Update: Finding the LG Watch Sport in stock is a challenge in the US, as both Google and Verizon are sold out of the new smartwatch. AT&T has it for $249. If you find it, we still find it to be one of the best fitness-tracking watches thanks to its unique strength training mode.
The LG Watch Sport comes ready to play, offering more bells, whistles and watch faces than any other smartwatch or fitness tracker to date.
LG Watch Sport Full Specification, Features, Price, Performance And Review
What you get is a cleaner, yet more robust interface, one that powers what’s likely be your first LTE-connected smartwatch – if you’re in the US it can function just fine without a phone nearby, for a small fee.
It’s a brawny-looking watch, built for fitness tracking thanks to a heart rate monitor, GPS chip, barometer and waterproof casing. You can even track strength training. Google to Apple: “Do you even lift?” Apple’s answer is “No.”
This may not be enough to turn around flagging interest in smartwatches, though. If you didn’t want a watch before today, this isn’t likely going to change your mind about the product category.
Nevertheless, the watchmakers at LG and Google take significant steps in the right direction – the LG Watch Sport is enough to outperform the mighty Apple Watch 2 and Samsung Gear S3 Frontier in many areas.
No, Android Wear 2.0 isn’t perfect. Yes, the LG Watch Sport is chunky. It’s especially big next to the slicker LG Watch Style that launched simultaneously.
But if you want top-of-the-line fitness and calling features on your wrist, the Sport is the more convincing choice, and a better contender for our best smartwatch list. Let’s get into why that is.
Price and release date
- $349 in the US, as low as $249 on contract
- $5 to $10 a month for LTE connectivity (optional)
- No UK and Australian price or release date yet
- Available at the Google Store, AT&T and Verizon
The LG Watch Sport is an expensive smartwatch, but since it also has better specs than your average watch – even the more expensive Apple Watch 2 – it’s a reasonable enough value.
We don’t yet have pricing and launch information for the UK and Australia, but direct price conversions put it at about £300 and AU$455.
LG Watch Sport cellular data prices
You’re going to want to save up a little more dough beyond the initial price. The LG Watch Sport accepts nano SIM cards, enabling you to stay connected even when out of range of your traditional smartphone.
In the States, it costs $10 a month to keep the extra line active on AT&T. Verizon charges a $5 monthly fee, while T-Mobile and Sprint aren’t compatible this new smartwatch.
That’s another – optional – $60 to $120 a year on top of the $349 price. Being cutting-edge is always going to cost you when it comes to technology.
If you live in the UK you won’t be able to link your current mobile number to the second SIM in the Watch Sport. Networks in Britain don’t offer the feature, so when the wearable finally lands in the UK you’ll have to shell out for a second contract with a second number – which is pretty frustrating.
Design and comfort
- Sizable watch that rises pretty high off the wrist
- Surprisingly comfortable fit with contoured lugs
- Rotating ‘main button’ and two customizable buttons
- Waterproof up to 1.5m (5ft) for 30 minutes
There’s nothing small about this sports-driven smartwatch, but it’s still stylish, form-fitting and surprisingly comfortable despite all its extra weight and girth.
It measures 45.4 x 51.21mm on the wrist, around the same as the LG Watch Urbane. And while it’s not nearly as slim – rising 14.2mm in the air – its lugs are more gracefully contoured.
The curved top and bottom lugs make the watch look and feel smaller than it really is, while it doesn’t seem as heavy as its weight of 89g, meaning medium-sized wrists can pull this off.
It’s ergonomically designed – just not as much so as the LG Watch Style – where it needs to be, and, first and foremost, it maintains top performance. The underside of the watch stands tall on your wrist so that you won’t have to move it down on your wrist to get a good heart rating reading.
Maybe it looks smaller than it really is because of those slimming colors: titanium or dark blue. The latter is a Google Store exclusive, that, like the Google Pixel and Pixel XL in Really Blue, could become hard to find in stock.
Our titanium-colored review unit combines a matte stainless steel casing and dark gray watch band. It strikes an attractive two-toned finish whenever the thin, circular bezel catches the light.
A large watch like this deserves a sizable buckle to secure it to your wrist. The band is made of the usual Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), so it’s gym-appropriate, and will endure your sweatiest workouts.
The TPU here is stiffer and less rubbery than the band found on LG’s first Android Wear watch, the LG G Watch, which had the same type of material.
Not only does it feel better against our skin, it cleverly contains watch antennas. That means the watch band isn’t removable, unlike the one on the Mode band-compatible LG Watch Style; again, this watch is about functionality over fashion.
What you do get are a microphone and speaker for phone calls, and a hidden SIM card tray to make it all work with or without a phone. We’ll look at its performance in these areas later.
Also exclusive to the LG Watch Sport over the Style are two extra physical buttons in addition to the ‘Rotating Side Button’, a less clever name than Apple’s Digital Crown.
You can twist away at this knob without covering up the touchscreen with your fingers (and fingerprints), although we instinctively still did that. The two extra side buttons can be programmed, but by default they’re convenient shortcuts to the fitness app and Android Pay.
IP68 makes it more waterproof than the first Apple Watch and LG Watch Style – both at IPX7 – and it ties the Gear S3. But like Samsung’s watch, Google advises you not to go swimming with it on. This may have something to do with the fact that it doesn’t have a water-ejecting speaker along the lines of the new Apple Watch 2, which can go to a depth of 50 meters (164ft).
- Stylish, full circle 1.38-inch OLED display looks fantastic
- The always-on screen mode is useful, but is a battery drain
- Gets brighter outdoors for decent visibility in sunlight
The LG Watch Sport has a beautiful, round screen with a sharp 480 x 480 resolution, better than any other Android smartwatch and matching the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE.
It’s the circular 1.38-inch OLED display and always-on mode that really sell this Android Wear, however – it’s the classic-looking face many Apple Watch owners wish they had instead.
We let the LG Watch Sport sit idle with the always-on display enabled and, yes, it sucked up less battery life in this craftily dimmed mode. But it drained nearly 2% every hour, and that really adds up – if you don’t put it back on the charger at night you’ll start the day at around 80%.
Outdoor visibility remains a challenge in direct sunlight, as it does for all watches, although it has an auto-brightness mode (on by default) that goes some way to addressing the problem. The Gorilla Glass 3 protection also helps to reduce unwanted reflections.
Specs and performance
The LG Watch Style is as close as it comes to a flagship Google smartwatch. It has top-of-the-line specs and launches with the latest version of Android Wear right out of the box.
That translates into snappy performance, due in part to the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 chipset clocked at 1.1GHz and its 768MB of RAM. It’s superior to everything else out there.
We also ran into less slowdown when transitioning between menus than we did with first-generation of Android Wear watches. The hardware and software upgrades over the last two and a half years have delivered just that.
There are a lot of sensors and antennas packed into this watch: an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a heart rate monitor, a GPS chip, NFC and an ambient light sensor. The latter is tucked behind the screen for space-saving efficiency. LG also squeezed in a barometer for altitude tracking.
- Tracks strength training as well as runs
- You can set fully customizable goals
- No stand-up reminders
The rather overt ‘LG Watch Sport’ name puts a lot of weight on the fitness tracking capabilities of this smartwatch, and for the most part it succeeds where others have too often failed.
The difference is that LG includes the right mix of sensors inside the watch for granular fitness tracking, while Google revamped its Google Fit app to properly record the results.
What you end up with are more modes than you typically see on a smartwatch, all the way down to what we were most impressed with: strength training.
Strength training on the LG Watch Sport solves the big problem of not getting any credit for upper body workouts when you can so easily track high-intensity runs; it’s just not fair.
The ability to log all sorts of machines and free weight exercises automatically makes this Android Wear 2.0 watch unique – you won’t find strength training even on the LG Watch Style.
Besides strength training, GPS runs and the heart rate monitor, the two new watches share every other mode and capability.
- Treadmill running
- Stationary biking
- Stair climbing machine
- Strength training (with 33 different exercises)
- Push-ups challenge
- Sit-ups challenge
- Squat challenge
Google Fit also sets up customizable goals. You can pick from three pre-set goals – take 10,000 steps a day, be active for 30 minutes or run three times a week – or set up your own, based on factors like steps, distance, active time, calories burned, floors climbed, walking, running and biking.
These can be daily goals, weekly goals, based on minutes, miles trekked or the number of times you just got out there and performed the routine. It’s very fluid.
The Google Music app has been revamped with the ability to match your exercise, and the beats keep playing through your Bluetooth headphones whether you’re on Wi-Fi or cellular.
The one goal that’s missing is the popular stand-up goal – you won’t be reminded hourly that you’re a sloth, but third-party apps do fill the void for a very small fee.
Swimming is something of a miss with the Sport though – Apple and other brands have been making a big deal of this capability, and its omission is poor for a watch that’s all about exercise.
- Lasted 14 hours and 8 minutes with the always-on screen activated
- That’s shy of a full day, but relying on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth gave it a boost
- Fitness tracking and cellular data tax the battery too
The LG Watch Sport is designed to last all day and, for us, while it didn’t quite cross the finish line it did get fairly close on a number of occasions.
On average we were getting 14 hours and 8 minutes from normal use with an hour-long daily workout where we tracked our fitness; that’s not the best run time. It was slightly less time with heavier workouts, and when we tested out the SIM card on its own.
We were able to get a full day with more conservative use and by turning off the always-on screen (even though we like it) when we didn’t need to glance down at it continually. And there’s a battery saver mode that kicks in at 15% and which turns off the always-on screen, whether you like it or not.
Truthfully, we really wanted this smartwatch to last at least 16 hours under normal use, as that’s the average full day if you were to get eight hours of sleep. You’re going to be doing some unexpected sprints to keep this battery charged.
It’s hard to imagine what it would be like with the older chip and the more average 300mAh battery size.
Here’s another metric: The watch took two hours and six minutes to charge. It does so through an included wireless charging stand – it’s made of what feels like cheap plastic, but it gets the job done, albeit taking longer than we’d like.
Even when using a phone’s Quick Charge plug, this the LG Watch Sport isn’t going to charge any faster.