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Android Wear is back in business with two new watches from LG

Julian Chokkattu
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Android Wear 2.0 is officially here, and while the update is due to roll out to current smartwatches in the “coming weeks,” you can experience it now with LG’s all-new Watch Style and Watch Sport models.

LG’s two new smartwatches were “designed in collaboration with Google” — most likely in a similar fashion to how most Nexus devices were built. Both devices serve different purposes, if you can’t tell from their very basic names. The Watch Style is the smaller, elegant option with swappable bands, and the Watch Sport is bulkier, bigger, but packs way more features.

More: Google keeps Android Wear ticking with version 2.0

Bigger and better: The LG Watch Sport

If you want the best Google and Android Wear have to offer, the LG Watch Sport is your best bet. While Sport is in its name, it looks just as elegant as the Watch Style — albeit bigger and thicker.

The Watch Sport has a 1.38-inch, full-circle Polymer-OLED display, and its screen packs a 480 x 480-pixel resolution with 348 pixels-per-inch. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor with 768MB of RAM. It houses a 430mAh battery and has 4GB of internal storage, and you’ll find the following sensors: GPS, Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, a PPG to measure heart rate, and an ambient light sensor.

NFC means you can now use Android Pay — a new addition in Android Wear 2.0. The Watch Sport also allows for cellular connectivity, making it equally useful when your phone isn’t nearby.

The screen is covered by the stainless steel case and Gorilla Glass 3 — all of which helps make it 14.2mm thick. It’s IP68 dust- and water-resistant, meaning you can take it for a dive a little deeper than 1 meter for more than 30 minutes. The strap is made of thermoplastic polyurethane, but unfortunately it isn’t compatible with Android Mode’s snap-and-swap bands.

More: Casio WSD-F20 Android Wear smartwatch: Our first take

There are three buttons with specific functions on the right side of the watch that help make it look sporty. One triggers Google Fit and another Android Pay — in the middle is a rotating power button that lets you call upon Google Assistant when you hold it down. Google Assistant is also a new addition in Android Wear 2.0.

The Watch Sport’s colors are titanium, and a gorgeous dark blue.

Smaller, sleeker, and affordable: The LG Watch Style

Unfortunately, smaller and sleeker often means compromising on features. But not everyone cares about GPS or Android Pay on their wrist — and that’s where the Watch Style comes in.

The Watch Style is thin at 10.79mm, and has a simplistic, minimal design. It has a 1.2-inch, full-circle Polymer-OLED display with a screen resolution of 360 x 360 pixels (299 pixels-per-inch). It’s also powered by the Snapdragon Wear 2100, but it only comes with 512MB of RAM. It has 4GB of internal storage and a 240mAh battery capacity, but it does not have NFC.

The sensors it does have? An accelerometer, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a gyroscope, and an ambient light sensor. Like the Watch Sport, the device is made of stainless steel and Gorilla Glass 3 protects the screen. Both devices charge wirelessly via a dock.

More: Swarovski partnering with Qualcomm, Google on an Android Wear smartwatch

In comparison to the Watch Sport, the Watch Style lacks GPS and NFC, packs a smaller battery, less RAM, and a lower-resolution display for its smaller screen. It’s smaller in size, has easy-to-swap 18mm bands, and only has one button on the side that rotates — this button is also used to trigger the Google Assistant.

The Watch Style is also IP67-water resistant, not IP68 like the Sport. While you should be able to take it for a swim up to 1 meter for 30 minutes, the Watch Sport is a little more resistant at increased depths.

The Watch Style comes in silver, rose gold, and titanium.

Android Wear 2.0

The highlights of the update, which you can read about here, include a redesigned interface, stand-alone apps that do not require a phone, Google Assistant, and support for Android Pay. Some existing watches do not have NFC, like the Watch Style, so Android Pay will not work.

Availability and pricing

The LG Watch Sport will set you back $350, and is now available for purchase from the Google Store, AT&T, and Verizon. The dark blue option is a Google Store exclusive.

Since the LG Watch Style doesn’t have the same features and slightly lesser specs, it costs $100 less at $250. It’s available now from the Google Store, but you can also stop by Best Buy to snag one.

Google says the watches will soon be available at carriers and retailers in Canada, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, UAE and the U.K. “in the coming weeks.”