitor and more distinct design give it the early edge. The fact that the Gear Live is $30 cheaper only sweetens its pot.
The LG G Watch is available now from Google Play. It's available in this white/gold model, as well as a black variation, and retails for $229.
Product page: LG