The LG Watch Urbane smartwatch, built with an all-metal body and a leather wristband, is now on sale in the United States through the Google Store after being unveiled by LG at Mobile World Congress back in March. The watch will sell for $349 and will ship by May 8 in silver or gold colors, according to an April 27 announcement on the Google Store Website and on the company's Twitter feed.
The LG Watch Urbane has a classic round watch face that's aimed at fashion-conscious luxury goods buyers, and is joining a smartwatch marketplace that just saw the entry of the Apple Watch back on April 24. The LG watch includes the same 1.3-inch full circle P-OLED display that appeared on last September's LG G Watch R smartwatch, but it's built into a narrower bezel with sleeker lines. The new watch is aimed at wearers who are seeking a more formal device, compared with the LG G Watch R, which is aimed at more active users.
Running on Android Wear, the new smartwatch has a stainless steel body that can be purchased in a polished silver or gold finish, as well as a stitched natural leather strap that can be swapped out for any 22mm watchband, giving users a lot of styling choices. The watch is designed and styled for use by both men and women.
The new smartwatch will be the first to run the latest version of Google's Android Wear, which earlier in April received key upgrades that now incorporate WiFi and wrist gesture capabilities into the software, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Now, when the smartwatch is connected to a WiFi network, users will be able to get notifications, send messages and use their favorite apps, greatly expanding the device's capabilities.
Another key addition to Android Wear that will improve usability is a new wrist flicking gesture that will make smartwatch apps simpler to use, especially while wearers are in motion. Users will now be able to just flick their wrist to scroll through the stream of information they are receiving.
Users will also now be able to tap the watch face display to start apps and send messages immediately.
The LG Watch Urbane has a touch-based user interface that is compatible with smartphones running Android 4.3 and above, as well as a photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor that can measure a wearer's heart rate and average pulse during exercise. Also included is an "Always-On" ambient display mode that shows the time on the display at all times in dimmed mode, conserving battery life.
The LG Watch Urbane includes a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of LPDDR2 memory, 4GB of eMMC storage and a 410mAh battery. The watch, which also includes a 9-axis gyro/accelerometer/compass sensor and barometer, meets IP67 dust and water resistance standards.
The new device joins a growing crowd of luxury-aimed smartwatches in the marketplace. The MB Chronowing smartwatch, which was engineered by Hewlett-Packard and styled by fashion designer Michael Bastian, debuted in November 2014 in two versions—a standard device priced at $349 and a more luxurious, limited-edited version for $649. The MB Chronowing smartwatches bring elegant design, luxury materials and modern electronics to the world of smartwatches.
Last November, Samsung unveiled its curved Gear S smartwatch while Fitbit unveiled its then-new Surge smartwatch, which was that company's first venture into the dedicated smartwatch marketplace, bringing Fitbit into more direct competition against companies such as Apple, Samsung, Sony and LG.
Android smartwatches today can only be used in conjunction with an Android smartphone, but that could change in the future as Google continues to develop an Android Wear app that would allow an Android smartwatch to work with an iPhone.