LG Watch Sport Review Not the Watch Android Wear Needs Right Now

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 22 Feb 2017

Android wear has a problem, and sales are slow. Motorola is backing out. Samsung has its watch platform. Android’s watch ecosystem needs to reboot. New software, new hardware, fresh marketing, the works. Unfortunately, the two watches chosen to be the launch partners for the latest Android Wear 2.0 platform. Fall well short of the new, forward-looking, gotta-have-it hardware needed. The Style is missing some of Android Wear 2.0’s best features. The Sport showcases everything Wear 2.0 offers and is laden with faults.

Why too much watch

Android Wear 2.0 includes a host of welcome improvements. While numerous watches will be upgraded to the new OS, only two have it now. The watch sport is the only one that has the entire feature set. The Style doesn’t have a heart rate monitor, Android Pay support, or cellular connection.

The Sport has all that stuff, and it’s got a sizable 1.38-inch LED display with a 480×480 resolution. It looks great and bright, crisp, and easy to read in sunlight. The 430 mAh battery provides impressive battery life. I could easily make it through the day with typical use, including an hour-long gym workout. However, those who rely heavily on untethered cellular operation extended heart-rate tracking may run out of juice before bedtime. But as with most smartwatches, it’s still a charge-every-night device.

lg watch sport thick2
Oh my god, Becky. Look at his watch! It’s just so big!

The problem is that it’s just so big. Is this a man’s watch, or is it a diving watch again. This is the latter. Even people who like large watches will likely find the case size, thickness, and weight a little bit much. I’m a tall guy at 6’4” but with relatively thin wrists. The Watch Sport was so big that it simply didn’t fit comfortably. The rigid curves of the bands extended too far to the edges of my wrists. It made me feel like a toddler trying to wear daddy’s big watch. If the wristwatch doesn’t fit me correctly. I can’t conceive the women I work with daring to wear it every day.

lg watch sport crown
The rotating crown is a great addition that meshes nicely with Android Wear 2.0’s interface update.

Is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 at fault here? This system-on-chip was expressly designed for wearables. But it’s still built on a 28nm manufacturing process that’s two generations behind the process tech. Qualcomm uses for its latest smartphone chips. This makes the 2100 affordable and much larger power-hungry than it would otherwise be. Would a 14nm version of this chip allow for smaller internal circuitry? Would it get more life out of a smaller battery? These are relevant questions if you’re concerned about the size of your monstrous watch.

Excellent for Big Wristed Athletes

I’ve written at length about the new features in Android Wear 2.0; the watch Sport is effectively a Nexus device for the platform, without custom features all over the place. That’s just fine. Using Android Pay to buy things with your watch is neat. Tracking runs while leaving your phone at home is very cool. But the new platform is incredibly appealing if you like to work out.

lg watch sport weighlifting
Fit’s new exercise tracking is fantastic. It even auto-recognizes lots of strength training exercises and counts reps!

The new Fit in Wear 2.0 is a fantastic workout buddy. It includes many more activities and accurately tracks them, including continuous heart-rate monitoring for cardio conditioning. But the ability to track strength training exercises really blew me away.
First, say you’re starting a strength training workout. The watch will try to guess your exercise and count reps. I found it shockingly accurate. It correctly distinguished between pull-ups and pull-downs. It knew when I was doing bench press versus overhead press. Yes, a few missed guesses among dozens of activities across multiple workouts. Still, it’s simple to tap the wrongly-guess exercise and pick the correct one. It also missed rep counts sometimes by one rep. The exercise tracking reps counting got more accurate over time.

lg watch sport heartrate log
You get continuous heart-rate tracking during cardio activities, though it just floods your heart rate history.

The ability to tap start and then enter the weight you were lifting at the end is an incredible boon. For those who want to track their workouts. It correctly recognized when I switched exercises and let me back-fill multiple sets simultaneously. At the end of my workout. I could hop on the stationary bike and start a cardio session with continuous heart-rate tracking. As a gym buddy. If you can get past the clunky size and weight of the thing, the Watch Sport is a fantastic companion.

First Not What Wear Needs Right Now

Android Wear 2.0 is a significant upgrade that rectifies many of the platform’s shortcomings. Now it needs a great watch to accompany it, which nails the intersection between sporty, classy, and fashion fitness.

lg watch sport thickness
I don’t want to harp on it, but look how thicker the Sport is than the Moto 360 v2 (right).

The Sport is not even remotely close to being that watch. Sure, you can opt for the Style instead, but then you give up Android Pay and heart-rate tracking. Even if you consider it entirely for what it is. A masculine watch made for large-wristed workout enthusiasts, it has significant problems. It’s still too large, thick, and heavy to run comfortably. There are some interface issues. With no clear way to change the function of the two buttons on either side of the crown. Could find that Fit Android is not the most helpful app for them to launch. The elastomer read plastic band feels cheap; it’s not replaceable. There’s also too much bezel around the display.

lg watch sport charge
I like the idea of a charging cradle, similar to that of the Moto 360. It only looks and feels cheap.

Final Thoughts

The Watch Sport looks like a gadget, not a watch. It harkens back to the days of those old Microsoft Spot watches. Remember those? Instead of reaching broad a market as possible with the first full-featured Android Wear 2.0 watch. They have given us something with an almost impossibly narrow appeal. This watch is almost exclusively for large-wristed athletic types whose fashion sense leans toward calculator watches. I wanted to put it on just before I left for the gym. Itching to take it off when I got home.
Android Wear 2.0 deserves a better showcase watch than this. With any luck, another manufacturer will step in with a more universally acceptable design. That at least supports Android Pay and has a heart-rate monitor.