Hands-on Gear Review

LG Watch Sport Review

The LG Watch Sport
Price:   $350 List
Pros:  Loaded with smart features and functions, good display
Cons:  Mediocre fitness tracking, average battery life
Bottom line:  Sleek, stylish, and packed with functionality, this watch knocks it out of the park for Android users
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Water Resistant:  IP68
GPS:  Yes
NFC (Android, Apple, Samsung, or Fitbit Pay):  Yes
Manufacturer:   LG

Our Verdict

The LG Watch Sport did well in our test, is very easy to use and loaded with all sorts of smart functions. This model couldn't quite stack up to the top performers in our test, but it is a good option for Android users, especially with the newly upgraded Android Wear 2.0 operating system that it is running.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Wednesday
April 26, 2017

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This stylish watch, created in conjunction with Google, is designed to take full advantage of the newest update to Google's OS for wearable tech, Android Wear 2.0. This unlocks all sorts of features, such as the ability to use Android Pay, respond to messages, and run standalone apps

This model is the best of the best for Android users.
This model is the best of the best for Android users.

Performance Comparison


We bought the LG Watch Sport and 7 other top smartwatches to put through an exhaustive series of side-by-side tests to determine which ones merited an award and the title of the best smartwatch. The LG Watch Sport earned a 61 out of 100 in our test.

We split our testing process into five weighted metrics — Ease of Use, Fitness Impact, Smart Functions, Battery Life, and Display — and assigned a subscore for each model in each set of tests. All in all, we conducted over 25 different tests. The following sections detail the results and how the LG Watch Sport performed.

The LG Watch was quite easy to use.
The LG Watch was quite easy to use.

Ease of Use


This metric carried the highest weight of all in our test, taking responsibility for 30% of the final score. We compared the ease at scrolling through the menus, the responsiveness of the touchscreen, water resistance, band swapping compatibility and ease, as well as the charging method on each device to assess overall ease of use. The LG Watch Sport did reasonably well, earning a 7 out of 10. The graphic below shows how this ranks with its peers.


To evaluate screen responsiveness, we looked at two different aspects: time to wake, and touch screen navigation. These devices all enter a low power consumption sleep mode when your arms are by your sides and then wake when you raise your wrist to view the display. The LG would wake after about a half second — faster than most models, but still a noticeable delay. The best models — the Apple Watch Series 2 and the Samsung Gear S3 woke almost instantaneously. The touchscreen was responsive and easy to use, with not frustrating lag or twitchiness.

The touchscreen was very responsive without being twitchy.
The touchscreen was very responsive without being twitchy.

This model lost some points as it lacks the abilities to swap wristbands — the band conceals an antenna, therefore making it impossible for the user to replace. However, it does have a crown scroll — a fantastic way to quickly navigate through the menus and it keeps your touch screen fingerprint free!

We preferred to use the crown scroll on the LG Watch to navigate  rather than the touchscreen.
We preferred to use the crown scroll on the LG Watch to navigate, rather than the touchscreen.

This model also has a great charging method — almost the best of the bunch, ranking just behind the Samsung Gear S3. The LG Watch Sport sits securely in a charging cradle that prevents it from most accidental disconnects, but the stiffer band makes it a tad bit harder to align than the Gear S3.

This charging cradle was very secure.
This charging cradle was very secure.

This product is water resistant, complying with the IP68 standard. This means that it can be submerged for up to 1.5m for 30 minutes, but the manual cautions against swimming with this product or immersing it in saltwater. It was also quite difficult to take a screenshot of the watch's display using the Android Wear app, losing the LG a few points compared to other models.

The LG Watch Sport makes full use of Android Wear 2.0 and the ability to use the Google Assistant.
The LG Watch Sport makes full use of Android Wear 2.0 and the ability to use the Google Assistant.

Smart Functions


Ranking behind the Ease of Use section, Smart Functions comprised 20% of the total score. We compared the app compatibility, navigation, music control, and payment capabilities between watches rank these devices, as well as checking if you can make phone calls from your wrist. The LG Watch Sport did reasonably well, deserving a 7 out of 10 for its great performance. The chart below shows how this stacks up against the rest of the devices.


The LG had the second-highest app compatibility of the bunch, working with 6 out of 10 of the popular apps in our sample group. This model worked with Uber, Spotify, Strava, IFTTT (If This, Then That), Facebook Messenger, and Shazam — notably lacking Instagram or Twitter capabilities.

The LG Watch Sport is compatible with an impressive array of apps  almost on par with the Apple Watch.
The LG Watch Sport is compatible with an impressive array of apps, almost on par with the Apple Watch.

This watch has a built-in microphone and speaker, allowing to take calls right from your wrist, with the surprisingly solid sound quality for a watch. You can also control your music, with the buttons automatically popping up on the screen when an app like Pandora is launched. You can give songs a thumbs up or thumbs down, play, pause, or skip, all from the watch.

Like all other models  the LG has music control capabilities but the addition of the album art is a nice touch.
Like all other models, the LG has music control capabilities but the addition of the album art is a nice touch.

The LG does have NFC technology, allowing you to use Android Pay and complete transactions using your watch. It also has a standalone GPS module.

The display on this model was good  not great.
The display on this model was good, not great.

Display


On par with the Smart Functions metric, Display also made up 20% of the final score. To determine subscores, we compared the quality of the screen, ease of reading, screen geometry, and adjustability. The LG Watch Sport did well, meriting a 6 out of 10 for its above average display qualities. The chart below shows how this compared with the other smartwatches in the pack.


The LG Watch has a 1.38", 480x480 P-OLED screen with 348 ppi. The screen is a complete circle and is on par with the majority of the other Android Wear watches in our review. It was eclipsed by the superior OLED Retina and AMOLED screen on the Apple Watch Series 2 and the Samsung Gear S3, but the LG does have a nice screen and was received favorably by our rating panel.

It was a little difficult to read in glaring light conditions but was perfectly visible in dimly lit areas. We also appreciated that the LG has automatic brightness adjustment mode, as well as an always-on mode that will disable the sleep function if you find the momentary delay in waking too vexing.

The LG Watch Sport was subpar at fitness tracking but could track your bicycle rides.
The LG Watch Sport was subpar at fitness tracking but could track your bicycle rides.

Fitness Impact


Counting steps, tracking your heart rate, and logging workouts, most smartwatches are reasonably full-featured fitness trackers. Unfortunately, the LG Watch Sport failed to live up to its name, and was subpar in terms of fitness impact, earning a 4 out of 10. This metric made up 15% of the overall score, and the following chart shows how the rest of the pack did.


We checked the accuracy of the step counter by comparing the count on the LG with our manual count, done with a mechanical tally counter, over a mile-long walk. The LG was decently far off, exhibiting a discrepancy of 8.1%, or coming up 172 steps short. It was reasonably more accurate at measuring your heart rate, usually being within 5 bpm of the chest strap monitor we were using as a control. One issue we found with the heart rate monitoring on the LG is that it does not automatically refresh while resting or during a workout, requiring you to manually request another reading to get the updated value.

The selection of available workouts on this model was quite small.
The selection of available workouts on this model was quite small.

This watch uses the Google Fit app to track workouts, allowing you to select between walking, running, treadmill, biking, stationary biking, stair machine, and "Other", as well as a variety of workout challenges, such as push-ups, sit-ups, or squats. The LG will track the duration, calories burned, average pace, and steps, as well as create a GPS track of your route if applicable. However, this model does not monitor the number of flights of stairs climbed each day.

The battery life was unimpressive on the LG.
The battery life was unimpressive on the LG.

Battery Life


Our fifth and final metric, Battery Life, made up the remaining 15% of the overall score. We tested how long each device lasted with normal use, time to completely charge, and time to charge to 50% battery to determine the scores, with the LG doing fairly well, earning a 5 out of 10 for its average performance.


This watch hung on for 31.5 hours of normal use, where we woke it up and performed a variety of identical tasks with each model on a set schedule to simulate normal use. It did charge on the faster side, taking 50 minutes to hit 50% in a fast charge, and 105 minutes to bring the battery level to full.

Value


While this is the best smartwatch for Android users, it isn't really a value option, costing more than $150 than other models. Those models did have lower scores but are more economical options.

Conclusion


The Android Wear 2.0 equipped LG Watch Sport takes full advantage of the new suite of features available to it. This model has the Google Assistant right on your wrist, allows the use of Android Pay, and has a standalone app store and can run them without a phone. The downsides are this watch is definitely on the bulkier side, potentially dissuading the more petite user and isn't the most budget-friendly.
David Wise and Austin Palmer

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