Apple Watch full review
For the iPhone user, the Apple Watch is the obvious choice of smartwatch. But it isn't the only choice - or at least it won't be, once Android Wear watches are at least partially compatible with iOS devices. So we decided to compare the LG Watch Urbane with Apple's Watch. LG's device is one of the better, more stylish Android Wear watches. An upgraded version of the original Android Wear device, also made by LG, it is well priced and well built. But does it offer any reason for you to duck Apple's wearable, and head over to the Android dark side? Let's find out.
Apple Watch vs LG Watch Urbane comparison: Price and release date
You can buy both an Apple Watch and an LG Watch Urbane at £300. But that is only the very start of the story. Because where the LG Watch Urbane is - for better or for worse - simply a product that costs £300, the Apple Watch is a much more complex beast. Unusually so for Apple - it could even be considered confusing. This is a reflection of the fact that watches are very personal devices, and Apple is attempting to make sure there is one that suits your personality and budget. So £300 will get you the basic Apple Watch in the Sport edition. The regular model starts at £479 and the premium edition will set you back at least £8,000. The most expensive is £13,500. (For more detail, see our Apple Watch buying guide and price list and How to buy or pre-order the Apple Watch.)
We should point out that there's also an LG Watch Urbane LTE. There's no price for it yet but we expect it to be more expensive than the regular model. In this article we are going to stick with the LG Watch Urbane.
Overall the Apple Watch is likely to be more expensive than the LG Watch Urbane. But are we comparing like with like?
Apple Watch vs LG Watch Urbane comparison: Design and build
Even before going on sale the premium stylings of the Apple Watch have had an effect on the previously less-than-stellar Android watch world. As one of the first makers of an Android Wear smartwatch, LG has taken the opportunity to bling up its existing LG G Watch. One of the main differences here is the fact that the Apple Watch is square and the LG Watch is round.
Looking very much like its predecessor, the LG Watch Urbane has been upgraded to a full metal casing which will be available in a nice silver option and a more blingtastic gold. Its design is circular and chunky, with a simple power button on the side. (Touchscreens aside, you can interact with the Apple Watch using the digital crown which sits on the right-hand side of the body.) LG's watch is a big watch, so anyone with a small wrist is likely to find it unwieldy. But it does offer an IP67 dust- and waterproof rating.
It is available only in silver or gold colours. Pretty bling in appearance with polished metal.
Deciding on an Apple Watch is a much bigger task with a total of 38 different combinations of body and strap. Where other companies have failed to come up with a smartwatch design that suits anyone, Apple hopes to solve the issue by coming up with multiple designs so that one is bound to suit you. In principle, at least.
There are three basic Apple Watch varieties that are targeted at different groups of people. The Watch Sport is ruggedised and features strengthened Ion-X glass face so it should be able to take some bashing around. It's also the lightest of the three Apple Watch editions because its case is made from anodized aluminium.
The Apple Watch Edition is clearly designed for the fashion-conscious, with its beautiful 18-carat gold case available in yellow or rose gold. That model even comes in a fancy leather box that doubles as a charging cradle.
The watch face itself comes in two sizes, as we mentioned above. One is 42mm high; the other is 38mm (that's about 1.5in and 1.6in).
The Apple Watch's sapphire or Ion-X glass face (depending on which model you opt for) sits in a case made from the following material, depending on which of the three models you opt for (Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, or Apple Watch Edition). These finishes include: Stainless Steel, Silver Aluminium, 18-Carat Yellow Gold, Space Black Stainless Steel, Space Gray Aluminium and 18-Carat Rose Gold.
LG hasn't given weights for the new smartwatches yet but we do know the Watch Urbane will be 10.9mm thick, which is a little thicker than the 10.5mm Apple Watch. The latter will weigh between 40 and 69g depending on the size and model.
The crux of the matter is that these are very different products. If what you want is a basic smart watch, and the LG Watch Urbane fits your wrists, it is a well-designed and certainly well-built product. But with its Watch Apple is aiming higher, attempting to create a bespoke watch for every user. For more news about the Apple Watch, read our Apple Watch release date, price and specs article.
Apple Watch vs LG Watch Urbane comparison: Hardware and specs
In terms of hardware, the LG Watch Urbane matches almost all other Android Wear devices. This means it packs a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 4 GB of internal storage, 512 MB of RAM and Bluetooth 4.1. It'll burn along nicely, as do all the better Android Wear watches.
Apple uses its own S1 chip for the Apple Watch and has double the LG's amount of storage at 8 GB. However, the details reveal you can use only 2 GB for music and just 75 MB for photos. As per usual, Apple doesn't quote RAM.
Both the watches we're looking at here have a heart rate monitor which resides on the back and various sensors such as an accelerometer to track activity. Each uses Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone but the Apple Watch also has Wi-Fi on-board.
LG has kept the same screen from the G Watch R in both LG Watch Urbane models so no matter which you pick you'll get a 1.3in round P-OLED display with a 320 x 320 resolution resulting in a 245 ppi pixel density. Apple's is simply quoted as Retina.
On battery life, Apple claims up to 18 hours of varied use which then drops to 6.5 for audio playback and just three for phone calls. LG has fitted the Watch Urbane with a 410 mAh battery and the LTE model has a larger 700 mAh cell. It simply says the Urbane "delivers impressively long talk and use times and can go for days in standby mode" without quoting numbers.
Expect to be able to use either of these watches all day without a charge, but also expect to have to charge overnight.
On specs alone you shouldn't attempt to separate these devices. Apple quite rightly eschews the specs arms race: don't worry about the numbers, feel the quality. Both of these devices will perform well, and in use the relative amounts of storage will make little difference. Ultimately, the decision is down to design and style, and platform. Moving on to which...
Apple Watch vs LG Watch Urbane comparison: Software and features
Prices, screen shapes, designs are all important but software is a massive difference here. A lot will depend on what smartphone you use as the Apple Watch is compatible only with iPhones (iPhone 5 or later). With Android Wear onboard, the LG G Watch requires an Android device to partner with (version 4.3 or later) - although Google is reportedly working on adding iOS support. Although the features are largely the same across all the two platforms, the user experience will differ greatly.
Google's Android Wear uses the card system which you may be familiar with on Google Now so will show information when it deems it appropriate. You can also interact with it by asking questions and install specific apps if you like.
You can use the Apple Watch in a similar fashion to a phone, loading up apps when you need them. Pre-loaded apps include Messages, Phone, Mail, Calendar, Activity, Workout, Maps, Passbook, Siri, Weather and Photos. A bonus is the ability to use the Apple Watch to make contactless payments via Apple Pay and check into flights, hotel rooms and similar with supported partners. We have more information about the apps available on the Watch here.
If you are an iPhone user - and as a Macworld UK reader we will presume that you are - the Apple Watch is likely to be the smartwatch for you. But it is possible that once the LG Watch Urbane is at least partially compatible with iOS, it (and other Android Wear watches) could become a decent cheap alternative if you don't want the full customisation and features. But where is the fun in that?