LG's next G Watch may bring 4G to Android Wear, but at what cost?

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Credit: Jason Cross

While all Android Wear smartwatches currently require a nearby smartphone for internet connectivity, that could change early next year with the rumored “LG G Watch R2.”

Unnamed “industry sources” told Business Korea that LG may announce the standalone smartwatch at Mobile World Congress in February. LG G Watch R2 is just a tentative title, but the name suggests another round smartwatch in the style of the excellent G Watch R.

It’s worth noting that BusinessKorea also reported on Samsung’s Gear S in August , before its announcement the following month.

Samsung’s Gear S already includes cellular connectivity, but only with a 3G connection. LG’s watch could be among the first with 4G connectivity, and among the first to run Google’s Android Wear platform. Samsung uses its own Tizen-based software on the Gear S, which is poorly designed and not particularly useful by comparison . It also only works with Samsung phones, whereas Android Wear watches pair with any Android device.

Even with a better operating system, it’s unclear whether LG will be able to fix some of the current drawbacks with standalone smartwatches. The Gear S, for example, uses its own SIM card, with a separate number and service plan. Users can set up forwarding for text messages and incoming calls to their existing number, but outgoing calls show a new number that will be unfamiliar to contacts. Also, if the Gear S’s size is any indication, the cellular technology adds considerable bulk, and the G Watch R is already on the large side.

Why this matters: Device makers are clearly trying to figure out how to stand out from the Apple Watch when it launches next year. Standalone connectivity is one obvious path, but there may be a reason why Apple isn’t attempting it on its first go-round. The freedom to leave your phone at home comes with lots of compromises, so while people are keen on the idea in theory , in practice it’ll be a tough sell until the technological hurdles are lower.

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