LG was a pioneer in the world of Android Wear smartwatches, and they continue to make some great options. Their latest release, the LG Watch Urbane Second Edition LTE, while a mouthful, is also a “first” in several aspects for the platform. Is it worth buying? Let’s find out.
So first things first let’s talk hardware. The LG Watch Urbane Second Edition LTE (I’m going to refer to it as the Urbane Second Edition for the remainder of the review) is on the thicker and larger side of the smartwatch spectrum. If you’re a fan of larger watches, then it’s a perfect size, at least in my opinion. However if you have smaller wrists, just stop reading now, because this watch is seriously big.
Looking past the size however, let’s look at the actual hardware. The majority of the watch is metal and it feels and looks fantastic. The Urbane Second Edition is by far my favorite Android Wear watch in terms of design, by a long shot. The brushed metal gives off a classy, yet sporty feel and the bezels are much thinner than LG’s previous options.
LG’s implementation of the band however is where this device really loses a lot of points. Most Android Wear watches we’ve seen so far have featured removable bands, swappable with any standard watch band, the Urbane Second Edition however uses a non-removable band, and it’s super uncomfortable. I work at a desk most of the day, and being completely honest, I take the watch off most days because irritates my wrist so much. If I’m out and about then it’s completely fine, but if you work at a desk, just forget about it.
The reason why the Urbane Second Edition uses this band however is because of the LTE connection. To improve the connection strength, the entire band is an antenna. It’s a great idea in theory, but at the end of the day comfort really needs to be on top, and here it just is not.
Why Do I Need LTE On Android Wear?
One of my biggest questions about this watch was why do I actually need LTE on my Android Wear device. As the first LTE equipped option, it’s a valid question, and the answer is pretty simple, you don’t. The Urbane Second Edition, and Android Wear itself, makes use of LTE by connecting to your smartphone over the technology when Bluetooth and WiFi are not available. So let’s invent a little scenario for this. Let’s say you’re going out to go hiking or walking and you don’t really want to have your phone with you, but you still need something for taking calls and texts. If you’ve still got an active LTE connection, the Urbane Second Edition will be able to take and place calls directly over LTE using the phone number from your smartphone as well as forwarding any notifications over. Obviously it’s not a full smartphone replacement, but under the right circumstances it can prove quite useful.
However there’s a caveat, at least on the Verizon model I’m using. If you want to make calls from the watch, you’ll need an approved smartphone. Just about any newer Android device will do, unless it’s unlocked. This means that if your watch is connected to something like the Nexus 6P or Moto X Pure Edition, you won’t be able to take advantage of calling on the watch. This was a major disappointment for me.
One thing worth noting about LTE on this watch. Right now, it’s not super useful, at least in my opinion. That said, in a couple of months when Android Wear 2.0 rolls out officially, LTE will become about 1000x more useful since you’ll have direct access to what powers applications separate from your smartphone.
Software & Performance
As I’ve mentioned multiple times, the Urbane Second Edition runs Google’s Android Wear OS, and things work just like on other smartwatches powered by the same OS. There are a few changes here and there for the cellular connection as well as some pre-loaded apps that make all of that possible. Performance is very snappy as well.
One thing to note is that the Urbane Second Edition has two buttons on the side which act as shortcuts. One opens LG’s health app while the other acts as a shortcut to your contacts list. Unfortunately you can’t map where these go, but at the very least they perform semi-useful functions.
The display on the Urbane Second Edition is also the highest resolution on any Android Wear smartwatch coming in at 480×480. Things look very crisp but the real highlight is just how much information can fit on the display at once. The display is also fairly bright which is good for outdoor usage, but unfortunately there’s no ambient light sensor for adjusting the brightness to the surrounding light.
Battery Life & Charging
Just about every smartwatch today only lasts about a day, and that’s about what I get out of the Urbane Second Edition. Now generally when I say that about I watch, I’m saying you’ll be able to use it for a day, no matter how long it lasts. That’s not the case with the Urbane Second Edition. Generally I can go from about 8am to 11pm before the watch is dead. Most smartwatches can easily make it a full 24 hours, give or take, but the Urbane just can’t. I’ve never made it more than 15 hours on this watch, and in mine opinion that’s just unacceptable, even for an LTE powered watch.
To make matters worse, LG’s charging method on the Urbane Second Edition is horrid. The magnetic PIN connector, unlike the company’s previous options, only connects to a portion of the watch and falls off VERY easily. At least twice during my time using the watch I woke up to find that the watch had disconnected overnight. Now I fully understand why they wouldn’t want to use the previous option due to the band, but if you’re going to ditch something that works well, it should be for something that works better, no? LG could’ve implemented Qi charging on this watch but they didn’t. Really this charging method was a major turn-off for me.
So overall, is the LG Watch Urbane Second Edition worth buying? That depends. If you think LTE will be useful for you, then definitely. However if you’re just looking for a solid Android Wear smartwatch, you’ll want to pass on this. The band needs work and the battery life is just not up to par with other options. All of these are valid reasons on their own, but add in the price and things get a tad worse. On Verizon Wireless, the Urbane Second Edition will run you $499, which is a bit ridiculous in my opinion, especially considering the fact that no monthly payment options are available. AT&T makes things a bit easier to swallow at $369, but if you opt for that you’ll need to sign a contract.
At the end of the day, the LG Watch Urbane Second Edition LTE isn’t a bad watch, but there are quite a few reasons why you might want to skip it. I still absolutely love the way it looks, but I’ll just stick with my good ol’ G Watch R until LG decides to release a non-LTE version of the Urbane.