LG G Watch R: Hands-on with the first completely round smartwatch

This is the LG G Watch R, an Android Wear smartwatch with a completely round display, Google services on tap, and a beautiful, traditional watch design.

Unveiled at the IFA technology show in Berlin, the G Watch R is LG’s second attempt at a smartwatch running Android Wear - and when compared to the original G Watch, the differences are night and day.

The G Watch R may be an enormous wristwatch and certainly not for the faint hearted, but it’s clear from out hands-on time with it that LG has made a serious effort to mimic the design of traditional watches - the R has a purposefully heft to it which was missing from the G Watch.

Most importantly, the R actually looks and feels like a regular watch - it was a round screen with dozens of different watch faces to choose from, and the strap can easily be swapped for a new one thanks to the industry-standard mounting points.

Despite its huge size, the G Watch R still lacks a microUSB port for charging, so LG has created a round stand for it to sit on, similar to the square one with the original G Watch. We’d much prefer a regular micro USB port on the watch itself, especially given the battery is only expected to last between one and two days on each charge.

To help get the most out of the 410mAh battery, the G Watch R’s display dims when not in use, and LG claims in this state it draws just 10% of the total power available from the Snapdragon 400 processor and 512MB of RAM.

A leather straps adds to the more familiar feeling of the R, compared to the cheap-feeling rubber of the first G Watch; add this to the metal case and you’ve got a premium and well-built timepiece on your wrist.

But of course the G Watch R does an awful lot more than merely tell the time. Running Android Wear means the watch can display notifications received by your Bluetooth-connected phone, perform Google searches from voice commands, show the weather forecast, and much more besides.

An IP67 rating means the G Watch R is completely dust proof, and water resistant when submerged for up to 30 minutes in one meter of water.

But there are some disappointments…there is no ambient light sensor, so you’ll have to adjust the screen brightness manually - not easy when you’re already outside and bright sunlight is making it difficult to tap your way to the settings menu. Theres also no GPS chip, so although the R can record your walking and running, it cannot map runs.

LG has successfully moved the smartwatch game on with the R, but concerns remain over battery life and a fairly limited set of features (however, these are issues shared with all wearable at the moment).

The G Watch R will go on sale in October, but beyond “more than the G Watch” we don’t yet know how much it will cost.

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