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LG shows us what’s up its sleeve: First impressions of the G Watch

The LG G Watch has been official for several months, but information on the device was thin. That has all changed at Google I/O, where the new smartwatch was completely revealed, and will subsequently be put on sale through the Google Play store. Despite early indications it would be, the G Watch is not the first Android Wear smartwatch to be put on sale. It will be joined by the Samsung Gear Live, pitting the two arc rivals against each other once again.

Update by Nick Mokey on 6-25-2014: I’ve added our first (albeit brief) hands-on impressions of the G Watch today at Google I/O. We’ll have a full review in the next week or so.

LG has brought a compelling package along to the fight though. The G Watch has a 1.65-inch LCD touchscreen boasting a 280 x 280 pixel resolution, which is slightly lower than the Gear Live’s pixel count, but has equipped the device with a Snapdragon 400 processor. That’s the same model found in smartphones such as the Moto G. The big chip is accompanied by 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage space. 

Built from stainless steel, the G Watch’s body is covered in something called PVD, which stands for Physical Vapor Deposition, and is known for being light and durable. The 22mm strap can easily be swapped for one of your own, but comes as standard in black or white silicon. If you choose the white strap, the G Watch’s body is in a fetching gold color. Like the Gear Live, the G Watch also has an IP67 rating, so it’s resistant to water and dust.

LG makes a big deal about the always-on touchscreen, which permanently displays the time, and will also show incoming call information and notifications, along with GPS directions, calendar entries, and music playback controls. Android Wear is voice controlled, and you can reply to text messages or perform web searches without interacting with your phone. Like the G3 smartphone, LG is pushing the G Watch as an easy-to-use device that will simplify your life.

In our brief hands-on time with a semi-functioning demo unit, the G Watch felt every bit as bulky as earlier, slab-like predecessors such as Sony’s SmartWatch SW2, but felt admirably sturdy. A design milled from a piece of stainless steel makes itself felt. The generic black silicon watchband is nothing to write to GQ about, but we trust most style-conscious owners will swap it out for something more personal anyway. LG claims it went with an IPS LCD over OLED because of superior power consumption and color accuracy — while that may be true, it doesn’t have the vivid OLED pop that would set it apart from similar competitors. That said, the biggest selling point with every Android Wear device will be Google’s new software, and we haven’t been able to fiddle with that yet. Stay tuned.

The G Watch will be sold through the Google Play store from June 25, and it’ll be available in the United States, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea, and Japan. A further 27 other countries will see the G Watch sold through retail stores soon afterwards, including Australia, Singapore, and Russia. The G Watch will be priced at $230 and will ship “around” July 7.

CONTINUE TO PAGE TWO FOR A ROUNDUP OF NEWS AND RUMORS PUBLISHED PRIOR TO THE G WATCH’S LAUNCH

LG has launched a website dedicated to the G Watch, the second of two smart watches running Google’s Android Wear operating system to be announced. While the Moto 360 gained the most attention at launch, thanks to its cool-looking round watch face, it’s now time (sorry) for us to get better acquainted with the G Watch.

Updated on 06-25-2014 by Williams Pelegrin: Google revealed when the G Watch will go on sale.

When will it be released?

A report published in the Korean press says the watch will be fully revealed during Google I/O, the annual developer conference set for June 25 this year. We should then look out for it in stores soon afterwards, making it most likely to be the first Android Wear device on sale.

Google’s new wearable-specific operating system is probably going to be a major talking point at Google I/O, and launching a product at the same time makes some sense. It has also been previously rumored Google would show an LG-produced smartwatch during the event, which could end up being the G Watch.

Interestingly, an LG representative did let slip the device was being prepared for a July launch in the UK, where it would cost less than £180/$300. This fits in with the timeframe given in the above report.

On April 28, LG France apparently confirmed to a French site the G Watch would be released locally in June, although an exact date wasn’t given. It was also stated the watch will cost 200 euros.

The LG G Watch appeared on a listing in the German Google Play Store. Image courtesy of Android Pit.

In mid-June, the G Watch appeared briefly on the Google Play store in Germany. Although the post didn’t reveal the price or the main specs of the device, it did state that the display would always be on, just like earlier rumors suggested. The posting also confirmed that the G Watch will have a 400mAh battery.

During Google I/O, Google revealed that the G Watch will go on sale through Google Play later today. Unfortunately, the search giant did not reveal how much it would cost, nor any word on international availability.

Waterproof, and always-on screen

What does the site tell us? Well, if you’re expecting a long spec list, you’re going to be disappointed. LG is staying quiet about the screen size, processor, and all the other technical details. However, it has shared some previously unknown pieces of information with us, and some great new images. Firstly, the G Watch will be water and dust resistant, an almost essential element of a smartwatch, and LG states it’ll be suitable to wear “during outdoor activities in rough conditions.”

The G Watch had only previously been spotted in a sharp black and chrome color, but as seen here, it’ll also be sold in a fetching champagne gold. It’s not absolutely covered in gold though. The face still has a black bezel, and the strap and underside of the body are both white. The gold is used more as an accent color, applied only to the main body of the watch and the clasp, giving the device a considerably more feminine look.

LG confirms the G Watch will have voice control, and a spoken command of “OK Google” will wake the device up, ready to carry out a task. It’s also mentioned the screen will always be on, which does make us wonder about the G Watch’s battery life. This is a full color touchscreen we’re talking about, not the Pebble’s smaller, black and white display.

The waterproofing feature is confirmed in an LG teaser video for the G Watch, along with the always-on screen and Android Wear operating system. The blurb accompanying the minute-long ad says the watch is “sleek and lightweight for all-day comfort,” and has a metal body for a “timeless look.” Cryptically, LG also says the watch is “ready for anything, anytime with a single charge.” It’s an oddly broad statement, applying to pretty much every piece of consumer electronics available. Check out the video below.

What kind of specs will it have?

In mid-June, a fairly detailed list of the LG G Watch’s specifications leaked online. Twitter user @upleaks tweeted the information, which includes the smartwatch’s screen size, estimated battery life, and more. According to the leaker’s information, the G Watch will have an 1.65-inch screen with a resolution of 280 x 280 pixels and a pixel density of 240ppi.

The device will apparently come with a 400mAh battery, which should charge in just two hours and get 36 hours of standby. Presumably, the always-on display accounts for the swift battery drain. Just to give a little perspective, the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 can last up to two days and the Pebble Steel, with its colorless e-Ink display, can make it up to an entire week on a single charge.

A Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor will reportedly power the G Watch in conjunction with 512GB of RAM. The leaker added that the smartwtach comes with 4GB of storage as well. The G Watch will, of course, run Android Wear, feature Bluetooth 4.0 LE connectivity, and include many sensors. Pedometer, tilt, ambient, and touch sensors are all expected to appear on the device. However, it seems that the G Watch won’t have a camera.

The tipster even provided dimensions, saying that LG’s smartwatch will measure 37.9 x 46.5 x 9.95 millimeters and weigh just 61 grams. 

We’ll be updating this report when more information on the G Watch is revealed.

Article Updates

Updated on 06-25-2014 by Williams Pelegrin: Google revealed when the G Watch will go on sale.

Updated on 06-18-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Added photo of leaked LG G Watch listing on the German Google Play Store.

Updated on 06-13-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Added information from a detailed spec leak for the G Watch.

Updated on 04-29-2014 by Andy: LG has released a brief teaser video for the G Watch, confirming it’ll be waterproof.

Updated on 04-29-2014 by Andy: LG France has confirmed a June launch for the G Watch, and a 200 euro price

Updated on 04-23-2014 by Andy: A rumor suggests the G Watch will launch at Google I/O in June.

Article originally published on 04-22-2014