Living with the LG Watch Urbane

This week we asked one of The Lowdown’s trusted reviewers to unclasp their Sony SmartWatch 3, and spend a week with the LG Watch Urbane…
Living with the LG Watch Urbane

Day 1 – It’s like a real watch

There has been one glaring issue with smartwatches so far, and that’s the fact they don’t resemble traditional watches enough. They’re often too bulky or made of an obscure material that’s just too different from the norm. That is, until now…

As I cracked open the Urbane’s box, it was impossible not to admire the stainless steel finish surrounding the 1.3-inch circular face. The model I have is polished silver, brought together with a 22mm genuine leather jet-black strap, fringed by cream stitching.

It’s weighty enough to feel like a proper watch, and the crown (which acts as the power button) extends just enough to mimic the real McCoy. I should note here that you can twist it, but it doesn’t do anything (that I know of).

Helpful tip: Double tapping the crown will put the watch into a mode that means a tap on the screen won’t awaken it, and to cancel just hit the crown once more. This is great for conserving battery life.

The display is a lot brighter than I’ve seen on other smartwatches, and even has a feature called brightness boost if you need that bit extra. This will drain the battery, but to be honest, I haven’t had a need to set it any higher than the second lowest brightness option so far.

Day 2 – Android Wear 5.1

The Urbane is my first experience of the Android Wear 5.1 software update, which comes with a range of new features. The first of which I’ve found useful is the lock screen.

During setup, I was asked to set a pattern lock on the watch. You don’t have to enter this every time you check the time – that would be annoying – it’s only activated when you take the watch off your wrist.

You can also access all your favourite contacts straight from the wrist by swiping to the left, which also takes you to your apps, all now in colour.

There are some new gesture controls too, but I’ve found little use for them, as they’re kind of awkward. During the day you get Google Now cards flash up, updating you on the likes of the weather or how long it takes to get home, and to dismiss you would normally just swipe them away with your finger.

Now, however, you can twist your wrist away from you (you have to do this quite forcefully) and they will disappear off the top of the screen. My main gripe with this feature is that after flicking your wrist, it turns out the cards haven’t actually been fully dismissed, so you still have to go through and swipe them all away. What’s the point in this, Google? Check out a full breakdown of the 5.1 update here.

Day 3 – Your new guide

Before I dive into day three, I want to tick something off the list - the Urbane’s torch functionality. Now, hear me out - I know you’re probably raising unimpressed eyebrows getting ready to exhale in boredom, while contemplating skipping the rest of this paragraph, but now you’re kind of wondering how it works, right?

As I mentioned earlier, the screen can burn impressively bright, and when the torch feature is enabled it will easily illuminate a room in total darkness. I needed to plug my phone into the wall in the middle of the night, and the Urbane effortlessly guided the way - it was quite literally my light in the dark. I was surprised, impressed, and kind of felt like Iron Man.

Anyway - day three started out like any other, but I needed directions to an office I hadn’t been to before. In London I use an app called Citymapper(also available for other big cities), which dishes out public transport information, like times and routes etc.

The app works with Android Wear, but until now I haven’t really given it much notice as the quality of information was a bit lacking. Now, however, you can use it like a tiny smartphone. You can zoom in and out of the maps, view your routes (and the stops in between), and check out live updates of bus/tube arrivals.

Unfortunately you still can’t plug new routes directly into the watch, but when you do using your smartphone, all of the accessible information gets transferred across. You can, however, save your favourite destinations like ‘Home’ and ‘Work’, which can be opened directly from the wrist.

Day 4 – Blending into the crowd

As I’ve mentioned above, the LG Watch Urbane shares more in terms of looks with the classical timepiece than any other I’ve used in the past. As a result, I haven’t been experiencing the same amount of attention from curious onlookers. And, this is in no way a bad thing.

Of course, the display is still blank when not in use (or you can use Ambient Mode, new to Android Wear 5.1), which the more eagle-eyed will pick up on. But, who really goes around inspecting stranger’s wrists.

Finally, I feel happy to conclude that this week with the Urbane has been awesome. It’s a great looking gadget that not only works well, but delivers a traditional watch experience, too.

If you fancy the LG Watch Urbane for yourself, check out our deals right here.

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