We are finally close to the launch of a smartwatch bearing the Google name, as evidenced by the deluge of leaks. We’ve been waiting for this for years, but Google has attempted to produce a smartwatch before, most recently in 2016. Google originally intended to launch the Pixel Watch, which is now known as the LG Watch Style and Watch Sport, as its first Wear OS flagships.
Thank heavens it didn’t turn out that way.
LGS’s 2017 smartwatches, um, were kind of something. Let’s go back in time together. In February 2017, LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style were introduced to mainly unfavorable reviews. Why? Both smartwatches genuinely lacked any redeeming qualities.
The more expensive of the two, and one of the first Wear OS devices to enable LTE, was the LG Watch Sport. It had a rudimentary health suite that could be activated from a button on the side of the casing and included a heart rate sensor and Google Fit connectivity. But the LG Watch Sport’s thick 14.2mm shell and lack of a removable band presented a concern. Since the wrist-strap could not be stored with the LTE radios, it was permanently fastened to the watch, which I did not like when I reviewed it.
While the Watch Sport was a good product in terms of quality and functionality, we concluded that it was not suitable for everyone.
I wish Google and LG had produced a non-LTE wristwatch with a comparable but slimmer design, replaceable bands, and a longer battery life instead of putting all of their efforts into the Sport. Unfortunately, they didn’t, leaving us with a good, surprisingly inexpensive LTE smartwatch that isn’t for everyone.
The LG Watch Style, on the other hand, lacked any redeeming qualities, according to my colleague Abner Li, an enthusiast of compact watches. It was smaller in size than the Sport but had nearly the same internals, including a Snapdragon Wear 2100 as its flagship. The watch’s design was excellent, but it lacked a heart rate sensor, had only one button, did not support NFC, and had a poor display.
According to Justin Duino, who examined the Style for 9to5Google, it was good at the fundamentals but not much more.
As previously stated, the majority of us desire a device that falls halfway between the Style’s simplicity and the Sport’s overstuffed performance and capabilities. The Style excels in terms of weight and thinness, but if it had shared some fundamental aspects with the Sports NFC functionality, those qualities probably wouldn’t have been greatly diminished. It would have been a major setback for this watch if users couldn’t use Android Pay to make purchases.
DO THEY STAND UP? The LG Watch Style and Sport may not have met expectations when they were originally released, but after five years, I was interested to see how they had fared.
I have recently revived my LG Watch Sport after removing it from storage. Surprisingly, it is still functional and up to date in 2022. It seamlessly linked with my Galaxy Z Fold 3 device. As a side note, I genuinely wonder how I would have felt if I had told myself in 2017 that I would eventually be combining this choky watches with a foldable smartphone. Technology advances quickly.
When I first connected the Watch Sport, I was taken back to Android Wear 2.0 in the middle of 2017. the generally still-used interface from back in the day. It also offered me a chance to commend Google for still readily supporting this hardware. A few app and Play Services upgrades later, I was able to enjoy the complete Wear OS experience that I’ve been accustomed to from newer Wear OS smartwatches, despite the fact that I wasn’t offered any significant system updates to move the LG Watch Sport away from its Android Nougat (7.1.1) OS.
And all things considered, it actually functions amazingly well. Wear OS manages to navigate, give notifications, and even use some built-in apps rather smoothly despite being powered by the dated Snapdragon Wear 2100 CPU. The only area where I actually had problems was with assistant, as you could expect. However, any sophisticated use would undoubtedly bring these timepieces to a halt.
The LG Watch Style, which operated superbly with the most recent firmware, might be regarded to be comparable. However, I have to admit that I didn’t use this one as much because the device I bought on eBay for a bargain unhappily has a fading display that has a line interrupting the images of some programs.
The gear, however, has not performed admirably.
In comparison to other smartwatches now available, the LG Watch Sport is a choky and, to be honest, ugly device. The closest equivalent in terms of size and design is the TicWatch Pro 3, but that wristwatch at least makes use of its enormous footprint. The LG Watch Sport just includes an LTE radio, in contrast to the TicWatch’s specialized display and large battery for its size. And to top it all off, an LTE radio that needs the Sports large, uncomfortable band to function at all. The truth is that wearing this watch was more enjoyable than using it.
The LG Watch Style appears to have aged a little more gracefully, and oddly, its appearance is rather similar to what Google will actually unveil this year. But even so, the 2022 version of it would be a pitiful excuse for a smartwatch due to the pixelated display and utter lack of health sensors.
Both smartwatches are only able to endure for a half-day due to the predictable decline in battery life over the past five years.
A pixel watch that never materialized Just a few months after Google unveiled the original Pixel, LG debuted the Sport and Style. It was evident right away that Google had played a significant role in the launch of these smartwatches. After all, the smartwatches were literally designed with our buddies at Google, according to the packaging. And speaking of Android Pay and Android Wear 2.0, these were the first smartwatches to enable both. My, how Google’s image has changed in recent years.
But the true bombshell about these two smartwatches didn’t go off until 2019.
These were planned to debut as Google-branded smartwatches prior to their release. According to AA1, Google’s Rick Osterloh was a major factor in stopping the Watch Sport and Style from debuting as the Pixel Watch due to concerns that it would “damage” the reputation of the Google hardware brand.
Osterloh reportedly said that the Watch Style and Sport didn’t appear like they belonged in the Pixel lineup and weren’t all that functional.
Even while I still wish Google had backed Wear OS with a Pixel Watch far before 2022, the failure of this initiative was ultimately for the best. It would have effectively ended Google’s plans to create smartwatches and tainted the first year of the Pixel.
After many years, Google’s moment has arrived. The Pixel Watch is prepared to join the Pixel 6, which launched last year to mostly favorable reviews after a mild refresh.
Google succeeded on its first attempt. Let’s hoping that this time around goes more smoothly.
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