LG Watch Sport review

Rewind two years and you couldn’t move for wearables at Mobile World Congress. This year is a bit different, with only the Huawei Watch 2 announced at the show. LG’s Watch Sport joined it on the show floor following its announcement last month.

We went hands-on with the Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch that seemingly has every feature under the sun including GPS and Google Assistant. Here’s our LG Watch Sport review. 

LG Watch Sport review: UK price and availability

Even though it was announced on 8 February, there is still no UK pricing or release date information for the LG Watch Sport or its cousin the Watch Style, which we took a look at here.

In the US, the Watch Sport retails at $349, so expect something around the £350 mark when the UK price is announced – though Mobile Fun has it available for pre-order in the UK for £349 here.

See also: The best smartwatches in the world

LG Watch Sport review: Design and build

There’s no doubt that the LG Watch Sport is a premium thing. The heft is evident as soon as you pick it up, housed as the main unit is in a metal chassis. The attractive circular screen is a 1.38in P-OLED that brings Android Wear 2.0 to colour poppin’ life. More on that in a bit, but it’s good news. It’s also great to see no ugly flat tyre at the bottom of the screen. 

If the Watch Style is breezy take it easy in terms of design, then the Watch Sport is the no-nonsense version. It’s very different and these are two devices for two quite different consumers. We do like the design but it is unquestionably masculine, the whole thing coloured titanium (though there’s also a blue version), paired with the mostly black OS makes for something you might expect to see on the wrist of someone in a sci-fi epic.

It’s big and heavy though. That’s because it’s got LTE, NFC, GPS and a heart rate sensor crammed into its tiny body. You control everything via the touchscreen and the three buttons on the right edge; the middle one is an excellently tactile crown that you can use to scroll through menus (though it does borrow this idea from the Apple Watch).

The strap is rubberised and sits circular, following the natural curve of your wrist. The whole thing might well dwarf that wrist though – we recommend trying one on in store if possible before taking the purchase plunge.

LG Watch Sport review: Features and specifications

The Sport’s spec sheet makes for good reading. It has everything you could possibly cram into a smartwatch in 2017. Google worked with LG to make sure it was the Watch Sport (and Style) that introduced the world to Android Wear 2.0, so we have a high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 with 4G LTE powering the 1.38in P-OLED display. It looks great, with a 480x480 resolution and 348ppi.

The unit measures 45.4 x 51.21 x 14.2mm and is watertight to IP68 standards. There’s 4GB of onboard storage for music on the go without your phone and a healthy 768MB RAM.

As we only had hands-on time with the watch we haven’t been able to test the LTE aspect of the Watch Sport, but the inclusion of it means you can go out without your phone and still make and receive calls and messages. LTE is surely the next logical step in the evolution of smartwatches. Fingers crossed a UK release will include it though, as Samsung’s Gear S2 and Gear S3 are Wi-Fi only on these shores, annoyingly.

GPS too means you can go off on a run without your phone and the Watch Sport will track exactly where you’ve been. Oddly though for a watch called Sport, it doesn’t feel like a runner’s gadget such is its uniform design. Also crammed into it is Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, an accelerometer, barometer, microphone, speaker, NFC for mobile payments and an ambient light sensor that’s joyously hidden in the display, not in a black window at the bottom of the screen like on the Moto 360 2

More worryingly is the wirelessly charged 430mAh battery. Not that you can fit a larger one in this form factor, but with so much for a small power pack like that to run, we don’t expect it to hold out for the day. We will look to test it to the max when we get our hands on a full review unit.

LG Watch Sport review: Software

Google made Android Wear 2.0 the headline act when the Watch Sport was released. Google Assistant makes its debut on a wearable, but again we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see what it’s like in real world use. It also only knows English and German at the moment, the lazy rotter. Still, chatting into a watch almost makes more sense that barking commands at a smartphone, but it remains an unnatural thing to do.

Android Wear 2.0 is a visual improvement, with menus clearer and easier to navigate. The Sport’s rotating crown is excellent and makes it simple and intuitive to scroll through menus, though if you’re used to other smartwatch operating systems it might be a bit confusing.

None of the buttons act as a back key, so you have to swipe left to right to go back a step in the menu and on first try it’s actually difficult to know how to open any apps. What is good though is that it can run apps without the support of a phone thanks to that handy LTE.

There’s a ton of new things stuffed into the OS though, like handwriting recognition for quick replies to messages, though it’s pretty tough to achieve. Presentation is everything on wearables because of the limited size of display. Google has been smart to just clean up Android Wear with vibrant app icons and largely black backgrounds to save battery life. The update makes the watch feel like a tiny Android phone, notification tray and all, even more so than the original version.

LG Watch Sport: Specs

  • 1.38in (480x480, 299ppi) P-OLED display
  • Android Wear 2.0
  • 1.1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 CPU
  • 768MB RAM
  • 4GB storage
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2 LE
  • 430mAh non-removable battery
  • 45.4x14.2mm
  • 1.38in (480x480, 299ppi) P-OLED display
  • Android Wear 2.0
  • 1.1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 CPU
  • 768MB RAM
  • 4GB storage
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2 LE
  • 430mAh non-removable battery
  • 45.4x14.2mm

OUR VERDICT

The LG Watch Sport is a frustrating prospect for us. It looks good, has refined software and every feature you could ask for in a smartwatch.

But it’s not out in the UK yet. And we are still most worried about the battery life. Turning off features like GPS and LTE to make sure your watch lasts the whole day defeats the point, and at $349, the Watch Sport is at risk of becoming an expensive paperweight come bedtime.

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