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Style meets functionality. That’s what the LG Watch Urbane tries to do. It doesn’t scream geek, but rather a familiar elegance masking powerful features behind the watch face. LG has been one of the earlier companies into the smartwatch race and they’ve put up some quality products so far. The “Urbane” is one of their more ambitious offerings, with a bolder appeal (dare I say “Urbane”).
Appearances aren’t everything, so I was eager to see what was actually going on under the hood. After wincing a bit at the price tag, I put on my best yuppie face and clicked the “add to cart” tab on Amazon. I’d actually heard a few good things about the Urbane smartwatch, so my expectations were reasonably high. With a price tag of close to $350, expectations SHOULD be high, right?
The following Urbane Smartwatch review is my take/experience with this device. I’ve broken out the key features first and then delved into the “Pros” and “Cons”. At the bottom of the article, you’ll find my overall recommendation and how it stacks up to some of the competitors in this space.
The key features are what LG markets as the essential selling points for the Urbane watch. Before critiquing the product, we have to understand what it tries to do.
- Gorilla Glass: This is the mark of a quality smartwatch. Just like smartphones, smartwatches can suffer from cracked or damaged glass. Thankfully, LG has partnered with Gorilla Glass on their full circle display, meaning that you won’t have to worry about damaging your tech investment.
- Fitness Integration: Let’s face it, most smartwatches need to have a robust fitness and activity tracking system. Sure, there are apps but a good Smartwatch will have built-in sensors. The Urbane Smartwatch does this well, with a continuous heart rate monitor that can sync with variety of other apps and sensors to deliver real time data for tracking purposes.
- Environmental Sensors: Not only can you track your fitness, you can also track things like geomagnetism, barometric pressure and more. This really helps the LG Urbane stand out in a crowded field of smartwatches. It’s the type of “extra features” that you’d expect from a mid to high end smartwatch.
- Compatibility: The LG Watch Urbane is compatible with devices that feature Android 4.3 or later OS.
- Wifi Capability: This is one of the emerging themes for recent smartwatches. The Urbane allows you to connect via the same or different WiFi networks for seamless connectivity.
- Faster Processor: The Urbane boasts a 1.2 GHz processor which is better than standard smartwatches and most I’ve reviewed so far. This will probably be changing quickly, so this might not seem all that fast in 6-8 months time.
- Alerts at a Glance: This is the main attraction of smartwatches and the Urbane is no different. You will get notifications on your wrist, without having to constantly check your phone. You can configure notifications to your optimal preference. This can be helpful because I actually like to avoid distractions while still not missing anything too important (like text messages, etc…).
Pros and Cons
The follow two sections breaks down what I liked and what I didn’t like. For me, this helps solidify how I think about a smartwatch overall. Hopefully, you’ll find it helpful as well.
Pros – Things I liked…
Durable Construction: The combination of Gorilla Glass 3 and solid metal construction of the frame gives the Urbane a very durable feel. The leather wrist band is both flexible and sturdy. Overall, I felt like I was getting a premium product that did not make use of shortcuts. This is probably partly due to the higher price point, but still it’s worth noting.
Curb Appeal: This is a classy smartwatch that almost looks like a traditional dress watch. If you aren’t going for the “techie look” this could be the perfect happy medium between style and functionality.
Crisp Display: The OLED display is really, really, nice. Can’t really say much more than that, but it’s these kind of touches that bring the Urbane into the upper crust of smartwatches.
Water Resistant: Despite the elegant display, this is still a very durable watch, capable of operating in moderate weather conditions much like a traditional watch. It can survive in about 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes (I didn’t actually test this….) and is IP67 rated.
Android Wear Community: Unlike Samsung, LG is fully integrated with the Android Wear community. This allows it to leverage a larger field of apps. The growth of the app development community for smartphones is really where the future of smartphones are. The LG Watch Urbane is well positioned to take advantage of this growth. Right now the Google Play app store for smartwatches still pales in comparison to the Apple App Store, but it has all the potential to grow in a similar fashion to how the android smartphone store has caught up to Apple.
Cons – Things I didn’t like so much…
Wifi Has Limitations: It’s nice that LG is pushing the envelope with WiFi connectivity; however, it’s still not clear just how useful this is. For example, why would you have your smartwatch on a different network (presumably somewhere else) than where your phone is? Nice functionality, but still not all that clear how useful it actually is.
Loading Times: It still can take a bit for the apps to open on the Urbane. Anything less than 3 seconds is generally acceptable, but I found myself occasionally waiting as long as 8-10 seconds for apps to open. At this point it was often easier just to use my phone. Even with the 1.2 GHz processor, it still feels a bit under-powered.
Price: Okay, I’ve hit this already, but this isn’t the cheapest smartwatch… What you are paying for really is a better construction, better display, and better style. There isn’t that much that really separates the Urbane otherwise from its competitors. Occasionally you can find some decent deals at this listing, so be sure to check it out.
Key Features At a Glance
Take a look below for a quick view of the key specs and features.
|Screen Size||1.3 inches|
|Screen Resolution||320 x 320m|
|Internal Storage||4 GB|
|CPU||1.2 Ghz Quad Core|
|Water Resistance||Water Resistant (IP67)|
|Battery Life||410 mAh ( 3 day heavy use/one charge)|
|Compatibility||Android 4.3 or higher|
|# of Apps||250+|
Other Options to Consider?
I really liked my experience with the LG Watch Urbane, but I always place my reviews in the context of the other marketplace options. I’m not going to mentioned the Apple Smartwatch because if you’re interested in the Urbane, you probably are looking for an android watch anyway. The following are two watches that I’ve also found compelling.
LG Watch R
The LG Watch R is in the same family as the Urbane, but you can consider it the less fashionable but more practical younger sibling. It doesn’t have the same “curb appeal” as the the Urbane, but it still has a traditional smart looking appeal.
Also powered with Android Wear and many of the same apps and functionality, the LG Watch R is almost identical internally. It feels a bit more sporty and something you could take regularly into the outdoors, if desired. It features some nice ambient light settings, which is something the Urbane doesn’t offer.
It doesn’t have the same Wifi capability as the Urbane (operating on different Wifi networks than your smartphone), but I didn’t find this feature particularly useful (yet) anyway. It’s not much of a price discount, in fact it might run you a few extra dollars when compared with the Urbane. Check this listing for the latest on pricing.
Sony Smartwatch 3
The Sony Smartwatch has benefited from being one of the first smartwatches to maker. With their third iteration, they’ve ironed out some of the major kinks and have started turning their watch into more than just a novelty.
What I really liked about the Sony Smartwatch was their fitness tracking. So if you are big on fitness, I’d recommend checking it out. The LG Urbane certainly has fitness tracking functionality, but you probably are not going to take this watch running (for example).
The Smartwatch 3 has a more techie feel to it and should not be confused with the stylistic approach of the Urbane. Still, you’ll find some great internally developed features, like extraordinary battery life, mood lighting sensors, and a very solid internal GPS unit. Normally it would be at a similar price point to the Urbane, but you can find it here for less than $200.
Final Thoughts and Overall Recommendation
Compared to the competition, this is a very solid – and elegant – entry into smartwatch market. It doesn’t do anything revolutionary, so don’t expect anything too different. However, it’s a reliable option to consider. The market in this space is changing so quickly that it’s hard to make a choice in the present moment.
Personally, I think you can’t go wrong with the Urbane. Do you really need it? Probably not, but that’s arguably the case for every smartwatch on the market right now. If you are ready to buy – or just investigate further – you can check out this listing.