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The LG G Watch R is a round, retro smartwatch with good looks to spare

Great artists steal

LG's G Watch was one of the first Android Wear devices to hit the market, but it didn't quite capture the fancy of the buying public the way the beautiful, round Moto 360 did. So LG went back to work, and came up with a beautiful, round smartwatch of its own. Meet the G Watch R.

The G Watch R's key feature is its display, a 1.3-inch Plastic OLED panel that takes up 100 percent of the watch's round face. LG promises that it's viewable in sunlight and clear from any angle, and the plastic also comes with some durability benefits — the G Watch R works in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The screen rests in a stainless steel frame, and comes with an interchangeable calf skin leather strap. This device looks perhaps more like a normal analog watch than any other we've seen before, including the Moto 360.

Of course, it's not an analog watch. It's powered by Android Wear, meaning it offers the same Google Now-based experience we've seen on a couple of devices so far. You'll get notifications, easy access to notes and calendar and directions, and more. It's powered by a 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor and 512MB of RAM, plus 4GB of internal storage. It has a heart-rate monitor, unlike the G Watch, plus a handful of health and fitness apps that should make the G Watch R a little more useful as a fitness tracker. Still, from a functionality standpoint the devices don't differ much. It's all about the hardware — and the hardware makes all the difference.

Where the G Watch is bland and square — not badly designed so much as simply not designed at all — the G Watch R has a lovely sense of sophistication to it. Part of that is also due to the retro-analog watchfaces, which show sweeping second hands and a set of internal dials that look right at home in a classic watch. There's even a crown on the side, which is likely the power button in disguise. (The G Watch's mysteriously missing power button appears to have been rectified.)

The G Watch R is coming in the fourth quarter of 2014. (No word yet on price.) Count on this being a trend this year: smartwatch makers will churn these devices out as fast as they can, attempting to satisfy as many tastes as possible and to learn as quickly as possible what works for consumers. Things will change quickly, but right now, it's hip to be round.


Watch our review of Android Wear, the G Watch, and the Samsung Gear Live.

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