LG G Watch R review

Finally, a smartwatch that actually looks like a watch

LG G Watch R review
A great timepiece that more than looks like your average watch

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

The LG G Watch R runs Google's Android Wear platform, and the on-screen experience is pretty much identical to all the other smartwatches using the same software.

The G Watch R has been upgraded to Android Wear 5.0.1 since launching, bringing it inline with Google's Lollipop update for phones and tablets.

It comes with an emphasis on watch faces, so you get a couple of extra stock ones and the ability to download a host of others, from Pacman to Santa.

The choice will grow as more and more developers get behind the platform, and you can now change the watch face from the Android Wear app on your phone - something I found easier than having to cycle through all the options on the G Watch R.

There's not a lot manufacturers can tweak here to give you a unique experience, so you're stuck with the familiar information cards which appear as and when Google Now decides.

For example, travel times and routes to and from work will display in the morning before you leave the house and before you finish at work in the evening, while the step counter is one of the most persistent cards available.

You can swipe vertically from the bottom of the screen to flick through the available cards, a swipe from left to right will remove a card from the list while moving you finger in the opposite direction will take you to more options.

LG G Watch R review

The G Watch R provides you with an easy to follow tutorial when you first fire it up, and it shouldn't take you too long to get used to the basics.

'Settings' has been made easier to access with the 5.0.1 update, with the option being moved to the top of the list when in Google Now mode - saving you from having to scroll all the way to the bottom.

In settings you can access screen brightness, power off, restart, reset and about - the latter of which has an option to check for software updates, although you'll usually get notified with a card on the watch if there's a new version of Android Wear available.

The 'Start' menu meanwhile shows you all the applications installed on the G Watch R, but more about them on the next page.

There are a welcome number of watch faces pre-installed on the G Watch R, with some traditional timepiece lookalikes mixed in with some modern designs too.

LG G Watch R review

Just hold down on the clock face to see the selection on offer and tap on the one that takes your fancy.

You can download more watch faces, I was particularly partial to 'Secret Agent', which will be familiar to anyone who's played Goldeneye.

Flick your wrist and the dimmed display with light up, alerting you that the G Watch R is ready and listening for an 'Okay Google' command from you.

The voice activation works pretty well, from setting alarms and taking notes to sending emails and making calls - the G Watch R had little trouble understanding what I said and putting my words into action.

It's no perfect though, and on several occasions the G Watch R didn't service me with the right words, which adds considerable delay to your message composition and makes you wish you'd just got your phone out and typed it.

It also still feels rather odd talking to your wrist, and I rarely found myself barking at the watch in public places.

The voice commands certainly come in handy when you're driving or if you're out on a run. At home I used the voice recognition more, but it's still quicker to pick up your phone and bash out a text if you're hands are free.

The Moto 360 disappointed in its full review when it came to performance, but the good news here is the LG G Watch R sports a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, providing a decent slug of power to your wrist.

It comes with 512MB of RAM, the same as the other Android Wear devices, and I was able to move around the interface easily. Performance seems to have taken a bit of a hit since the 5.0.1 update though, with load times noticeably longer every now and then.

I'm hoping another quick update will solve this, but for now it's a little annoying.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.