"Cool watch. Can you call people on it?" That's inevitably one of the first questions I get from someone who's seeing their first smartwatch. But the truth is there have been very few watches that you actually can make a call through. Samsung had the first, and LG has one running webOS (of all things) that's limited to South Korea.
That's going to change real soon, though. Phone calls are coming to Android Wear, and they're coming to the new LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE in November.
We got a sneak peek at the upcoming watch with LG in New York City. Let's take a look.
First, though, a caveat. While we were able to take a look at the watch, we weren't allowed to turn it on. And that (frustratingly) makes sense given that Android Wear doesn't currently have the capability for a cellular connection. Or for audio speakers, either — though we've definitely seen the hardware tucked into the recent watches from Huawei, Motorola and ASUS, left dormant for a future update, perhaps.
Back to the new Urbane, though. It's a bit of a large watch — we've yet to see a cellular-connected watch that isn't. The display is 1.38 inches with a 480x480 P-OLED display. (We'll trust that it looks as great as LG's other watch displays.) It's built on a 44.5mm frame, and the new Urbane sports three buttons instead of the singleton.
Those buttons — and we're not sure if multiple buttons marks another new feature for Android Wear, or if it's just a trivial matter of programming — give you access to your favorite contacts (top), will kick the watch into ambient mode (center) and act as a shortcut to the LG Health app (bottom).
And that's another sign that this watch also is a meant for the active crowd. The first sign would be the TPSiV elastomer band (OK, it's a rubber strap) that also houses the antennas. For that reason you can't remove it, same as what we've seen on other cellular-capable watches. It's a bit stiff, but this also isn't the sort of thing you want flying around on your wrist while you're working out.
A good bit of work has been put into the underside of the watch as well. It's essentially got a two-way mirror down there, with the heart-rate monitor housed inside and completely sealed off. (Plus, it looks cool.) You'll also find the charging mechanism down there — we haven't gotten a look at the charger itself yet.
It's also got one of the biggest batteries we've seen in a smartwatch — 570 mAh — and figure it'll need it if it looks to get through a day's use making calls and the like. The battery, from LG Chem, is hexagonal in shape, which is cool if you know anything about the shape of batteries. (We'll forgive you if you don't.)
The watch feels a bit big on the wrist, but, again, that's to be expected. And while it's a little clunky it's also nicely designed. The real question for our purposes at this point is going to be pricing. LG hinted that we'll see it from some U.S. carriers (at this point AT&T is on board), and traditionally we've had to shell out extra for this sort of connectivity. (Can't really blame the operators for that, we suppose.)
So we've got something interesting to look forward to here, both in terms of the watch itself — and for what Google has in store for Android Wear. Stay tuned.
LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition specs
|Chipset||1.2GHz Qualcomm SnapdragonTM 400|
|Operating System||Android WearTM (Cell-connected Version)|
|Display||1.38-inch P-OLED Display (480 x 480 / 348ppi)|
|Size||44.5 x 14.2mm|
|Memory||4GB eMMC / 768MB LPDDR3|
|Network||Bluetooth 4.1 / Wi-Fi / LTE / 3G|
|Sensors||Accelerometer / Gyro / Compass / Barometer / PPG / GPS|
|Color||Space Black / Opal Blue / Luxe White / Signature Brown|
|Other||Dust and Water Resistance (IP67)|